We all dream about traveling for business. Now the moment is here and you are wondering where to start. Well, first of all, you should take care of your travel documents. Everything else won’t be possible if you show up at the airport without your passport.
Issuance of a passport is a process. You have to gather all the paperwork needed and it might take a while. First of all, you will need to fill out the form DS-11. Also, there are all the instructions how to do that for the first time and if you are just renewing the passport, fee calculator and FAQ section.
Besides the form, you need to present your US birth certificate or Naturalization Certificate, proof of identity such as the expired/expiring passport, naturalization certificate, which you already have, but just to make sure I would take current valid driver’s license with me. Two passport photographs, 2×2 inches, have to be made prior to applying, and just in one hour, you can have them done at Walmart, Walgreens, FedEx office, or small photography studios.
As everything else, the passport has to be paid for. There is the application fee of $ 97 total, but it contains three different fees, and one of them is the execution fee that is paid to the facility where you are applying. Check whether it is possible to combine all the fees in one payment or not and what forms of payment are acceptable because they vary. There is the option to pay for expedited service of $ 60 to get your passport as soon as possible, but if you choose not to do this account to wait for you passport issuance from 4 to 6 weeks after you apply.
At this moment you can start your research. Japan is an island and although there are other options, in my opinion, there is no better way than to travel by plane. There are two airports in Japan – Haneda, and Narita. Haneda is much closer to Tokyo metropolitan, but you have to decide what option is better for you considering flight schedules, prices, and your lodging location. Ticket prices for a round trip go from $1,135 with 3 stops and traveling for 3 days to $ 1,462 with one stop and arriving the next day with cheapoair.com to Haneda airport. Other agencies offer pretty similar prices. Just to mention, Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of Milwaukee!
On the other hand, if you choose to fly to Narita airport you can purchase a ticket for $ 1,410 and get there directly on a non-stop flight, but you can save about 50% if you decide to change planes in Shanghai Pu Dong and accept 14 and 22 hours layovers. Convenience comes with a price.
Along with looking for the right airport and the plane ticket try to figure out where you would like to stay. For example, if you are visiting The University of Tokyo which is located at this address 7 Chome-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyō, Tokyo 113-8654, Japan, you shod start your research there. Depending on how thick your wallet is you can choose from a variety of prices. But having in mind that you are a student I would suggest a $75 per night Hotel Villa Fontaine Tokyo-Kayabacho, that is located only about 30 – 40 minutes from the University depending on which of the five metro lines you would like to take. I used cheapoair.com website to look up for the hotel along with searching for the plane ticket. Read reviews!
Finding the right lodging and plane tickets should take about three days if you really want to find the best deals.
If you try to find the distance between the hotel and the University on Google Maps you can also see what kinds of transportation are available. Although it is the fastest option to take a cab, it might be costly. Japan is known by very fast trains, so consider traveling by metro. As I already mentioned, there are five metro lines that can take you from your hotel to the university. Those are Hibyia, Ginza, Marunouchi, Tozai, and Oedo. Just to mention that Tokyo has four more, but don’t get scared! Here you realize how good job people from Google Maps did. Find directions from the place where you are at to the place you want to go and click on the train option. Every available metro line will be listed there, with the details of the route, and even with the price of a ticket! For example, if you take Hibiya line, you will get from the University to your hotel in 29 minutes for 350 yen. Sounds expensive? No, it is about $ 3.35, which is pretty cheap for an expensive city like Tokyo, I would say.
If you go to tokyometro.jp you will see that tickets are sold at every metro station at ticket vending machines in denominations of 170, 200, 240, 280, and 310 yen. The distance of 1 – 6 km (0.6 – 3.7 miles) you will pay 170 yen, 7 – 11 km (4.3 to 6.8 miles) 200 yen and so on. Basic math is required!
You can exchange dollars for yens almost everywhere. Being a technologically advanced country, Japan has gone high-tech with money exchange machines located at “every corner”. On the other hand, if you can find a currency exchange office you will get the best rate, and the rate US dollar: Japanese yen is, give or take, 1: 100. Although where ever you look you will see the Japanese language, these offices will stick out with the English word “Exchange”.
Now that you can get around with confidence you can try to find out where to eat. The hotel that we “booked” offers free breakfast, which is an excellent thing to start the day and to get ready to explore. Again, use Google Maps to find out what are the restaurants nearby and decide where to go first. I am sure that you will discover new interesting places as soon as you get there, and you can always ask for a recommendation. In case you don’t want to take chances, especially with prices take time to explore in more detail. Anyway, lunch and dinner can cost you each from $ 6.11, if you choose McDonald’s hamburger, French fries, a glass of coke, an apple pie, and a coffee, to about $40 if you choose to visit restaurants. Of course, there is no upper price limit when it comes to high-class restaurants.
As many other countries, Japan is no exception when it comes to customs and rules of behavior. Spend four to five days learning how to greet people, what is acceptable in specific situations and what is not. Read as much as you can and be sure that it is going to pay off. Always strive to leave a good impression and show respect.
At the end of your planning assignment spend some time to look for entertainment. Allow three or four days and try to find out what are the cultural happenings at the time you are staying there. Make a list of things you would like to do. Calculate the cost of passes, transportation, and determine how much you would spend on souvenirs.
In the end, we can summarize the time needed for planning the trip and the cost of the trip. The Gantt chart can visualize the time and the table below shows approximate expenses.
|Lodging||$ 525 ($ 75 x 7)|
|Meals||$ 85 – $ 500|
|Metro||$ 25 – $ 60
($ 25 just for round trip hotel – University for 7 days, the rest for sightseeing and other)
|Museum Tickets||$ 10 x 2|
|Tokyo Tower ticket||$ 13.4|
|Concert at a jazz bar ticket||$ 9.4 – 19|
|Night club admission||$ 35|
|Beer at the night club||$ 5.5|
|Unexpected expenses||$ 100 – 200|
Just for the necessities like passport, airplane ticket, hotel, cheapest meals, and metro you will need to allow about $ 2,140. If you include sightseeing, entertainment, some better food, and something to take home, the amount can go easily approach and exceed $ 3,000.