Plan with me: How to Plan a Trip to Japan

How to Plan a Trip to Japan

As you can see by the title of this post, we are going to Japan! To celebrate 10 years of being stuck, er, madly in love with each other we are jetting off to Japan to celebrate. In addition, we will be spending a few days in South Korea! Mainly because we procrastinated and all the award seats from Japan were full but we were able to book award seats from Seoul instead. It was really a blessing in disguise. Our trip is planned for the end of March through mid-April, just in time for Sakura season!

Many people have asked how we plan our trips so I decided to write this blog series to illustrate how I normally plan our trips. Now, don’t get it twisted–I don’t claim to be a travel expert nor do I have aspirations to become a travel agent so don’t get all judgy on me because if that’s what you’re here for, you can get on outta here.

Before we get into the gritty details, I’d like to give a brief description of what our travel style is in case our interests don’t align, you don’t have to continue wasting your precious time here. We like to be organized when we travel but we do love a little spontaneity. We don’t like to plan our trips down to the minute because to us, that’s more stressful than enjoyable. We enjoy to eat, sightsee and I LOVE to shop. We also love our gadgets so don’t be surprised if cover a lot about them.

I’ll start with how we booked our tickets because that usually is the first step to planning a trip, right? Like I said earlier, we booked our business class flight from Seoul to Los Angeles using reward points. We paid $122 in fuel surcharges for the both of us. We decided to wait to for a deal to pop up before we purchased our outbound ticket. I set a deal alert via airfarewatchdog to email me whenever there was a dip in prices in the route we specified. Luckily for us, that delightful day came on a not-so-breezy day in October and we booked our direct flight to Tokyo from San Diego for $770. Let me calculate our total cost for travel thus far: $892 for the both of us. We still need to book our tickets from Japan to Korea once we decide how many days we want to spend in each country.

We have looked into the Japan Rail Passes (JR Pass) which retail for $279 for a 7 day pass and $445 for a 14 day pass but we are holding off until we figure out how many days we will be in Japan–so we’ll come back to this topic.

What we like to do as we plan out a trip is to pin all the places we want to visit on google maps. That way we get a visual of which area we need to stay in and in this case, figure out how many days we will spend in each city.

Here is our map so far:
How to Plan a Trip to Japan Google Map
Google Maps helping me visualize all the places I want to visit

As you can sort of see by the map, we have mainly looked into Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Kyoto and Osaka with a few other places sprinkled in there. I will go into detail about what we have planned for each city on the next post because I’m still unsure myself!

There you have it! This will be the first of many blog posts about how I am planning out my trip. Is there anything you want to see next? Let me know in the comments!
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Happy Fall!

Wow, is it really October already!? I blinked, and the next thing I knew it’s fall. Well, the California version of fall which is sun, sun and some more sun. I can’t really complain though because we LOVE it here so far.

A lot has happened lately and I just don’t know where to start. We have been keeping busy by exploring sunny San Diego. And by exploring, I mean we have been doing a lot of eating. There are so many good eateries within a few short miles of us that it is often times very difficult to resist the temptation. So we usually don’t. HA!

The eternal sunshine allows us to be able to do a lot of outdoor activities with Ittybot. Whether it be a walk in the park, a trip to the playground, cute picnics or even movies in the park! And we have definitely been taking advantage of our gorgeous community pool.

While San Diego still feels like an extended vacation we are so incredibly blessed and happy to call this place home.

But enough of my jibber jabber, lets get you all up to speed with a couple vlogs.

We will try to be better about this blog but seriously, no promises.

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Cheap Coffee Sugar Scrubs

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Because our container STILL has not arrived, I decided to try something new to keep me occupied. The other day, the Mr. brought home a jumbo bag of used coffee grounds from Starbucks. The grounds are meant to be used for planting purposes but since we don’t have any plants just yet, I figured I can make some coffee sugar scrubs in the meantime! Genius, right? So, let me tell you how I made my coffee sugar scrubs for dirt cheap.

Here are a few things you’ll need:

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Coconut Oil – I managed to snagged this little guy for FREE when Thrive Market was running a promotion. But you can find inexpensive coconut oil at Trader Joe’s for $6.
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Coffee Grounds – FREE courtesy of my trusty Starbucks
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Soap Base – I used a 50% off coupon to Michaels and snagged this Shea Butter Soap base for $5.25. I heard goat’s milk is also a great option but I was nervous about the way it would make my apartment smell.
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Molds – I got mine from Ikea for $1. The flamingos are from Hollar for $1 as well!
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(OPTIONAL) Essential Oils: I got my oil from Michaels with a 40% coupon. The oil cost me $2.40 but I will never, EVER purchase it again because it smells like wet dog. Consider yourself warned.

I try not to purchase crafts without a coupon or a considerable in-store markdown. So imagine my excitement when I saw that there was a 50% off coupon for Michaels when I started this project!!

The best part of this project was that I got to use my pretty copper measuring cups and spoons I ordered from World Market! Aren’t they preeeetty??

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I made the soap scrubs while Ittybot was taking a nap so I was trying to do it quickly and quietly to avoid any grimy little fingers dipping into the soap mix.

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It looks like dirty sand once it’s all packed in. Look closely, you can see some soap chunks because I wasn’t working fast enough. Who knew they’d harden fast?!

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Aaaand voila! I got my little panda holder from Daiso. I really don’t know what it’s intended for but if it’s a Panda, I gotta have it!

I managed to make the scrubs for around $10! Not bad, right?! And I still have enough materials to make many more batches.

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Ingredients:
1 cup of granulated sugar

2 tbsp of coffee

1/2 cup of soap base

1/4 cup of coconut oil

25 drops of Essential Oil {OPTIONAL}

Directions:
1. Melt your soap base. You can do this in the microwave according to directions but I chose to melt mine in a hot bath using a pyrex bowl.

2. While the soap base is melting, mix sugar and coffee in a large mixing bowl

3. Prepare your molds because once you mix the soap base and dry ingredients you will need to work fast.

4. Once the soap base is melted add in your coconut oil and essential oil.

5. Next, pour the base into your large mixing bowl that contains your sugar and coffee.

6. Mix thoroughly and pack mix into your molds – work fast because the soap will harden quickly!

7. Let sit for about 4 hrs before removing them from their molds

 

Next time, I will skip the essential oil entirely and embrace the coffee smell!

Give it a try and tag me in the pictures! IG: @MeetTheBots

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Good Ol’ Minnesota

Before we make our final move to California, we did a stopover in Minnesota to spend some time with our family. The Mr was with us for about a month while Ittybot and I stayed an additional 2 weeks.

I’d have to say that “crazy” is an understatement. There was a lot on our list of things to do and time was not on our side. The Mr’s side of the family lives in a small town 3 hrs south of the major city that my family lives in, so we had to divide our time between the families while squeezing in a 4 day trip to California to find a place to live.

All the craziness aside, it’s always amazing to see Ittybot interact with his cousins. I’m a little, ok – a lot, behind on our vlogs but when I get around to getting those posted you can just see the glee in his little face! It makes my heart melt. And the little cousins are fantastic with him. They take such great care of him. There is no shortage of love amongst them.

Take a peek at some of the pictures of our time in Minnesota!

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Celebrating Lao New Year in Minneapolis! Location: Bouasavanh in Brooklyn Park, MN
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A relaxing day of food and fishing at the cousin’s house.
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Hanging out on the new pontoon!

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We’re moving…AGAIN!

California

I have seriously waited SO long to be able to say this….WE’RE MOVING!!!! Yes, again. This time, we are moving to the west coast…SUNNY CALIFORNIA! *Queue the crowd cheering audio track*

This is been in the works since July 2015. Yes, you read that correctly – JULY 2015. It has been a long time coming and I am ecstatic that it is finally happening. The Mr accepted the position back in January and due to some unforeseen company changes, it stalled our relocation process. All that mess aside, we will be flying out of Amsterdam at the end of March!

Our experience here has been unforgettable to say the least. We traveled the world, raised an infant in a completely new country without any family nearby, and we conquered it all as a strong, cohesive family unit. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am that I have The Mr in my corner. He is the most understanding and supportive person on the face of the planet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 1000x over – I hit the freaking jackpot with this one!!

I can’t say that the past 2.5 years was paved with rose petals. I had many, MANY days where the constant Holland gloomy weather got me down. I struggled with self-identity, battled with pseudo relationships, and dwelled in self-hate. I wish I could say that I conquered them and come out the other side a stronger person. It’s not that sort of storybook ending. The melee is far from over but I will continue to trudge on and kick its A$$.

I’m excited for what California has to offer. I have been doing extensive research on all the places we can take Ittybot and of course all the foodie offerings! We go to bed each night talking about all the fun and exciting things coming our way. We have some serious goals and what the bots have next in the horizon is nothing short of AMAZEBALLS.

I’ll conclude this here and I’m sure you will hear from me again in the near future!

JoopJoop,

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Jetsettin’: Girls Trip to Lisbon, Portugal

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Several weeks ago, several beauties and I headed over to Lisbon, Portugal to get away from our normal, everyday lives. The husbands, kids, and fiances were left to handle things on their own for a few days. We chose Lisbon due to weather and affordability. Little did we know, this hidden gem would be a trip of a lifetime. I went in assuming we would do a little sightseeing and spend the rest of our time sipping wine at the apartment or at a local restaurant. Nope, we spent almost the entire time exploring all that Lisbon had to offer.

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Seems as though we brought the rain with us from Holland and Belgium so we spent the first day on a Greyline tourbus (26 euros for 48 hrs, if you were wondering) taking notes on where we wanted to see once the rain subsided.

On our second day, we headed over the Sao Jorge Castle to soak in the views from the top of the hill. I was a little bummed that the fog was so heavy but it was still pretty cool to see the April 25th bridge peek above the fog. Of course, I managed to do a little shopping. Souvenirs in Portugal are ADORABLE and AFFORDABLE. The combination of the two was dangerous for someone like me.

We ended up cramming a lot in on our last full day. We took the long tour bus ride (~2 hrs) to Boca do Inferno, Jeronimo Monastary, and Belem Tower.

Can I just say the the restaurant right by Boca do Inferno is probably the best seafood I’ve had in a long time…maybe EVER! It was so fresh that they didn’t have to do much of anything to it. I was on cloud nine with every single bite. We never had a mediocre meal in Portugal – and the way to my heart, is food.  I don’t know if it’s because we were so hungry from our long treks, but I’m pretty sure the food was just THAT good. Granted, we ate at restaurants near the monuments which are probably considered tourist traps – but they were still scrumptious.

I didn’t vlog nearly as much as I should have but enjoy what I got!

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Jetsettin’: New Year in Spain!

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For New Years, we decided to head over to visit the Mr’s aunt and uncle in Spain for the first time since we have moved here. Took us long enough, right?

They graciously offered us a room in their home for the 3 days that we were there. Their kids were also in town so it was a full house and we couldn’t ask for more! We had a fantastic time hanging out drinking delicious wine over tapas.

Let me tell you, the food, OH MY GOOOODNESS. The food was amazing.

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We spent an afternoon walking around the old city of Avila. The city is enclosed within walls built back in the 12th century. Unfortunately, most of the shops were closed because it was New Years day but we got to see the beautiful cathedrals in town.

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The Mr and I got a virus of some sort and we were out of commission the rest of the time. We felt terrible for being in bed all day but they were so kind to watch Ittybot while we tried to rest up. Ittybot loved playing with his cousins that he didn’t even notice that we weren’t around!

We tried to explore Madrid on our last day in Spain but we were still feeling quite ill where it wasn’t even a pleasurable experience 😦

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BUT we do have some vlogs for you to check out – what we got of it at least 🙂

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