What We’ve Learned From Our Trip: The Ugly, The Bad & The Good

A trip to Japan always means lots of walking, which we actually enjoy. It really is the best way to get out and experience Tokyo. Unlike previous trips though, walking was not always easy for us, and turned out to be a real learning experience in both positive and not-so-positive ways:

The Ugly:

  • Both Brett and I are out of shape, much more than we realized. We’re both overweight, and in my case carrying around a few too many extra pounds caused my bursitis to act up from time to time. When I weigh less, it’s not an issue. We need to get more exercise than we do now so that we have more stamina no matter where we go. Brett’s going to start taking a walk on the beach path every morning, and I’m going to punch up my bike riding. When I get my weight down and the bursitis under control I’ll join Brett on the longer walks.
  • Long plane trips affect us more than in the past. Even with the more comfortable seats we booked for this trip, the long plane ride over affected my back somewhat, and Brett said it was hard on him too. Fortunately I knew what to do about my back this time to ward off major problems like I experienced last summer, but we realize it’s something that will always need to be considered going forward. Visiting Japan will always require a long flight, but we may have to consider breaking up other journeys into shorter sections, with a period of rest in between.

The Bad:

  • We need much, much better shoes for walking. The shoes we took with us this were not made for walking any distance, and we walked miles each day. Our feet more than let us know that we need better shoes. Before we do any more traveling we are both going to invest in some good-fitting, quality walking shoes.
  • Jet lag affects us more than it did in the past. We noticed it took us a bit longer to recover this time than it has in the past. We’re getting older, and don’t bounce back like we once did, so it’s something we’re going to have to consider for future trip and plans.

The Good:

  • We’re still open to adventure. We continue to enjoy trying new things and new foods, and going places and doing things we haven’t done before.
  • We’re still very good at packing just the right amount. We brought just the right amount of clothing: five days of outfits. Everything fit perfectly into our carry-on bags, with room for gifts coming over, and plenty of room for souvenirs going home.
  • We’re still flexible. We’ve been able to adjust our plans easily without throwing everything off, or feeling disappointed. We had an unexpected rainy day earlier in the week, but quickly changed our plans and had a wonderful time exploring the area around Tokyo Station (which was mostly covered) with our son and grandson instead of heading out on our own to a more distant part of the city as we had planned.
  • We’ve gotten even better at managing our travel funds. Lots of things catch our eye (and boy have they this trip), but we’ve been even better at telling ourselves no, that we don’t need something, and reminding ourselves that we’d much rather use our money for other things, like being able to splurge on our grandchildren, and do some special things for our son and daughter-in-law.

We won’t be traveling again for the rest of this year, and for at least half of next year, so we have time to get ourselves in better shape, plan an affordable flight schedule that works for us that includes some built-in rest periods, and find better shoes for walking!

It’s good to be home, but I can’t wait to go back!


10 thoughts on “What We’ve Learned From Our Trip: The Ugly, The Bad & The Good

  1. Even when I was young I battled jet lag. In fact, my trip to Hawaii more than 30 years ago with only a 6 hour time difference left me ill and completely out of sorts the first day. At lease I didn’t have anything specific planned for that first day unlike my trip to England where we went straight on the tour from the airport and I had no sleep for almost 24 hours. I hate to think how much it would affect me now. I think any future plans will have to allow for a day of rest after the airplane trip or maybe short hops — Florida to LA to Hawaii and then the long trip to New Zealand or Australia. It adds to the expense but if you are ill, you won’t enjoy the trip anyway. I am also not in the best shape so will have to walk more at home to get in shape for the travel. So glad you mentioned this as I will now know what to expect. Would a bicycle ride make it worse or easier or is that even a possibility in Japan?


    1. My hours seem to be getting more normal, but I am just dragging, and making stupid mistakes and forgetting things. Hopefully I can shake this jet lag sooner rather than later. Brett and YaYu seem to be bouncing back more quickly. We’re definitely going to be adding in some stops along the way, either coming and going.

      You could not pay me to get on a bicycle in Japan! So many people ride bikes, but the roads seem crazy crowded to me, and I don’t like riding on the sidewalk (which many people do).


  2. Welcome back home! I am out of shape too and I am way more overweight than you are. Now that I will be going to the US late August, I need to get in better shape too. I need new walking shoes as well.

    Rest well and enjoy your beautiful island!


    1. Both Brett and I are feeling very motivated to lose weight and get ourselves in better shape after this trip. We’re looking out for each other this time too. We are already looking at and thinking about new walking shoes, and what we want and need, but it’s hot here again so we’re back to flip flops (which are terrible for walking).


  3. Welcome home! I’m also out of shape, and it impacts my fitness when walking about so much, even in the day to day. I walked a lot in Tokyo & London, and had both the realization about not having the right shoes (I was coming from the office, so sneakers wouldn’t have been appropriate), as well as just generally being tired.

    The flights are incredibly uncomfortable, and I also struggle with the jet lag as well. I will say that upgrading to business on my flight home was a HUGE difference. My back bothered me almost not at all, and it was almost a pleasant experience. 😉 Is it possible to bake in a business class upgrade (using miles) & check at the airport? It’s typically around 20K miles, & $100-200, depending on your status & the airline. If you can afford to budget for the addition, it makes a huge difference in the comfort of traveling, of course.


    1. Brett and I have already decided we will upgrade to business or first class for our next long flight. It’s just not worth feeling so uncomfortable after a long flight. Also, we have always traveled carry-on only, but are rethinking that – our bags were stuffed this time coming home and very uncomfortable to wheel and carry around. So, we may be checking a bag in the future – it will depend on where we’re going and for how long.

      We so need new shoes, ones that are good for walking. Lots of choices, but the shoes will have thick soles, and good support inside. The shoes we took had neither, and we paid for it. My feet still hurt!


  4. Great insights. We’re getting better at packing (but we’re not at your level yet!) and not buying too many souvenirs. But the jet lag coming home from Hawaii last fall was much harder than it was when we were younger. I also find it easier going west (always) than going east. I am happy to wake up at 3AM and read while I wait for daylight, and I have no shame about going to bed at 7pm. Ha! We are discussing Italy (which is on my bucket list) and I’m not looking forward to the flights.

    Like you, a few pounds seems to affect my arthritis and aching more than it seems possible. But walking daily makes me feel so much better and helps me control my weight. The holidays and dark, cold winter didn’t help this year and I have 5 lbs to lose. Again. 😦


    1. We brought home too many souvenirs this time, so our bags were loaded and heavy. Most of the stuff is for Meiling and WenYu, because they couldn’t make the trip with us. Lesson learned though!

      Jet lag heading west is much easier to deal with than what we experiences flying east (to home). We were falling asleep at 7:00 – 8:00 pm when we got to Japan and waking up between 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning. I can deal with that, but not the awake until 3:00 am and waking up at 11:00 that I’m going through now. Ugh!


  5. Nice picture of you and Brett. All the good points that you mentioned are key ingredients for making travel enjoyable. You’re right on about good fitting walking shoes, and breaking up a long journey. I’d like to visit Australia and New Zealand one day. It’s a really long way from Toronto so I’ve been dreaming about making a few stops, Kaua’i included 🙂


    1. We were happy with the many positives we experienced, and are looking forward to more travel next year. The negatives are all things we can take care of one way or another (new shoes, losing weight, breaking up travel, etc.).

      We’d love to see New Zealand and Australia as well. Both are a direct flight from Honolulu, and somewhat affordable on Hawaiian.


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