What We Packed for Japan October 14 to November 11

What we packed (and what I’d do differently next time) for October 14 to November 11

Tokyo was still very humid, even with weather forecasts of 22C. I had compared it to a Melbourne 22C where I’m comfortable in jeans, a long sleeve top and a cardigan. As it turned out, in a Tokyo 22C I was still dripping sweat in light cotton loose pants and a thin cotton top, which I wear in hot Melbourne summers.

I soon discovered that none of the ‘what to wear’ videos and travel advice written by locals applied to me, as everything I’d read had people wearing light jumpers (sweaters), thick tights, booties, a light coat. You know, like autumn in somewhere like Melbourne where we don’t have that humidity. This is what people were wearing in Tokyo and tourists were in shorts and tank tops.

So if like me you’re not a fan of humidity, bear in mind that even at this time of year it is still very humid in Tokyo, and also further north, so pack some summer clothing. After one week in Tokyo I realised I wouldn’t be wearing the thermal tops I brought for us even in Tohoku, and so I posted them back home along with souvenirs.

The subway (trains and stations) as well as offices like post offices or ticket offices tended to be really warm and stuffy, so consider wearing a light item as your bottom layer.

Later on in mid November the nights were getting much cooler. At DisneySea (November 9th) I was wearing a t-shirt and medium weight cardigan. It was sunny and warm during the day and I never wore the cardigan because it was hot and a little humid, but at night I was so cold I went and bought a fleece Disney hoodie!

The Saturday and Sunday (before our Monday evening arrival) were tipped to see the Biggest Monster Typhoon Ever (typhoon Hagibis). A friend who was caught out by a typhoon in Tokyo recommended we put waterproofing spray on our shoes, so we did this.


ONE-BAG TRAVEL (and what I’d do differently next time)

I really hate dealing with suitcases and travel, and there was no way I wanted to deal with a big suitcase on the subway, or wait at baggage carousels. So we went for one-bag travel (or were inspired by it). This was a great decision and it’s awesome to just breeze on through those airport exit doors and not have to wait around to collect your checked luggage.

We hand washed our socks and undies daily and other clothing as required, when there was no coin laundry. I didn’t wash the night before leaving a hotel as the clothes wouldn’t be dry. The hotel dryers we used did an awful job with the drying bit, even when I repeated the drying cycle the clothes were still too damp and I just ended up wasting money.

I packed a long piece of twine which functioned as a clothes line when I was able to hook it around stuff in the hotel rooms. I highly recommend you do this, I  had to use it for the clothes the dryer wouldn’t dry properly.

For myself I took a holdall style bag with handles and a long strap (the blue bag in the photo), plus my large handbag (not shown). My daughter had her backpack and the polka dot bag shown (which would later function as our washing bag) contained her jacket, headphones and plane snacks.


QANTAS cabin baggage allowance was 7kg. My small wheeled suitcase weighs 3.4kg when empty. That’s half the baggage allowance, where will I fit those souvenirs!  So I took the holdall/weekender style cabin bag (weighs 1kg when empty) + handbag instead of my little wheeled suitcase.

While the holdall gave me more room and weighed 1kg out of the 7kg allowance, it really did become a pain when we were moving between hotels as it was heavy (6.5kg usually) but all being carried on my right side. My handbag is cross-body and was usually about 4kg. So the right side of my body was getting pretty sore and there were days where my right foot was in a lot of pain. Next time I’ll use something lightweight on wheels that I can also carry easily when needed.

My only shoes were my sneakers/runners (which aren’t suitable for actual gym/exercise but fine for walking). We had no occasion where we needed a second pair of shoes.

For myself I packed:

    • 2x t-shirts
    • 1x light cotton shirt (light summery fabric)
    • 2x long sleeve t-shirt style tops
    • 2x long sleeve thermal tops (one thin, one thick. Didn’t need either)
    • medium weight thigh length cardigan
    • 1x lighter stretchy jeans
    • 1x comfy jeggings
    • 1x loose cotton trousers (light summery fabric)
    • 1x skirt (could be worn on warm days or leggings underneath. Didn’t need this)
    • 1x warm vest (Didn’t need this)
    • smalls (e.g. 7 x undies, 4x socks)
    • 3-in-1 wind/rain jacket (has wet/windy weather outer shell and inner fleece jacket that can be detached. Wore the fleece part once then sent it home in a box but could have used in the evenings around November 8 as it was quite cold at night. Used the light outer shell twice)
    • smartphone, battery pack and USB charger cable
    • adapters with USB ports for charging multiple devices
    • basic toiletries (sunscreen stick, toothpaste, deodorant etc) and minimal cosmetics. Hotels all supplied toothbrushes and paste, combs, shampoos, soap.
    • picnic sheet (hardly takes up any space as it’s flat but we never used it)
    • bags to carry around any rubbish as bins can be hard to find
    • collapsible tote bag (we used this on the plane journey home to hold souvenirs and it was Dee’s main cabin baggage piece)
    • plastic/bamboo cutlery for picnics (not needed, I took the plastic cutlery from the plane and convenience stores give you cutlery or chopsticks depending on what you buy)
    • notebook, pens, Sharpie pen to mark maps
    • travel documents such as passports, hotel confirmations (paper copies weren’t needed), booked passes, itinerary ideas, etc (paper was discarded when no longer needed, these docs were on my phone too as backup)
    • snacks that would serve as emergency food when traveling (mostly Clif bars and Smooshed balls, some porridge oats sachets). These were stored in a microwave safe container that I used to make DIY meals in hotels. Very handy.
    • long piece of twine which served as a clothes line in the hotel rooms
    • pain relief tablets, sore throat lozenges (we used these), travel sick tablets


DEE’S PACKING (age 11)

Dee took a regular sized backpack as shown in the photo above. Her clothing list was similar to mine and everything fit in her backpack (she had her jacket rolled up in her smaller personal item bag which is the polka dot bag in the photo).

  • 2x leggings (one pair doubled as pyjama bottoms)
  • 2x light cotton trouser pants (light summery fabric)
  • fleece lined skirt
  • 3x tshirts (only two were needed)
  • 2x long sleeve t-shirts
  • 2x warmer long sleeve tops (neither was worn)
  • smalls (socks etc)
  • 1x light warm knit
  • 3-in-1 wind/rain jacket (has wet/windy weather outer shell and inner fleece jacket that can be detached)
  • sun hat
  • basic toiletries (hairbrush, toothpaste)
  • water bottle (lost at Melbourne airport before we even left our country!)
  • tablet and charging cable
  • noise cancelling headphones (won’t take these next time)
  • collapsible backpack which was used as a day pack



  • reduce the item count for clothing even more.
  • try to book more hotels with coin laundry facilities.
  • leave the noise cancelling headphones at home and use earbud style headphones.
  • take a nice unlined notebook for all those train station stamps!
  • any warmer layers to be a thinner fabric to save on space.
  • keep a lip balm in my pocket when on the plane.
  • take more medication. Dee got sick and the throat lozenges I’d brought from home ran out. You can’t always go and find a chemist when you have a sick child. I’d also pack something for stomach upsets as I got very sick one day with nausea and diarrhoea.


On the plane, I put important and needed items in a pouch that fit in the plane seat pocket. The pouch contained our passports, printout of travel documents, pen, phone, chewing gum, Clif bars, travel sick tablets (which we didn’t use). I also took my large water bottle (800ml). The pouch was handy when we needed to fill out those passenger forms, as it meant I didn’t have to get stuff down from the overhead compartment like half the plane did.

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