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.
There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After five years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll come to mean a lot more.
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).

Unfortunately, UK residents (and basically anyone who isn’t in the US) just don’t have access to the crazy amount of points that Americans can get with credit cards and whatnot. It’s not much of a thing in the UK — there are rarely signup bonuses, and if there are, they’re crap. I’m really not loyal to one particular airline, either — I fly with budget airlines 99% of the time, which don’t have rewards programs, and I only take one or two long-haul flights a year. Also! Because I spend a lot of my time in developing countries, I very rarely pay for things with a card, so I probably wouldn’t meet spending requirements. 

I just recently discovered your blog and I want to thank you! This blog posting is the most helpful one I have read yet. On most of the other blogs that I have read, the tip are all very repetitive and not very descriptive. Many of your tips I have not heard of and are the kind that one would only figure out through pure experience. For someone with not that much experience traveling, but with a desire to do so soon I found all of these travel tips extremely helpful! Thank you!

With all of the technology, I work anywhere and everywhere. The problem- running out of power and there’s never a free outlet. In airports, people charge their cell, iPad, and computer. They have all of the technology too. I never travel without a little gadget-a travel power strip. Now, I just ask to share an outlet. This low-tech gadget saves me from wasting time. Travel a lot? Invest in one; they're about $10. Of course, if running out of power gives you an excuse to relax, that’s good too.
How do you usually organise all of your electronics, cables, those fiddly bits that take you ages to dig out at security? Stuff them in like the rest of us? Well, if you want to organise your packing then get yourself a stash of ziplock bags. Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones – take extra plastic bags (the same ones you’d use for hand luggage liquids) and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket and car keys), medication and other loose accessories. And if you do love a gadget, then you should check out our top travel accessories.
Bugs always seem to be on vacation, which explains why so many people return from their travels covered in bites. Spare yourself a trip to the pharmacy and treat an itchy bug bite with a basic bar of soap from your hotel room. Simply wet the bar a bit, rub it on the bite, and let it dry. Some people recommend rubbing the dry bar directly onto the bite, so experiment to see which method offers more itch relief. Take it with you and you'll have the perfect travel-bite remedy, since as a solid, your trusty miniature bar of soap isn't subject to the TSA regulations that itch-relief gels and creams must follow.
We all want to keep our money secure while traveling. Prepaid credit cards, which are often billed as a safer and more convenient alternative to carrying cash abroad, might seem like a smart option. You purchase a card and load it with funds in your preferred currency ahead of your trip. And if your card gets lost or stolen, you can cancel it immediately. Simple, right? Unfortunately, it's not so simple.

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!

Shrink it. Jessica Ellis, a graphic designer who travels between New York City and Chicago every other week, piles clothing into Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor bags ($10 to $26, rei.com). “Zipper them, and they take out 80 percent of the volume.” Warning: This can have wrinkly consequences, so if the clothes don’t yet require laundering, lay them flat and place fabric-softener sheets between them. Consider your fresh-smelling clothes a welcome-home present.

An alternative to space-saving bags and packing cubes, packing folders are pretty much what the name implies: folders for your clothing. They usually come with boards, which help you fold your clothing efficiently and compact multiple items to save space. Check out the product video for Eagle Creek's Pack-It Folder 18 to see how it works. The 18-inch folder holds eight to 12 items, including bulkier garments. Your bag will be neater and seem emptier!
This dramatic region takes up the southeastern half of the state. Remarkable desert parklands, including Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Anza-Borrego, provide an extraordinary chance to explore, while the oasis-like allure of Palm Springs, 3 hours northeast of San Diego, offers sunny resort-style getaways, with golf, tennis, spas, and high-end shopping. 

Savvy travelers take along a tube of Topricin pain relief and healing cream for easing all of the aches and pains of being sardined on a plane, lugging luggage, or hoofing it all day at an expo. It is a safe, natural biomedicine formula that rapidly relieves and soothes swollen feet, cramping legs, achy necks and shoulders--with no odor, grease, parabens, petroleum, or other chemicals, and with no side effects.
5. Get a good meal. Yelp isn’t as sexy as some of the newer apps, but I use it on every single trip I take. There’s nothing more depressing than coming into a new city, being ravenously hungry and not having a clue where to eat (except for the decrepit hotel lounge). Use Yelp’s advanced search functionality to determine what’s “open now,” and within either a quick walk or a short drive. You can sort by type of cuisine and also by ratings, so you can ensure you’re looking at the best. This has led me to fantastic spots I never would have found, from a Thai/Vietnamese place in Akron to small gems on the side streets of Paris. (Note that Yelp is particularly strong in the U.S.; TripAdvisor may be worth consulting as an alternative if you’re traveling abroad and don’t see a lot of Yelp listings for the region you’re in.)

Excellent advice about talking to locals. When you get to know the people who live there, it really makes for a wonderful experience. And you are so right, they have the best insider tips! We’re guilty of focusing only on photos at one point as well. When we started blogging as a career, we nearly lost ourselves in the work. We now always have to remind ourselves to have balance. It’s amazing to be able to capture a moment at our fingertips, but we feel it’s just as important to stop and take it all in. It’s easy to miss the moment when you’re looking through the lens. Thanks for sharing!
It's great to have a guidebook, something to point you in the right direction and give you background information on the places you're visiting. The mistake first-time travellers make, however, is only doing things listed in the guidebook – only visiting the restaurants, staying in the hostels and visiting the attractions that get the guidebook's stamp of approval. There's more to the world than the bits listed in those pages.
5. Keep your belongings safe. Avoid carrying too many luggage pieces and invest in a small sturdy lock for your luggage. Try to choose one that doesn’t stand out, so it doesn’t appear as if you have something really valuable inside. If you have a hand-carry with you, never leave it unattended. Buy wallets that have RFID protection to avoid identity theft.
The next thing you’ll want to do is prepare your personal item carry-on bag with anything you’ll want with you on the flight. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have an outfit (or two) and a few essential toiletries in your personal item just in case your luggage is lost. If you’ll be traveling around to multiple destinations, make sure this bag has items to keep you cozy on any train, boat or bus rides. It's always nice to have a bag that's easy to access so you don't have to get into your luggage each time you need your eye mask. But remember, you’ll be carrying all of this, so keep it light.
But what about work trips? Suddenly, the inconveniences of travel are mixed with the potential awkwardness of spending 24/7 with your co-workers. Like it or not, though, you’re bound to have conferences, client trips, or company meetings on the calendar at some point. So before you pack your bags, here are a few tips on making it tolerable and even—dare we say it—fun.
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.
Go in them to get some insight into the local culture and cuisine by comparing their menus to the ones back home. Check what types of chocolate bars McDonald’s uses in their McFlurrys. (In Geneva they had Toblerone and in South Africa there’s a neon green lime flavor.) See what unusual spices Starbucks adds to their coffee. And compare the prices to the ones back home and other countries you’ve been, just like the Economist does so with their Big Mac index.
Wearing a money belt or neck wallet lets you keep your valuables close to your body and away from prying hands. Review all the different styles here to choose what works best for you and the type of travel you’ll be doing. You may also want to choose an option with RFID protection. RFID protection keeps all passports with an RFID chip (issued after 2006) and credit cards/debit cards safe while travelling. How? It’s simple. Identity theft can occur when someone is able to “read” through your purse or pocket via the microchip, which has personal information stored on it. By using an RFID blocking technology, your personal information is protected. You can learn more about RFID safety from Scott Shelter, freelance journalist and frequent traveler. 

"Make sure you check international airlines to ensure your primary airline will gain the miles from flights on international carriers. Many of the perks afforded on your primary carrier will transfer over to these international carriers. In many cases, international carriers will actually treat you better than domestic US airlines in terms of free baggage, upgrade or access to their executive lounges. Almost all international carriers offer free meals and alcoholic beverages on their flights."
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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