California is made for road trips. An easy-to-navigate network of more than 50,000 miles of good-quality highways and freeways link just about every corner of the state, with secondary routes leading to even more under-the-radar finds. Some of these roads are famous—Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast, legendary Route 66, and Avenue of the Giants (Highway 101 winding through towering redwoods). Some are workhorses—most notably Interstates 5 and 80—getting drivers (and truckers) up and across the state as quickly as possible. But even these heavy-lifters can lead you to surprising destinations.
6. Recharge gadgets using USB ports. Almost all devices have some sort of USB connection cable through which they can be recharged. Rather than drag along a spaghetti of cables, I find I can get by with just one plug when I charge my gadgets using my PC’s USB ports. This comes in particularly handy in the many international hotels that think that electrical outlets are an extravagance.
2. Blend in with your surroundings. Once you’ve done your research, you can start your visit to a new destination as if you were one of the locals. This is not only sound exploration advice, but a good safety tip as well. You’ll make yourself more vulnerable to con artists if you stick out like a sore thumb with your massive backpack, two cameras and confused look on your face. and you will draw much less attention if you make an effort to blend in. You also don’t want to disrespect or offend with improper dress or manners. If you’re visiting places of worship, make sure to dress modestly in order to prevent upsetting the locals.
But I’ve learned a ton from my experiences, too. To celebrate seven years since I stumbled my way out of the U.K. and began a life of full-time travel, I’ve compiled an enormous list of my biggest and best travel tips. These are all things that I wish someone had told me before I started traveling, so I hope you’ll find them useful, inspiring, educational, and entertaining.
7. Pick the “right” security line. This is more of an art than a science. The best line is usually not the shortest one. Two things to check are the efficiency of the personnel manning the line and the mix of travelers ahead of you. Several things to watch out for include families with small children, unconventional luggage which will likely be inspected, and anyone who looks like they haven’t been in an airport security line in the last 10 years. Picking right can save you literally hours if you travel often. For humorous look at this situation, check out this clip from Up In The Air.
I book all of my flights through Skyscanner, because it consistently finds cheapest deals. The key here is to keep things flexible: I look at flights to an entire country (or search for “everywhere” if I’m not sure where to head next) and look at prices over a whole month. I don’t collect points and miles, but I still rarely spend more than $500 on a long-haul flight.
Travel with an unlocked smartphone and buy a local sim card with a data/internet package at your destination. Not only it is much cheaper than paying for data roaming from your mobile carrier back at home, but the service and internet speed is always better. With this, you can make local calls with VOIP apps, search for last minute information about your destination, book things on the go, use maps to navigate the city and find attractions, and much more.
There is always a solution to these issues you may face during your business trip. You can quickly find another flight or use the Jet Card program we talked about earlier to secure a private flight to the destination. Accommodation issues can be solved by turning to booking apps and services such as Airbnb. When you are prepared, no challenge is to difficult to handle.
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.
At many hotels, check-in and checkout times are far from set in stone. Loyalty members often get the option of early check-in or late checkout, and sometimes hotels offer the option with certain packages or room types. And if you've got a late flight or just need a home base for a few more hours, it never hurts to call the front desk and ask. Often, the hotel will be happy to oblige.
A study from budget airline easyJet claims to pinpoint the perfect airplane seat: 7F. Their reasoning? It sells the best. But these results conflict with an earlier survey from Skyscanner that claimed 6A was the best according to a poll of travelers and a consideration of “lucky numbers.” Ticket sales and lucky numbers are great, but neither of these methods seems entirely sound to us. So which seat on the plane is the BEST, and how do you pick it? Check out this article for what flight attendants and experts have to say.
Everyone aspires to pack light. Some travelers are successful, others can’t help but bring everything and the kitchen sink. Here on our blog, packing light tips are the most popular posts. Even veteran light packers like Jeremy and I are always open to new ideas. Packing light is a process, not a goal. We can always get better. So we asked our favorite travel writers, speakers, designers, and CEOs, “What’s your best, non-obvious tip for packing light?“
Tissue Paper: For delicate items, one of our favorite packing tips is to use tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don’t want to crush.
I love that you put try the local food at the top of the list. I have friends who love to travel but will never venture outside of restaurants like McDonald’s and the Hard Rock Cafe. These are also the friends who have gotten sick more times traveling then any person I know. Best advise is to look for the long lines of locals outside a restaurant or food stall and get in the line.
Travel isn’t conducive for sleep, whether it’s snorers in dorm rooms, early risers rustling plastic bags, or drunk backpackers stumbling around in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t stay in hostels, you’ll still have to deal with street noise from outside, loud bars nearby, and uncomfortable overnight journeys. Pack some ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help improve your sleep. I’ve been using Sleep Phones to block out light and listen to podcasts and I love them.
Packing is pivotal. Forget an essential item and you're left disappointed and scrambling to find the nearest store in your destination. Pack too much and you end up disorganized, burdened with heavy bags, and hemorrhaging money to pay for pricey airline baggage fees. So we thought it best to revisit the most basic—and most useful—packing rules. Here are 10 fundamental packing strategies that every traveler should learn.
If you’re anything like me, odds are: you’re a hopeless over packer. But, no need to stress! After all, some of us are just born a little weird… like “I need to pack this parka just in case” weird or “of course I’ll read all 7 Harry Potter books this trip” weird. Regardless of the reason, I’m here today with great news: you CAN learn to be a smart packer.
A common mistake many people make is to ignore or shy away from the importance of social customs overseas. Be open to accept hospitality and engage with respect and patience and understanding of the challenges inherent to life in their country. Try the local food, seek out conversations with varying members of the community, and take the time to sit and listen. This type of focus on business trips has helped me learn about the culture and people with whom I would eventually manage an international charity empowering hundreds of women.
Resorts: Certain parts of the state—the Deserts region, coastal communities, mountain resort towns—are renowned for five-star retreats, with many championship golf courses and tennis complexes, spectacular swimming pools, destination restaurants, and elegant spas (often open to the public). California’s celebrated wine regions also have ultra-luxe retreats, with romantic settings, unparalleled farm-to-table cuisine, and, of course, incredible wine lists. Many resorts also offer special activities for kids, like movie-and-popcorn nights, so parents can enjoy time alone while their children have experienced childcare. Weddings and reunions can book private event spaces and exclusive catering services. For top resorts statewide, check California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies.