The tips and information here help you know the ins and outs of travel in the Golden State, with tips on best times to travel, transportation, accommodation and camping, even good-sense guides for bicycle fans. Details here can help plan your trip and tell you where to turn for more useful information and insider tips once you get here. Happy planning.
If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realise how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings. More: 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs
Recently, for example, a nursing mother was told by a TSA agent that she couldn't bring a breast pump with empty milk bottles on board the plane. (Legally, she could.) In 2007, the TSA lifted its ban on regular lighters, but many screeners still confiscate them. (Legally, they can't.) The moral of the story: Familiarize yourself with the TSA's rules and regulations, because you can't necessarily expect your security screener to be well informed.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
Don’t assume that buying the most expensive designer suitcase will get you an upgrade – instead, it’s more likely to attract thieves at the airport and on your travels. It’s better to be inconspicuous and go for a lightweight option. If you’re using a hardshell suitcase, this can add up to four kilos of weight before you’ve even started packing, so expensive isn’t always best.
Our best example of this was whilst in Siem Reap in Cambodia. We were desperate to see the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, but couldn’t find any tour companies who would take us there for less than $120. After joining the local Facebook group, I asked the question, and within an hour had received a dozen private messages. It took a bit of time to sort them all out, but all seemed legitimate, and after some more research we ended up getting a private driver for $80 from a small company who wouldn’t have shown up in many Google search results.
From a health perspective filters can remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium from untreated or contaminated water and other bugs which can cause nasty gastrointestinal diseases. And then there's the plastic – you can reduce the amount of plastic (between 8 and 12 million tons a year!) that ends up in the ocean. Finally, my filter water bottle saves me on average US$425 a year on buying bottled water. Now, why wouldn’t you want that?
“I’m a firm believer that everything you need for a trip — whether it be three days or three weeks — should be able to be packed in a carry-on. This is simple once you master the art of layering your clothes. Choose a color combination for your attire and pack only pieces that match this so that you can mix, match and layer to create different looks (instead of packing completely separate outfits).”