A week in Japan - hand luggage challenge

Disclaimer: This collaboration was set up with KLM.

One of my biggest dreams has always been to go to Japan one day.
The culture seems fascinating, it’s home to a variety of landscapes, every corner offers delicious food and you can pretty much see everything using public transportation.
(And it might sound ridiculous to some, but growing up playing Pokémon does something to you as well.)


I never thought I would go in the near future but this November, an opportunity came up and KLM invited me to fly from Germany to Japan. I couldn’t say no, right?

While making plans on what to see and do during that short one week, I quickly realized that a lot of luggage would only slow us down. Puplic transportation here is very easy and a lot cheaper than traveling by car (especially the highways have crazy high tolls, but we will talk about that a little later).
So I suggested to go on a trip with hand luggage only. That would usually never work because most airlines only offer 7kgs of hand luggage, but luckily with KLM you get to bring 12kgs with you. 


Here is what I packed for the trip:


Wearing on the plane/on the go:
-  warm jacket that’s a little water repellant 

  • comfy Sweater + Leggings

  • Worn in Sneakers so your feet don’t hurt from running around all day long

  • Beanie

In the backpack

  • 1 extra Sweater 

  • T-Shirts (roll them and they’ll need less space), Socks, underwear 

  • Jeans 

  • Shampoo, Toothbrush etc. 

  • First Aid Kit and stuff like pain killer for headaches, something for the stomach etc.


  • Camera:
    I chose to bring the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III because it’s the smallest camera I own, still takes great images and videos. Paired with the 12-40mm f. 2.8 lens so you have pretty much everything covered. I didn’t want to pack a heavy camera with a lot of lenses, because it would only but extra weight on my back.

  • Drone (Mavic Air because it’s nice and small)


Things I didn’t bring but usually would on longer trips:
- Laptop, Charger, external hard drive, more sweaters, extra pair of shoes, small backpack for daytrips etc.

First flight was from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, a short and sweet city-hop. We didn’t change the airline so the way from one plane to the other was easy to find and the KLM staff was very helpful on where to go next. I alway try to get a flight directly from A to B, but sometimes that’s not possible. My concerns were wiped away thanks to the very smooth connection.

From Amsterdam we started the long journey to Japan. I don’t know about you, but for me flying always feels like going to the movies.
You sit down, get provided with some snacks and drinks and watch your favorite show or a movie I have to say, their inflight entertainment is really good. They provide a big movie selection even new movies that were just in the cinema. (Anybody else who still always gets lost in the kids’ movies section?)
After some nice food (vegetarian options available too) you might want to take a nap and before you even know it you’re on the other side of the world. 

So yes, after a very smooth flight where I slept like a baby we made it to our destination.


Here are some of the highlights from our week in Japan that you can easily do as well:

  • The trains are incredibly clean and the Japanese are a calm nation very willing to help you if you’re getting lost. Most of them speak really good English, and even if they don’t they will still try to help you somehow and show you the platform you need to go to. Don’t be afraid to ask. I never travel by train if I can avoid it because the public transportation in Germany is expensive, late for most of the time etc.
    So this was very different for me and I really enjoyed it.

  • Nara Deer Park is a crazy place. Come early, be respectful to the animals and don’t run after them if they decide to not approach you.

  • Tokyo Tower is fun and you should definitely visit if your hotel has entry included (most of them do) enjoy the city lights!

  • The Fushimi Inari Temple is a must see and I definitely understand why people come here. Go early to avoid the crowds and enjoy long walks through the red gates and learn more about the legend behind this place.

  • Don’t go to the bamboo forest if you don’t need to: it’s always crowded and you could use that time to have some walks around the town or have some bomb sushi.

  • 7-eleven is a life saver when you’re looking for good snacks and are on a budget, because Japan can be very expensive. Especially in the cities the prices for a meal can be a lot higher than expected. 

  • Mt. Fuji area is kind of old and looks like they forgot that it’s the 21st century. However, you come here for the view on the emoji-mountain, right? Cross your fingers for clear skies and walk around the Kawaguchiko lake for beautiful sceneries.

  • Have fun, you’re in Japan! Go to an arcade, do karaoke, eat something you’ve never tried and make new friends. It’s the most fun country to travel in I think.