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Suitcase Travel Tips Everyone Should Know

One of the interesting things about traveling, to me, is not how many beautiful shimmering images you get, or how many extra stamps you have in your passport, but how many things you learned, and experienced that you will never forget. And this post is about my luggage travel tips concluded from the lessons and experiences in my journeys.

Have you ever wanted to “bring the whole world” with you when traveling? You wondered what to leave behind? Or do you want to put everything into your luggage? Yes, I am. Indeed, I got this problem severely, no matter how many times I swear to give it up.

The Problems I Faced…

A long time ago, I and my friends determined to wander around Japan from the South to the North in 15 days. As scheduled, we traveled through Osaka, Kyoto, Takayama, Fuji, Okinawa, and Tokyo. To go through these places, the only smart and economical option is going by train of all types with JR Pass, from the bullet trains, the normal trains, to the cool Shinkansen. In other words, I have to move extremely a lot. And in a country where everything is expensive, to get to the stations, you can only choose to trust your feet. Accidentally or intentionally, or ’cause of one of my bad travel habits, we naively decided to carry with us 4 big suitcases. With a “minimalistic” memory, the 4 suitcases weighed about 80kg in total.

Bring too many suitcases in a trip
Let me introduce the 4 ‘cumbersome’ suitcases on my Japan trip.

This pain was never realized when the trip started. Because in Saigon, I just need to call a GrabCar. The driver will gently put the luggage in the car’s trunk. And upon arrival at the airport, trolleys are ready everywhere to assist me. The problem really happened when we arrived in Japan. We each carried a backpack on our shoulders, and 2 hands 2 suitcases with a weight of 20kg for each, and walked from JR station to homestay. Although it was just over 1km, we had no idea of direction, then these 4 suitcases literally mean 4 liabilities that we just wanted to throw away to be comfortable. We didn’t want to be foolish trying a taxi, it was truly expensive.

And the Consequences

The problems increased day by day, not diminished. After that, I faced the 3 biggest issues on my own:

Miss the Trains and Buses

We had no less than 3 train and bus delays because of the 4 suitcases. In Japan, train timing is exactly at the level of seconds. Thus, how can you run with the train when you have to carry those luggage? Losing a ton of money for buying train tickets again and again is really painful. Anyway, the experience of running with trains in Japan is really worth it. I’m just kidding.

Look Like a ‘Yokel’

It was not really cool at all. Especially when you are so sloppy, and everyone around is compact with only 1 portable suitcase. I looked like a yokel at that moment. Moreover, I even had a hard time arranging the luggage on the train, because the space for each passenger on the train is really not too much. Additionally, I also looked really annoying in the eyes of people around me when going up and down the train. They had to wait for us to carry the 4 suitcases up and down the transportation.

Extremely Cost Money

Necessity is the mother of invention. After the first 3 days, we found a solution. Japan is great, at most stations and airports, there is a thing called a coin locker. If you come to Japan, and move a lot, you can take full advantage of those supporters.

Coin lockers at Japanese stations with many sizes.

However, it is a very sweet trap. Coin lockers come in all sizes, fit any suitcases, and the price is definitely varied the same. On average, a locker will cost you about 1,000 Yen (Japanese currency) a day, about 9 USD. In short, on average, these machines have cost me 4,000 Yen a day for the 4 suitcases. And on average, during the 15-day trip, we lost approximately $350 to buy our compact. We sweetly called them “Money-swallowing machines”. Nevertheless, we still had to find those machines at most stations.

Anyway, I quite liked those machines. It is not because I found no country that had so many of them but they were also really convenient. To use them is very simple, and also very safe. You can watch the clip below to understand how it works:

Coin locker at Haneda International Airport.

After All, I Had Some Lessons, Making Those My Suitcase Travel Tips

So, after this trip, we are very determined, really determined to gain the lessons for ourselves, so that we will not be foolish on the next travel:

1. Reduce 1/2 of Personal Baggage

You should consider “leaving” the big suitcase you use, or replace it with a smaller sized one. Initially, you will be a little uncomfortable by cutting back on things. But you will then find it helpful to get rid of items you don’t really need. To imagine easily, instead of carrying a bunch of heavy skincare like me, you should consider buying a travel set of cosmetics. The truth may be heartbreaking, it’s even cheaper to buy in Japan.

Believe me, you will just want to carry a cool-looking backpack and comfortably enjoy the trip.

2. Minimize Clothing to Bring

How do you feel when you minimize the number of clothes you will bring? One of the biggest suitcase travel tips I have, you should just pack a few into your suitcase. Particularly, you need to pay attention to the multi-functional clothes, which can mix the most styles. Believe me again, even if you bring a lot, you will mostly use 1/2 of those clothes. We usually pack everything and never used it.

Just an extra sad story, the amount we gave to the “money-swallowing machines” was enough to buy a bunch of new clothes there. We were pitied to realize it quite late.

3. Have Many Shoes Doesn’t Mean Good

You may think that traveling must need a lot of shoes. A pair to go to the beach, a pair for walking to discover the city, and one or two more to match these beautiful skirts or pants. In that way, you will be overwhelmed by the things you want to bring. Unless you are on a business trip, you just need to bring the most comfortable pair of shoes. You can also prepare two pairs, but they should be light and easy to carry around.

My confession, me and my friends brought 6 pairs of shoes, and 2 pairs of flip-flops on our Japanese trip.

4. You Can Do Laundry Yourself During the Trip

You should actively wash clothes during your trip. In most homestay and studio rooms I chose to stay, there was a washing machine available for you to use for free. Even, if there are auto laundry stores somewhere on the street, you can go there to use the service. It only costs you 200 Yen, and about 2 hours. Your clothes will be fragrant and clean again.

A tip is, if you go on the same 15-day Japanese trip, you should only clothes for 5 days. Then taking advantage of auto laundry service. No one will care if you wear a T-shirt or jeans again.

5. Don’t Shopping too Much While You Experience the Journey

Everyone wants to buy a lot of gifts for friends and relatives. Indeed, you could also buy some souvenirs. But you should think of the number and size. This time, I really had to compliment my dear friend for a big improvement compared to our previous trip. We actually saved a lot of space and weight on souvenirs but still had enough gifts for everyone. It was 6kg left in our luggage.

In summary for this suitcase travel tip, if there is no pain, there is no lesson. And the pain of this trip really gave us an expensive lesson, a true one, literally and figuratively. Hope that you guys could learn something from our lessons to prepare for your next trip to Japan. Similarly, hope that we can also remember our lessons. But I really doubt myself!

Anyway, don’t forget to thank us for our innocence and stupidity. Thanks to that, the trip was full of emotions!

Carmen Nguyen
Luggage Tips Contributor
Read my story and tips, don’t read my bio. I’m busy traveling around and share my travel tips!

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I hope you love Carmen’s story in Japan, also her experienced lessons about suitcase travel tips. Here are other posts of travel tips that I believe you will love learning too:

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