My adventures in Japan included walking about town in Asakusa where locals ride bikes everywhere.
Vending machines were abundant.
You could even buy BEER from vending machines. Hmmm…
Needless to say, I saw a lot of different customs. To combat the culture shock, I was happy to stay in touch with family and friends back home.
I introduced my host Japanese family in Toyota City, Japan…to my family back home in Michigan. They even got a tour of my home (thanks to my daughter) and watched a YouTube video of my son’s garage band gig. How cool is that?
I kept up my blog posts, including pictures, during early jet lagged mornings and airport layovers…in Japan and later Seattle, Washington. Writing as I went helped keep things fresh.
I exchanged texts with my teenagers in the U.S…while I was in Tokyo, Toyota City, Hiroshima and Kyoto. I loved seeing what they were up to and they knew they could text me any time.
I rented a pocket wifi from RentafoneJapan. Before your trip, you order the pocket wifi online. I selected the slower speed, but next time would get the faster one. Then, when you arrive at your hotel, the pocket wifi is waiting for you. They include a charger, instructions and a return (with postage) envelope for you to drop off once you are done using it. How simple is that?
The pocket wifi was perfect because all I needed was internet access and I was good to go. The hotels offered internet access, but it costs about $15-20 per day. Also, with the pocket wifi, I could use it anywhere, including the bullet train and pretty much anywhere.
Facetime was a free way to see and speak with my loved ones back home. It’s a free app and is super easy to use with any Apple device, including the iTouch or iPad. It worked much better than Skype — most of time. There were some lag times, but I don’t think it was Facetime’s issue — probably more the wifi’s speed. (Again, I would get a faster one next time).
Another free app I used was Textplus. It was a simple app which gives you a temporary cell phone number (for free) and allows you to text anyone. I loved keeping in touch with my teens this way.
Staying connected while in Japan helped me ease homesickness and being away from my children. It was reassuring to know that I had the internet at my fingertips, regardless how remote an area I ventured.
Travel Tip #1: get a pocket wifi for your next trip abroad and utilize free apps like Facetime and Textplus.