2011 was full of uncertainty around travelling to Japan. With so many different reports coming out at different times, it was hard to know exactly when or if it was okay to visit the country in any kind of recreational capacity. For some people the question wasn’t even about safety. The question was: when is it right and appropriate to travel to a country that has suffered so much?
The triple disaster in northern Japan was the worst thing to happen to the country since World War II. It was so bad the media barely even noticed that a large volcano erupted on the southern side of the island just a couple days later. Immediately after the earthquake, the U.S. State Department issued an official warning and discouraged any unnecessary travel to the country. When news about the Fukushima nuclear plants started reaching the public, the agency also recommended that any U.S. citizens within a 50 mile radius of the plant either evacuate the area or if that wasn’t possible remain indoors as much as possible.
Eventually, of course, the State Department removed all these restrictions, but despite reassurances from the Japanese government and many businesses in the travel industry, travelers are still keeping their distance from Japan and the country is experiencing a huge drop-off in annual tourism.
On March 30, 2011, just 19 days after the disaster, the State Department eased the restrictions on travel to Japan. While the situation at Fukushima was still extremely serious, and aftershocks lasted for weeks, commercial flights had resumed to all the major airports except Sendai, and a lot of progress has been made to restore the infrastructure.
It didn’t take long for Tokyo public transportation to start working again, and, according to the State Department, 90% of the roads that were damaged by the quake or tsunami were quickly repaired or are at least made passable. Even the planned rolling power outages in Tokyo didn’t last very long, although the outages in the northeast areas still caused some water and food shortages.
At the time, the State Department still recommended that visitors deferred any travel to the Tokyo or Yokohama areas, while Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa regions were considered outside of the troubled area and safe to visit.
What Is The Current Situation?
In the months that followed the disaster, the world watched as the people of Japan pulled together to rebuild and try to recover something of their former lives. Despite the reports of recovery, though, foreign travelers are still staying away, and the number of visitors has dropped dramatically. The tourist industry is capable of generating significant returns for business as well as the government, and the country needs to these visitors to come back.
Japan has come a long way since the day of the triple disaster, but full recovery is still a long way off. However, the country itself is still, according to all reports, safe to visit and extremely welcoming to travellers.
Have you noticed how two people can go on the exact same trip and come away with completely different experiences? No matter where we go or what we do when we get there, our individual travel personalities will influence how we view the whole experience. Understanding our personalities, then, is a great way to make sure our travel plans meet our expectations.
Travel personalities are also important when you are cruising around the world with friends and family, or you expect to meet a lot of new people along the way. People often behave differently while they are travelling than they normally would, and if you can spot the signs of these personality types, you may find it easier to interact with them in different situations.
There are many different personality types, and a spectrum of people within each type, but by understanding some of the more common traits (and where you might fit into them), you may find it easier to plan the trips that are right for you.
- The Scheduler – These are the travelers that need to know exactly what is going to happen every moment of the trip. They understand that travel time is limited, and they don’t want to let any of it go to waste.
- The Worrier – There are countless things that can go wrong on a trip, and the Worrier will plan and re-plan for every possible contingency. Of course, they also understand that they have an impossible job, and can find it hard to relax.
- The Explorer – Travelers who wants to see new things and meet new people will have difficulties with guided tours and pre-set schedules. These are the people who want to see the things “normal tourists” never will.
- The Insider – No matter where you go, this personality seems to already know everything about the culture and the people. It’s hard to say where their insider information came from, but they are very quick to share it.
- The Souvenir Hunter – The only way for these travelers to prove they’ve been somewhere is to go home with the T-shirt – or the hat, or the collectable spoon, or that strange statue carved from something resembling rock.
- The Penny Pincher – Trips are expensive, and these travelers want see going over the budget akin to leaving the clearly-marked trail. In other words, you could cause a lot of erosion and might get attacked by wile animals.
- The Anti-Planner – Much like the Explorer, the Anti-Planner believes that schedules only ruin the experience. They want to fly by the seat of their pants, rely on last minute hotel deals, and let the world surprise them.
- The Exclusives – For some travelers, only the best will do. These are the personalities who only stay in the best hotels and dine in the finest restaurants, and they enjoy having a very controlled experience.
Of course, you can mix and match a lot of these personality types, and some people will vary between extreme or moderate displays of these characteristics, but understanding where you fit into these travel personalities will help you get more out of your trips.
New York is a happening place, where there is always something new to see or do. Even if you live in the Big Apple, you can’t possibly experience everything that the city has to offer. If you’re a tourist, you might feel overwhelmed by all the options, especially if you do not have a plan, so if you are visiting New York for a limited time, keep the following destinations in mind:
The Statue of Liberty
A beacon for freedom and democracy across the world, the Statue of Liberty is a staple New York attraction. While it is easily seen from a distance, it is best seen up close—so take a ferry and get passes to view the monument. Be prepared to wait in line unless you purchase tickets to climb to the crown or a type of fast pass that will let you bypass the lines. On the way to the Statue of Liberty, stop off at Ellis Island to learn more about historical immigration into New York.
The Empire State Building
You won’t find a better view in New York than the view from the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. The tallest building in NYC, the Empire State Building delivers a panoramic view that is unmatched—especially if you go after dusk when the city lights take over the cityscape. Take a look through the magnifying viewer to see the details, and prepare to be amazed by the vastness that is New York City. Compare the various sizes of the New York hotels and see for yourself what all the fuss was about in Sleepless in Seattle.
If you’re travelling on a budget, then you should be sure to check out Central Park. The pride of Manhattan, Central Park offers 843 acres of walking trails, ponds and free entertainment. There’s something new every day, so while you won’t be able to plan what you see, you are sure to find something for the whole family.
In the entire United States there is not a bigger wildlife preserve than the Bronx Zoo. Home to over 4,500 animals on 265 acres of land, you will find authentic re-created habitats full of exotic animals. It will take you quite a bit of time to navigate the entire zoo, so plan your mealtimes accordingly.
You’ve seen it in the movies, but that is nothing like visiting Times Square for yourself. There are many Broadway shows, street vendors, booths, lighted advertisements and more to entertain at Times Square—but if you are driving, know that you will have to be aggressive to get anywhere. If you haven’t planned that far in advance, you can find a last minute hotel nearby that will make it easier for you to walk to Times Square instead.
If you’re travelling to New York, plan ample time to see everything that’s on your list. There’s always something for everyone, so if you are a sports fan, a culture junkie or an entertainment aficionado, you can find something in NYC to impress.