Please read these important trip notes as they contain details and guidance on important things like passports, Covid restrictions, border entry requirements & more. By applying to join us on this trip, you are signaling that you have read, understood and agreed to these notes.
Currently there are no covid restrictions on this trip. You do not need to be vaccinated to join us, nor will we be asking for a pre-trip covid test or proof of vaccination.
Passports & Visas
A valid passport with an expiration date AT LEAST 6 months out from the END of the trip is required. Please make sure the name on your passport is your full legal name & matches the name on any airline tickets you book separately (such as to/from our start or ending destinations).
Please make a copy of your passport and other important documents, and bring 1 copy with you, leave 1 copy at home, and email yourself 1 copy.
United States Citizens do not require a Visa to travel to Japan, but there are duration limits that apply for how long you can stay in Japan in a given year period, so if you have previously been to Japan within the past 365 days before the trip start date, please let us know.
Ultimately, you are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Contact us if you need assistance.
Due to conditions such as weather, transportation schedules, public holidays, availability or other factors, we may make changes to this itinerary before or during the trip. We will advise you of any such changes as soon as possible.
You will have roommates on this trip. You will be sharing a room with at least 1 other person (sometimes more than 1). We'd recommend bringing earplugs & an eye mask in case they snore.
We'll do our best to make sure your roommates are the same sex as you and in 99% of times that will be the case, however sometimes due to logistics outside of our control, we cannot guarantee this. (On a past trip we arrived at a hotel in Paris, on the hottest day on record ever, to be told that all the rooms with 3 beds in them didn't have working AC. So we had to choose between different sleeping arrangements than planned... or no Air Conditioning.)
We will be staying in a wide variety of accommodation types during our trip. It's important to be aware that our accommodations may differ very significantly from what you are used to at home, as we tend to stay in local style accommodations in order to experience the local culture. This is especially true in Japan, where Japanese-style accommodations differ substantially from western-style hotel rooms.
Please read the below descriptions of our accommodations in detail to avoid surprises. Depending on transportation schedules, we may need to stay the night in a hotel by an airport or train station as well.
Los Angeles, CA: We'll stay in a standard, chain hotel such as a Hilton.
Tokyo, Japan: We will be staying in a modern, western style hotel.
Kinosaki, Japan: We're staying in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Inn. The rooms themselves are small, with room for a small table and chairs. During the evening those furnishings are pushed aside, and sleeping futons are made up in that space.
That means that, although still very comfortable, your bed may be slightly firmer than you are used to, and will be lower than a traditional western-style bed. You should free of major back problems and easily able to get on and off the floor.
While all rooms contain a sink and toilet, you will not have a shower or bath in your individual room. It is traditional in a Japanese Ryokan to use the Onsen, or public hot spring bath. Don't worry, we'll guide you through the process, and you'll quickly realize it is quite enjoyable and relaxing. Due to the length of our stay and for the comfort of all travelers, we expect everyone to maintain proper hygiene.
Kyoto & Osaka, Japan: We'll be staying in a modern Japanese hotel with western beds and a full bathroom.
Traveling With Other People
Life on the road means that you may not get as much privacy as you are used to back home. You'll be sharing a room with at least 1 other traveler and will be expected to keep your sleeping area neat (ish). You may only have a locker to put your things in at times (depending on the accommodation type). You'll also be expected to practice daily hygiene (brush teeth, shower, deodorant) so that you don't cause discomfort to your fellow travelers.
On most days, our daily itinerary is split into morning/afternoon/evening periods and we aim to allow for daily downtime during one of these periods every day (excluding travel days of course). This is your time to do laundry, call home, play games with your fellow travelers, explore the area, do some shopping or whatever else suits you.
This trip involves flights to and from Japan, which is on average 11.5 hours long each way. You'll be in Economy class and there may or may not be entertainment options available on the flight, so plan accordingly. On the ground, we will primarily be traveling by train, including Japan's famous Shinkansen bullet train, and will have a few train trips that are 2+ hours in length. You should be in good health and easily able to sit for multiple hours at a time.
A WanderRock trip includes daily expenses such as food, snacks, lodging & transportation, but you should still bring some extra cash for emergencies, shopping & optional activities. We also highly recommend not bringing one large sum of money, but having some cash on hand and access to an ATM card to withdraw more as necessary.
We plan for every known contingency, but unexpected things can and do occur when traveling. If such emergencies occur, we'll do our best to resolve the situation. This may include re-routing part of our itinerary due to natural disaster or health concern, extending or shortening the length of our stay in certain locations or other remedies as the situation requires.
Whatever happens, you can be assured we'll keep everyone traveling with us (and family back at home) advised of the situation, and will communicate as much as possible. Please see "Problems & Emergency Contact Info" below for more details about personal issues such as Illness, Meltdowns or Injury.
Unlike 99% of the tourism & travel industry, we do not get commissions from local vendors for bringing our travelers to them for purchases. This allows us to recommend activities based on genuine fit, rather than who will make us the most money. Our all inclusive pricing model means that the way we make our living is up front and honest. We aren't going to upsell you during the trip at all.
Carry-On Backpack Required
We require all of our travelers to pack for Carry-On only, which means no checked bags are allowed. You should plan on packing 7 days worth of clothes, as there will be plenty of laundry opportunities along our itinerary. That means that we require you bring a backpack of no more than 40L in size as your main bag. You'll find it much easier to handle a backpack than a rolling suitcase and we will provide guidance on specific brands, sizing & more in our packing guide, which will be sent to you after enrollment.
Laundry services may not be available every day of the trip. Your guides will advise you on the best days & times to do laundry, and assist as needed.
Japan has humid and tropical summers, and cold and snowy winters. Depending on the time of year of your trip, you should pack accordingly. There will be opportunities to buy sunscreen once we arrive in Japan. Because it can rain suddenly and without warning, a lightweight and packable raincoat is essential. We aren't going to stop just because it is raining!
Our WanderRock guides are here to help you have the best trip you possibly can. They come from many walks of life, from yoga instructors to outdoor adventure guides to people who have worked helping college kids be more independent, and bring their expertise with them to help guide you through the trip.
Unlike a tour guide, they are not deeply knowledgeable about specific touristic attractions & the history of an area, but are trained in things like first aid & CPR, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and basic outdoor survival.
On travel days, you will be split into different groups, each with 4 travelers and 1 guide, and you are expected to follow their instructions on trains, planes, buses and other modes of transit.
We expect all travelers to behave in a way that is respectful of the cultures, places & people that we are interacting with, and to be respectful of the other travelers and their preferences. Should issues arise, our guides are trained in conflict resolution and will do their best to diffuse and resolve the situation.
In extreme situations where a travelers behavior is a consistent and major disruption to the group, or in cases of concern for the health & safety of any of our travelers, our guides may, at their discretion, remove a traveler from the group, without a refund. In that case, we will escort the traveler to the nearest international airport and assist them with arranging for transit back home.
Behaviors That Aren't Tolerated
Abuse & Bullying: Everyone has the right to feel safe & accepted when on our trips. For that reason, verbal abuse, physical abuse, bullying and sexual harassment focused on any person (whether thats a fellow traveler, guide or local person) will not be tolerated, and our trained guides will deal with those situations swiftly. Should a traveler be found to be in violation of this policy, they will be removed from the group and escorted to the nearest international airport once arrangements have been made for them to travel back home.
Sexual Relations: No sexual relations are permitted between guides & travelers. We also highly discourage developing intimate relationships with your fellow travelers until you arrive back in the United States.
Sex Tourism: Patronizing sex workers isn't tolerated on any WanderRock trip. Anyone who is found to be in violation of this policy will be removed from the group and escorted to the nearest international airport once arrangements have been made for them to travel back home.
Drugs & Alcohol: Use or possession of illegal drugs (as determined by the laws of the country we are in) is not tolerated on any WanderRock trip. If you choose to drink alcohol, you must be at least the legal age to do so in that country, and we expect you to do so in a responsible manner.
Recklessness: We expect all of our travelers to maintain situational awareness and keep themselves safe. Any traveler who has consistently demonstrated an extreme lack of judgement when it comes to keeping themselves safe will be removed from the group and escorted to the nearest international airport once arrangements have been made for them to travel back home, for their own safety.
Note that we are talking about "walks out into the middle of traffic repeatedly" type recklessness, not "forgets to lock the hotel room door".
Rigors of Travel
International travel can be a stressful & amazingly exciting experience at the same time. All travelers need to make sure they are ready to handle the rigors of jet lag, long plane flights, and disruptions to their normal routine, and need to be healthy enough to go on the trip.
Flexibility is a key trait that will help you have a great time. You may have to let go of some preferences you have back home, as we may not be able to accommodate your requests, and may have to change our itinerary at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances.
Food & Dietary Requirements
When traveling with us, you'll experience the vast array of food available in the world. Some of it will be extremely foreign, and some extremely familiar. We'll do our best to work with your preferences and make sure that you always have something that you can eat, but can't make any guarantees.
If you have certain food allergies, we'll work to the best of our abilities to help you eat food that is safe for you, but can't make any guarantees for many reasons, including language barriers, lack of control of the supply, cultural differences, and lack of choices. If having a certain type of food is a life or death situation for you, this probably isn't the trip for you.
That being said, the locations we are going to are big enough to generally provide as much choice as you are used to at home.
Vaccines & Diseases
On this trip, you'll need to take the same sort of precautions you do at home. Make sure to wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, and maintain proper hygiene.
Please consult your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website for guidance on specific vaccines you may need.
Crime & Theft
We are traveling to areas that have little to no violent crime, and very little petty theft, but it is still important to be aware of your surroundings, especially in cities and on public transportation. We recommend carrying a safety whistle and a lock for your bag, as well as a money belt.
Drinking & Drugs
The use of illegal drugs is not permitted on any WanderRock trip, and is grounds for immediate removal from the program without a refund. If you choose to drink alcohol, we expect you to do so in a responsible manner and in line with the laws of the country we are currently in at the time. You will be expected to respect all laws of the country that we are currently in.
Problems & Emergency Contact Info
Should problems arise, whether that be an illness, injury, emotional overwhelming event, or lost baggage, the WanderRock guides accompanying you on your trip are your first place to turn to for help. If, for some reason, you don't feel safe turning to them for help, you may call our Stateside Support phone number for assistance, where someone from the WanderRock office will be standing by to help resolve your issue.
Some medicines (for example: Adderol) that are perfectly legal in the US are illegal and controlled substances in Japan, and bringing those medications into the country is highly illegal and will likely land you in jail. It is very important that if you take medication (particularly stimulants) that you be very aware of the legal restrictions and laws that may apply. During the application process we can walk you through this, but at the end of the day it is ultimately your responsibility to do due diligence and make sure you are complying with all relevant rules & regulations.