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.
5. Consider a cycling event. Start by choosing an enticing ride and let that inspire your trip planning. On any given weekend, you’ll find dozens of cycling events throughout California. Want to tackle a century (100 miles) in wine country? Attend a mountain biking clinic? Check the event calendars on SoCalCycling.com, Raceplace.com, Active.com, or TourOfCalifornia.bikefor ideas.
We’ve all experienced hotel letdown. You arrive at what you thought would be a majestic place to stay, only to be assigned a corner room on the first floor, with a view of the parking lot and the faint scent of cigarettes in the air. Pro tip: This is why you should pretty much ALWAYS ask to switch hotel rooms after seeing the first one you’re offered. Oftentimes, the second room you’re assigned (or third, or fourth if you’re the daring sort) is much, much better than the first. All it takes is a gentle inquiry to land something spectacular, even when it’s not what the front desk initially prescribed.
Now, remember, we skipped the cocktail in the airport. We’re going to skip it again now. Traveling, especially onboard airplanes, can be extremely dehydrating. So, to put it one way, it’s best to not “drink and fly,” unless what you’re drinking is water. The air itself on the plane is also quite dry, so beyond hydrating, many travelers opt to bring moisturizers, eye-drops, and lip balms as well.
Though Amtrak is the largest train service in the state, it’s not the only way to roll. In Northern California, Caltrain has regular service between San Francisco and San Jose. In Southern California, Metrolink offers service on seven regional lines that connect L.A., Ventura County, Antelope Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. Trains dedicated to certain themes and in specific locales, such as the Napa Valley Wine Train, also provide a unique way to see some of California’s premier destinations.
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.
This is a no-brainer, but it's something that many travelers don't think to do. If you missed the cancellation window for your hotel, restaurant, or car booking but can still change the reservation date free of charge, move your reservation back by several weeks or months. Then call back to cancel with a different representative. Sneaky? Sure. But it works, and you'll never get stuck with a lousy cancellation fee again.
Business trips are complex, and a lot can go wrong. The single best thing you can do is create a strict itinerary of meetings, transportation, and other logistics. Follow up with associations and transportation companies you are working with. Make sure that they are set and ready for the predetermined arrangements. It’s a simple and effective tactic. Create a solid itinerary to reduce waste and make the trip hyper-efficient. A set schedule will eliminate unproductive gaps in time and will give the employee a clear vision of what needs to get done. Soft arrangements in the schedule can be disastrous for the ROI of the trip. Cancellations can be used for something else. This is actually very common. Companies will make soft arrangements for business trips and oftentimes these arrangements are canceled. This is why you have to schedule well and follow up on all plans and arrangements.
In my early twenties, I was very good about keeping a copy of my passport in a separate bag from my actual passport. Then I got lazy. Recently, a friend of mine lost her passport at the airport. She was told that if she had brought a copy of it and extra passport photos they would have let her travel. Since she didn’t, she was forced to forfeit a $2,000 flight and a week in Europe. I now carry a copy with me.
That said, however, there are scammers out there, and it's the naive rookie travellers that provide their easiest targets. I was scammed the first time I travelled. And the second time. And the third time. There's no easy way around this – you're often dealing with pros who've been doing this their entire lives. Just roll with the punches and try not to part with too much cash. (Read: Ten classic travel scams)
9. Develop a routine for sleep and eating. Eat before you get on the plane to maximize the amount of time you can sleep, particularly for red-eye flights. Transcontinental and transatlantic flights are often too short for a full night’s sleep. So maximize your Z’s by “preparing for bed”–brushing your teeth and getting into comfortable clothes–before the flight. Go to sleep as soon as you hit the seat. Scoring a window seat avoids being disturbed by fellow passengers during the flight.
This list is incredible and so unbelievably helpful to me – I just wanted to say how happy I am to have discovered your blog and your book! I’ve been battling anxiety my whole life and am five days into my first ever solo-backpacking trip for in SE Asia. Two days ago I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed, so I googled how to deal with travel anxiety and stumbled across your work. It made me feel so much better and I’m doing my best every day to follow your example and push myself far beyond the limits of my comfort zone. Thank you for being you and for all of the inspiration you’ve given me in just a few short days – can’t wait to finish your book and catch up on the backlog of posts I’ve missed!
Downtown San Diego is less than 20 miles/32 kilometers north of the Mexican border and about 130 miles (210 kilometers) south of Los Angeles. From Los Angeles, it’s 385 miles/620 kilometers) north to San Francisco and from there, another 90 miles/145 kilometers) northeast to Sacramento. You’d put about 190 miles/305 kilometers) on your car driving from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, and about 600 miles/965 kilometers) driving from Los Angeles to Mount Shasta in Northern California. Needless to say, California is ideal for road trips.
On average, travelers save about 30 to 40 percent when booking a vacation rental versus a comparable hotel. So in most cases you're already ahead of the game when you sit down to haggle over price. That's right, haggle. Property owners may not advertise that prices are negotiable, but often they are; and if not price, then at least the length-of-stay requirement may be flexible. A property may say it requires a week's stay, or a Sunday arrival, or any number of other rules. What this really means is the owner would prefer it. It can't hurt to ask, politely, if there's room for negotiation.
If you visit costly cities frequently, set up an office there. Become a member of several airlines and hotel chains to get discounts. Buy a business class ticket. Use coupons while traveling. Carry some ingredients with you and cook your meals at hotels. Stay in corporate housing. Do online research to find the cheap hotels. Select garments which are versatile and can be rolled quickly. Become friends with the hotel staff to get perks. Involve them in celebrations to get a free bottle of wine.
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.