Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime! Count down to departure is officially underway, and I’ve got Tokyo on the brain! I find myself spending most of my free time looking at guidebooks and websites dedicated to Tokyo. As we get closer to departure, I thought I’d share a few general travel preparation tips, these apply no matter where you are headed.
Note… this blog series is geared toward the students who will be traveling to Japan with me this summer, but the advice could be helpful to anyone planning a photography trip abroad and wanting to learn more about photography.
Learn a little language: There are tons of great resources online for language learning. There are apps, websites, podcasts etc. A quick google search and you’ll have a ton of resources at your fingertips. If you’re going to have a smart phone, be sure to download the Google Translate App.
Get a Guidebook and Phrasebook: Go ahead and start looking through them now. You don’t want to spend your time in Tokyo “figuring out” what to do. Do your research before you leave, the public library is a great source for travel books. I always check out several, so that I can decide which one is worth buying to take with me. I personally like a paper back travel book, but e-books are a great option to help travel light.
Get your Photography Gear together: Practice shooting a few images, and downloading them onto your laptop. This way you can make sure you have all the cables, cords and connectors you need. Make sure you have plenty of memory cards, battery charger and if possible an extra battery. Also, start to familiarize yourself with whatever software you’ll be using to edit and organize images. You don’t want to waste time in Tokyo struggling with this detail. I recommend either Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom or Google Picassa (Free) Don’t forget that you also need a way to back up your images to an external hard drive or high capacity thumb drive. Japan outlets are only two pronged, so if your electronics have the 3rd grounding prong, then be sure to pack a 2-3 prong adaptor.
Kick up your workouts and break in your walking shoes: The best way to see a city is to walk. I estimate that I average at least 3-4 miles a day when I travel. So you want to have comfortable shoes for pounding the pavement. You also want to be sure that you’re fit enough to carry your suitcase and camera gear… up train station stairs if you need to! I’ve been lifting extra weights, doing core exercises and spending some time on the stair master.
Plan what you’re going to pack: Get your suitcase out (remember, the smallest one possible!) Find a corner of a room where you can start to lay out the things you want to take. Plan your outfits carefully, its a good idea to stick to one color palette for all your clothes, that way you can mix and match. Pick clothes that you know are comfortable, if something about an article of clothing always bothers you when you wear, it, then don’t pack it. Choose clothes that are made of material that packs small, dries quickly and is versatile. Space is at a premium in Japan, so don’t be “that person” with the extra big suitcase taking up all the space in the hostel. Pack light! Pack light! Pack light!