Packing for Japan family holiday

Packing for Japan family holiday

Argh, packing. Does anyone actually enjoy packing? I certainly don’t. It is especially hard when packing for a family. When packing for our Japan family holiday, I tried to pack lightly. I hadn’t, not lightly enough anyway. This was one mistake we learnt the hard way. Our first trip to Japan we lugged around 2 suitcases, each with a smaller bag on top. We also had a backpack, a stroller and a toddler! The next year we returned to Japan a lot wiser and with less luggage!

My top tip? pack less. Do some washing if that’s what it takes. I know it’s not a fun activity for holidays but it’s seriously worth not having to carry a heap of luggage. I had planned on washing some of our clothes before leaving Kyoto as the Citadines has a self service laundry room, however I was put off by reviews saying that the cycles took ages and the clothes didn’t dry. My child is one of those kids that just never stays clean. Whether he’s playing outside or eating and drinking, his clothes get dirty. With this in mind I think I packed double the amount of clothes he needed. For our second trip, we rented an apartment in Tokyo with a washing machine, which meant we could get away with half the amount of clothes.

Luggage for Japan

The other thing that made a big difference to the ease of getting around Japan with luggage, was the luggage. During our first Japan trip, we had trouble with our suitcases as they were the pull along on two wheels style. The full bags on top kept falling off as we literally dragged the suitcases. Before our second trip, we purchased a roller suitcase and it made getting to and from places sooo much easier. We bought this one.

Useful items we packed

  • CARES harness – for Fletcher during flights. CARES stands for child aviation restraint harness and it is certified by the FAA. Tim found a second hand one online in excellent condition. View the CARES harness here.


  • Stroller – we actually bought our Maclaren Quest stroller (this one) with traveling in mind. We’d been using a borrowed one that was much heavier and would have been a struggle to carry around. If we were choosing based on weight alone we could have chosen a cheap umbrella stroller that are sold everywhere. We knew there would be long walks involved and wanted a stroller that would be comfortable for Fletcher to rest in and that we could recline if he needed to sleep. We also wanted something that would handle all terrain reasonably well. Our stroller does fold up umbrella style and has an attached carry strap which was very handy. Also included is a wind/rain cover, this only covers the front and in heavy rain the seat has gotten wet through the back and sides.
    We have taken this stroller on all our trips and it has handled well, even with a weary 4 year old inside.


  • Ergobaby carrier – We used this so much more than we thought we would. Whenever we had tried it at home Fletcher was never keen. We had been putting him on our backs and just before our trip I thought to try using it on my front, he liked it so much better. During our time in Japan he would often snuggle in and fall asleep while we were walking. The carrier was used again for our 2016 trip with a 9 month old Declan, who often slept during train rides in it. It did get a bit hot and sweaty for us both on humid days but I have seen Ergobaby have a ‘cool air mesh’ design which is more breathable. Click here for prices Packing for Japan family holiday

The Ergo was extremely handy for visiting places like the Iwatayama Monkey Park which is on top of a small mountain.

  • Disposable bibs – These were great. As I mentioned our toddler has a tendency to get grotty. We could put one of these on him during meals to keep him clean and didn’t have to carry around dirty/wet bibs. Get some here.


  • iPad – Obviously great for entertainment but we were also able to put the Wriggles on to calm Fletcher down and help him get to sleep on the plane.


Useless items we packed

  • Clothes – we really just had too many.


  • Jackets – Fletcher wore one some mornings and nights when it was cooler but Tim and I could have easily gotten away with one each. We were there in late October/ early November. The days started off cooler but soon warmed up and as we were walking a lot we were too hot for outer layers. The only time we really felt cold was in Takayama as the weather is slightly cooler.


  • Shoes – we all had more than one pair and could have saved a lot of space if we packed less shoes.

Disclaimer- The links in this post are affiliate links, purchasing through them will earn me a small commission from Amazon. All products are ones we have genuinely used and recommend. 

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