Author Topic: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan  (Read 4734 times)

Mountainbug

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Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« on: July 14, 2015, 09:56:21 PM »
Looking for a little advice. I am planning a trip to Japan with my spouse to visit some family. We are going to try to take advantage of our southwest rewards to fly for free (have almost enough for 2 round trip tickets if we time it right). However, the flights are huge amounts of points compared to how we could use them domestically (companion pass means we only use half the points). Should we just pay for the tickets and save the points or go ahead and burn them all on this one trip? We fly very infrequently but have a few trips planned in the next two years.

milesdividendmd

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2015, 10:02:06 PM »
How do you plan on using southwest points to get to Japan?

milesdividendmd

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2015, 10:05:28 PM »
But to answer your question, I always favor NOT spending cash for flying. It's completely unnecessary if you play the Miles game.

The second tenet of my personal philosophy: use every penny saved on travel to invest in your retirement, and travel often.

Ryo

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2015, 01:43:52 AM »
As with the poster above, is this even possible?  I thought Southwest wasn't part of any of the major alliances. 

I'm based in Japan myself and have a similar dilemma with miles, as it costs me just 20,000 to fly anywhere in East Asia, but 80,000-100,000 to fly across the Pacific.  I end up using the miles for short vacations within East Asia, and just pay for the Japan-N.America filghts in cash, as I end up getting more value out of taking 5 Asian vacations than just the one flight back home.

shotgunwilly

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2015, 08:33:52 AM »
You can't use Southwest points to fly to Japan. Southwest only flies domestically and to mexico/caribbean.

Mountainbug

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2015, 09:31:24 AM »
Actually you can use their miles to fly internationally. If you go to redeem points for rewards there is a travel section, and in it there is an international flight option. Most are around 100k for a round trip ticket, but I have found a few for 60k. It's really simple, I just googled it and easily found out how to do it.

milesdividendmd

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2015, 10:42:39 AM »
Great stuff mountainbug. I was unaware of that feature. 

60K to Japan is fair value, 100k is highway robbery.


rpr

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2015, 10:59:08 AM »
Are you going to be traveling a lot within Japan between various cities? Via trains? If so, a good deal is to get the Japan Rail Pass. You cannot buy the rail pass in Japan. You must buy it before you get there. It is valid on most trains except the fastest ones.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361.html

Kevin S.

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2015, 11:20:26 AM »
Are you going to be traveling a lot within Japan between various cities? Via trains? If so, a good deal is to get the Japan Rail Pass. You cannot buy the rail pass in Japan. You must buy it before you get there. It is valid on most trains except the fastest ones.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361.html


This is a great option! However if you plan to stay only in Tokyo I would just get the day pass. When I went in april it was roughly 10 bucks and gets you just about everywhere in Tokyo! Also remember trains close at I believe 11 pm! Have fun and take lots of pics!

I plan to go next year and visit more of the country side. Last trip we went to motegi twin ring race track and went to the Honda museum! It was a total blast but kinda expensive without the JP rail pass.

Also if you fly in from narita you can take the narita express / N'EX - bullet trains for a fair price and get you just about anywhere you need to go in the Tokyo area for 40-50 bucks!


StockBeard

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2015, 01:56:50 PM »
Also if you fly in from narita you can take the narita express / N'EX - bullet trains for a fair price and get you just about anywhere you need to go in the Tokyo area for 40-50 bucks!
Keisei Skyliner is slightly cheaper than N'EX in my experience, for people who go to the North-East area of Tokyo (Ueno/Nippori/Tokyo)

Sukotto

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2015, 02:17:25 PM »
I've been looking to plan a trip to Japan soon so hopefully I can help out too and learn some in the process. So take what I say with a grain of salt since I have no first hand experience yet, but here's some general advice from my research so far:

-Stay in business hotels, hostels or other cheap accommodations. Capsule hotels would be neat for a night just for the experience and are super cheap. Some manga/anime cafes have private booths that allow you to sleep overnight. I'd never do that but if you want to get a full experience, go for it!

-Food is usually cheap if you stay away from fancy restaurants. Noodle shops are a plenty and even department stores have decent cheaper food. Izakayas are a good option(think tiny little bar with tapas/appetizer size portions) Golden Gai is a great place for this.

-Like others have said, if you stay in Tokyo, day passes should be fine but if you plan on visiting Mt. Fuji/Hakone or even Kyoto, opt for the JR Pass. Also look into the Suica or Pasmo cards.

-There's plenty of free things to do aside from the attractions/museums. There's plenty of parks to visit. Harajuku is a great place to people watch. Shrines and temples are usually free or have a small fee. I think the SkyTree and Tokyo Tower are the more expensive attractions to see. There's usually always some sort of festival going on, especially in the springtime. Free entertainment. Plus window shopping's always free ;)

-If you get your flight miles figured out, that will be a huge relief for your budget. :)

rpr

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2015, 03:56:53 PM »
Also if you fly in from narita you can take the narita express / N'EX - bullet trains for a fair price and get you just about anywhere you need to go in the Tokyo area for 40-50 bucks!
Keisei Skyliner is slightly cheaper than N'EX in my experience, for people who go to the North-East area of Tokyo (Ueno/Nippori/Tokyo)
The cheapest way to get to Tokyo from Narita Airport that I found was the Keisei Tokyo shuttle -- about 1000 yen when compared to 3000 yen for the N'EX. It does go non-stop to Tokyo station.

http://www.keiseibus.co.jp/en/kousoku/nrt16.html

The problem is that the bus can get crowded. Also the bus stops a couple hundred yards away from the Tokyo Station and can be a pain if you are connecting to JR trains and/or metro/subway. I did take it while flying into Tokyo -- since I wasn't in a hurry. While leaving, I took the N'EX. The disadvantage of catching the N'EX from Tokyo station is that the platform is buried deep within the bowels of Tokyo Station. It is a 15+ minute walk to get to the right platform. I was envious of people taking the Limousine bus outside the station, no walking needed.

lbmustache

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2015, 04:08:00 PM »
I've been looking to plan a trip to Japan soon so hopefully I can help out too and learn some in the process. So take what I say with a grain of salt since I have no first hand experience yet, but here's some general advice from my research so far:

I had this idea that Japan was going to be ASTRONOMICALLY expensive* when I went, and I was pleasantly surprised! The train is cheap, if you eat at regular restaurants (I guess more mom and pop-ish - which coincidentally have the best food!) or Japanese chain restaurants, you will be good. I never had a single bad meal in Japan... all the food (even stuff that's gross here like McDonald's) tasted great there.

*I am going to clarify that and I say that I am from Los Angeles. I think people from major metro areas like SF, LA, NYC will find the prices surprisingly in line with what you pay locally, maybe even a bit cheaper. If you are from a LCOL area, YMMV.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2015, 04:09:45 PM by lbmustache »

AZDude

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2015, 04:25:29 PM »
I need to switch to southwest airlines if its only 60K miles to fly to Japan. I have USA/AA and its 50K miles just to fly from Phoenix to California...

milesdividendmd

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2015, 05:12:24 PM »
I need to switch to southwest airlines if its only 60K miles to fly to Japan. I have USA/AA and its 50K miles just to fly from Phoenix to California...
  Lots of good options to japan including ANA (40-60k miles, aeroplan, 65 K, singapore 55-65 K, american 50K-60K, Hawaiin, 60K, United 70K...)

Capsu78

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2015, 05:26:34 PM »
I've been looking to plan a trip to Japan soon so hopefully I can help out too and learn some in the process. So take what I say with a grain of salt since I have no first hand experience yet, but here's some general advice from my research so far:

I had this idea that Japan was going to be ASTRONOMICALLY expensive* when I went, and I was pleasantly surprised! The train is cheap, if you eat at regular restaurants (I guess more mom and pop-ish - which coincidentally have the best food!) or Japanese chain restaurants, you will be good. I never had a single bad meal in Japan... all the food (even stuff that's gross here like McDonald's) tasted great there.

*I am going to clarify that and I say that I am from Los Angeles. I think people from major metro areas like SF, LA, NYC will find the prices surprisingly in line with what you pay locally, maybe even a bit cheaper. If you are from a LCOL area, YMMV.

+1  Spent a week in Tokyo in April and while it was easy to find high prices, there were plenty of decent low cost options.  Even had a classic sushi experience at Sushi Dai at the fish market- arrived a 4:30 am, didn't get in until 7:30 am but for $30 USD had an experience I will remember forever:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1021147-d6056439-Reviews-Sushi_Dai-Funabashi_Chiba_Prefecture_Kanto.html

 

Mountainbug

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2015, 05:45:05 PM »
So much good info! Thanks everyone, keep it comin :)

halftimer

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2015, 07:32:41 PM »
I agree to take the Keisei Skyliner, and that even the cheapest food places including 7-11 are really tasty and a good value.

Here's the definitive save money in Tokyo guide
http://tokyocheapo.com
there are one page guides/tips for other Japan regions and cities - but the focus in mostly on Tokyo
Start here  http://tokyocheapo.com/business/internet/beginners-guide-to-tokyo/

Ryo

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Re: Trying to plan mustachian trip to Japan
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2015, 11:46:09 PM »
I second the Japan Rail Pass advice.  Excellent value.  A one-week rail pass is nearly the equivalent of one round-trip Tokyo-Kyoto Shinkansen train ride. 

Japan can really be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. 

AirBNB is starting to pick up in Japan and often the best deals in accomodation can be found there. 

If you are REALLY frugal, you can go the internet cafe route.  Many of the them have showers nowadays and almost all offer free drinks, and you get a semi-private room (semi-private in that it's partitioned off).  There's even a term in Japanese which translates as "internet cafe refugees" ... meaning people who live at these places semi-permanently because they can't afford regular accommodation.