As a husband, I always like to help my wife carry a heavy bag up the stairs when I can. But our trips cover more than a few train rides, negotiating busy train station and a variety of transportation methods. Most people try to avoid feats of strength on vacation so we use takkyubin and overnight bags to make traveling as simple and convenient as possible.
Takkyubin (宅急便) is a very fast and reliable delivery service that can send packages and luggage all over Japan in just a day or two. Hotels and ryokans everywhere send and receive bags daily. Our escorted tours include sending one bag per traveler from city to city. And for our self guided clients, we prepare all the forms you will need to easily send the bags (On self-guided packages the tour members are responsible for paying for this service. It is normally 1500 to 2500 Yen or about $14 USD to $23 USD.)
Because the takkyubin service provides such fast service, overnight bags are used in the short time between when you send your main luggage until you catch up to it. You will generally only need one or two days’ clothes and toiletries. (In some cases, such as when sending the luggage longer distances or to airports, the baggage transfer companies require two nights instead of one night.) This means your overnight bag can be small and couples often share one. Because of the varied transportation you can encounter in Japan this needs to be no bigger than an airplane carry-on. Often, a small pack or roller are best. While you will be carrying this bag from city to city you will not have to tour with it. We will either drop it off at that night’s accommodations or use the convenient coin lockers to store bags while we tour.
After using this system myself I have a few tips that I think everyone should keep in mind.
- Pack light. There will be plenty of opportunities to do laundry or go shopping. Running out of toothpaste is not a problem, it is an adventure and souvenir.
- Come with room in your main luggage or bring a collapsible bag. Japan has some amazing products, crafts, foods and drinks. Shipping souvenirs home can be expensive.
- Share an overnight bag with travel partners. Because you don’t need a lot, why not share.