Whether you dream of a posh suite overlooking the ocean, a boutique hotel in the heart of a city, a full-service resort, or a serene campsite under the stars, California has the perfect place to spend the night. Book a stay at a major chain almost anywhere in the state, or consider accommodations as distinctive as California itself—handsome stone-and-timber mountain lodges, restored Gold Rush hotels, snug inns, and ultra-exclusive retreats in one-of-a-kind settings. There are also millions of acres of unforgettable parkland where all you need is a tent, a sleeping bag, marshmallows, and a few good campfire stories. (And, maybe, a reservation.)
When planning your next outing, it’s always best to recheck what others have to say about the place or accommodation you plan to stay at. I’ve been lucky to find great places to stay at most of the time and only one that turned out to be a bit smaller than expected. It’s always important to look at red flags. Yes, you look at the usual area, distance from attractions and transport, reviews, ratings, verified accounts, host rules, and all that. But also check for the average number of ratings the host accommodation has had before. Say, if you had 5 ratings with an average of 4 stars, it’s definitely better than 1 rating with 5-star.
The one thing I really have to disagree on though, and think you’re mad for not doing, is collecting points and airmiles. I cottoned on to this a few years back and every single trip I’ve taken since then has been by using airmiles and reward flights. I’ve travelled to Thailand, Finland, Croatia, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Germany, Norway and more – all with points and just paying the taxes in cash. It saves a tonne of money and even if you use budget airlines most of the time, if you pay with a points-earning credit card then you can still collect points to use on airlines where you may want a better quality experience, for a longer flight for example. I would seriously recommend American Express – I’ve had the Amex Gold, BA Basic and BA Premium Plus cards. I’ve also just applied for the Lloyds Avios rewards visa and mastercard combo for when we spend a year abroad, which also comes with 0 fees on foreign spend and earns you points. If you want more info, I find this really useful:
Ever wondered if there’s a magic number of days before a flight when tickets are at their cheapest? Science has an answer for that. Fifty-four days before takeoff is, on average, when flights within the continental U.S. are at their absolute lowest price. And if you don’t hit 54 days on the head, you should usually book between 105 to 21 days before your trip ― within a so-called “prime booking window” ― for the lowest possible prices. In this period, ticket prices typically hover near the lowest price they’ll ever reach.
I keep a “quick fix” kit in my cabinet and grab it for trips. It contains earplugs, a sleep mask, lip balm, ibuprofen, and extra contact lenses. I also bring flavored tea bags to relax with a cup of tea no matter where I am. As for clothing packing tips, I keep it simple with lots of black. It goes with everything and is difficult to stain! Spanish Sabores