A few months ago I wrote a post about packing before going overseas (specifically Japan). You can click here to read that entry. In this post, I will write a few things to consider while staying overseas, whether it’s for a few weeks or a few months. But first I’ll explain about the takkyuubin (宅急便), the handy service in Japan for delivering everything from small packages to large suitcases.
In my previous post, I mentioned that I did not have my luggage the first night I stayed in Japan. Fortunately I packed a change of clothes for orientation in my carry-on that I brought with me. But where exactly was my luggage?
My luggage was in transit through takkyuubin. After arriving at the airport, I went to the takkyuubin kiosk and my friend who met me there helped me fill the form out with my name and address. Because I had a friend with me, we could have taken our suitcases all the way back to my dorm, but we wanted to make sure we had time to get there before the front desk closed for the night. A couple of heavy suitcases would have slowed us down. We were also able to eat once we got to Ikebukuro station, and didn’t have those suitcases in the restaurant with us.
My stuff arrived pretty quickly. By the time I got back from orientation the next day, my suitcases were right there in the lobby. The great thing about takkyuubin is that it’s pretty fast, but you should still send your things at least 3 days in advance, or a week to be safe. You can also use takkyuubin to send your luggage to the airport or a different hotel. Just make sure that you have whatever you need in the several days that you won’t have everything available.
Now I know many people don’t even think about packing in the middle of their overseas stay, but it’s good to consider. I’ll list a few tips:
1. If you’re staying for a short time and only need one suitcase, take an extra if you’re planning to do a lot of shopping. Air travel fees are changing all the time in this economy, so I don’t know if they still allow up to two pieces of luggage without a fee, but as long as the fee is cheaper than actually sending a package, you should go ahead and take that extra suitcase. If you’re only staying for a few weeks and have a Space Bag, you may not even need the extra suitcase.
2. If you’re staying for a few months up to a year, pack and send things as early as possible. This can apply to seasonal clothes, gifts for family, and anything you buy that you don’t need until you get back. If you send things early, you save yourself the trouble of having to pack it all up at the last minute. You’ll also be able to send everything by ship (which takes about two months) and save money compared to sending it by air or express. I had boxes that I had been packing for months, and once I filled them up they were ready to send a few days before I came back home in August. They were mostly CDs and winter clothes, so I sent them by ship and received them around September.
3. I’m not sure if I said this in my first post, but have a couple of extra Space Bags. Take them with you when you leave or order some while you’re overseas. Not only will a few extra help in case the old and worn ones in your suitcase become damaged, but they’re great when packing out-of-season clothing in boxes to send home.
4. Carefully consider what you buy. Before you buy something large and/or heavy, think about how you will send it home. I know Japan can be really exciting for the otaku and fashion junkie, but try not to spend all your money on things simply because it’s “something you can’t get at home.” No matter how much you buy, when you leave Japan there are and always will be things that you won’t have. And there are some things that will still be there if you are ever able to go back.
5. When buying essentials for your living space, shop at the 100 yen shop FIRST. They sell the cheapest items, so if you have to leave things behind, you won’t think it was a waste. If you’re in the Tokyo area, two of the biggest shops I’ve been to are the Daiso (ダイソー) on Takeshita Street in Harajuku and CAN・DO (キャン・ドウ) in Shinjuku, located in the building attached to Seibu-Shinjuku Station. You can go here to view Daiso locations all over Japan. However, not all 100 yen shops are the same size. Try to see what you can find at your nearest 100 yen shop, and then you can try the bigger ones.
That’s all I have for now. The next part I write will be about packing up before leaving, which I’ve already gone into a little bit in this post. Hope you find this to be useful 🙂 Click here if you missed my first post about packing before the trip.