If you’re wondering how to travel Japan on a budget this post is for you.
The thing I hear most when I tell people about travelling to Japan is “I’d love to go – but it’s so expensive!” I’m not really sure where this rumour started from, but having been to Japan twice – once as a broke 18 year old and another as a 22 year old, I can tell you this is untrue. A lot of people are under this illusion that Japan is going to be some crazy expensive trip and you’ll come home broke or in debt. Trust me, I know money is a big factor when planning a trip. At lot of people will tell you to just pack your bags and go. But not only is that dumb and risky, it’s not practical advice. Travelling to Japan shouldn’t be this stressful risk, and I can tell you it’s not.
The first time I was in Japan I was on a barista wage which was $9.30 Canadian dollars. I had also saved up for 6 months in Australia at the same time. It’s amazing what you can do and how much you can save when you are money smart. I mean travelling isn’t free. Not unless you want to couch surf which isn’t my thing.
A lot of people get scared of the more expensive countries because they don’t really know what the prices are going to be like. But a good thing to remember is people in these countries need to survive too.
So when figuring out how to travel Japan on a budget ask yourself this – What are you spending your money on and how can I improve? Travelling Japan can be expensive if you make it expensive. A.K.A. spending $100 a night on a room, eating at a nice restaurant everyday or buying trinkets at every city.. it might add up.
If you’re smart, you can definitely live out you dreams of travelling to Japan while travelling cheaply. This doesn’t have to be some unicorn fantasy, it’s completely doable if you are smart with your money! So without further adieu, here are somethings I’ve learned on how to travel Japan a budget (ps I travelled in “peak” seasons: fall here and spring here).
How To Travel Japan On A Budget
Travel in the off season or plan wayyy ahead – If you want to travel Japan on a budget my first piece of advice is to travel Japan in the off season. I travelled to Japan during cherry blossom season in April and for the fall foliage in November. These times had crazy higher room rates and larger crowds. Places also book up so quick that you are often left stuck booking the pricier places simply because there is no where else to stay unless your willing to spend the $400 a night on a nice hotel. So step one – avoid peak season. But it’s not all doom if you do go during peak seasons. Keep reading 🙂
Get a Jrail Pass – When you are trying to travel Japan on a budget this price tag can be scary. I know I was Googling and searching for advice relentlessly. I know it’s a lot of money upfront but in the end it’s worth it – even if the price tag is almost $600 for 14 days of use. If you are going to be travelling to a lot of places then go for it. Check out which region you will be travelling in and get the Jrail Pass that fits you. The Jrail is also good for some local public transit which I thought was pretty cool.
Eat at grocery stores or 100 yen shops/ bakeries – Not all the time of course because the food prices in Japan are totally reasonable and affordable. But if you’re eating out 3X a day then your $7 breakfast, $9 lunch and $13 dinner has suddenly added up to $29 which even if you are only there for two weeks adds up to $406! Aim for $10 a day on food but remember to treat yourself! You are travelling to an amazing country with food to match.
-My favourite things to eat were yogurt and a banana, a bun from 100 yen bakery where some buns were 30 yen, kabocha squash, tempura and roasted vegetables from the supermarket which are hard to find I found but you can do it. We also discovered MOS Burgres on our last day in Tokyo and they have amazing burgers and even a vegetarian option for super cheap!
Stay at hostels or B&B’s – I know now that staying in a hotel probably wasn’t the smartest idea because I completely forgot you don’t really get a kitchen when staying in hotels. You usually go out to eat unless you have breakfast included which make sure you do if you decide to book a hotel! Hostels are reasonably priced in Japan but beware of peak seasons because prices are unfair for the small shoebox of a room you get. Check out Booking.com for some awesome room deals, usually with free cancelation.
Also, new to Airbnb? Use my credit referral and get a discount! It’s a win win my friend. Find the discount here 🙂
Limit shopping – Probably a “duh” thing to say when you’re trying to travel Japan on a budget it’s sooo easy to go on a spending spree especially if you are in Harajuku! Don’t buy knick-nacks like key chains or things you find in gift shops near attractions. It’s all great in theory but I can’t tell you how many kawaii things I bought that I am now like, “What do I do with this?” because I don’t want to throw it out, but I’m also never going to have five anime key chains hanging from my iPhone like I did when I was 16.. They are also expensive! Some key chains are $12 (It adds up!). Stick to things you realllyyyyy want and hold out for things you are actually going to use like clothes or vintage jewelry.
Japan isn’t as expensive as everyone says it is and if you’re smart with your spending you can travel Japan on a budget. Like all counties it’s a pricy as you’re going to make it be. You just have to be smart with your money and limit your day to day spending. Map out what you want to see and either walk or use the subway stations which are more than easy to navigate. If you are unsure of something ask! The Japanese people I’ve met always go above and beyond to try and help me when I get lost or am looking for something.
Price things out when it comes to places to stay. If you stay at the hostel thats $20/per night instead of $30/per night for two weeks you go from $280 to $420.
Don’t forget to treat yourself though! Hostels are great for budget travelling but you also want to get a good nights sleep and have somewhere comfy to rest up in so if you want to splurge on a Ryokan or a nice hotel then go for it! It’s about the experience.
Want to know more about Japan? Check out these posts!
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