Category Archives: Holiday Preparation

Finding Accommodation via Airbnb

I understand that my children are teenagers so we have to find a room big enough for four adults or book two rooms, one for parents and the other one for our children. Hotel rooms in Japan are usually smaller compared to the ones in other countries with the similar price and standard. When I started to find accommodations for our next trip to Japan, first I checked the famous www.agoda.com and www.booking.com. I usually book our hotel rooms from those websites and so far I have good experience with them. However, to find hotel rooms in Japan for the four of us within our budget and in good location was challenging.

Having visited other blogs, I came to know about www.airbnb.com which is a website that listed private accommodation all over the world ranging from a shared room, private room or entire home. I am interested to use Airbnb because they have a lot of alternatives in terms of the location and price. These are steps to use Airbnb services:

  1. Sign-up to www.airbnb.com. It is a standard sign-up procedure that will only take 10 minutes of your time.
  2. Decide the type of accommodation that you are interested: shared room, private room or entire home. As I will go with my family, I chose to stay in an entire home in order to get better privacy.
  3. Decide the location within your destination. I know that I will use train for the local transportation during our holiday so I chose apartments which are near to the train station (my standard is maximum 10 minutes walking).
  4. Decide the budget. Airbnb has ‘price filter’ that you can use to focus your searching to the places that cost within your budget.
  5. Start searching.
  6. When you review a place, read carefully all of the house rules, facilities and all of the reviews from previous guests. Always remember that the people who listed their accommodation in Airbnb are not a professional in the hospitality industry. Don’t expect the same service standards as usually provided by hotels. If you are lucky enough to get a very kind, responsive and friendly host then consider it as a bonus.
  7. Check whether the accommodation is available on your planned dates.
  8. When you like a place, you can contact the host. This is also a way to check whether the host is responsive to your inquiry.
  9. Usually the host will give you ‘pre-approval’ with a deadline to finalise the payment.
  10. Don’t worry if you pass the deadline. If you pass the deadline but finally decide to choose that accommodation, you can check again whether it is still available.
  11. When you are sure with your choice, finalise the payment. It requires your credit card number. The owners of the accommodation that I chose use Euro for the payment but I can already see the calculation in my own currency: Rupiah.
  12. After you paid, the owner will give you more detailed information about the address, mobile number, map with direction to reach there, how to collect the key and so on. One of the owner even sent me the link to her youtube video on how to open her apartment locker to get the key to the apartment.
  13. There is an option to send automatic message to the other hosts that you have contacted to inform that you don’t need their accommodation anymore.
  14. Keep the correspondences with the owner. I did ask several other questions to the owners such as how to reach their place, possibility to do early check-in and so on.

Finally, I booked three accommodation via www.airbnb.com : 3-days in Otsuka, Tokyo, 3-days in Nishi-ku, Osaka and the last 2 days in Shibuya, Tokyo. All of these three places come with a free portable wifi included in the rental price! More stories on these three places will come later!

Advertisements

And the Decision is….Japan!

So….for our next family holiday in December, we decided to go to Japan!

Why Japan? Well…, the four of us have never visited Japan before. It’s not too far from Jakarta but the country has a unique culture which is very different from ours. Moreover, we all love Japanese food so much!

We decided to go and return before Christmas and New Year so we still can spend the festive days with our big family. Devani and Maxi will start their semester holiday on December 12th so we plan to travel on December 13th which is on Sunday (hopefully, less traffic to reach our beloved Soekarno-Hatta airport).

As usual, I am the one who do the preparations. I need to plan the itinerary based on the interests of the whole family:

  • Devani and Maxi surely want to visit DisneySea (they are ‘too old’ for Disneyland Tokyo) and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.
  • Husband likes to visit shrines and temples to see the culture
  • Devani and I want to shop
  • Maxi wants to visit at least one museum
  • Maxi is interested to see the aquariums
  • We all want to eat good and yummy (but not expensive) Japanese food
  • We all want to see the snow (optional)

Considering the duration of the holiday (one week to ten days), I decided to include Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto in our itinerary.

First thing first…we need to purchase the airplane tickets.  The obvious choice is to check the budget airlines tickets to Japan. However, the budget airlines usually do not travel directly to Japan. It means we will have to travel longer and we do not really like it especially on the flight back home. Other than the transit factor, budget airlines usually depart and/or arrive at odd hour…very late at night or very early in the morning. Surprisingly, the price is not that cheap since we will be travelling in the holiday period so no big discount is offered.

From a cousin who often travels to Japan (how lucky she is!), I was recommended to try to come to H.I.S Travel Agent (www.his-travel.co.id). This travel agent is specialized in Japan destination so they have all services catered to Japan holiday. In the internet era, I seldom make an airline booking via a travel agents as I usually do it online but after checking H.I.S Travel website, I am very interested to come to their office.

I visited H.I.S Travel Agent which is located in Mid Plaza. There are many other Japanese companies which have an office there. Almost all of the staff who work in H.I.S Travel seem to be able to speak Japanese. The service was very professional and efficient. The staff that I met gave me several airline offers to choose. Most of the airlines that go to Japan will arrive either in Tokyo (Narita or Haneda) or Osaka. For our first visit to Japan, we choose Tokyo as our base. Then between Narita and Haneda, we choose Haneda because it is closer to the city.

We actually can take our return flight from Osaka in order to avoid back travel to Tokyo but the price of the ticket is more expensive. We also love to travel by Shinkansen twice (Tokyo – Osaka v.v).

After considering several options, finally we decided to choose Garuda Indonesia for our holiday to Japan. Garuda ticket price which is offered by H.I.S Travel is very reasonable even compared to the budget airlines that I checked from the internet. And we all know that Garuda Indonesia service is good with full meals throughout the journey. Garuda to Tokyo will depart at midnight and arrive in the morning at Haneda. We do hope to be able to sleep during the flight.

We do not book the hotel via H.I.S Travel as we plan to rent an apartment from www.airbnb.com. We will definitely return to H.I.S Travel to purchase other things such as tickets to DisneySea, Universal Studios, Japan Rail, etc. etc.

Next thing to do is to find a suitable accommodation for our holiday! Yeaaay! So excited!