How to Capsule Pack for a Beach Getaway in 7 Easy Steps

What is capsule packing? Well, it’s packing minimal items that you can wear in various situations. Below are the steps to take to pack lightly, which can save you time, space and baggage fees!

Things to keep in mind before you start:
  1. You will probably be going somewhere nice for at least one night. 
  2. Evenings can get chilly. 
  3. Don’t skimp on the sunscreen or aloe. 
  4. If there’s anything to bring extra of, it’s an extra pair of flip flops and sunglasses. (I can’t tell you how many times I have lost both.)

Your Steps to Capsule Pack:

Step 1: Plan your color scheme.

Start by choosing 1-2 neutral colors, then add 1-2 accent colors. The key is that all items can mix/match with each other so you will want complementary colors. Color Scheme example: white and beige neutrals. Light blue & hot pink accents. 

Step 2: Build your basic items. 

You will want to think of how many days you will be staying at your destination. Whatever that number is, cut it in half and that’s how many bottoms you should bring. For example, if my stay is for 6 days, then I bring 3 bottoms. Here is a starter list of items you will need: 

  • Bottoms
  • Tops
  • Dress 
  • Cardigan/sweater 
  • Pair of nice shoes
  • Pair of casual shoes
  • Rain protection (jacket, poncho, or umbrella)

Step 3: Arrange your outfits. 

In a large space (bed, floor, etc) lay out each item and arrange your outfits. Tip: I make sure each item can be worn twice. I usually start with the bottoms, and alternate tops to create different outfits.

Step 4: Add accessories. 

Accessories can definitely transform an outfit, but try not to add too much jewelry, as this will add to your luggage weight. A good way to accessorize is with light scarves, hair accessories, or a hat. Tip: Use a light wrap/scarf to use as a blanket on the plane, as well as a scarf to change an outfit. 

Step 5: Review.

Now that you have your outfits planned, let’s make sure they actually work with your itinerary. 

  •             Do you have comfortable items for the plane ride?
  •             Will this work for an evening out? 
  •             Are these shoes comfortable to walk in? 
  •             Do you have something to wear if it gets cold? 
  •             Can I wear this for (activity)? 

Step 6: Rearrange. 

If there is any conflict to the questions in Step 5, then swap them out accordingly. Again, make sure each item can be worn twice. If it can’t, toss or swap it!

Step 7: Reflect. 

After you return from your trip, think about items you could have used or didn’t need at all and apply that to your next pack!

Need more travel tips? Check out these posts: 

5 Easy Japanese Health Practices To Improve Your Health

In college, I minored in Nutrition, and I have danced my whole life, so the importance of nutritional and physical health is not foreign to me. But in Japan, the emphasis on health is a part of EVERYONE’S daily life.  (Which is why they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world.)  There are billboards, commercials, lessons in school…. (the list goes on) all focused on ways one can stay healthy.  But here are 5 easy Japanese health practices you can start today:

Easy Japanese Health Practices:

1. Take a bath.

 Not just for obvious reasons of cleanliness, but because the benefits of taking baths have been scientifically proven. Benefits like: preventing, and even curing, some illnesses due to the rise of core body temp; improve sleep because of the decline in body temp after a bath; promotes blood circulation; and can even promote weight loss. 

In Japan, the ritual of onsen (Japanese hot springs) visits are a huge part of Japanese culture.  When visiting Japan, visiting an onsen or staying at a ryokan (Japanese inn with public baths) is a MUST!  

Onsen, bath, tea, relax, meditate

2. Nutrition.

The importance of proper nutrition is taught in the home AND at school.  One agenda is to eat 30 varieties of food a day to ensure each organ has the appropriate nutrition it needs to function optimally.  If you want to learn more about what daily consumption is like in Japan? Read about it here:

3. Walk it out.

No seriously, walking is a HUGE thing here.  Most people don’t own cars in Japan.  It’s not that they can’t afford it, it’s just there is not much space on this tiny island.  Instead, people walk or bike for their daily commute.  Also, not just space being an issue, they know the importance of physical activity.  I know 93-year old’s here that still get out and walk every day for 30 min!  You know what they say, if you don’t use it you lose it.

Japanese street, walking

4. Limited snack attacks.

Japan has some pretty delicious, and of course nutritious, snacks.  But most adults skip snacking on empty calories and eat three big meals a day.  Yep, I mean BIG. 

I think the common misconception about Japanese women staying thin is because the portions are small in Japan than America.  I can guarantee you… they’re not.  If anything, some portions are even LARGER than in the states. So much so that I can never clean my plate when we go out to eat :/  

Japanese food, tonkatsu rice

5. Wash yo hands!

Japan is known for its OCD when it comes to cleanliness.  And it’s true!  I’ll never forget the first time I went to Tokyo and I actually saw workers scrubbing the subway tile on the wall…. I mean, that is dedication!

But it’s no surprise when one of the most common customs is to take off your shoes before entering a home.  Since living here, I find it weird that we wear our shoes inside in America… gross. 

Since living here, I take my shoes off, go straight to the bathroom and wash my hands when I enter the house.  Then, when I take a shower, I do it the Japanese family way: shower outside the tub, soak inside the tub, then shower again to get the sweat off.  Yes. They shower, soak, and shower again.  See… OCD (but totally makes sense)! 

Onsen, shower, Japanese bath

Want to see what our Japanese home looks like? Check out the video below! 

Japan’s Best Piece of History: Ako’s 47 Ronin

The story of the 47 Ronin is my favorite from Japanese history. It is also a story that many foreigners are not familiar with. But don’t worry, I’m here to share a summarized version with you now: 

It was at the turn of the century, the 17th century that is, when the town of Ako would change forever.

Every year Lord Asano made the journery from Ako to Tokyo with his samurai, gaurds, and many others from the village. 

In 1701, Lord Asano was at a reception at Edo Castle in Tokyo. While there, he and Kira (a powerful official) had a bit of a disagreement. Some say Kira was displeased by insufficient presents from Asano. Some say Kira continuously insulted and ridiculed Lord Asano.  

Whichever is true, something led to Asano, who had been even-tempered, losing his temper and attacked Kira with a dagger. 

The wound was hardly lethal, but a crime just the same and Lord Asano was sentenced to death. 

Because of Asano’s status, he was able to perform seppuku, ceremonial suicide, which allowed his family to keep honor to their name. 

However, the death of Lord Asano left his samurai masterless, or ronin. 

Lord Asano’s head samurai, Oishi, knew his Lord had been treated unjustly by Kira and plotted with 47 other ronin to plan an attack to avenge their Lord. 

Kira, being no fool, sent his men to spy on the ronin to assure he was in no danger of revenge. For TWO YEARS Oishi and the others led their lives as divorced men, town drunkards, visiting brothels, moving to Kyoto and Tokyo, and all to make sure Kira was thrown off their scent. 

Once Kira’s men had assured them that Oishi and the others were honorless samurai, it was time to attack. 

The men split into two groups, one led by Oishi and one led by his son, and began to play their well laid-out plan. 

They surrounded Kira’s home, capturing guards and scaling the walls. They posted swordmens and archers to fight off Kira’s men. They came to Kira’s room, who’s bed was still warm. 

Finally, they came to a hidden courtyard and found a man they thought to be Kira. Oishi came to the man, and it was indeed Kira. 

Oishi offered Kira, because of his status, to commit seppuku and Oishi himself would act as kaishakunin (person who beheads one commiting seppuku to avoid a lingering death), but Kira being coward just trembled in fear. 

Alas, the men pinned Kira down and Oishi killed and beheaded him. 

Quickly after, Oishi ordered one ronin to run back to Ako to spread the story, and the others took Kira’s head to Sengaku-ji temple to Lord Asano’s grave. 

The tale spread quickly, and many petitioins began on behalf of the, now, 46 ronin. 

Knowing that this attack would lead to death, the samurai had not anticipated the officials decision to grant seppuku on the grounds of their Lord’s grave. But the dedication, commitment and loyalty of their actions could not go unnoticed. 

Getting to Ako:

Depending on what part of the country you are in, you will take various trains or just one. However, the name of your final destination stop is Banshū-Akō Station.

Before You Go:

If you want to learn more about the story here are my two suggestions: 

47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves- A loosely-based movie about the 47 Ronin… minus the half-breed and magic.

47 Ronin by John Allyn- This is a little more accurate than the Hollywood produced movie. And gives much more detail true to story.

Either way, it is a story worth knowing and sharing. If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, I suggest Sengaku-ji temple and Ako being on your list! 

10 Things to Know Before You Visit Japan

Before moving to Japan I had visited a few times. The first time I feel like there were so many rules and I didn’t quite fit in. However, each time I visit I learn a new lesson and I wanted to share a few things that will help make your travel to Japan a little easier and to share information you just may not know.

It will always be colder than you think.

Yes, Japan does have all four seasons. But even when it’s “spring” it’s still a lot colder than you think. Really, the only hot month is August. So, be sure to pack that extra jacket! You will most likely need it!

A little effort goes a long way.

Let’s face it. Japan is a powerhouse. The capital of future technology and economically wealthy. Being an island, and very respectful to their extensive history and culture, they don’t really need much from other countries. They don’t depend on tourism, they are pretty efficient… so, the need for the everyday person to learn English is on the bottom of the totem pole. So, as a responsible tourist, just TRY to speak a little bit of the language. It really pleases them when guests in their country show a little effort and in turn, they will be more willing to go out of their way to help you.

You can drink the water.

Back in Atlanta, you can drink tap water (it’s totally safe and actually has added fluoride) but most people still drink filtered. In Thailand, we NEVER drank tap water. In Bangkok the chlorine is too high, and in smaller cities it’s not filtered much.

In Japan, unless stated otherwise (like on trains) you CAN drink the tap water. In fact, in some parts of the country that are mineral-rich, you’re encouraged to drink the tap water!

Have a handkerchief handy.

Japan is BIG on recycle and reducing, and borderline germaphobic. That being said, a lot of public restrooms do not have paper towels or hand dryers. It will do you well to adopt the local tradition of bringing your own hankie or hand towel.

Get your luggage delivered to your door.

Again, Japan is efficient! And with 200+ mph trains that can take you from one end of the country to the other in a few hours, travel is popular.

It would be very difficult to travel via train with a lot of luggage (logistically and space-wise). So at most airports, there are services that can deliver your luggage to your hotel, home, homestay, etc. And the prices are not extreme. It’s usually around $25-35 USD per piece. So I highly suggest this, especially if you are using the JR Pass, and save yourself time and hassle.

Keep quiet.

This is mostly on public transportation, but even in everyday life. When one raises their voice it may come across as “angry” or “ill mannered.” And, when traveling it is considerate as a lot of people are catching up on sleep during travel. This should be used EVERYWHERE in the world. Planes. Trains. Any place where there are other people because it’s not just your world.

Slurping is ok.

This is mostly for hot noodles. Although, when in a matcha tea ceremony, you slurp a little at the end to get it all in.

But, when eating things like Ramen or Udon, it’s best to eat the noodle when it’s hot. In order to prevent burning your tastebuds off, you suck in a little air (and a little broth) so you can eat the noodle at perfect temp.

Hold small plates to your mouth.

While we’re on the subject of dining etiquette, some dishes are brought up to your mouth. For example, when eating Tonkatsu (panic-fried pork) you dip the pork in sauce and hold it over your rice (which is held under your mouth). This is to prevent sauce from dripping all over your outfit.

Not all slippers are created equal.

Sometimes, when visiting a home or onsen, there will be slippers at the entrance and slippers outside the bathroom. Don’t wear the house slippers in the bathroom, and don’t wear the bathroom slippers around the house. You’d be surprised how many people forget this.

Here’s a tip: don’t tip.

Like most countries outside of the US, tipping is not part of the culture. In fact, some may perceive it to be flat out insulting. Like they need your charity or something. So, when you get the bill you can skip the tip.

If you have any other questions or curiosities, feel free to drop a line and I can help you out 😉