To plan or not to plan

Titus’ first trip overseas was to Bali when he was 10 months old, and we spent three nights up in serene Ubud. We didn’t draw up an itinerary then, as we intended to just laze around our sprawling villa and swim, and head out to the tiny village when we were hungry.

But for Japan, we had to plan.

In fact, if you are travelling with a dependent child and will be spending most of your time away from the hotel, it really makes good sense to plan ahead.

Here are some reasons why going about Japan with a detailed plan that included addresses, directions and train timings will help maintain your sanity.

  1. Train services that go outside of the city centre don’t run frequently and missing a ride now could mean having to wait an hour or more for the next service. You may also need to connect to another train or bus, so precise timing matters.
  2. Some of the most beautiful parks and castles shut their doors at 5pm and allow last entry 30 minutes before. You don’t want to make your way there slowly only to learn that you aren’t permitted entry.
  3. Planning in advance would also guide you in what to bring for baby. If you are exploring the outskirts for a full day, pack enough food that baby can eat on the go (in tiny towns there may not be many restaurants that open all day), boiled water, and at least two milk feeds as well as sufficient diapers and change of clothes. Also, think carefully if the baby sling would function better than a stroller. While most train stations are equipped with elevators, those in tiny towns don’t. Some temples are also up on a hill or come with many steps, so you will have to leave your stroller behind to truly see the sights.
  4. Because baby’s needs must come first, planning ahead also ensures you get to do what you most desire. I suggested listing places to visit each day in order of priority, with those you are willing to forego taking later slots.

Oh, and whether or not you fancy shopping while on holiday (I’m not a big fan of wasting time on shopping while travelling), when in Japan you should set aside some time to explore the kids department in shopping malls. They. Are. Awesome.

We fell in love with the children’s section at Takashimaya at JR Nagoya. The selection of shoes and clothes are amazing and it takes incredible restrain to not shop ourselves to bankruptcy.

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Then there is also the wonderful Baby Room which comes with a well furnished lounge for tired parents, complete with couches and food and drinks vending machines; a large feeding area with highchairs, hot water dispensers and microwave machines; a sprawling baby changing room with countless spacious changing stations.

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