Planning a budget-friendly road trip in Japan? Worried about costs? Well, in this blog we will share how you can actually enjoy a delightful “Budget Road Trip in Japan” at a reasonable price with some proper planning and a sufficient amount of time.
First of all, the expressways in Japan are not free. Although they offer convenient access, highway tolls can be expensive, particularly if you’re not used to paying them.
As a rough guide for the cost of using the expressways, we can calculate that it costs about 12,000 yen for the roughly 500 km from Tokyo to Kyoto, or about 2,500 yen for every 100 km. Depending on time and location, an ETC card offers discounted toll rates compared to cash or credit card payments. For current discount information check this expressway information link.
ETC (Electronic Toll Collection) is the system which is used to record expressway tolls automatically. You can drive through the toll gate without stopping to physically pay the toll each time if the car has an ETC card inserted into the onboard ETC card device. The tolls are then charged to the card holders account for later payment.
At TAB Japan, we rent out ETC cards at the low rate of 500 yen per card, and then upon returning the campervan, you will pay the accumulated expressway toll amount.
Avoid exiting and reentering the expressways as much as possible as this increases the rate. For restrooms and food, the expressways in Japan feature parking areas which offer food and restrooms and service areas which have food, restrooms, a gift shop, and a gas station. These facilities have a spacious parking areas and can be used as a “camping” spot as you travel to your destination.
Also note that to reach the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku by car you must either use the bridges which are part of the expressway system or take a ferry. Hokkaido can only be reached by ferry if you are wanting to travel there by car.
When traveling, it is always fun to try the local food, and Japan in a local food paradise with each region/prefecture featuring its own specialties. Here you will be provided with dining ideas that can help you save some money during your travels.
Consider buying cereal or bread at a 24-hour convenience store as few supermarkets or restaurants open early for breakfast. Cereal or granola costs about 500 yen for 350 g, and milk is about 250 yen per 1000 ml. A sandwich or bread and coffee for breakfast at a convenience store will cost about 1,000 yen for two people per day. Of course, our Campervans include gas stove for cost-saving coffee making.
As you are out and about during lunchtime, it is always enjoyable to try a local eating establishment. Ramen is a great choice as it is fairly reasonable and each shop often boasts its own unique soup recipe. A bowl of ramen costs about 1,000 yen on average with many shops often having one for as little as 800 yen. Conveyor-belt sushi is a must as a cultural experience. Each plate of sushi at a chain restaurant costs about 150 yen, so the average cost for lunch is about 3,000 yen for two people.
Supermarkets offer cheaper prices for cold drinks, water, and food than convenience stores, but plan ahead due to limited locations and shorter hours.
Formal campgrounds where you can stay in a campervan are roughly 2,000 yen to 5,000 yen per night with more popular and scenic locations being a little more. They usually have a shower/bath area and toilets, but check beforehand just to make sure.
Fumotoppara Campground offers close-up views of Mt. Fuji for 4,000 yen per campervan and 1,000 yen per adult, with a nightly rate of 6,000 yen for two people. You can camp near Mt. Fuji with excellent amenities, making it a must-visit campground.
Another overnight option are the many roadside stations (michi-no-eki) throughout the country. These feature free parking lots, 24 hour restrooms, local products and often a restaurant, which is usually closed by 5 pm. Roadside stations don’t allow outdoor cooking, but they usually have benches and sometimes tables. Roadside stations are usually in more rural areas making them a great place to spend the night. For more information on roadside stations, read this blog post. Free parking lots in Japan | Travellers Autobarn Japan (travellers-autobarn.co.jp)
Bath / shower facilities
Japan is known for its abundant hot springs, making them more common than coin-operated showers.
Some public bathhouses are free depending on the location, but in general, you should expect to pay 500-1,200 yen per visit to a hot spring facility. Hot springs vary greatly from bath-only facilities to ones that have spas, restaurants and relaxation/sleeping areas. Be sure to check what is available wherever your travels might take you.
Save money by bringing your own bath towels, as they are not provided for free in our campervans.
Gasoline is an unavoidable expense on a road trip, but if you make good use of it, you can reduce unnecessary consumption.
Start and stop slowly.
Avoid unnecessary idling.
Check the route and traffic information in advance.
Refuel before getting on the expressway.
Perform proper periodic inspections of the car.
Our campervans use regular gasoline. The cost of gasoline varies from place to place, but it costs approximately 10,000-15,000 yen to fill and empty tank.
The approximate price of some items can be summarized as follows:
Can of beer 200 yen (Do not drive if you have drunk any alcohol. Japan has very strict rules on this.)
Bath (Onsen ) 800 yen
Bowl of ramen 800 yen
Boxed meal (bento) 550 – 1,000 yen
Cup of coffee 120 – 500 yen
With the above tips, traveling in a campervan is an easy way have a budget road trip. Save on weekend and holiday hotel costs with TAB Japan campervans for a budget-friendly road trip in Japan. TAB Japan campervans offer convenience and affordability for memorable road trips in Japan, even during peak times.
Conclusion:Budget Road Trip in Japan is possible with little strategies
In conclusion, with a little bit of planning and some thoughtful strategies, it is quite feasible to easily keep your budget in check while enjoying a road trip in Japan. Save money on your journey by considering tolls, dining, lodging, showers, and fuel-efficient driving. Travel wisely to enjoy your trip without straining your finances with tolls, dining, lodging, showers, and fuel-efficient driving. Explore Japan’s rich culture, cuisine, and landscapes with TAB Japan’s affordable campervan rentals for unforgettable road trips. So, rest assured that with the right approach, you can embark on an enjoyable and budget-friendly adventure in Japan.
About the Author
I have been travelling by campervan to various areas all over Japan for more than 5 years. My goal is to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan! Just 12 more prefectures to go and I'll have accomplished it! I hope I can share some of information of wonderful places in Japan.