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    6 Days in Tokyo with Kids : : How I Choose a Safe and Reliable Airbnb

    For months I’d been hoping to take the girls on a trip while my husband was on an extended assignment off-island. After some careful thought we came to the conclusion that Japan would be the best bet. It’s a short flight from Guam (less than 4 hours), well catered to for families, and safe.

    Tiny green spaces in Tokyo

    Tiny green spaces in Tokyo

    The Dilemma

    I originally planned to take a military flight there and back. The military offers special flights to military members and their families on aircrafts headed to different countries for missions. If there happen to be available seats, you can jump on for free. Yeah, this sounds amazing right?!…and it is. But it’s very hit or miss. So I made plans to head out on one of these flights and submitted all the paperwork. As the date came closer to when we wanted to leave, we realized that there had been mix ups with our forms and that the flight would definitely be headed out to our desired location, Tokyo, but might not be headed back for weeks. This caused me to hesitate. I knew I could manage a few days in Japan with the girls by myself and we could swing the Airbnb cost for that time, but an undetermined length of time just wasn’t possible.

    Yes, 3 weeks in Tokyo sounds amazing! But with two kids, no spouse, and the hassle of trying to catch one of these special military flights at a moments notice back to Guam; that sounded like too much and not fun! So, I began to tell myself that is just wasn’t going to happen.

    Mochi

    Mochi

    Over the last few weeks leading up to our trip, I’d been sharing with my good friend how much I wanted to take the girls on a trip. I wanted to do something special and out of the ordinary while Brett was out of town. She got so excited and jumped on purchasing a commercial flight. As the days counted down to her flight leaving and me realizing that the girls and I would be stranded in Japan without a way back, my sweet friend offered to purchase our tickets. I was floored! No one had ever offered such a generous gift to us before.

    If you subscribe to A Global Tribe of Women newsletter then you know that I recently sent out an update in early September about my new state of rest and ease. As we realized that we wouldn’t be going to Japan I didn’t experience any since of worry or sadness. I actually felt very at peace. Though I had been wanting to go quite badly, I didn’t feel anxious or upset when I resolved myself to not going.

    But at the last minute plans changed. Literally the night before we left, everything fell into place. My friend offered to buy our ticket, she had been scoping out the deals, and our flight was for the next evening.

    I can’t really explain the feelings I’d been feeling or the sense of rest that is still lingering over me, but it’s something I’ve never felt before. I was completely overjoyed that not only were we going to Tokyo, but we were going to venture the city with our friend and her two little boys.

    It was absolutely the best adventure and I couldn’t have planned for it to happen the way it did.

    Simple & Safe Booking with Airbnb

    I quickly jumped onto Airbnb and booked this apartment for all six of us. I absolutely LOVE Airbnb. This was my fifth time booking with them and I have never been disappointed. I’ve previously booked stays in Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France, and Ubud, Bali. I always choose a place with at least 10-20 very positive reviews and ones where at least a couple people mention traveling with children. I typically choose entire apartments or a home, but for a quick 2 day stay in Frankfurt once, we booked a single room and it was fun to meet other travelers and hear about their experience in Germany. I also choose apartments with on-site or close by laundry facilities, a kitchen, dishes and cutlery, towels/linens, and walking distance to public transportation. You can find out all of these things under the “About the Listing” section. If you have any other questions about the listing after reading about it you can email the host. Airbnb also rates the hosts’ timeliness to reply to messages. I typically also choose hosts that reply quickly and dependably. That means that they respond within an hour or two and 100% of the time. Though it’s not extremely necessary, it’s nice to know that you won’t ever be stuck waiting a day or two to hear back from your host if you need to reach them on short notice before you arrive or during your stay. Typically after booking you will be given your host’s cell number and be able to reach them directly if you have any questions or concerns.

    Kids in Tokyo

    Tiny home gardens and flourishing potted plants can be seen all around Tokyo.

    A Killer Deal and Perfect Location

    I was so grateful to find a clean esthetically pleasing place, plus a friendly host that welcomed kiddos on short notice.  Yu’s apartment was phenomenal. It was about a 10 minute walk from the train station. Though I got lost finding it, around 10:30pm, there were many kind locals that whipped out their cellies and helped me and the girls find the place. I felt safe the entire time, even while wandering in the dead of night. We eventually got to our apartment with the help of two girls and Google Map on their phone. Yu’s apartment is way larger than it looks in the photos. There are two rooms. One with two twin beds and a large closet with extra linens, a futon, and hangers. The other with two twin beds, large floor to ceiling windows, a walk out balcony, a kitchen with stove, deep sink, refrigerator, microwave, and large living space for the kiddos to run around and play. We couldn’t have scored a better stay. Though the listing says, $96/night, we paid $20/night for 7 nights, plus a $70 cleaning fee, and $26 service fee, to total $237!

    Okonomiyaki and Ramen

    Okonomiyaki and Ramen

    Right around the corner from the apartment are two grocery stores with all the regular things you’d need. We grabbed yogurt and fresh fruit for the kidsto eat for breakfast and stopped by a drink shop for wine and juice. There were also tons of restaurants around the apartment. One evening after walking the city all day, it was around 8pm and we were all starving. We stopped in this super tiny whole in the wall place and grabbed okonomiyaki and ramen.  Okonomiyaki, literally means “grilled as you like it”, and is a savory pancake with veggies and often times meat. It has the consistency of a fluffy omelette and comes drizzled with a thick soy based sauce like tonkatsu, Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, and tiny nori flakes. The owner was super sweet and sat us in a quiet area in the back. There was another diner there who helped us with the menu.

    Tokyo with Kids

    She helped us purchase train tickets

    At every turn there were local people helping us find our way. One of the biggest concerns I had about traveling with the girls was needing help and having no one to ask. This concern was wiped away within my first few hours in Japan. There wasn’t a single time while in Tokyo that I felt as if there wasn’t someone available to ask a question to or hand with the stroller. Every train stop has an information desk, random strangers on the train, or in a restaurant leaned over multiple times to simply ask if we needed assistance. Japan, you were good to us and your people are so kind!

    I will complete my tail of Tokyo with Kids in another post. I’ll share what I packed for carry-on only and our experience at a rotary sushi spot where they serve gratis (free) hot matcha.

    If you’re thinking of heading out of town, whether is be within the the U.S. or abroad, I highly recommend using Airbnb. It’s probably your best bet for travel with kids. The reviews for each host and room are honest and come from real people who’ve stayed there. Feel free to use this link the next time you book with Airbnb and get $20 in travel credit!

    Are you an Airbnb fan as well? Where have you stayed and used them? Tell me in the comments below. I always respond.

    Anjelica Malone Blogger Lactation Counselor Shoppe owner