Japan with kids #1 (pre-travel)

29 Mar

In a few days we are leaving for a family vacation to Japan.  Yes…Japan!  Every time I say that to someone there are one of two reactions.  First one being “Are you nuts!  It’s full of radiation and earthquakes over there!”.  The second being ” Wow you guys must be rich”.

As for going to a place that is laden with dangers such as earthquakes, tsunamis and radioactive veggies, I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine.  At the moment there is no official warning against traveling to Japan and we figure if Japan is okay for 127 million people to live in then it’s okay for us to visit for two weeks.  Plus, the Japanese tourist economy needs all the help it can get at the moment.

As for the second reaction that we get when we tell people that we are traveling to Japan, we’re not rich.  We’re very fortunate but we work hard to be able to do these sorts of trips with our family.  And as everyone knows, Japan is known to be one of the most expensive places to travel in the entire world.

Luckily we got some really great prices on our flights (because nobody seems to want to go there since the tsunami).  It literally cost us half of what we pay to visit family in Canada every year.  We booked these tickets in September and paid for them right away.  That’s our whole theory on organising these big trips.  Pay everything  slowly over time.  Here’s a break down of how we organised our Japan trip.

September: book and pay for flights to Tokyo
December: book and pay for train passes (which unfortunately cost the same as the flights!)
February: book and pay for some of the hotels (if possible)

So by the time we actually leave for our trip most of the big expenses are paid off and we don’t have to even think about it.

The other thing that is a big help is to slowly save spending money over the same amount of time.  This time we used a lovely little red Piggy Bank that we had bought at a Frida Kahlo exhibit in Milan years ago.  I wanted a place to collect money that we couldn’t touch after it was put in (you know…to pay the water guy or the plumber when I accidentely have an empty wallet).

So over the months we would put in 5 euro here, 20 euro there.  A few times we put in bigger amounts as well (Christmas gifts from family etc).  The kids even put in the odd euro coin when they had it as well.  In the end that pig became a small part of our daily routine..get home from busy day, put down purse, dump any extra change or bills into pig.

And it worked my friends!  Over the months we saved up enough to pretty much pay for our spending money for the two weeks that we’ll be in Japan.

Last week we made the whole smashing of the Piggy Bank into a family event.  We all gathered around a table with the pig and a wooden mallet.  We were all feeling pretty bad to have to smash such a lovely piggy bank but we were all curious enough to see what was inside that in the end we even had fun doing it.

Japan has always been a country that has intrigued me on so many levels.  The cuisine, the history, the culture, the art, the religion. I’m really looking forward to experiencing it all and feel so fortunate to have quite a few Japanese friends who will be showing us around.  Many photos and travel stories to come!


2 Responses to “Japan with kids #1 (pre-travel)”

  1. Kat March 29, 2012 at 23:17 #

    oooh so exciting! and what a brilliant idea of saving a little everyday and reaping the surprise reward later. I’ll look for a ceramic piggy bank soon. 🙂 looking forward to seeing photos from Japan!

    • jc March 30, 2012 at 16:38 #

      We are really excited to go. Now we just have to actually start packing…I’ve kind of left it to the last minute this time. I’ll make sure to take lots of photos!

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