Picture this: Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. February 9, 2013. 0430. Blizzard.

My travel companion and I are dragging our miserable behinds awake, hair askew and false eyelashes stuck in eyebrows. The thrill of the night before fading, we pack away our heels and curlers and our cute hats and makeup. The dizzying feeling of being fabulous in the ice bars is long gone as we knuckle down for a day of flat shoes, jeans and hard-core travel from Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, to Tokyo and then up into our dream hostel in the middle of the Japanese Alps — by plane, train and hire car.

We’ve got one hell of a day ahead, but we’re experienced (hung-over) travellers. So when we find ourselves at Sapporo airport being asked “Didn’t you get the email”, we looked at each other and blinked. Email?