Vacation and Travel to California

As you travel around California, you’ll be struck by the state’s astounding cultural diversity and sense of prosperity. You will also be struck by its natural beauty; towering forests and incredible mountains are just hours away from beautiful beaches and deserts.

Explore California by Regions

Central Coast

A tranquil expanse between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the romantics and fairy tale-like Central Coast is often called California’s Middle Kingdom. Dramatic seascapes, coastal resorts, and pastoral inland agricultural communities, make this region an idyllic destination.

Central Valley

California’s agricultural bounty flows from the Central Valley, one of the most productive farming areas in the world. This thriving region includes a wealth of culturally diverse communities, historic sites, exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities and plentiful wildlife.

Deserts

California’s deserts are a study in contrasts: Mountain ranges composed of nothing but bare, jagged rock rise abruptly out of flat, sun bathed basins, the land sparsely covered by creosote and bizarrely twisted Joshua trees.

Gold Country

Cradled between the High Sierra and the Central Valley, this territory offers remnants of 1849’s wild days and one of the biggest gold rushes of all time. With rustic towns, picturesque scenery, ample recreational and cultural activities, this region is filled with golden opportunities.

High Sierra

The magnificent Sierra Nevada mountain range serves as the backbone to the spectacular High Sierra region – the setting for a wealth of outdoor recreation. This monumental region contains three of the nation’s most treasured National Parks and truly embodies the American wilderness.

inland Empire

Larger than Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware combined, the Inland Empire encompassing the mountain ranges to the north and sunny farmlands, orchards, and vineyards along the lush Santa Ana River Valley is truly an empire.

Los Angeles County

Ever since filming in Los Angeles in 1913, the world has been fascinated by movie making  and Hollywood’s great dream factories. Where else can you go snow boarding in the morning and catch a wave in the afternoon, or hike deep into the wilderness just off a busy freeway?

North Coast

This spectacular region stretches over some 400 miles of rugged coastline from north of San Francisco to the primeval redwood forests below the Oregon border. This region reaches 40 miles inland to lush vineyards, pastoral farms and quaint villages filled with antique shops.

Orange County

Legend has it that Walt Disney looked all over Southern California before deciding on 75 acres of orange trees in Anaheim for the site of his first amusement park. Residents and visitors are also drawn to the county’s 42 miles of beaches and vast tracts of green space.

San Diego County

With its rich Hispanic heritage, temperate climate, deep-sea harbors, sandy beaches and a variety of fun-filled attractions, San Diego County maintains its reputation as a world-famous destination.

San Fransisco Bay Area

Blessed with a variable fog-cooked, sun-kissed climate and a dramatic landscape, the Bay Area is a visual feast. Add to this a cultural medley: within every neighborhood, a diversity of tastes and interests is thriving. To embrace all this, all you have to do is get out and explore.

Shasta Cascade

Big physically as well as in spirit, the Shasta Cascade region is the great outdoors at its vigorous best. It is a land of dense conifer forests, volcanic landscapes, and few people. The area’s dominating feature, the snowy volcano Mt. Shasta is one of North America’s biggest mountains.

GETTING THE BEST CRUISE PRICE

How can I get a good cruise rate?

  • Paying the brochure rate for a cruise is like paying the full sticker price for a car. Cruise Match Vacations can easily find you a good discount off those rates.
  • Book early, the booking rates become more expensive the closer to sailing. Booking early on a Cruise Line generally refers to 120 days prior to sail date.
  • Be flexible about your travel plans. As with every other travel industry, cruising during the off season will also help you save money.
  • Apply any coupons or special discount programs for which you are eligible.

  What types of special discount programs are available?

  • Discounts may be available for associations, corporations, seniors, children or even large groups or family reunions.
  • Memberships in loyalty clubs often include offers of discounts and upgrades.
  • Some credit cards will have special discounts available to their cardholders.
  • Package deals often include a discounted cruise price along with pre or post-cruise activities.

Do I have to book early to get a good deal?

If you book early you will have a better chance of getting exactly what you want and a discounted price. However, if the ships have low occupancy rates close to sailing, you can still find great deals. With all the new large ships that are being launched, last minute deals are still a possibility. But, these deals can be limited and many people don’t have the flexibility to leave or at least book in an instant.

Do cruises ever go on sale?

Yes, 2 for 1 deals are popular sale incentives where two cruises are offered for the price of one. However, airfare is usually not included in the two for one rate. Cruise Lines have also offered discounted or free airfares; free post or pre-cruise hotel stays, free cabin upgrades, extra days free or free shore excursions.

Are there any deals to encourage me to go on my first cruise?

Some Cruise Lines will offer a first time cruiser discount to encourage you to give their Cruise Line a try. It probably wont have to be your first cruise, just your first cruise with that Cruise Line.

Are there any discount programs available for frequent cruisers?

Yes, Cruise Lines are beginning to go the way of the airlines and offer special discounts or other incentives to those who have been on previous cruises with the Cruise Line. Most of these loyalty clubs publish magazines to update frequent cruisers on their Cruise Lines programs and will often include discounts and other special offers.

 What is a repositioning cruise?

Since peak seasons vary in different parts of the globe, Cruise Lines will sometimes move their ships around to keep a higher occupancy rate and to take advantage of those peak season rates. When a ship moves from an existing itinerary in the Caribbean to Alaska or Europe, the trip to the new itinerary is called a repositioning cruise.

How could going on a repositioning cruise save me money?

The Cruise Line wants to cover the cost of moving the ship by filling the ship with paying customers. These cruises are different than what the Cruise Line normally advertises and many are unaware that these cruises even exist. The Cruise Line will often offer deep discounts on these cruises to encourage bookings. Although youll be seeing a different part of the world and probably spend less time in ports than on their normal cruises, you’ll get the same ship and all the good food at a better rate.

How can I get the most for my money on a short cruise?

You might consider a during the week four-day cruise instead of a three-day weekend cruise. Since it is harder for people to get away during the week than on the weekend, there can be less demand for the four-day cruise, so you might get that extra day cheap.

Does it matter how I pay for my cruise?

It might, some credit card companies have special discounts available if you use their credit card with a particular Cruise Line. Some Cruise Lines will also offer a discount if you pay for the entire cruise in advance instead of just paying the standard deposit.

BUDGETING FOR YOUR CRUISE

How will I know how much to budget for my entire cruise vacation?

You’ll probably find this easier on a cruise than for other vacations because of the all inclusive cruise programs. The cabin, on board entertainment and food are generally always included. Extra items for which to budget for your vacation:

  • Taxes, surcharges, and fees. Including airport fees, handling fees, departure taxes and port charges. You should verify which fees and port taxes are included in your cruise rate.
  • Alcoholic beverages, bottled water and occasionally soft drinks are not included.
  • Cost of reaching the ship, airline tickets not booked in package, shuttle service or in port parking fees if not included.
  • The costs of staying at port before or after the cruise, such as hotel, transportation and meals.
  • Expenses while in port such as taxis, entertainment/activities, optional off ship meals.
  • Some shore excursions.
  • Shopping purchases made both on and off the ship.
  • Travel insurance, to provide for cruise cancellation and medical coverage.
  • Tips
  • Certain on board extras such as: gambling, spas, massages, photos, ship to shore calls, etc.

Picking a Cruise – The Basics

How long are cruises?

The 3-day weekend, 4-day midweek, week long, 10 day are all popular, but you can also find cruises that are several months in length. You can find 2-day cruises and even some lasting only a few hours just to gamble in international waters. In other words, any combination of time from hours to months are offered to attract your vacation dollars.

Where do cruises go?

Just about anywhere in the world. The Caribbean, Pacific coast of California, Mexico and Alaska are popular among tourists from the United States. But, cruising is basically found where ever you find water.

Once you pick a region, aren’t many of the cruises offered within that region the same?

No, you’ll also be able to find a great variety of types of cruises in many areas of the globe. The Caribbean is sailed by many different Cruise Lines and ships. Each Cruise Line and ship has its own flavor. You’ll find budget all the way to super luxury available in the Caribbean. The cruise itineraries also offer differences in lengths and ports visited. Any two Caribbean cruises can provide very different vacation experiences.

Since the cabins are built for two or more people, can I go on a Cruise if I’m by myself?

Yes, Cruise Lines usually have a special rate available if you are cruising alone. However, this rate can be as high a 200% of those for a single person in a double occupancy cabin. In other words, you might be paying for two cruises even though you are by yourself. You’ll want to look for a Cruise Line that has a lower single rate.

You can also consider a “single share” program that some Cruise Lines offer. The Cruise Line will find a roommate for you, so you can cruise at the lower double occupancy rate. If they can’t find you a partner you usually still get the cabin at the cheaper rate. With partner programs, you might find a lifelong friend.

Will the type of cruise I pick really make a difference in my vacation?

  • Yes, the Cruise Ship is your hotel, restaurant and entertainment for your whole vacation. It is a package deal that is different from a traditional vacation. You’ll want to spend some time and do some research to make sure you pick the right cruise for you. The perfect cruise for some might be a miserable one for others. Make sure you find the best match. You’ll want to find the best rate on the right cruise for you, not just the cheapest rate. Cruise Lines cater to certain groups and their whole ship is meant to entertain and please that crowd.
  • Some cater to certain age groups, singles or families.
  • Some are calm, elegant and feature haute cuisine.
  • Some have lots of loud, exciting activities to attract the active crowds.
  • Others have lots of family activities planned, so the ship will be filled with kids.
  • You will find some that have shore excursions just for you, while others look boring.

How can I find the best cruise for me?

  • Do some research, it will be worth it.
  • Check out the Cruise Line’s web pages and brochures for information. Look at the pictures and see what types of activities they have planned. Have they planned a cruise to make someone like you happy?
  • Make some decisions early. Are you looking for a quiet relaxed cruise, a romantic getaway or a party atmosphere? Once you have an idea of what you want out of your vacation, you can judge the different cruises on how well they meet your expectations.
  • Ask your friends, but remember that you are looking for the best cruise for you. Make sure you ask them what they were looking to get out of their vacation. Your friends may have loved the cruise because it was exactly what they wanted. Make sure you have similar expectations before you book the same cruise.
  • Ask lots of questions of your booking agent, that’s what we are here for!

What factors should I consider to help me decide which cruise to pick?

  • The amount you have budgeted and the overall cost of the cruise.
  • Any special price breaks or deals.
  • The Cruise Line’s reputation for the quality of its cuisine and its menu.
  • The Cruise Line’s reputation for customer service.
  • The Cruise Line’s previous ship safety and cleanliness record.
  • The overall atmosphere the cruise conveys. Whether it is family fun, party time, quite elegant sophistication or romantic getaway.
  • The length of the Cruise.
  • The Ship’s own facilities.
  • On ship activities planned.
  • Any theme attached to the cruise.
  • The ports you will be visiting.
  • The shore excursions that the Cruise Line offers.

Travel Backpacks 101–Finding the Right One for You

Did you know that they now are making backpacks for all different types of travelers and traveling? No matter where you are going to travel or how you are going to do it there is a backpack out there that will fit your needs. There are backpacks for laptops, students, day hiking, trekking, toddlers, children, professionals, making a fashion statement, hydration backpacks, and now there are travel backpacks made specifically for lugging them on and off airplanes and busses. There is no doubt about it travel backpacks have hit the market, are not going away, and make travel easy and comfortable. Here we will go into detail about travel backpacks, what is out there to offer people, and assist you in finding the best for you.

The Evolution of the Backpack

Backpacks started out for students and campers that would use them for lugging their books or equipment around to the desired location. Many times they were uncomfortable and awkward to wear. Traveling luggage started out as one big rectangle suitcase that was to be carried with one hand. These also were uncomfortable and awkward to carry. Now if you walk through an airport you will see all different types of suitcases and travel backpacks with wheels, handles and sometimes it is as if the suitcases even drive themselves.

The Ultimate Travel Backpack

Now, in its ultimate evolution we now have a combined suitcase and backpack creating a travel backpack that can carry just as much cargo as any other option. The travel backpack can be wheeled around like the suitcases and also worn as a backpack with a belt strap if need be. It is the ultimate backpack and suitcase for any travel situation.

Options

The great thing about them is that they also give options when choosing a travel backpack. This meaning that there are travel backpacks made for children, military, youth, professionals, college students, and just about any other person that would need a backpack for traveling. There are also travel backpacks that double as duffel bags. These can be used for overnight bags or suitcases to lug around the world.

Prices

Travel backpacks will of course vary in prices. Most of the time you will get what you pay for. It is recommended that you either look at the bag in person to determine the quality or search for reviews online. Many times the picture online can be deceiving and not be the size or quality that you need. This happened to me when purchasing a hiking backpack. I found the backpack I needed and the price I was looking for. Only to find out that the backpack was smaller than expected. I then returned the backpack and found a larger one for cheaper. High quality, cheap backpacks are easy to find online if you do some research and know exactly what you are getting. You can find travel backpacks for up to 80% off and more. We hope you enjoy your travels and hope you enjoy your travel backpack.

Finding Good Quality Backpacks for Discount Prices–Cheap Backpacks for You

Whether you are an avid backpacker, a fashion enthusiast or just looking for a decent backpack to use at school for a decent price, finding a cheap backpack that will be durable and last through the abuse is possible and very probable. There are a few tricks and key places to look to find a premium, high quality, cheap backpack. Here we will discuss those places and assist you so you know exactly what you are looking for.

Hiking Backpacks

The avid hiker knows the importance of having a high quality backpack. Nothing is worse that being in the backcountry and you backpack starts to fail. The strap comes loose and will not buckle again can be detrimental to your trek. Having a quality backpack is not only a good idea, it is a necessity. I have a Kelty Red Cloud 6650 that retails for around $250. It is one of the top backpacks on the market. In a minute I will tell you how I got it for about 60% off the retail price.

Backpacks for School

We all know the importance of having a backpack for school. Sometimes our classes are so far away from each other that we need our backpacks to carry multiple books and paperwork just to make it to class on time. Having a backpack that can take the wear and tear of a student and the weight of all your books is very important and a necessity in school today. Cheap backpacks that have a high quality are very easy to find.

Fashion Backpacks

Today students and backpackers do not only use backpacks, professionals, toddlers, and fashion models also use them. Today a backpack makes a statement of who you are and who you want to be. If you search the term ‘toddler backpacks’ you will find that there are tons and tons of backpacks for all different types of children. There are also backpacks that are substituting for briefcases. Many women prefer them to the old briefcase and so do many young men now days. We will also show you how to find cheap backpacks to support your professional needs or fashion statements.

Backpacks Online

Online searching for high quality, cheap backpacks is without a doubt the way to go. If you are looking for a hiking backpack it is recommended to go to an outdoor store first so you can see what you are going to get and try it on. Ordering the backpack before you test it a little is usually not a wise idea for hiking backpacks. After you try it on then look online to find the deal you are searching for. For me I saved a ton of money doing this for my hiking backpack. To find a backpack for school or a backpack to meet your fashion needs then purchasing online is easy and there is usually no need to try it on first. You can find these for a discount of up to 80% or more. Follow these steps to find high quality cheap backpacks.

Leather Backpacks 101–Shopping for One and Finding the Best for You!!!

Leather backpacks have been around for decades now and are still very popular and going strong.  There are great for school, work, or part of your fashion ensemble.  Many people use them for outdoor sporting activities as well.  They are great, durable, and usually made of with a high quality that can last for years with wear and tear.  Leather backpacks is a fashion item that began in the 1990’s and have spread like wildfire.  They were no longer the old backpack that your father had from Boy Scouts when he was a kid.  Leather backpacks are now a hot item and many women love having one or two or three.  Finding the best one for you is really easy however, there are a few things to look for so you find not only a good deal, but the backpack that you want and one that will last you a long time.

Regular Leather Backpacks for Men and Women

Men have been using leather backpacks for years.  They first started out as backpacks for camping and military use.  Then they evolved into a backpack/briefcase.  Now not only are they still used for campers and military (not nearly as much) they are more commonly seen as a useful backpack that can blend in at the office, class, or part of your outfit.

Leather Backpack Purses

A growing trend not only in the US but also around the world is women now using a leather backpack purse.  They are great for all types of women.  Many professional women are using them as a combo between a purse and a briefcase.  Many female students use them for hopping from class to class without the worry of having a purse and a backpack.  Many women like these because they can still be fashionable while at the same time being very effective.  They are also great for athletic women that need backpacks to carry their sporting equipment or clothes.  While at the same time being used for a night on the town or carrying paperwork for the office.

Shopping Online

The great thing about shopping online is the convenience and the availability of the products.  Now we can shop at stores 1000 miles away like they are right next door.  The down side is that you cannot actually view and test the product out unless you buy.  Because of this reason it is a good idea to shop locally to find the product you want and the quality you want.  There are places all over to find leather backpacks.  Then if you want to compare prices online (highly recommended) you can see if you can find a better deal.  Many times you can find backpacks up to 80% off retail price and that might even include shipping and handling.  This way you know the quality of the product and the value that you are getting.  If you do choose to shop for your leather backpack online it is recommended to shop at a store that has a great reputation for their products and great review or that you check many reviews so you know the product that you are getting.

How to stay financially safe on vacation

Here are some tips for keeping your financial information, including credit cards, safe during your travels.
1) Take inventory
Just like packing your suitcase, packing your wallet is a strategic step to take on your way to paradise. Here’s a checklist:
  • ATM/Debit card
  • Two major, widely accepted credit cards
  • A list of emergency phone numbers, including credit card companies in case of loss or theft
  • Things not to bring: checkbook, health insurance card, any document with your social security number
Also let your credit card company know where you’re going and when, but make sure to tack a few extra days on the end of your vacation, just in case you get stuck and still need to use your cards.
2) Divide and conquer
Once you get to the destination, split up your two credit cards. If you lose your wallet, you don’t want to lose everything, so pack away your back up in the hotel safe. When you’re out and about, keep your cards close to the vest, literally. Use your front pockets instead of back and if you carry a purse, always keep it at your side, don’t put it down.
3) Debating debit
While debit cards are a convenient way to get cash, they are also a direct link to your checking account. Hotels are one of the most reported instances of card hacking, so always use your credit card when paying for big items like hotel rooms. This way you don’t have to worry about having your checking account falling into the wrong hands.
Another debit trap people fall into are fake ATMs. These are usually placed in high foot traffic areas that are tourist heavy. Instead, use ATMs that are bank endorsed and either close or inside your bank or hotel. To be extra careful, at night try to use indoor ATMs in hotel lobbies and make sure no one’s peeking over your shoulder to swipe that PIN.
4) Erase the paper trail
Make sure to not only keep an eye on your wallet and credit cards, but also receipts and any other financial documents you might think are trash. Clean out your hotel room daily and make sure your rental car is clean of any trace of your financial identity before you turn it in.
Trips are stressful enough and you don’t need a catastrophic financial hiccup to make your vacation any more irritating. Vacation is for relaxing, so relax! Follow these tips and use your common sense and you’ll be on your way to unwinding.

The Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden

Completed in 2005, the Turning Torso in Malmo is a landmark that’s hard to miss. With a height of 54 stories or around 190 meters (623 feet), the Turning Torso skyscraper is the tallest building in Scandinavia. It was selected as one of the 7 wonders of Sweden.

The Turning Torso is also quite interesting to look at – the design was based on Santiago Calatrava’s “Twisting Torso” sculpture and Malmo visitors immediately notice the creative 90-degree twist in the entire building.

Does the Turning Torso actually move?
No, the building doesn’t move or turn. The residents on the upper levels would probably get seasick.

Is the Turning Torso one of Malmo’s attractions?
The Turning Torso is definitely Malmo’s most popular landmark. Lots of visitors take pictures of the Turning Torso and it’s found on many postcards in Malmo. However, it’s not an attraction you can enter, sorry. On the inside, the Turning Torso houses offices and apartments, so they can’t allow sightseeing tourists inside.

Where can I find the Turning Torso in Malmo?
Actually, the Turning Torso is hard to miss – you will see it as soon as you get close to Malmo. From the sea, the Turning Torso is found on the Swedish side of the Öresund strait.

Saving Money on Air Fares

Airplanes are a very common method of traveling due to how fast you can get from one location to the next. However, that often comes with a hefty price that not everyone can afford. The cost of driving may be more affordable but the time involved is more than you bargained for. Before you give up though you need to learn about ways you can save money on air fares.

Most people use their credit cards at least a couple of times each month. Find out if any of yours offer a rewards program that includes flight miles. This way for each dollar you spend you will get points towards flying. You can cash them in to get a free flight or at least a discounted price when you are ready to travel. The guidelines for this type of money savings on air fare vary by offer so make sure you check into the details.

Checking around online for special offers and web fares is a great way to save money as well. You can check with different airlines, online travel sites, and even your travel agent to compare prices. Traveling on Tuesdays and Wednesdays seem to offer the lowest prices. You will also experience fewer people in the airports and fewer delays on those days of the week.

When you check online fares, click the box that allows you to check flexible dates. It may surprise you to learn that changing your travel plans by one day either direction may save you hundreds of dollars on the cost of the flight. If you come across great one way deals, you may find it is cheaper for you to book that way rather than a roundtrip ticket. You may need to use two different airlines in order to get the best prices this way.

The flexibility of your times can also save you money on air fares. If you are willing to travel early in the morning or late at night the cost can be 1/3 or ½ of what it would be for peak hours of travel. Since these airplanes often have fewer passengers you will also find more room to store your carry on items and to stretch out for the duration of your flight.