Well September is upon us once again. Time to get back to research, writing and plan your holiday for next summer. Planning ahead not only saves money, but also gives you something to look forward to in the bleak times. Having just returned from Tokyo I whole-heartedly recommend it as a travel destination for students.
I won’t lie to you; it is an expensive journey to make. My flight tickets were just under £800 and that was the cheapest I could find. Flight comparison sites such as Sky Scanner are essential in ensuring you get the best deal from trusted airlines. The prices shown are updated frequently, you can set alerts for shifts in prices and every company on there is certified as safe.
The flight price is the biggest expense and when you arrive you will find living in Tokyo is relatively cheap. Depending on what you want from your trip you can probably budget for around 3000 Yen per day (around £25).
A quick tip on currency exchange, exchange rates vary by agent and it pays off to compare the market – definitely don’t leave it to the airport to do it. I got my currency done at Sainsbury’s and made sure I handed over my reward card. I gained a lot of points and saved money on my next food shop; I even bought ice-cream.
As I mentioned Tokyo isn’t expensive when you arrive, some of the best sights can be seen for little money or even free. These are some of my favourites:
- Meji Jingo Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the emperor Meji and a chance to seek tranquillity.
- Shinjuku at night, seeing neon signs blazing down the sides skyscrapers is a sight in itself.
- Tokyo Station’s Character Street is an underground shopping centre where all the shops are based on TV stations and shows.
- Akhibara, the well-known electric appliance central, see all manner of gadgets and gizmos.
- Asakusa shrine, a Buddhist shrine established perhaps before Tokyo city itself. A great chance to see the spiritual side of Japan.
Then there is perhaps the major motivator for students: food. Have no fear; Japan isn’t all sushi and seaweed. The food is delicious, healthy and as previously mentioned cheap. You can discover some really tasty treats such as; melon pan (like brioche bread but with a cookie topping, some even have melon flavouring), beautifully gooey Gyo-Dan (beef and poached egg on rice) and all manner of Oniguri or rice balls.
Getting around the city isn’t too bad. The train system is well known throughout the world and for good reason too. The trains run on time, people are courteous and they are much more open than your typical London tube. I recommend buying a JR pass for the trip, these handy cards may appear expensive, but it will cover your trips rail travel and will save money in the long run.
Accommodation can be intimidating. I was fortunate to be able to stay with friends, who also helped me find my way around. Options available are the traditional Ryokans; Japanese inns that offer tradition, but at a price. Capsule hotels which are those tube like beds you may have heard about on Tomorrows World, they are cheap, but not for the claustrophobic. Like anywhere else there is also the option of the student’s favourite: the hostel. With careful planning before you go, you can find the best fit and price for you.
It may seem a long time before the summer but it will soon be here. Begin planning early no matter your ideas to save money. Plus thinking about the holiday will give you hope when you’re on your way to lectures at nine o’clock In the bleak mid-winter.