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Oct 21, 2011

California Tripping

Late September, I and my wife took the first trip to California for for both of us.
We kicked it off by landing in San Francisco and touring most of the city. It was a lot of walking and up and down the hills. Next, we went North to Napa and Sonoma valleys to check out the vineyards and the wines. Afterwards, we passed through SF once again crossing over the Golden Bridge on the way to Monterey. We made an overnight pit stop in Solvang. A little town on a way to Santa Barbara, which was gorgeous with Dutch style houses and community and also great Dutch style food. Then onto Santa Barbara, where the weather was great and we had a hotel a few steps away from the ocean. Though it was a bit on a chilly side in the evenings as well as the water. We next made a stop at Venice Beach, it was a sight to see and experience. And our final destination was Los Angeles where we spent 2.5 days touring the city and all of the touristy sights we avoided elsewhere during most of the trip.

Here, in more or less order of appearance, are some of the travel gadgets we had along with us:

Space Bags - Before even getting to the airport my wife worked her magic, together with SpaceBags to pack all the cloth and travel accessories for a week and a half trip into only 2 carry-ons! That is right, on the way to Cali we had no bags to check-in. This meant that we saved money on airline fees and also hassle and time of picking it up after the flight. We did however have one to check-in on the way back filled with wine bottles and other goodies.

Scanner bag - These travel tag size bags are made and distributed by the same company as the Knee Defender, which I wrote about in "Airplane travel gadgets to keep you moving." I bought 3 of them not too long ago and got to try them first hand on this trip. These bags are great. Once at the security check point, I loaded the bag up with our wallets, keys, phones and so on. Zipped it up and it was ready to go through the scanner together with the carry-on. There were no coins to dig up from plastic container afterwards or having to try to stuff things in your pockets as more and more bags and people are coming through. We pulled off to the side, got everything back in its places, folded the bags up and were quickly on our way to the gate.

Headphones - I have wrote quite a bit about a lot of benefits of having headphones with you on a trip. Well, for this trip, I actually totally forgot to bring them. And how did I miss them! I especially kicked myself for not taken them when on the plane. They had headphones for sale, and I would have even got those plastic ones, but they only had the large, bring back the '80s, type. I managed through the flight, though it seems now I am making up for that brain gap as I have a pair of earphones in just about everywhere.

Kindle - My wife had hers with her for the flight. She rarely goes anywhere without it. I went low tech for my reading material and had a magazine with me.

Joby Gorillapod - it was great to have this gadget along as we were able to get some shots of both of us in the picture while on hikes and less crowded, touristy, areas. Here are some samples where we used it:
 - on hike through the Muir Woods
 - hike up Lincoln Blvd towards Golden Gate bridge and walk through SF park
 - secluded pier with barely anyone around, but with ridiculously great view of the bridge from a different angle than any of the tourist attraction spots.
We had it wrapped on railing in one of the shots, then mounted on top of a pier poll and spread out on a rock in others

Of course we had along our Cannon Powershot SI120 for those type of shots. I didn't get a Joby for SLR as previous versions were not rated well to handle those type of cameras. The newer generations might have improved on this.
(By the way, if interested in more information about photography, check out a great blog - Digital Photography School)

Rechargeable Batteries - The batteries from the "Rechargeable batteries charger - saves money saves planet" post fame, are still running great. Same four batteries were reused through out the trip with the charger, which is light and small, and recharges the batteries quickly and with plenty of juice to last through thousands of pictures. - not actually exaggerating here, as per final count, we ended up taking close to 3000 photos on the trip.

GPS - was also with us on a trip as we did a road trip from SF to LA after renting a car. We saved probably around $200 bringing our own. And it saved us time since I was already used to operating our Garmin and following its directions. It also came in handy in finding streets once we left the car in a parking lot and went wondering around town.

Our San Francisco excursions/tours

 Did You Know?:
- Virgin America has electrical outlets at each seat. These include a regular outlet and a USB one. They also have free wi-fi on board.

What do you take with you on a long trip? Leave a Comment

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