It's tempting, on that first daunting trip away, to get everything locked in – every hostel, every transfer, every breakfast, lunch and dinner. That way you don't have to worry about anything, right? But you'll soon come to realise that it pays to have some flexibility. Book in the big things, sure. But also leave yourself space to change your itinerary and take opportunities as they present themselves.
We've compiled a list of reputable companies with rental outlets statewide. Check charges in advance; there are lots of options including insurance coverage and extras, so be sure you get what you need and know what you’re paying for before you drive away. Companies may also offer a pre-pay fuel plan with discounted prices, worth considering if you know you’ll likely use up at least 1 tank of gas.
Besides being free, these tours will give you a good orientation and background of the city you are visiting. I love, love, love taking walking tours when I travel. You pass the time, you get to pepper the guide with questions, and you get to learn so much about where you are! Take a walking tour when you travel! Here are some lists of my favorite free walking tour companies in the world:
While the external stresses of travel are often outside your control, how you manage them is completely within your control. If you let an unplanned delay throw you into a state of panic or rage, travel can become unbearable. When faced with anything from unending delays to slow-moving crowds, pay attention to your stress levels and take a deep breath, listen to music, or otherwise maintain your calm, and you'll find travel much more bearable regardless of what's thrown your way. This is especially important in unfamiliar environments. I've been threatened with deportation, found myself in Beijing back-alleys and completely lost, extorted, and dropped off at the wrong location with no way to communicate with my driver, but a deep breath and a smile ultimately allowed for recovery.
And instead of a normal wallet I take a tiny leather pouch with a zip with me on travels. It’s probably meant for keys and maybe for some coins (has two sides and it fits into palm of hand) but I use it even for notes and it’s much lighter and smaller than my normal wallet. When I’m back home and switching to it, I’m like “why the hell do I even have a wallet this heavy?” :D
Same! Dave and I regularly talk about how, if we wanted to get me a spouse visa for New Zealand and had to prove our relationship was genuine, we’d only have around a dozen photos of us from five years of being together! I’m also wishing we had more so that we could have a big memory wall in our apartment — it’s not quite the same when it’s just a load of landscape shots.
For example, Southwest Airlines boards their planes using a letter-based grouping system. Passengers check in no earlier than 24 hours before their flight and receive a number and letter combination (like A23 or B14). Passengers line up in groups of five, loosely in order and board when your group is called. It’s open seating on Southwest so you get pick your seat.
If you’re carrying on, keep your toiletry bag light and TSA-compliant. The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule makes it easy to remember: liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container and they must be in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag. To make this as easy as possible for you, we have a set that includes four 3-ounce silicone bottles in a quart-sized clear pouch that’s wipeable and has a water resistant zipper. Click here for more info about TSA rules regarding what you can pack.
Because they’ll never go away. Those nerves you get the night before leaving? I still experience them, five years on. Whenever I’m visiting a brand new place, I get nervous. Whenever I’m trying something new, I’m nervous. I even get nervous when I’m returning to a place I love! Embrace these travel nerves and accept them as normal — even experienced travellers get them!
Just because a pair of earplugs has an NRR of 33, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for you, however. You want a high rating, ideally 33, but it’s worth trying a few different pairs with this rating. The reason for this is that some earplugs fit certain people’s ear canals better than others, and the only way to work out what works for you is to try a few different pairs.
Trying to figure out what to wear on a business trip can be a real struggle. The modern, professional woman needs a wardrobe and a service to keep up with her busy lifestyle. Take the stress out of packing and consider a continuously changing wardrobe, without the guilt of buying new clothes, growing tired of them, or going through the hassle and cost of dry cleaning. Businesses like Armoire offers a data-driven and curated closet for women based on style and fit preferences. This includes unlimited exchanges so you always have something new to wear for every occasion. Forget about the days of “What should I wear?” and focus on what really matters.
If you arrive at your destination stress-free but some of your clothes aren't as lucky, try this trick: Hang the item in the bathroom while you take a shower and let the steam work out the wrinkles. If that doesn't work, try Brown's secret weapon—a spray-on de-wrinkler. Brown swears by Downy Wrinkle Release, which is often sold at newsstand stores inside the airport.
You see that photo of me on the beach? Half an hour after it was taken, there were at least a hundred people there. I managed to explore the ruins of Tulum on my own and without the crowds simply by being there when it opened. Arrive early for everything and you’ll get to experience major attractions at their least busiest. Plus, sunrises are pretty.
I carry a spare 300 USD that’s split up in various places in my backpack, daypack, and occasionally, my shoe when I’m nervous I’ll be robbed. It means that in a worst case scenario, I can pay for some food, a dorm bed, and a Skype call to my family to get an emergency wire transfer until I can get back on my feet again. I went with U.S. dollars because it’s the most widely accepted currency around the world and easy to change.
Keep Your Routine: As much as possible, follow your home routine on the road. Traveling is stressful enough, don’t make it worse. If you workout in the morning at home, workout in the morning during travel. If you eat breakfast before work at home, eat breakfast before you leave the hotel. Keep your bedtime routine as well. If you drink tea before bed, bring tea and have some before bed. Following your night-time routine will improve your quality of sleep on the road.
Bed & Breakfasts: California has hundreds of B&Bs, many in historic homes or hotels and a growing number at family-run (and family-friendly) farms, ranches, and vineyards. B&Bs can give a sense of the region's local character, with helpful innkeepers happy to share insider travel tips. Your stay also includes breakfast—imagine, just-baked scones, fresh eggs, or strawberries from the garden. To reserve a stay at one of nearly 300 B&Bs statewide, visit the California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns (CABBI).
Maintain your in-flight comfort and cleanliness by wearing breathable fabrics (materials that allow air and moisture to pass through them) such as cotton, silk, or linen. Fabrics that don't allow air to circulate will hold sweat on the skin, likely making you feel dirtier faster and probably necessitating a good spin in the washing machine upon landing. Natural fabrics are great, but moisture-wicking manmade fabrics are suitable options as well.
But there's an exception to this rule: If you're packing something really valuable, you may want to consider purchasing excess valuation (EV) from your airline. It's not insurance per se, but it increases the airline's liability limit. You'll likely have to ask your airline for it directly; carriers don't often advertise EV, and many travelers have never even heard of it. You can sometimes buy baggage insurance from car-rental companies and travel agencies as well.
So many people email me for advice on their itineraries and I nearly always go back to them recommending that they visit half the number of places. You’ll enjoy your trip more if you work in rest days, and you’ll get a better taste for a place if you spend more time in it. Don’t plan a trip that has you jumping from capital city to capital city every few days. And take account of travel time! Don’t be like two nights in Bangok, two nights in Phuket, two nights in Koh Phi Phi, when it’ll take a day to travel between them all, leaving you with one day to actually see those places. Oh, and you’ll likely be jetlagged, too, so you’ll want to take that into account too.
Tissue Paper: For delicate items, one of our favorite packing tips is to use tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don’t want to crush.
It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and thereby subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This isn't as simple as it sounds. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid prescription medication is exempt. (Read more on that on The TSA Blog.) See a more complete list of liquids and gels that are not permitted in carry-on luggage in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces here.
Resorts: Certain parts of the state—the Deserts region, coastal communities, mountain resort towns—are renowned for five-star retreats, with many championship golf courses and tennis complexes, spectacular swimming pools, destination restaurants, and elegant spas (often open to the public). California’s celebrated wine regions also have ultra-luxe retreats, with romantic settings, unparalleled farm-to-table cuisine, and, of course, incredible wine lists. Many resorts also offer special activities for kids, like movie-and-popcorn nights, so parents can enjoy time alone while their children have experienced childcare. Weddings and reunions can book private event spaces and exclusive catering services. For top resorts statewide, check California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies.