AXA Travel Stories

AXA Stories

Personal narratives from travelers who share their unique experiences and adventures from around the world.

How We Managed Traveling To Japan With A Baby

At AXA, we know travel doesn't stop when you start a family. In this engaging story by Megan, discover the joys and challenges of traveling to Japan with a baby. From packing essentials to navigating Japan's efficient transportation, her narrative is packed with practical tips for a smooth journey with a baby.

Japan With A Baby by Megan

How often do two working adults get more than a week off at a time? Well, on maternity and paternity leave, of course! And what do mom and dad love to do when they have time off? Travel! So, we packed our bags and headed to Japan with our four-month-old for a 14-day adventure. This was exactly how we wanted to spend our new family time together.

 

Many people are concerned about the long plane ride, a foreign country, medical care, jet lag, and more. When we considered possible countries to travel to with a newborn, Japan topped our list due to its cleanliness, excellent medical care, and efficient transportation. This plan worked perfectly for my family, though it might not be ideal for everyone. If you're thinking about traveling to Japan with a baby, I hope my tips help make your journey even smoother.

 

Tips for Traveling with a Baby in Japan

Pack light

I know it’s hard for some of us, but it's essential. My husband and I each took one carry-on, a backpack that served as both a laptop and diaper bag, plus a small bag that transformed into a bassinet with pockets for baby clothes. Japan has many stairs and often elevators are hard to find so it is best not to bring big and many suitcases. This strategy not only simplifies your journey but also makes navigating through crowded spaces a breeze.

 

Bring a small, lightweight stroller

This is probably the most important tip. Japan’s spaces are extremely small. We loved our Zoe The Traveler. It folds easily, fits in overhead airplane bins, and weighs only 13 lbs, making it easy to carry up and down metro stairs. Any small, compact stroller will do. If you have two children, I recommend two small strollers instead of a double stroller, which can be cumbersome. You might also want to throw in a stroller rain cover if you are traveling during spring. We also took a soft baby carrier to alternate between a stroller and carrier during sightseeing.

 

Two trips, two different babies, one small stroller

 

Use department store baby lounges

When walking around cities and you need a diaper change, a place to feed, or just a break, head to a department store (depato). Every department store has a Baby Lounge, offering pure luxury when traveling with a little one. These spaces are amazingly clean and offer changing tables, hot water for formula, high chairs, sinks, private nursing rooms, and more. Look at the store directory or ask the information desk for the "nyujushitsu." You can find these lounges in department stores like Mitsukoshi, Daimaru, Seibu, and Takashimaya, as well as in shopping malls and large train stations that service Shinkansens. 
 

Look for these signs to indicate a baby lounge. 

 

Bring a portable breast pump

If you’re pumping, invest in a hand-sized electric pump that you can conveniently carry in your diaper bag. I used the Spectra 9 portable and rechargeable double pump, which worked great for travel. No converter is needed as Japan uses two pins like many US devices. However, if your device has three pins, bring a socket converter. The voltage on many of these devices should be compatible, but it’s best to double-check.

 

Don’t bother about formula

If your baby is still on formula, Japan has great options available at drugstores so you don’t have to bring too much with you. If your baby requires a specific type, it’s best to research this topic further.

 

The Japanese love babies! 

 

Pack preferred medications

If you have preferred baby/child over-the-counter medications, it’s best to pack travel-size containers. It’s easier than navigating Japanese medications. I find it helpful to have a thermometer, baby pain/fever reliever, gas reliever, hydrocortisone cream, allergy medicine, and small cough medicine in my suitcase.

 

Visit convenience stores (Conbini)

If your little one is eating solid foods and you need quick eats, stop by a Conbini, such as 7-Eleven or Lawsons. They offer great options, from snacks and salads to rice balls and even alcohol. Stopping at a Conbini and then heading to a park for a picnic is a great idea for little ones who are always on the move.

 

Things you can leave at home: 

No car seats needed

Japan is a fantastic country to travel 100% by rail. Whether you're traveling across the country or moving around cities, you can see it all by train. If you're taking the Shinkansen (bullet train), don’t forget to grab a bento box at the station before boarding.

 

Bento box on the train! 

 

Don’t overpack diapers

Only bring what you need for the plane and one or two extra days. You can easily buy diapers and wipes at any drugstore. They are similar in price or cheaper than in the US, plus they are very soft. I wanted to take more of the Merries brand home with me.

 

Shopping for diapers! 

 

Wrapping up our journey

Traveling internationally with a baby can be daunting. With careful planning, a light pack, and an adventurous spirit, you'll find that traveling with a baby in Japan is a welcoming experience, ready to be explored. So, when you get that precious time off, why not consider a family adventure to the Land of the Rising Sun? I wish you a very fun and memorable trip!
 

 

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