What to pack for California

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    many terrains means many necessities

    by richiecdisc Written Oct 11, 2009

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    Luggage and bags: California is a backpacking paradise. With park's like Yosemite and King's Canyon, and long trails running the length of the state, a backpack is something you will want to have with you if you have ever even thought of backcountry travel.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Hiking boots should be worn on all trails and trails are something you will find everywhere in the golden state. Even cities like San Francisco necessitate good shoes. Everyone thinks California is a hot place but really, it's quite temperate. You're more likely to find yourself chilly here than warm so bring layers which you can add or peel off when you need to. Rain gear should be carried in the mountains but it's not something it does in the rest of California all that often.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen. It may not be generally hot in the golden state, but it is sunny!

    Photo Equipment: A wide angle is great in cities and for capturing atmospheric shots of the state's varied and amazing landscapes. A zoom for getting good shots of its wildlife which is considerable and often overlooked. A tripod is great for low light situations and cute couple shots.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Accommodation in California is amongst the highest in the US. While camping is not always the easiest option in cities, the state is blessed with some of the greatest campgrounds in the world. The National Parks and coastal region in particular are teeming with beautiful opportunities to pitch a tent. Hint: bring a tent, sleeping bags, mats and stove. Save money and enjoy the state's great nature all in one go.

    D & I at Redwood National Park
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Camping

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  • briana_80's Profile Photo

    Packing List

    by briana_80 Updated Aug 26, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The weathern in California is very pleasant just about any time of the year, but the evenings can get pretty chilly-even in July. If you visit California make sure to bring a light jacket or sweater in case the temperature drops after the sun sets---especially on the coast.

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    by Krystynn Written Sep 12, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If you're taking the Pacific Highway 1 route, the towns you'd be passing by are blessed with a lovely climate.

    The following is a rough guide on what I'd pack along with me for a SUMMER vacation to places like Carmel, Pebble Beach, Monterey etc:

    1 pair of jeans
    1 pair of shorts/ bermudas.
    3 or 4 cotton t-shirts/ tank tops
    1 cardigan/ sweater
    (just in case the weather gets chilly...)
    1 pair of sandals
    1 pair of evening shoes
    (for that social gathering in the evenings in Pebble Beach!)
    1 little black dress
    (which can double up for day and evening events).
    2 nightgowns/ pyjamas
    1 bathing suit

    P.S. I didn't mention the more personal under-garment items because I think you should have no problem deciding on this yourself. :-)

    An important rule of thumb: DO plan your wardrobe in such a way that you'll have no problem mixing and matching your outfits and it should be able to see you through from day to night. So in this instance, that little black dress WILL come in VERY handy for the night events AND in the day time too! :-))

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: DON'T forget to transfer all your toner, cleanser, night cream et al into small plastic containers - to save luggage space, of course. :-)))

    Photo Equipment: These days, I bring along 2 to 3 types of cameras with me and load them with 2 or 3 different types of films i.e. ASA200 film (for day) and the high speed Kodak 800 film for museums or places that do not allow flash photography.

    So, the cameras that I bring along with me (in my knapsack or tote bag) are:-

    the Olympus mju Zoom (with wide-angle lens) which comes in a cool silver metallic color. I usually use this camera for day photography.
    the Pentax 150 Zoom which I use for places that does NOT allow flash photography.
    the ultra-small Canon IXUS Zoom camera - smaller than the size of my palm. I usually hang this camera around my neck. Frankly, it looks kinda cool this way too! ;-)) This camera requires a special type of film (APS) to be used.

    Miscellaneous: DON'T forget to bring along your much-treasured ATM card to withdraw cash. Yes, no need to rush to the money-changers to change all your currencies into American dollars before your trip.

    And NEVER use your Visa or Mastercard to withdraw cash.

    This is considered a CASH ADVANCE and you'd be slapped with a HEFTY fee whereas if you were to use YOUR own ATM card, you will NOT be charged for any fees. In fact, you WILL benefit and enjoy from the low interbank exchange rates. Trust me (I used to work for an American bank).

    Just ensure that you adhere to the following steps:

    Flip to the back of your local ATM card, do you see the logos 'Cirrus', 'Plus', 'The Exchange', 'Maestro' etc on it?
    If the answer is 'yes', then you have absolutely nothing to worry about!
    Why? Because you can withdraw cash from any ATM machines in U.S.A., no matter how obscure the town you're at is.
    If you use this method, you'd also save alot from the interbank exchange rates. Money changers will charge you much, much more compared to a bank.

    I've been using this method countless of times before and so far, no ATM machines in this world have failed me.... Yes, even at the remotest village in Africa or China! :-)) Have a great trip!

    'There are three wants which can never be satisfied: that of the rich, who wants something more; that of the sick, who wants something different, and that of the traveler, who says... 'Anywhere but here.' ' - Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Essayist & Writer); 1803-1882

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  • dutch_anna's Profile Photo

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    by dutch_anna Written Sep 12, 2002

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    Miscellaneous: You can get free booklets with coupons for discount on prices of lodging in hotels and motels, at most gas stations, visitors centers, rest areas on highways etc.
    Many hotels give discount from Monday thru Friday with those coupons at check-in.
    You can even find them on the Net, so make your own!


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    by sim1 Updated Mar 3, 2005

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    For 'grounded' plugs, flat blades (see previous tip), but with round grounding pin plug and receptable with side grounding contacts is used (see picture)

    An adapter will allow you to plug an appliance designed for one type of outlet into another type of outlet. Despite the fact that more than a dozen different types of plugs are in use, a typical travel adapter kit usually contains about five adapters which are capable of dealing with most of the outlets shown here. Adapters often manage this versatility by bypassing the ground/earth wire.

    Beware : an adapter by itself will not change the electrical voltage. You must be sure that your appliance can handle different voltages (either automatically or through a voltage switch). If it can't, you will need a voltage converter.

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  • sim1's Profile Photo

    Be prepared for all types of weather

    by sim1 Updated Mar 3, 2005

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear:
    Okay, I admit it, I love the snow, LOL. I was supposed to be on a summer vacation, and it looked like summer in the morning... so I can't help it that I am wearing a miniskirt and sandels, now can I? hahaha, but the sight of snow I just couldn't stand the temptation and I had to throw a snowball. Yes.... it was cold on my feet, all the snow creeping in my shoes, but it was fun!!!

    Hahaha, this picture does show though how unexpected the weather can be when you are on a roundtrip like this. One day you can be in a super hot place like Death Valley, and the next you can drive through the snow in the mountains. The best thing to do is dress in layers, so you can easily adjust to the weather you encounter.

    Having fun in the snow in Sequoia National Park
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Photography

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    by miner Written Sep 2, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: For San Diego:casual
    Sequioa Park: casual to rugged depending on your activity there and the season.In the winter dress for cold.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: For the Sequoia trip I got a little motion sickness from the several haripin turns.That was the only time I was ever bothered with it.Dramamine may be handy to have with you because it is a winding road to the top.

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  • raviv_ta's Profile Photo

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    by raviv_ta Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Luggage and bags: pack just a bit of everything. it's really depend where in california you are. it could be very cold and fogy. it could be very hot and humid. but you can always buy clothings in different pricess.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Hiking

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  • photobf's Profile Photo

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    by photobf Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen Sun screen!!!!

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  • Packing List

    by mverley2000 Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Luggage and bags: Baggage depends on what you need. If you plan to camp, well then you dont need to bring the blow dryer, or the curling iron with you. But do try to bring deodorant! That still has an effect on the ecosystem.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Family Travel

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Oh For Heavens sake! Do BRING TOILET PAPER!

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  • b1bob's Profile Photo

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    by b1bob Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Luggage and bags: If you're there for pleasure, don't pack everything.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: It depends on what part of California you visit and at what time of year. If you go to Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, or the Sierras, pack with a view to cool nights. Even in coastal Southern California, mind the Junuary phenomenon described in Warnings & Dangers.

    Photo Equipment: Good 35mm camera like the one pictured.


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    by sim1 Updated Mar 3, 2005

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    In case you want to bring any electrical appliances with you, here is the system the USA uses : 120 volts and 60 Hz. It is a flat blade attachment plug (see picture)

    The two-blade plugs are often polarized, with one blade larger than the other. Most outlets are designed to handle these. The larger blade is the neutral side of the current. This is a safety feature intended so the plug can be inserted one way only to reduce the chance of accidental shock. If you try to plug a modern plug into an old-style receptacle for equal size blades, it won't go in unless you file down the larger blade to the older plug size.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Birdwatching
    • Photography

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  • ChrisNPS's Profile Photo

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    by ChrisNPS Updated Aug 25, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Winter tends to be in the 70's in the daytime, and can get down into the 30's at night. Summer often is around 110-115 daytime, and 70's to 80's at night. So dress accordingly.
    San Francisco is pretty uniform year round...60's daytime. Best chances for hot days are in May, late August through early October (don't ask me why June and July are cooler, but from my years living there, they just are).

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  • sjvessey's Profile Photo

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    by sjvessey Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Luggage and bags: If you go to Yosemite, and go hiking, a backpack large enough to carry 2 or 3 litres of water is essential.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: In the summer, California is hot - shorts, t-shirts and sandals are what the locals wear, and a hat wouldn't go amiss because the sun sometimes gets unbearable.

    San Francisco can get quite cold when the fog comes in, even in June / July, so it might be worth taking at least one sweater if you're in that area. It's unlikely to rain, but it might.

    In Yosemite, you need to supplement your California gear with a good pair of hiking boots - blisters are a serious risk here.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Lots of sunblock, and after sun cream, for starters. In Yosemite, you can probably buy these at the village store, but it'll cost you. A basic first-aid kit might also be worth investing in. Last, but not least, take some insect repellent.

    Photo Equipment: Buy 35mm film at a large store such as WalMart - you'll get a 200 Dx 24 shot film for less than $2.

    If you go into Yosemite without a camcorder, you'll kick yourself later on.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: It gets dark during the night within the park - there aren't any streetlights. Take a torch.

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    by awcooke Written Aug 24, 2002

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    You've heard the phrase 'The best-laid plans of men and mice'. Well, our best-laid plans were spoiled by United Airlines.

    For the past year we have been planning a trip to the Cook Islands. Our son Daniel and his fiancée Jennifer were getting married on this South Pacific island. The happy couple lives in Denver. My brother in law and sister in law, Art and Rita, drove down from Carson City the night before we were to leave. We even arrived at San Francisco Airport at 4:00 pm for a 7:11 pm shuttle flight to Los Angeles (LAX), just to be sure we had plenty of time. The United shuttle was supposed to be in Los Angeles by 8:20 pm giving us plenty of leeway before the Air New Zealand flight left for the Cook Islands at 11:00 pm.

    After arriving at the United shuttle terminal, it was apparent that something was wrong. The place was mobbed with people. We checked the monitors and found that every flight was at least one hour late. We had heard that United pilots were in a slow down, refusing overtime, and that apparently had caused all the flights to back up. We immediately asked to be placed on standby for the 4:15 flight.

    We were on standby for every flight until our scheduled flight and never got on. We found out at 6:00 pm that there were over 200 people on standby so we had no chance to get on an earlier flight. Our 7:11 pm flight finally left at 9:30 pm which still would have given us a half hour to make the connecting flight at LAX. As fate would have it, our pilot announced at the end of the runway that LAX was under flow control for some reason and that we had to sit at the end of the runway for at least a half-hour. We were finally in the air at 10:15 pm and landed at 11:14 pm. We ran the mile and a half from the United gate to the Air New Zealand gate only to find that the plane had already left with our son and his fiancée on board.

    Air New Zealand's next flight to Rarotonga was four days away. No other airline flew to Rarotonga so we were stuck in LA until Tuesday. Air New Zealand helped us find rooms at the Sheraton Hotel along with two other stranded passengers from our doomed flight. Neither United nor Air New Zealand took responsibility for our bills, advising us to send a letter to Customer Relations.

    Where was our luggage? United passed the buck to Air New Zealand who blamed the intermediary baggage transfer agent and United. Air New Zealand's supervisor declared that bags are not put on a plane unless the passengers are on that plane. This circular argument put us in the middle all day Saturday. At 5 pm, after we insisted the supervisor call Rarotonga Airport, our bags indeed were found in Rarotonga enjoying the warm sunshine while we sat marooned in LA. We were now facing four day in Los Angeles with only the clothes on our back.

    What should you do to minimize the stress and inconvenience of this type of situation? Here are some suggestions.

    Always assume the worst; your luggage will never arrive.

    I find a purse clumsy and fear robbery or misplacement, I use a combination of belly pack, daypack, and foldover travel neck wallet. I always keep these items secured to my body. DO NOT switch items between partners because someone can set an item down and assume the other person has it. This happened in a temple in Bangkok and money, traveler's checks and passports were stolen with two vacation days lost getting replacements.

    DAYPACK - Also can be used during the trip when shopping. Better than carrying bags and loose items by hand.

    BELLY PACK - Special travel belly packs have steel wire in the belt so thieves cannot cut them off your body. I use the belly pack for small, hard to find items, which would get lost in the daypack. I usually have lip balm, Band-Aids, comb, hair barrette, extra cash, sunglasses, Kleenex, ear plugs, sleeping mask, business cards, copy of eyeglass RX and companion's passport, small translation book, emergency meds anti-diarrhea's, anti-inflammatories, sleeping pill. Because of dry recirculated airplane air, I include saline nasal spray, nasal decongestant and spray, and throat lozenges.

    TRAVEL WALLET- 2 pens for inevitable entry and exit forms, passport, visa, airline tickets, vouchers, credit cards, scuba card, driver's license, cash, foreign currency, note pad, luggage key.

    TRAVEL TOILETRY KIT - Resupply this kit after short or long trips. Steristrips, Band-Aids, q-tips, safety pins, nose strips, small sewing kit (some hotels include them as give-always), hydrocortisone ointment, Vaseline, anti-fungal cream, antibacterial ointment, small size sunscreen, hand cream, small insect repellent, toothpaste and brush, sample shampoo, conditioner, dental floss, razors, safety pins.

    CLOTHING - Change of underwear and socks, tee shirt, long sleeved shirt or sweater, windbreaker, 1 pair of shorts, bathing suit (for hotel swimming pools).

    HARD TO REPLACE ITEMS PARTICULAR TO SITUATION - Due to the wedding, I included my dress, shoes, nylons, pearls for the bride, collage binder of Dan and Jenn's pictures and life stories. Include water filter and/or iodine tablets for primitive countries.

    MEDICATIONS - Daily medications in original containers for the entire trip. Emergency drugs: 1-2 day supply, more if destination is primitive or drug replacements difficult: Allergy med., anti-diarrhea's, anti-nausea's, non-narcotic analgesics, and anti-inflammatories.

    VALUABLES - Jewelry, watch, camera and film. A small short wave radio is good if going to remote areas. I use a Palm handheld computer and portable keyboard for notes. This also carries all my contact names and numbers including those of the airlines and any accommodations we have already reserved. If you don't have something like a Palm, remember to carry a list of these numbers with you.

    OTHER - makeup, small flashlight, notepad, water bottle, fruit or snack, book or magazine, destination guide, translation guide, contacts or replacement glasses, inflatable pillow, batteries, house/car keys.

    Be like a Boy Scout, always prepared. With the inevitable lost luggage or forced layover, having emergency supplies brings some comfort. The hotel sink serves as a laundry for quick drying polyester travel clothing.

    We did finally make it to the Cook Islands in time for the wedding. Even though I wasn't happy being for forced to spend the time in LA, at least I was prepared, and that removed one more source of worry and discomfort.

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