The best way to experience Japan for your first time, I believe, is with a group tour. I had always wanted to visit but was worried about the language barrier for eating out and getting around. I ended up planning a trip through a travel company. Now, as you can see by my bio, I’ve traveled in many places and many ways. From backpacking and hitchhiking to five-star tours, I’ve seen it all. Well, a large portion of it, anyway.
The group tour was fantastic for two reasons:
- It was a luxury tour. A little beyond the average travel budget, perhaps, but worth every penny.
We stayed in very fine accomodations. For example, our very first night there was spent at the Peninsula Hotel Tokyo – absolutely stunning! It set high expectations for the rest of the trip. And the rest of the trip lived up to every one of them. The dining was also amazing. I’m quite a purveyeur of street food, and I managed to sneak off and eat some meals served up by vendors, but I certainly enjoyed the delicious fine dining in luxious restaurants.
- It was relaxing not to have to worry about any logistics.
Our travel director was fluent in Japanese culture and language. And that made it easy to talk to locals, order food, and as a bonus, we didn’t need to worry about directions! I’ve always enjoyed making my way around a new city – it’s a bit of an adventure, really. But having the details of the itinerary all figured out for us was a marvellous experience. I never realized just how much stress that could take out of a trip. All we needed to do was to make sure that we go up on time in the morning (impossible to sleep late with a room call!) and meet the group for breakfast.
Depending on your personality, I’d recommend a group trip for anyone. There are a number of companies that offer them. It’s worth your while to shop around. Know your budget and stick with it. If you have a little more to spend, a luxury tour makes all the difference in the world. Whether you’re traveling to Japan or somewhere local, a group trip is the way to go. Give it a try – you may be surprised!