Monday, June 25, 2018

Traveling light through Japan

Last week when we first arrived in Japan, we had an ambitious itinerary to stay at different accommodations 4 nights in a row with all kinds of public transportation in between. This was definitely first for us as a family since we have always preferred to stay longer at one place at a time. Last few years, with girls being so much younger, we just couldn't imagine carrying them through Shinjuku Station during the morning rush hour.

There seems to be a switch when kids turn 5 and 8 years old. Both girls feel more open and accommodating to changes. Within 5 days, we took 3 airplanes, 2 bullet trains, 5 local trains and a few cab rides which indeed included the Shinjuku Station rush hour transit when we had to cut through the sea of morning commuters toward the opposite direction.

Traveling light has been our motto for so many years and for this trip too, we tried our best to pack small. We have one suitcase with all our clothes and essentials plus each of us carrying one carry-on. We do have a separate duffle bag with snorkeling gears and 2 booster seats for girls which we were able to leave at Haneda Airport while we were visiting Tokyo and Shizuooka.

We are often asked how we manage to pack light. Here are few of my personal tips.

1. PACK MINIMUM AMOUNT OF CLOTHES. We stick with the "rule of three" for our basic travel clothes. 3 versatile tops (which include dresses), 3 shorts, 3 underwears. Pajamas, 1 long sleeve layer, and 1 lightweight sweater are also packed. Frido and I have running wears which we are double-dutying as our swimwear and everyday shirts. Having fewer choices for outfits also makes it so much easier for all of us to get ready for the day. And really. We have not needed more.

2. PICK A PLACE WITH WASHER. When we look for an Airbnb house to stay, we try our best to find the place with washer (and sometimes dryer if we are lucky!!). If not, we just handwash our clothes!

3. PACK A FEW ITEMS THAT MAKE THE STAY LITTLE MORE COMFORTABLE. I love having a small piece of home with us when traveling. Usually, I pack a Square Tote and Cube by Ateliers PENELOPE to use once we unpack at our home away home. Also loving TSL Cotton Bag which was neatly folded in the suitcase when we were transiting... but now a super handy and lightweight day bag!

4. DON'T BRING ALL THE DEVICES FROM HOME. Satchi and Coco watch movies and listen to audio stories on iPad at home so they asked us if they could bring our shared iPad to travel. We chatted about it and decided that we can do what they want to do on our laptops and iPhones. I know it's tempting to bring devices for kids when traveling but totally worth considering the other ways! There are plenty of movie choices on long-distance flights and it's okay to be bored and take a nap when there is nothing to do. And if there is a space, bring a travel sized game. Satchi is obsessed with Yahtzee and we love this travel version so much.

5. HAVE A GOOD FIRST-AID KIT. I carry a small first-aid kit in my bag at all times and have a complete set of travel-sized medicine cabinet (pouch) at our Airbnb home. It's basic but I know that I have a fever reducer, allergy medicine, itchy cream, eye drops for an infection, antibacterial cream + band aides for kids and grownups. I hope we don't need to use any of it but it's a peace of mind for my mama brain.

I think we could have packed even lighter if I knew what I know today. In the near future, I would also love us to ditch a suitcase for the train travel. And instead, have everyone carry backpacks with clothes and essentials.

Then there is yet another important question. If we can travel and live out of one suitcase and have fulfilling moments, why do we have so much more at home? That is a question that needs to be answered when we get back to our Los Angeles home in September.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kira no Sato // Onsen visit in Izu

We made a detour trip to Izu Peninsula on our way back to Tokyo for one night stay at a traditional Onsen inn, Kira no Sato. It's a huge treat for us to visit Onsen in a local area of Japan and something we aspire to do whenever we can while visiting Japan. I did spend quite a bit of time investigating which Onsen to stay that was convenient enough between Tokyo - Shizuoka transit. I was happy when I came across this one that had a large enough property for kids to explore when they didn't want to be inside of the room, an option to have our space to avoid waking up other guests during our jetlag days (have been up since 3am for last few days...), traditional Japanese aesthetics with updated amenities (like easy to use clean bathroom). Usually, Onsen stay comes with curated dinner and breakfast with local flavor and that's also a fun way to experience different regions of Japan.

So if you are ever in Tokyo area, this little Onse is worth the 2 hour trip via Shinkansen and local train!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

BK on the Road: Transiting through Shizuoka

Greetings from Shizuoka, Japan! We have left our Los Angeles home for the next 2.5-month life away from home.

Our first stop: Japan! We arrived in Tokyo yesterday and have been on the transit from Tokyo to Shizuoka where my family is originally from. 12 hours flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo went as smoothly as I could wish for. It's amazing to see the growth in both girls compared to a year or two ago. 5 & 8 is such a good age to travel!

We made this extra leg of the trip to Shizuoka to visit my grandmother. It has been 6 years since I saw her last time and Coco's first time meeting her. I am thankful that the stars aligned this time for this visit. Even though girls live so far away from my grandmother and don't really speak the same language with her, my mom told me that their reunion brought a lot of joy to my grandmother. It was an afternoon that was really meaningful to all of us.

We are transiting again today to Izu, another part of Shizuoka. The weather forecast is downpour rain all day so we shall see how things go. (You know us from Los Angeles don't really know how to handle rain...) We are traveling as light as possible with what we minimally need. I have made a collection page on our website with the BK artifacts that are accompanying our adventure. You can find the link here if you are interested!


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