Frequently Asked Questions
Travel to Japan is a considerable investment - and we want to make sure you feel comfortable with what you’re getting. Our FAQ is split into five sections; scroll on to read all sections or click the links below to skip to a specific section.
Adventures/Guided Trip FAQ
Adventures/Guided Trip FAQ
Do I need a passport in order to sign-up?
Not at all! As long as you receive your passport by the sign-up deadline, you can sign-up without one. You DO need a passport in order to travel, so make sure you get one! Visit this page for more information regarding US passports, or contact your local government for more information.
HOW DO FLIGHTS WORK?
Are TRIP prices listed per person or for two people? You mention double occupancy, it's kind of confusing!
Prices listed are for per person. We mention double occupancy because it costs you less to room with a roommate! Single occupancy rooms cost extra, therefore we do not base our prices on a single occupancy room and have it available as an option.
Do I need to know any Japanese to go?
Nope! You can enjoy the trip without knowing any Japanese. While knowing some of the language can certainly assist in finding certain items or foods, most of our participants don’t speak the language and still have a great time. The guide is on hand to assist as much as possible, and our guidebook includes helpful phrases and kanji for the hotel, food, etc. There is English at all of the train stations, and if you are riding the JR, they also announce stops in English. Some workers can also understand English. If you are worried, then feel free to pick up a phrasebook for your trip!
DO YOU RECOMMEND ANY APPS OR SOFTWARE FOR JAPANESE?
There are lots of online dictionaries available. Many of our guests have used Google Translate’s scan function with their phone camera, but be warned - it doesn’t always work, and we’ve found it to be buggy. Use what works best for you. :)
I'm traveling alone, is that okay?
Of course! On average, about 40% of the group are solo travelers. This does vary from trip to trip, but our groups are generally welcoming. In fact, most groups become rather close; some have even organized and held reunions in cities across the world after their trip. So yeah, we do our best to provide a friendly environment. :)
Can I extend my TRIP or combine TRIPS?
Absolutely! Many participants choose to arrive earlier or extend their stay in Japan. Should two trips also be close in dates, you are welcome to combine the trips into one - and there’s a discount involved for doing so! Please let us know upon sign-up the dates of your desired extension and budget, and we’ll help make arrangements.
Can I join just part of a GUIDED ADVENTURE or arrange my own accommodations?
Usually no. Most travel companies don’t allow this, and we’ve tried to do this in the past on numerous occasions. We do allow it in limited circumstances, but it’s ended up as the subject of complaints on feedback forms based on how it’s done. Trying to include a new person for just part of the time is a huge logistical hassle, causes complicated problems with pricing, and upsets our suppliers. Staying in a hotel or inn that is different from the accommodations provided for the trip is not allowed in most cases; we need to have everyone at our designated accommodations so that we can keep the group organized. If you have questions about this policy, please don’t hesitate to ask us.
What are your TRIPS like?
We have a video all about it. :D If you have other questions, feel free to call or e-mail - we’re here to help!
Where do your trips depart from?
All of our trips meet in the first city we visit at the airport (often that’s Tokyo or Osaka). If you get the group flight, those depart from Los Angeles unless otherwise noted. Half of our participants fly into Los Angeles to meet up with us, but flying in on your own is cool too - it’s completely up to you. We can also assist with finding flights to LA and Japan, where we usually meet at a set time in place within the airport.
What is “Land Only”?
Land Only is for participants who wish to arrange their own flight and meet us in Japan. This makes sense for most participants joining us from outside of the United States, or people using miles or traveling with a preferred airline. The Land Only price does not include any airfare unless its part of the trip (like a flight to Sapporo from Tokyo or a hopper flight from Kagoshima to Yoron).
Does the TRIP price include food?
Most of the time, no. There are exceptions of course; our Taste of Japan trips include all meals (it’s a food adventure, you have to!), and most overnights at hot spring resorts include dinners and breakfasts. See the trip page for more info.
How many people have to sign up for a TRIP to go?
Typically a minimum of 10 participants is required, but we always work with our customers to operate a trip if we can. When we get 10 people on any Adventure, we consider it “confirmed” and booking continues until the trip is full. The maximum number of participants varies with each trip, but is usually around 30 people.
What happens if a TRIP doesn't HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE TO go, and when will I find out?
We do our best to update you about 2-4 weeks before the sign-up deadline if a trip doesn’t have enough participants. If it doesn’t go, we then give you the option of putting your deposit/payments towards another trip or receiving a refund.
When will next year's or 20XX year's tRIPs/ADVENTURES be released? Where can I get info on newly released TRIPS?
Subscribe to our newsletter or follow our social media accounts; links are at the bottom of the page. We announce trips up to 2 years in advance, but we may be changing this since it hasn’t worked as a pilot program.
What is your payment plan all about?
When is final payment due for guided trips/adventures?
Full trip payment is due by the posted sign-up deadline, or about a month before departure for payment plans. Due to booking requirements set by the airlines, hotels, and the law, there are no exceptions to this rule. We are not a registered credit agency and we are not in the business of chasing people down for payments after their trip.
How do hotel room assignments work? Can I choose who I room with?
All trips are based on double occupancy. If you wish to room with someone in particular, no problem! Make sure to let us know, and we’ll take care of it. Otherwise, we will match roommates as best as we can. All roommates will be the same gender, unless otherwise specified by you. Prefer to room alone? No problem either, but keep in mind single occupancy rooms cost a bit more.
Is it possible to get a room for three people or more?
It depends. The majority of hotels only offer single, one-person rooms (one person) or double rooms. Double rooms either come with one full bed or two twin beds (which we do NOT recommend filling with multiple people!). Hotels do not offer cots and cannot accommodate a third person, plus hotel rooms are smaller so there isn’t space. However, traditional ryokans and inns do offer rooms that house more people. We will go over these options with you when you sign up.
I’m an introvert… is that a problem?
Heck no! Our guests are the friendliest people in the world, and it is always remarkable to see how quickly everyone bonds. We’re lucky to work with such awesome people, honestly.
It's 6 months before DEPARTURE! Why don't you have the flight times for the TRIP yet?!?!
While we do set dates for trips in advance and hold seats on multiple carriers, we are usually unable to confirm the departure times for our flight until about 3-5 months before we depart. If you’ve never traveled overseas before, that might sound pretty crazy – but it is a reality of the business. Here’s why: Airlines usually don’t announce the more reasonable fares until 3-5 months before the dates of travel. Even if we have a huge group, we hold seats – but we don’t book anything until fares get lower. This keeps prices low and ensures that we are able to accommodate a group of any size. Plus, if we did book everything a year in advance, we would have to move our signup deadlines to more than 6 months before the actual trip (which is crazy) and charge almost 1,000 dollars more for every trip. If we did that, we wouldn’t really be following our mission as a “low cost” provider!
If you are worried about the price of your domestic connecting flight, don’t – industry insiders have said again and again that it’s best to purchase domestic connecting flights closer to the dates of travel. The best prices you’ll get 9 months before the trip won’t be nearly as good as the ones you’ll get about 2-3 months out.
Why can't we receive a PDF of the TRIP guidebook before the tour?
The guidebook is intended for use as 1) a reference to be used during the trip and 2) a souvenir of your trip. It also includes a bunch of stuff we worked on for months. As such, it is available only in paper form only – sorry! ;_; Please note that all the materials and information you will need to know before you depart will be provided via e-mail in the forms of e-mails, comics, maps/KML files and/or videos.
Can we do laundry? I need clean clothes!
Absolutely! Most hotels on guided trips offer full laundry service, so dry cleaning and wash/fold service is available. However, if you just want to use a Coin Laundromat and save some cash, we do have listings of laundry places. On trips of 8 nights or less, we will have maps and directions on hand for people that wish to wash their stuff. For longer tours, we will organize a “laundry night” if our guests request it.
Important: if you need to visit a Coin Laundromat on tour, please let us know as early as possible so we can make the proper arrangements.
HOW MUCH LUGGAGE CAN I BRING on a pacset adventure?
Please read the new luggage policy for more information.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?
Please read the policy, along with rules in the section below. Oh, and the other thing you need to know is that you will have lots of fun on these trips. Like, TONS of fun. We mean it. ^_~.
Trip Rules/Insurance FAQ
Trip Rules/Insurance FAQ
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Our full policy is actually on our Policy Page, which we ask that you PLEASE READ. Generally you will be unable to receive a full refund if you cancel after the sign-up/payment deadline. All refunds are subject to a $20 or 3.5% handling fee. We also recommend looking into travel insurance for better coverage on sudden cancellations and other potential issues.
What kind of forms do I need to fill out to go on a TRIP?
Not that many actually! Before travel, we will ask you to sign a paper that says 1) you understand the rules and restrictions mentioned on our policy page, and 2) that you either have purchased travel insurance or decided not to.
What's this about travel insurance?
Travel insurance helps take care of you if you fall seriously ill on a trip, or if a serious problem occurs on a trip that necessitates a change in plans. We make every effort to deal with problems that come up (we have experience with that!), but do be aware that if you don’t buy insurance and fall ill/need to return home because of a death in the family or other tragedy/etc., those charges will be your responsibility. We recommend using Travel Guard‘s basic plan; please check their website for quotes and information.
So, what do I need to travel anyways? DO I need a visa?
You’ll need a passport – that’s it! If you’re coming from the US, Canada, or Mexico, there’s no visa requirement. MEXICAN CITIZENS - YOU DO NOT NEED A VISA! However, if you’re coming from somewhere else, you might want to contact us first to make sure you don’t need anything extra. Visit this page for more US passport information.
What is a photo/video waiver and why do I have to fill it out?
Unlike huge travel companies, PacSet develops much of its PR materials and such in house. As such, we occasionally include photos or video from trips for these purposes. Since we value your right to privacy, we give you the option to “opt out” of all photography and video, or simply request that the photos not be used in advertising (but can still appear on our Facebook photo page). If you have any concerns, just ask us. ^_^
I'm under 18 years of age, does that mean I can't go to Japan?
We don’t have an age restriction for our trips – in fact, we’ve led groups of students to Japan many times! We do require a signed permission form from a parent or guardian if you are under 18; otherwise, you are more than welcome to join a trips!
I don’t live in California, or even in the United States. Can I still join a trip?
YES! We provide Land Only options for the majority of our trips, meaning that you pay less for a trip but are required to arrange and book your own flights to Japan. Those who book their own flights can meet us at the airport in Japan or at the first hotel, depending on the situation.
When should I be at the airport?
We will tell you when you should be at the airport in pre-departure e-mails. Typically you should be at the airport 2 hours before your departure time. You don’t want to miss your flight!
What happens if I miss my flight for a trip?
Get in touch with the airline to see what your options are. We highly recommend choosing one of their suggested options, even if it means delaying your trip by 24 hours. Of course, also let us know what’s going on!
Payments and Refunds FAQ
Payments and Refunds FAQ
What is the monthly payment plan, and how does it work?
How come the rates for monthly payments aren’t public anymore?
We used to post rates for monthly payments for all of our trips. However, the rates people use often change based on which way they are traveling and which extras they are adding - so we are issuing them on a case-by-case basis now. Also, we are short staffed at the moment, so issuing these directly is far easier than changing everything every month.
Why are there two names on my credit card statement for pacset?
We use different processors for different purchases. Initial deposits will appear as “Stripe-PacSet” on your credit card statement, while all other invoices will say “PacSet Tours Inc.” on your statement.
Does everyone have to pay the deposit? Can’t I just pay the whole thing at once?
Yes, everyone has to pay the deposit. We need to review everyone’s information directly due to the high amount of fraud in travel purchases; we will issue you an invoice for any subsequent payments later.
I’m an alumni/I have a discount! Can I take that off the deposit?
Due to how easy it is for people to steal and abuse discount codes, unfortunately no. Discounts will be offered when payments begin or will be taken off your final payment.
WHY CAn’t I BUY PACSET MERCH AT THE SAME TIME I PURCHASE A TRIP?
We are required to keep the two payments separate to comply with state laws governing travel payments, so we have to keep the payments in separate “buckets” so to speak.
I NEED TO CANCEL. WHAT IS YOUR REFUND POLICY?
FOR ALL GUIDED ADVENTURES AND MOST DELUXE PRIVATE JOURNEYS -
CANCELLATION AND REFUNDS:
Cancellation and refund requests must be submitted to PacSet promptly and directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Refund requests submitted via any other method WILL NOT BE HONORED.
The following charges will apply based on when PacSet Tours Inc. receives the cancellation with respect to the date of departure (all fees are per person):
120+ Days before trip: full refund
120-91 Days before trip: minus $300 from amount paid
90-61 Days/ 90 Days until deadline: minus $500 from amount paid
60 Days and Less / or after the signup deadline, whichever comes first: No refunds – no exceptions.
We will try to work with the issues that surround cancellations, but please understand that such fees are necessary to fulfill obligations to the airlines, keep prices low and not adversely affect the experience for other guests. Refunds are subject to a handling fee of $20 or 3.5% of total (whichever is greater).
BOOST and FULL SERVICE private journey options are non-refundable.
WHY DO YOU CHARGE FOR TRAVEL ADVICE, LIKE BOOST AND FULL SERVICE PLANS?
Because good advice and strong travel knowledge is worth its weight in gold! :) Also, imagine being in an industry where everyone is broke but everyone is more than happy to ask you for tons of travel advice. That’s what this industry is like, and it’s simply not sustainable. We believe in supporting smart travel nerds. <3
Solo & Japan Travel FAQ
Solo & Japan Travel FAQ
Could you tell me more about the differences between the Private Journey options?
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I BRING?
How much you spend on stuff is all up to you! Some of our guests spend next to nothing, while others have been known to clear out entire stores – it’s really a matter of preference. Let us know in advance what you are seeking to buy, and we’ll give you a more specific number to reference.
For food, we recommend about $40USD/day for all meals and snacks along the way. We try to eat inexpensively on guided trips because the cheap hole in the wall places are amazing. Some meals on your trips may be included; please refer to your itinerary. Private travelers: your budget might be different for food if you are planning to splurge. Let us know what you are pondering and we’ll help you out.
How should I prepare for MY TRIP? HOW DO I AVOID GETTING SICK?
A few good rules of thumb:
Sleep on the plane ride to Japan. Even if you think it’s impossible to sleep, even if you’ve never slept on a flight before, you will want to at least attempt a nap on the flight over. Otherwise, your body will hate you when you arrive in Japan. Trust me.
On that same note: take vitamins (especially C!) while traveling and drink lots of water. It’ll help TONS.
Pack wisely. If you’re planning on buying lots of stuff, leave room in your suitcase. If your tour involves a lot of cross-country traveling and multiple destinations, pack light and ship a bag of stuff to the airport ahead of time if you need to.
Another note about health…
When people travel abroad, they sometimes rediscover old allergies that they thought went away. Even if you think you’ll be okay, if you have any allergy history, bring some medicine you can take just in case.
Can I bring my medicine/prescriptions into Japan?
In most cases, yes. As long as you have a copy of the prescription and you only have enough medication for your own use, you are good to go. However, some medications are limited (or banned) by Japanese law.
If you use medications involving a syringe (epi-pen, insulin, etc.) or you use a CPAP machine, you will need to apply for an import certificate (“Yakkan Shoumei”) before entering Japan. Likewise, if you will be bringing any limited narcotics (morphine, codeine, oxycodone, pethidine, hydrocodone) into Japan, you will need to apply for permission. PacSet can supply you with all the forms you’ll need for these purposes; just ask. Please make sure to apply for these forms at least a month before departure.
Finally: import of any hard drugs, Adderall, cannabis (marijuana), ephedrine, or pseudo-ephedrine (found in the old version of Sudafed and other over-the-counter sinus medicines) is prohibited in all cases - EVEN WITH A PRESCRIPTION. PacSet does NOT accept responsibility for care of your medicines and cannot be held liable if you are denied entry into Japan. We recommend reading this page for more information, and contacting your local Consulate directly if you’re unsure.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS PEOPLE ASSUME JAPAN HAS PLENTY OF BUT ACTUALLY DOESN’T?
Anything you need to get at a specialty store, or a pharmacy, might not be available. If there is a thing you regularly depend on every day that you buy regularly, check to make sure it is available in Japan. Example: all toiletries (toilet paper, toothbrushes, etc) are available everywhere; distilled water and health food supplements are not.
Also: just because it’s a fad here doesn’t mean it’s a fad in Japan. Gluten Free is not a thing in Japan; you’ve been warned.
I'm allergic to.../Have dietary restrictions.../Don't like to eat...
Don’t worry – we’ll do our best to accommodate you! Whether it’s something you’re allergic to, or a particular food that you don’t like to eat, PLEASE tell us. We want to be able to help you, no matter how small you think it may be. For example, if you don’t care for fish or pork, that’s important to know.
If you are on a guided trip/Adventure, we will ask you about your dietary restrictions before departure to make sure that all allergies are properly dealt with and that our inns/ryokans don’t serve you something you can’t eat. Vegetarians/Vegans: read on for more info.
As a vegetarian, will I have a lot of food options? What about as a vegan?
While it’s easier to accommodate vegetarians than vegans, please keep in mind that options are limited. You may not always be in an area where vegetarian restaurants exist, but you should be able to find something at the market, convenience store, and some restaurants. Items like vegetarian ramen and avocado sushi don’t really exist in Japan.
IF YOU ARE VEGAN, we’ll assist where we can but we please bear in mind that Japan is very tricky for vegans. You’ll want to research what you can and can’t eat, and we highly recommend you read this page for suggestions.
Cash or credit? Can I use my credit card like I do at home?
Most of the time, cash rules. Japan has started accepting credit cards more, but YOU WILL NEED CASH. Depending on your card and only your card will ruin your trip before you reach your hotel.
Another note on this one: If you bring a credit card and/or debit card to Japan, you must let your bank know you are traveling abroad. If not, they’re likely to lock your account for security purposes (since thieves usually try using numbers they steal in other countries). Also, if you need extra cash on the fly, all Japanese post offices and Seven Eleven stores have ATMs that can take foreign debit cards. Note that hours are limited for post office ATMs.
Another another note: Visa Travel Money “debit cards” and other pre-paid debit cards DO NOT work in Japan and have failed on some of our customers while on tour. Your bank may say that they will work, but likelihood is that they will NOT so please don’t take that chance.
DOES JAPAN TAKE TRAVELERS CHEQUES?
They used to - and give you a better rate for doing so. However, the number of places that take them has gone way, way, waaaaaaaaay down - so we don’t suggest you use them anymore.
Where should I exchange my cash for yen?
At the airport in Japan, where Japanese banks offer really good rates. The rates you can get in the USA are really awful unless you live in NYC or LA, and most banks that will sell you foreign currency will charge you an arm and a leg for doing so. Use Travelex if you want to be fee’d to death. Seriously, just give us a $50 bill and we’ll set it on fire for you.
Google told me that the dollar is worth THIS much yen, but no one will sell yen to me for that rate. What gives?
Banks and other businesses that exchange money need to make money too, which is why the rate you get won’t be as cheap as the actual market rate. The only people who can get the exact market rate for dollars to yen are usually billionaires and high-level bank executives. If that doesn’t sound like you, your best option is to take the best rate available. We can certainly sympathize – we have to deal with the same icky rates too!
What are some of the things we can't bring to Japan?
Basically, weapons and drugs – in other words, guns, giant knives, ammunition, and illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. PacSet is NOT responsible or liable for any trouble you may get in for breaking Japanese law.
DUDE I heard that Japan is, like, REALLY HIGH TECH… there's wi-fi everywhere, right?
No. I know it’s hard to believe, but if you are planning to hop from hotspot to hotspot in Japan, you’re going to end up very disappointed.
Japan’s wi-fi infrastructure is, sadly, not what it is in the USA. Most wi-fi is subscription only, and there are even a few hotels that still ask people to connect their machines to the net with LAN cables – no, seriously. If you cannot go without wi-fi, we suggest renting a wi-fi cell router for pickup at the airport. You can reserve them in advance; we suggest Japan Wireless.
So...what about cellphones?
Those can be reserved too. You can also rent a SIM card for some phones (they CAN fail, so check ahead!!!), or use your home provider – just be warned that most cell companies will charge you tons for the privilege. US carrier T-Mobile’s free international data DOES work in Japan and it’s AWESOME. However, it’s throttled to 2G speeds, so if you want to do more than text and tweet, we suggest a wi-fi router paired to your device.
One of the places you can rent a SIM card or cellphone from is Softbank, which you will pickup at the airport. Reserve this at least a few days before your trip, and let us know if you need assistance!
Can I wear my cosplay In JAPAN?
We would recommend you don’t unless we are specifically attending an event where cosplay is allowed. Cosplay in public in Japan is a big no-no.
Can I wear a bathing suit to An ONSEN/hot spring?
No, sorry. This is a big no-no is Japanese bathing etiquette. We’ll provide you with details about the proper procedure of undressing and cleansing for the baths. We promise that once you get over the nakedness factor, it really is a wonderful experience!
Are there things you refuse to do for guests?
A few, and most of them are because the internet has enabled a certain kind of “reporting” to power misconceptions about Japan. We will not:
Help you find a panty vending machine (they’re illegal, stop it, you look like a creep)
Get you to the “Suicide Forest” (unless you can tell us its actual, real name and be respectful)
Help you break the law. Yes, we’ve been asked. The answer is no.
We don’t mean to be picky about all of this; we just refuse to encourage some of the stereotypes floating around out there.
Isn't Japan just like what I see on TV and/or anime?
While some things are true, take what you’ve seen with a huge grain of salt. Leave all expectations behind so you can experience the real Japan, which is a lot more fun than watching it on TV!
Can you get me tickets to this concert/show/etc.?
Yes and no. If you need a ticket to any kind of museum, most conventions, and other non-concerts, we can usually help. However, for concerts, usually no. Concert tickets in Japan are sold in a way that requires multiple employees to go to multiple ticket outlets and make multiple phone calls all at one specific moment, with no guarantee that the tickets will even be available. Until the ticket companies abandon this narrow-minded practice, we cannot get those tickets. Sorry!
WHY DOES ANIMATE LIMIT THEIR CAFES TO A LOTTERY ACCESS SYSTEM THAT MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR TOURISTS TO GO?
Because they don’t care about foreign business maybe? We’ve tried to meet with them about this and usually get told to buzz off, so we have no idea.
WHAT IS YOUR POLICY FOR GHIBLI MUSEUM TICKETS?
We will do our best to accommodate any Ghibli Museum requests that come in at least 4 months before your trip starts, and we cannot guarantee them. We know this is depressing, but this is because of a Ghibli Museum and JTB policy, so there’s nothing we can do about it.
Why the new website and plans? I liked the old “PacSet Tours" site!
In short: we needed to make a change. While our old site and business model of “just guided trips” was something we loved (not to mention the dedicated army of alumni that it generated), in 2017, the amount of new business we got dropped. Simply put, “change or die” became the order of the day. We picked “change” over “die” for obvious reasons. :)
Is there a chance you’ll go back to running more guided adventures in a year?
If profits and sales increase to the point that we can hire another full time guide, at a good salary, we will return to a more aggressive schedule at that time.
WHY DO WE HAVE TO PAY BEFORE SIGNING UP FOR A TRIP NOW?
We were the only travel company we could name that wasn’t taking payment up front, and it was hurting us badly. So we stopped.
WILL YOU OFFER (TRIP name) again?
Maybe. If we cancelled it because it didn’t sell well, probably not. If it did, it’ll probably be back.
WHY Can’t we start with a payment plan from the time of purchase? How come we all have to start with a $300 payment?
Two reasons for this change: it takes a lot of work off the plates of our staff (who are very overworked) and because it makes the store service we use function smoothly.
WHY DID YOU CHANGE THE URL/THE WEBSITE/YOUR ONLINE NAME?
Because the word “tour” was scaring a lot of people off. That’s not really fair, or accurate, to us - but hey, it happens.
MEW MEW MEW?
Woof. Woof woof? Woof.