“So, what are you doing for vacation this time?” my coworker asks.
“I’m going abroad.” I frown. “Ugh, I still need to pack.”
“Don’t we all. Where you flying out of? Itami? KIX?”
“Narita,” I say offhandedly.
The look on my coworker’s face each time is priceless.
It sounds strange, doesn’t it? The thought of a Kyoto resident going all the way up to Tokyo to catch a flight sounds ridiculous. After all, the Kansai area has multiple airports– Kansai International, Itami, even the Kobe airport. And yet. And yet.
In the past few years of visiting the States from Japan I’ve had to figure out a system that works best for me. Here’s the usual pattern from Kyoto–> my final destination in the States.
- Get in a taxi, on a bus, or on a train to the airport.
- Check in at airport, fly to Narita.
- Go through immigration, fly to the States.
- Go through customs/immigration, transfer (if applicable)
- Land at my final destination.
Whereas if I choose the latter option I get on the bullet train to Tokyo, followed by the Narita Express train. Then I check in at Narita, cutting out an extra airport in my itinerary.
Don’t get me wrong, the bullet train has its’ own downsides. It’s expensive, it’s crowded, and there’s no guaranteed space for your luggage. So, if you’re carrying something big, good luck– you’ll probably be forced to share your seat space with your bag.
(Pro-tip, book a reserved seat in the last row of a car, you can put your suitcase behind it if no one else has thought of the idea first).
But especially when I come home from a long trip abroad, not having that extra leg of journey to worry about makes all the mental difference. Arriving at KIX thinking, “I’m home!” only to remember I have another two hours on a bus is soul-crushing.
Everyone has their own limits and preferences for travel. I’m pretty into buses; I can nap on them and generally don’t get motion sick unless the driver is particularly enthusiastic. Others I know can only travel by train without becoming ill. Others still will only travel in their own personal vehicles so they can determine their own schedule. The list goes on.
I guess the point of this rambling, long-overdue update to this blog is, what are your preferences and travel quirks? Any tips for those of us who go for long-haul journeys?