On the western oceanfront of Northern California, at the state’s distinctive bend along the coast, lies this breathtaking region. It’s framed by an unforgettable gateway—the iconic Golden Gate Bridge—spanning the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Explore diverse cities, picturesque hamlets, family-friendly beaches, coastal parklands, and wine country, including Napa and Sonoma wine country, 1½ hours north of San Francisco.
Money 5. Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Finding out that one Danish Krone is equal to just 20 cents could be a bad surprise. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at. 6. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards. 7. Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The conversion centres in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact. 8. Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards. This is especially important if you're catching trains or buses. 9. Call your bank or credit card provider. Sometimes banks think that fraud maybe occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Toronto, and they will turn off your card as a security measure. 10. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Some countries require travellers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200. Local Research 11. Buy tickets now for attractions you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you. 12. Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases and provide enough detail on key sites that you won’t need to purchase guides at the venue. Download guidebooks and apps before you travel to avoid data charges on your trip. 13. Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing out on fun experiences and that you won't be surprised by crowds or closures. Also, be sure to research a few national dishes. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing its specialties! Electronics 14. Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage, so if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. 15. Check the voltage of your electronics. From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country. 16. Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge we doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t. 17. Download the Travelzoo app. The Travelzoo app can help you find great deals in a variety of countries, and has options from local deals to transportation options. Luggage & packing 18. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travellers decked out in "J’adore Paris" apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear. 19. To check a bag or not to check a bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up your airline’s rules to avoid any incremental fees. If you're travelling with a companion, consider checking one bag between the two of you. 20. Bring snacks. Travelling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.

Scan a copy of your passport, any visas, and any debit/credit cards you’re traveling with. Password protect the documents, and email a copy of them to yourself and to a family member . If everything you own gets stolen, you can access them safely from your email account, take your copies to your embassy as proof that you’re who you say you are. Plus, you’ll be able to buy flights home and pay for accommodation with your debit cards to keep travelling/go home in an emergency.


Don't forget to bring a few essential items to help save your sanity while traveling with co-workers. A pair of earplugs can be a lifesaver if you need to catch some zzz's on a flight or block out the sound of your snoring roommate at night. Headphones are a universal “I don't feel like chatting” sign, great for when you just need five minutes of quiet time. And a pack of cards are easy to fit in the pocket of your purse and can keep you and your officemates occupied during a layover or a lunch break.
Prepare a digital backup in case your identification gets lost or stolen. With your camera phone, take a photo of your passport or driver's license and email the photo to yourself. You might also want to take a photo of the contents of your checked bag, which may come in handy if the airline loses your luggage. (Use the photo to help document your missing belongings when filling out a claim form.) Throughout your trip, take advantage of the camera on your phone and snap photos of anything that might serve as a helpful reminder, from your airport parking-lot spot to your hotel-room number.
Decades ago, before the Internet, one of the standard tips for travelers visiting Europe went this way: If you find you need to rent a car after you arrive in Europe, don't pay the high local rates. Instead, call the rental-car company's U.S. office and rent at the much lower rate quoted to U.S. travelers. Surprisingly, this recommendation is still valid. Book your car rental from a U.S. website to pay about half the local quote.
 When flying a crazy long-haul flight it is often nice to experience the business class lounge. Although Etihad’s lounge in Dublin is lovely, their lounge in Abu Dhabi is often crowded and warm (Etihad has recently been in the process of renovating their Abu Dhabi lounges). The food is good, though, and there is free top shelf alcohol. It is the extra special amenities that are offered that truly enhance the experience.

The first time we used this business class travel perk was when flying Etihad business class from Dublin. We were visiting family in Limerick and took the bus from Limerick to Dublin. The bus drops off at the Red Cow stop, where we spent the night before our business class flight at the Ibis Dublin. The hotel is on an express bus line that costs €5 per person and takes about 15 minutes. We would need to walk about 7 minutes across the highway overpass, but it is really not that bad of a journey. 

You may think you're in the clear for communicating if you're visiting another English-speaking country, but think again. Certain words could cause you embarrassment across the pond or down under. Avoid words like "pants" (it means "underwear" in the U.K.), "fanny" (slang for a part of the female anatomy, and we're not talking about the rear end), and "pissed" (hint: to the Brits and Irish, it doesn't mean you're angry).
The best time to buy domestic airfare is on Tuesdays around lunchtime. The airline sales typically only last three days or less and tend to publish on Tuesdays. Also, the best days to travel are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. You’ll almost always pay less if you accept a connecting flight. Travel on the off-season, as you can get better deals for flights and hotels. Excursions and local sites also offer cheaper prices. Another perk is that you don’t have to fight as many tourists and can experience a private beach or more entertainment options.
Most prepaid credit cards come with some surprising hidden fees, such as inactivity fees, reloading charges, monthly fees, activation fees, and so on. John Ulzheimer, CEO of SmartCredit.com, told CNNMoney, "Consumers need to realize that any insinuation that a prepaid card is less expensive than a debit card is false, and any claim that it will help you rebuild credit is just a lie."
Obviously flying international business class is loaded with business class in-flight amenities. A business class airplane cabin can include noise-canceling headphones, nicer pillows, down comforters, fancy socks, and amenity kits, sometimes with some decent swag.  I enjoy the more attentive flight attendants and also appreciate shorter bathroom lines. There are loads more little benefits to flying business class, ranging from unlimited alcohol and food, the ability to charge your electronic devices during the flight, free newspapers and magazines, and more.

Prepare a digital backup in case your identification gets lost or stolen. With your camera phone, take a photo of your passport or driver's license and email the photo to yourself. You might also want to take a photo of the contents of your checked bag, which may come in handy if the airline loses your luggage. (Use the photo to help document your missing belongings when filling out a claim form.) Throughout your trip, take advantage of the camera on your phone and snap photos of anything that might serve as a helpful reminder, from your airport parking-lot spot to your hotel-room number.


The best business traveler knows how to pack both the absolute minimum and everything he or she could possibly need. The basic key to this is remembering the purpose of the trip: business. A pro business traveler packs his or her personal items efficiently and packs a disaster kit for business because being shy that one adapter or not bringing a flash drive can cost one a deal.
I make the most of my out-of-touch time on the plane, in transit, or in a hotel. Instead of being a slave to email, I prepare a list of phone calls I need to make and download PDFs of documents I need to read to my iPad, so that I can work easily in the airport and on the flight. I make sure to email myself source documents and open/save them before I get on the plane, so that I can edit or write in-flight.

Some people will want to take advantage of you, but the vast majority of people you meet when you travel are good, decent, and will want to help you. Don’t let bad experiences prevent you from trusting anyone again. As long as you have your wits about you, expect that tuk-tuk drivers or anyone who comes up to you with amazing English and wants to be your best friend for no reason at all is out to scam you, and be most wary of the people in the most touristy places, you’ll be all good.
When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past seven years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself!
Another thing! as good as it is to take earplugs (plus most airlines charge for those) it´s good to take a sleep mask for those who can´t sleep without total darkness, and in planes there´s always subtle lights left during the flight, they are also very helpful at hostels or dorms where there´s always somebody turning on the light while you´re sleeping…

It is almost May. I’m slightly alarmed by this. Not just because the year is zipping by, and I’m wondering how I squandered away all that time with so little to show for it (Whither the sample chapter of the great American travel memoir, Everywhereist? Whither the clean laundry you were going to do?), but because I am coming up on another anniversary.
I used to work at a Consulate here in Germany for around 3 years. In my experience dealing with people and their lost documents, I can tell you that a photocopy/scan means nothing. We can only take originals. If they don’t have any (because of theft) we have ways to verify their identity through questioning and online electronic methods of checking their facial structure etc.
Make the most of your layover in Iceland by booking one of Icelandair's tours, including a transfer to the Blue Lagoon between flights. See Dubai without having to pay for a visa with Emirates' stopover offer, which includes a free visa for a one-night stay. Get to the Eiffel Tower, even if you only have seven hours at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, by booking the Paris Transit Tour from Aeroports de Paris.
Step 1: Gather all the garments you anticipate needing. Then put half of them back. Select clothes in the same color family, packing more tops than bottoms. For a five-day trip, you’ll likely need five shirts, two pairs of slacks or jeans, and one skirt, says Kathleen Ameche, author of The Woman Road Warrior ($15, amazon.com). The average 22-inch check-in bag fits roughly two pairs of jeans, three sweaters, two dresses, and five shirts.
Thanks for the welcome. Very happy to be here and glad our tips helped. Enjoying the Chase card and we just got the American Express Hilton Honors card that comes with 50K HH points upon sign up. Yes Hotels.com has a good rewards program, and nice to hear Raleigh has good fares to Europe as that’s a destination we are looking to explore over the coming years. Enjoy your travels.
The western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range, defining California’s eastern border, are known as the Gold Country, named after the rich Mother Lode discovered here in the mid-1850s. While gold is still found in the region, new riches include top museums and art in Sacramento, the state capital, plus whitewater rafting, tucked-away towns, farm-fresh dining, and award-winning wines.
What great tips! I’ve been traveling for years and there is a learning curve for sure. I had a sharp learning curve when the kids arrived because boy are traveling things different when you take the littles! One tip that never changes no matter the group or your changing situation is your #25 “Tell your traveling partner how much you appreciate them. That is SO true. Being appreciative of your family makes all things better – good times, bad times and everything in between.
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