Are you lured by clever commercials that promise 4 star accommodations for the cost of a 1 star? Consider this: Booking directly with a hotel or chain has far more value than a quick fix. Here's why: Generally, hotels will not take your money until you show up. If you no-show or cancel, they will take only 1 night's cost, no hassle changes can be made to your reservation, and their website always has to have a better deal than what you can get from those 3rd party 'tempters'. Choose wisely!
By far the best way to enjoy maximum value in hotel accommodations and rental cars is to buy through one of the opaque agencies, where you either "bid" on a room or car or accept a price "blind" without knowing the hotel or rental company until after you make a nonrefundable purchase. The two biggest opaque agencies are Priceline (bid) and Hotwire (blind price), but several other OTAs now offer opaque options.
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.
Get ready to roll. With its mild climate, outstanding highway system, and nonstop-gorgeous scenery, California stands out as the perfect place for a road trip. And renting a car is about as easy as it gets. Whether your trip itinerary is a statewide tour of California’s greatest hits, a all-in-the-family visit to iconic theme parks, or an off-the-beaten-track adventure, there’s a vehicle to match your mood and style—snazzy convertibles, family-friendly vans, rugged models that can handle all types of conditions (even snow), even campers and Rvs, all in excellent shape and with good road assistance and optional insurance policies.
Your tips are great, and I definitely agree with #1. Like you, we started off traveling as a couple. In fact, we met when we were both backpacking through Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam. Now that we have a toddler, we tend to pick family-friendly vacation destinations. This year, we traveled to Barbados for two weeks. The beaches are amazing, the food is awesome, and most importantly, the locals are very friendly.
So, when it comes to packing personal items, it is best to keep it scant. Dark colored clothes are a plus because they hide stains well and can often be reworn. Shoes without laces are extremely convenient for getting through security. A Dopp kit or toiletry bag can be within your set of go-to’s to ensure you don’t show up to a meeting with rancid breath because you forgot toothpaste. Gather the essentials here and ensure that the rest is versatile.