How to choose the best camera for your travels

You’ve got an amazing itinerary, sorted out your luggage and are ready for a holiday of a lifetime; however, there’s one more thing you must add to that pre-travel checklist. Taking a high-quality camera along for the ride guarantees your holiday is one to remember. Here’s how to choose the best camera for your adventure.

It has to be tough

Having a camera that can go the distance is exactly what you want when holidaying. You’re going to be having loads of fun, so want your camera to be by your side all the way. JB Hi-Fi’s camera range includes models that are designed to take everything you can throw at them. We have cameras that are waterproof, dust-proof, shockproof and frost-proof. Cameras get thrown into bags, dropped, plonked, bumped and scratched, so choose a camera that can go with you no matter where you are and what you do.

Make sure you get a good one

From the top-of-the-range SLRs to the tough and compact point and shoots, choosing a high-quality camera you can trust makes a massive difference to your holiday. Phones are great for selfies or photos of your amazing holiday food, but they can be restrictive. Choosing a quality camera with a handy zoom and heaps of features can add loads to your trip. It can turn a beautiful view into an amazing photo, and help you capture all the action, not just the stuff that happens right in front of you. Take photos of your family in the surf from the comfort of your beach towel, or make sure you capture the wonder of Mother Nature up close.

Check out the cool technology

Today’s cameras are full of technology and are really easy to use. Once you choose an SLR camera for your videos or photos, you rarely go back. They are easier to master and can produce high-quality photos and videos, up to 1080p, helping you light up your social media with perfect posts. And JB’s range includes models that connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to your smart phone, allowing you to share memories instantly. This great feature means no more lugging around hard drives or losing SD cards, which may put a dampener on your trip of a lifetime.

Go where the action is

If your idea of a holiday is to always be on the go, you want a camera that can keep up with you. JB’s range of action video and still cameras can do just that and more. Whether it’s a quality 4K video with our Go Pro range, or a large choice of still options, action cameras can quickly and easily transform your adventures into amazing stories that will make all your friends jealous.

Trust the big brands

When it comes to technology and reliability, choosing the big brands means you are buying a camera you can trust. Big brands also give you a heap of different options, and all the gear to go with them. And no matter where you go in the world, you’ll always find someone able to talk Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Canon, GoPro, DJI or Parrot, which is great for repairs or tips on taking the perfect holiday snaps. Choosing a big brand from JB Hi-Fi also means you’ll get great value, helping stretch your holiday budget further.

Don’t pay too much

When you travel on a budget, and most people do, the last thing you want is to be paying too much for gear. Whether you’re after compact cameras, SLRs or the latest action accessories, you’ll find great value across the whole JB range, no matter what your budget is.

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5 Cheap Summer Road Trip Ideas That Every College Student Should Try

By Jamie Kravitz

One of the best parts of being in college is the freedom you have during summer break. You haven’t yet entered the “real world,” which means you’re able to travel without any real responsibilities holding you back. Unfortunately, being in school also means that you’re on a tight budget. So while you may have the time to backpack across Europe, you probably don’t have the necessary funds. Skip the cost of airfare and take one of these cheap summer road trip ideas for a spin instead.

These budget-friendly destinations are all perfect to explore with your college boyfriend or girlfriend by your side. In addition to the company, having a road trip partner-in-crime means you only have to do half the driving, but you get to enjoy twice the snacks.

Whether you live on the East Coast, the West Coast, or somewhere in between, there’s at least one viable option for you and your partner on the list below. These destinations may be inexpensive, but they’re far from boring. There’s plenty to do for free or cheap, so you can put your money towards the cost of gas, tolls, and lodging. A road trip with your significant other isa college rite of passage, so why not check it off your bucket list this summer? If you need inspiration, here are five inexpensive road trips you can take with your college boyfriend or girlfriend.

1 If You Both Love To Hike, Check Out Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Skip the pricy Grand Canyon tour and head to Horseshoe Bend instead. Located in Page, Arizona, this “intimate Grand Canyon experience” ends with a gorgeous landscape that will have your Instagram followers practically foaming at the mouth. The best part is that there’s no entry fee, so you can enjoy the hike for free. Head there in the late morning or early afternoon to avoid the river being hidden in shadow or the sun blocking your view.

While you’re in the area, try your luck at The Wave as well. This photographer’s dream is located along the Arizona/Utah border, about 40 miles west of Horseshoe Bend. You have to apply for a permit in advance, as well as pay $5 to enter a lottery. Only 20 people are allowed to hike The Wave per day. Ten are chosen in advance through the lottery, and 10 can score a walk-in permit. If you’re one of the lucky few, though, it only costs $7 per person for an entire day of exploring.

2 If You Two Are All About The ‘Gram, Visit Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada

You may have seen this colorful art installation on your Instagram Explore page. If you’ve added the destination to your list of must-see places, however, time is running out. The two-year public art exhibition went up in 2016, and is only guaranteed to stick around through the end of 2018. Snag your photos this summer and avoid Instagram envy down the road. That way, there’ll be no ‘mo FOMO for you and your boo.

While it’s free to see and photograph, the Seven Magic Mountains are more of a roadside pit stop than a day-long event. While you’re in the area, check out The Pinball Hall of Fame, where you can play on vintage pinball machines for just 10, 25, or 50 cents each. There are only about 22 miles between the two attractions, so you can take your time at each spot.

3 If You’re An Artsy Couple, Head To Nashville, Indiana

No, not that Nashville. This Nashville is a quaint artists’ colony in Indiana that is both romantic and affordable. Once you arrive, take your pick from a number of art galleries and artists’ studios, antique shops, music venues, wineries, and breweries. Or, stay for a few days and try to see them all. There are plenty of adorable inns, charming cottages, and bohemian bed and breakfasts to choose from.

Eat, shop, drink, and stroll hand-in-hand through this small, historic town that looks and feels like it’s straight out of an episode of Gilmore Girls. Grab your Luke or your Lorelai and pack your summer flannels, because a weekend getaway in Nashville, Indiana, is calling your name.

4 If You’re Looking To Party Together, Go To Virginia Beach, Virginia

This popular Beach Week destination attracts college students for a reason. Hit the three mile-long Virginia Beach boardwalk any time during the day or night, and you’re guaranteed to find something fun to do. From three oceanfront stages offering entertainment every evening (including a free summer concert series) in Neptune’s Park, to shops and restaurants all along the street, your options are essentially endless. Neptune’s Park also boasts a giant statue of Neptune that makes for a great photo op.

And if you ever need to escape the boardwalk for a bit, you can always visit a Virginia Beach brewery or distillery. Chesapeake Bay Distillery offers free tours on Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m., as well as $7 tasting events with four samples. Or, go to Funny Bone Comedy Club and see a show with your SO. There are plenty of acts with tickets in the $8 to $15 range.

5 If The Two Of You Are Feeling Nautical, Ship Up To York, Maine

If you’re the kind of pair who loves beach towns with gorgeous views of the coast, then you have to go to York, Maine. For starters, its Nubble Lighthouse is the most photographed lighthouse in America. Afterwards, stop at the walk-up counter of Dunne’s Ice Cream for a delicious and inexpensive summer treat.

Then there’s York’s Wild Kingdom, which is both an amusement park and a zoo. If you only want to visit the zoo, adult tickets are a mere $14.75. There’s a huge butterfly exhibit and a White Bengal tiger named Rewa (in separate parts of the park, obviously). York also has a number of historic houses and museums. And, of course, while you’re there you have to hit the beach.

No matter where your passions lie, there’s a cheap summer road trip destination that’s just waiting for you and your partner to visit.

Top 10 coolest small towns in America (including one in California)

By Jackie Burrell

At the top spot: The New York town of Beacon, thanks to its Hudson River Valley setting, its array of artists, artisans and chefs, and its stunning DIA: Beacon museum of contemporary art. It was actually singer and activist Pete Seeger, who helped turned this former mill town’s fortunes around, when he began grassroots lobbying in the 1960s to save the Hudson River, then a toxic brew of industrial chemicals that flowed near his log cabin. This, he told neighbors, could be a beautiful place.

Beacon’s transformation surged forward in the early 2000s, when the old Nabisco Box Printing Factory became the DIA, a 300,000-square-foot modern art museum that houses installations too large for New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Artists, artisans, brewers and chefs soon flocked to Beacon, but the town retains its small-town feel.

Sonoma took the No. 2 spot for its wine-tasting rooms on the plaza, its chic restaurants and its irresistible vineyard-dotted hills and valleys. Firpo-Cappiello calls it “a theme park for grown-ups.”

The rest of the list criss-crosses the country from Sedona, Arizona and its gorgeous rock formations and vortex energy centers, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood. Here’s the list:

  1. Beacon, New York
  2. Sonoma, California
  3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  4. Durango, Colorado
  5. Ephraim, Wisconsin
  6. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  7. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
  8. Sedona, Arizona
  9. Ocean Springs, Mississippi
  10. Point Pleasant, New Jersey

The Best Budget-Friendly Beach Destinations

By Lindsay Cohn

La Jolla Cove, California

The Blue Waters of the Pacific Ocean Coastline Along the Beach of La Jolla, California.
Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock

For a taste of the tropics without the price tag or need for passport consider La Jolla Cove. Just 25 minutes north of San Diego, this idyllic inlet is surrounded by cliffs. Its calm, protected waters are teeming with a diversity of marine life. No surprise, it’s a mecca for diving and snorkeling. Skip the five-star resorts and book a stay at the Scripps Inn, which is affordable and highly rated by guests. Don’t miss more of the best beaches in America.

Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas. Cityscape colors in spring season.

GagliardiImages/Shutterstock

Galveston is blessed with 30 miles of sun-drenched shores and warm weather from mid-April until October. Head to the revamped Pleasure Pier for rides, games, and food. Admission to the Galveston Arts Center is free, so is the ferry to Port Bolivar. Moody Gardens is a kid-centric playground with a rainforest, aquarium, and 3D theater. Pro tip: You can save big bucks by purchasing a combo pass online. Don’t miss these 20 family beaches to visit this summer.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Beach. Florida. USA.
Mia2you/Shutterstock

Golden sands and canals plus a wealth of stores and restaurants make Fort Lauderdale the ultimate vacation spot. Many airlines offer inexpensive fares. Once there, water taxis are a low-cost and convenient method of transport. Spend the morning sunbathing, stop for an afternoon cocktail along the promenade, then head to Las Olas Boulevard for people-watching followed by dinner and dancing.

Split, Croatia

Beautiful Adriatic Beach and Lagoon with Turquoise Water near Split, Croatia

ansharphoto/Shutterstock

Split remains among the most unique and affordable places in Europe. It may be less “bright and shiny” than Dubrovnik, but it makes up for it in well-maintained public beaches, fresh fish, and relaxed ambiance. Hotels start at $76. Plus, there’s a ton of stuff to do that’s free. Spend your days exploring the rocky coastline, swimming in the Adriatic Sea, and gawking at Diocletian’s Palace. Feast on fried sardines and squid; wash it down with dirt-cheap beer. If you like Split, you’ll love these other magical Mediterranean islands

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The blue lagoon in Puerto Plata
laesperanza/Shutterstock

Puerto Plata has some of the clearest water in the Dominican Republic and lots of activities for kids of all ages. The area is also home to family-friendly resorts like Iberostar Costa Dorada. “This is your classic all-inclusive with tons of amenities and restaurants,” explains Hudson. “And the rates are extremely reasonable—especially during the shoulder season.” A recent search showed $166 per night in July. Don’t miss these other beaches with crystal clear water.

Cape May, New Jersey

Digital art paint, Cape May Lighthouse New Jersey

Sylvie Corriveau/Shutterstock

Cape May is beloved for its ocean views, historic lighthouse, and Victorian-era architecture. Accommodations range from charming B&Bs and quaint inns to boutique hotels and landmark resorts. Proximity to New York and Philadelphia make it a great weekend getaway. Driving? “Bundling your rental car and hotelsaves an average of 15 percent,” explains Christie Hudson, senior communications manager at Expedia. Find out other charming beaches that the locals want to keep a secret.

Hermosa Beach, California

Waves breaking midday against rocky jetty with blue sky along coastline at Hermosa Beach, California
Lori Cooper OToole/Shutterstock

Looking for an economical, less touristy alternative to Santa Monica? Set your sights on its chill neighbor, Hermosa Beach. This SoCal community is within easy reach of the city, yet offers a laid-back vibe. Take advantage of the amazing waves with a surf lesson. Carve out time for the historic pier as well as numerous eateries and bars nearby. No shoes, no shirt, no problem. Cover-ups and flip-flops are the attire of choice. P.S. These summer vacation packages are worth the money.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Beach at Caribbean sea in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

Situated between Cancun and Tulum, Playa del Carmen is a picture-perfect paradise. Swaying palm trees dot the white sand. Turquoise waters and coral reefs beckon aquatic adventurers. Beyond its natural splendor is a slew of cultural attractions, including the Frida Kahlo Museum. Despite its popularity, there are still deals to be had—particularly during off-peak months—which means more money for margaritas. Don’t miss these other popular travel destinations in Mexico.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

View of Myrtle Beach South Carolina
StacieStauffSmith Photos/Shutterstock

Myrtle Beach is a favorite of spring breakers, golfers and families alike. There are enough exciting activities to keep you entertained for several weeks. Stroll along Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of seashore. The boardwalk boasts arcades, souvenir stands, and an old-fashioned amusement park—expansive vistas from the top of SkyWheel are not to be missed. See a show at The Carolina Opry Theater. Wondering where to stay? Overnight options run the gamut from value to all-out luxurious. Find out more top summer getaways across the country.

Sydney, Australia

in australia people in bondie beach and the resort near ocean

lkpro/Shutterstock

Sydney brims with beautiful beaches and epic surf spots. Sure, airfare won’t come cheap, but hear us out. Savvy jet-setters can avoid the crowds and save coin by visiting during low season—which, conveniently enough for folks in the United States, happens to be May through August. If you’re not opposed to shared quarters, grab a bunk at Bondi Backpackers, a recently renovated hostel steps away from the shore. Check out more amazing beaches to add to your bucket list ASAP.

Here’s Your Chance to See the Northern Lights This Year (Without Breaking the Bank)

Northern Lights in Iceland
Getty Images

By ANDREA

ROMANO

Now is your chance to get the most amazing view in the world — for a great price.

Iceland has been one of the top destinations for travelers for a few years now, with its unique culture and food, incredible landscapes, and, of course, amazing views of the Northern Lights.

While searching for the sometimes-elusive Northern Lights can be an expensive endeavor, cheap flights to Iceland have made the trip more budget-friendly, and now Icelandair is offering a special Iceland Northern Lights Getaway package for $649.

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For that price, travelers will get a round-trip flight (including a checked bag), three nights’s hotel (with breakfast), a Northern Lights Hunt evening tour (when you can see the natural spectacle strewn across the night sky), and a Golden Circle District tour. That tour offers visits to attractions like the famous Gullfoss waterfall, geothermal geysers, and Thingvellir Historical National Park.

The deal — which is available for travel from Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and D.C. — is availabe to book until June 30, 2018. Travel dates must be between October 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019, and blackout dates apply. (Winter is when you’re going to see the Northern Lights, so pack warm clothes.)

Affording That Family Summer Break When You’re on a Strict Budget

June 14, 2018 by Damien Troy

When it comes to affording a family summer holiday it can be difficult to find a package which not only suits each family member’s requirements, but also suits your budget. In the summer holidays, holiday package prices increase dramatically, which can be difficult to cope with when you’re on a strict budget. However, there are ways that you can navigate the deals in order to find a holiday that you can afford without scrimping on the accommodation or flights.

While you may seek a payday loan in the event of a financial emergency such as an unexpected medical bill if you or a member of your family are injured on holiday, ensuring that you have a budget aside for your holiday is important. Not everyone’s budgets are flexible, however, so here, we’re taking a closer look at how you can afford the summer break you and your family deserve, on a strict budget.

Unusual Holiday Destinations

One of the best ways to save money on your holiday is to avoid the tourist traps in the likes of Spain, France and Italy. The summer holidays are the time for many families to head abroad and enjoy the sun, sea and sand, and most opt for the popular tourist destinations of Benidorm, Majorca, and similar locations. To stay within your strict budget, choose something a little different. Bulgaria, Croatia and Morocco are just a few examples of where your money can stretch a little further in the summer months, allowing you to enjoy all the perks of a family holiday destination, for less.

Avoid Major Tour Operators

When it comes to booking your holiday, try to avoid the major tour operators who are renowned for their package deals. While you can benefit from peace of mind when it comes to booking with a company who not only arrange everything for you, but are well-known in the industry, this can lead to significant hikes in prices. Look at some of the smaller holiday package sites online to find cheaper deals for your family holiday. You’ll often knock off hundreds of pounds by purchasing holiday packages this way, while still benefitting from fantastic destinations and accommodation.

Book Your Flights & Hotel Separately

Instead of opting for a package deal organised by a single tour operator, you should look into booking your flights and accommodation separately. Often, you can save a lot of money on your room if you book through the hotel directly as opposed to booking through a comparison site or a tour operator.

Call up the hotel or visit their website directly to find the best deal. When it comes to booking flights, you can also opt for a budget airline such as Ryan Air or Easy Jet and compare prices to your destination at different times.

There are a number of top tips to consider here, such as booking on a Tuesday where flight prices tend to be lower, and flying mid-week as opposed to the weekend. Booking this part of your holiday separately can allow you to be in control of all of the individual prices helping you to stay within your strict budget.

Enjoying a family holiday on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult. Book your flights and accommodation separately and opt for a destination which you may have never considered before in order to obtain the best deals, to ensure your family get the break that they deserve this summer while sticking to your strict budget.

This story was originally found on the Good Men Project.

The ultimate Californian road trip: where to go, what to see

Hayley Bloomingdale, a California native, shares her top tips – where to stay, what to see, eat and do – for the ultimate Californian road trip, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, by way of Napa, Big Sur and Santa Barbara.

Since I moved to London two years ago, conversations with Brits have gone much the same way. I will say that I am originally from California and they will ask, “why on Earth would you leave there?!”; then they proceed to tell me how they are dying to do a California road trip, as soon as the new job/baby/spouse/cat settles down. But the romantic fascination with driving a convertible along the Pacific Coast Highway isn’t unique to the British; it has a spot on everyone’s travel bucket list.

I was born in Los Angeles but went to boarding school up the coast in Monterey – a lovely city for the newly-wed and nearly-dead, but not the most exciting place for a teenager. Being driven to school and back by my parents should have made me an expert on that classic coastal journey, but in truth I was only ever in one of two moods: surly and cantankerous in September before school started, and ecstatic with freedom come June. It took leaving the golden state for me to fully appreciate the magic of this unique stretch of coastline.

Years spent trudging the mean streets and meaner winters of Manhattan certainly had me missing the sunny shores of my home state, but it wasn’t until I moved to London and was asked so frequently about The California Road Trip that I decided to revisit it. My fiancé, Alexander, is British and had never seen California beyond Disneyland at age six, so he would provide the perfect companion. We rented a convertible – hackneyed, but essential for the full experience – and set off.

Below are the stops that should be on your trip; depending on how many days you have, you can add or subtract stops along the way. As this is your bucket-list guide, we’ve upped the ante on the luxury stays, but there are plenty of budget-friendly options in every city.

San Francisco

The city by the bay is the most convenient place to start or end your trip, depending on which way you’re driving the coast. The most metropolitan city in California, there is a lot to see and do here, so if you’ve never been before, I’d allow at least two days, especially if California

cuisine is high on your to-do list. Although most of the road trip should have you basking in glorious sunshine, San Francisco is the one place you should be prepared for a bit of fog. Mark Twain famously said that the “coldest winter I’ve ever had was a summer in San Francisco,” so keep that thought in mind when preparing for this part of your trip.

STAY: Check in to Inn at the Presidio for a quintessential B&B right in the centre of the Presidio neighbourhood, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

EAT: The Slanted Door has been a San Fran institution since 1995, but if you haven’t booked that already then Out The Door offers the same delicious Vietnamese fare to-go. Spruce was our favourite for a romantic date night; order the burger and maybe some fried chicken and a delicious California red, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Also pop over to Mission Street to La Taqueria for a burrito; eat it in foil while you stroll around the neighbourhood, taking in the uber-cool street art.

DO: Meander along Fisherman’s Wharf, take a boat out to Alcatraz, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, ride a cable car, picnic in the Presidio, do some retail therapy on Fillmore Street; there’s a lot to do in this city!

DRIVE: About 90 minutes north to Napa Valley. Don’t forget to stop for an obligatory pic at the Golden Gate Bridge on your way up north: Instagram gold!

Napa

One could spend weeks eating and drinking in this idyllic landscape, but for a California trip I’d say you need at least 36 hours here and more if you’re into your wine. Don’t think that only connoisseurs can enjoy this region; I consider myself a “wine person” in that I am more interested in the drinking of wine than the making of it,

and I fit right in with the Napa squad.

STAY: Auberge du Soleil was our destination for this part of the trip; a splurge totally worth it for the sumptuous spa, impeccable service and views of the valley that will have you constantly reaching for your iPhone to snap a pic. For slightly more budget-friendly option, try the Carneros Resort and Spa.

EAT: Where to start? You really can’t go wrong in Napa in terms of food, but I’d say Gott’s Roadside is a definite must. A roadside diner opened by the Gott brothers in 1999, this institution consistently has lines of hungry people snaking its way into the parking lot. Trust me, the queue is worth it. By the time we had reached the front, our stomachs had taken over the ordering and we walked away with fish tacos, a hot dog, a classic Gott’s burger, two orders of french fries and four glasses of cabernet (planning ahead so we didn’t have to line up again…) If steak is your thing, dinner at Press can’t be missed; my fiancé promptly announced it was the BEST steak he had ever eaten – quite the declaration coming from an esteemed beef buff. Scoring a reservation at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry would alone be worth the trip but his more casual bistro, Ad Hoc, is just as delicious. We were lucky enough to be in Napa on one of the two Mondays per month when they do “Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Night” and let me just say that our next trip will also “conveniently” be on such a Monday…
DO: Rather obvious, but a vineyard (or

four) should make up your Napa days. There are plenty of wine tours you can sign up for that allow you to sample the best of the region – or you can just pick from the labels that you know or want to know more about. Joseph Phelps and The Napa Valley Reserve made our list and both were exceptional experiences. Be sure you have room in your trunk to take a few bottles home! (Full disclosure: our entire Napa trip consisted of eating and drinking, but there are plenty of activities for the non-grape-goers.)
DRIVE: The drive to the next stop is about three hours on a good day, so be sure to stop at Oakville Grocery in St Helena to stock up on provisions for the road – scrumptious sandwiches and salads to take in the car, as well as a host of gourmet goodies from local producers. We spent $30 on specialty honey, which seems absurd, but whenever I dribble a bit of our Sea Salted honey on cheese and crackers or squeeze some Meyer Lemon honey into my tea, I decide that it was worth every cent. Be sure to drive through the cypress trees in Carmel on your way to Big Sur and get out for a stretch and a photo-op on the iconic Bixby Bridge (which you might recognise from the Big Little Lies opening sequence).

Big Sur

STAY: The Post Ranch Inn is one of the coolest hotels in the state. Built into the cliffs of Big Sur, the rooms are fancy “treehouses” with unparalleled views of nothing but ocean. We woke up early and had a sunrise swim in the cliffside pools; the most beautiful start to a day that I can think of! True to Big Sur’s bohemian heritage, the hotel is a little bit “hippy dippy” but in the best way possible: be prepared to see fellow guests walking around in their bathrobes and meditating in the Spirit Nest. You’ll also walk away with your own Post Ranch Inn water bottle and packets of California wildflower seeds to keep the Cali vibes going back home. For a more budget-friendly option, try Glen Oaks Big Sur, same great views seen from a cluster of quaint cabins.

EAT: With the best view in town, there’s really no need to leave the Post Ranch Inn. We had dinner in one of the corner tables of their restaurant, facing the ocean with a glass of crisp white in hand – it was the perfect way to end the day. Be sure to stop at Nepenthe too on your way in or out of town for a burger in an idyllic hideaway.

DO: Get in a few steps before hopping back in the car with a trek around Pfeiffer State Park. DRIVE: There are roughly three or four hours (depending on traffic, bathroom and picture breaks) between Big Sur and Santa Barbara, so cue up the best Spotify mix and put the top down because this is where Highway 1 really shines.

Santa Barbara

STAY: The brand new Hotel Californian is the hottest boutique spot in Santa Barbara; right in the heart of downtown, you get ocean views with adorable shops and great nightlife all on your doorstep. Belmond El Encanto is another glorious option up on the hill, with endless views of the entire city

EAT: Santa Barbara’s most popular steakhouse, Lucky’s, in Montecito, is an institution for a reason: great food and a glorious wine list, this is the spot to really treat yourself. You can’t leave Santa Barbara without a taco from La Super-Rica Taqueria. Julia Child gave it a glowing review in the ’80s and that should be all you need to know about it. There’s always a line out the door, simply because it offers the tastiest and freshest Mexican food around, most of it for under $4.

DO: Cruise down State Street for uber-cool Santa Barbara vibes; think surfer dudes and dudettes refuelling after a morning shredding sesh. Hop on a bike and feel like a local, pedalling through palm trees down the Cabrillo bike path. Walk over to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for a bit of culture, too; don’t miss the David Alfaro Siqueiros mural at the entrance and the exceptional California-focused art collections within.

DRIVE: LA is about an hour and 15 minutes’ drive from Santa Barbara, but if you have more days to spare, you can always add in a night in Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, or spend part of the driving day exploring Malibu (home to a new Nobu and Soho House, as well as great restaurants and shops in the Malibu Country Mart).

Los Angeles

STAY: I’m partial to the Beverly Hills Hotel, mainly for the Fountain Coffee Room, its 1950s-style diner where everyone sits at the counter and service is first come, first serve. The McCarthy salad from the Polo Lounge is something I dream about and have tried to recreate myself without success. If you’d rather be by the shore, check in at Shutters On The Beach or The Oceana both in Santa Monica and steps from the beach.

EAT: Gjelina in Venice for lunch will be on everyone’s list because it’s simply delicious. In Santa Monica, try Capo for a dinner date, Bay Cities deli for the best sandwiches in town and La Scala Presto on San Vicente for the famous chopped salad (ask any local and I promise they will concur). If sushi is on your nom list, try Nozawa, Sushi Park, Mori Sushi, Sushi Sasabune… the sushi options are endless, and equally delicious.

DO: The Getty Museum is an obvious place to start, but don’t miss the Getty Villa in Malibu. Originally a private museum adjacent to the home of J Paul Getty, it’s home to over 44,000 Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiques – but the villa itself and its sumptuous gardens are the real reason to visit. Stroll the Santa Monica pier and wander through the shops in Venice on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. If you have time, head to the Hollywood Hills to hike in Runyon Canyon and try your hand at nabbing the perfect selfie in front of that famous sign. DRIVE: If this is the end of your trip and LAX is next on the agenda, be sure to build in extra time pre-flight for a stop at In-N-Out Burger for California’s most iconic burger. Order a side of fries and ask for them “animal style”. Just trust me. If you’ve got more Cali days left on your itinerary, head on to further explorations in San Diego, Palm Springs or Joshua Tree National Park. Depending on how good your Español is, you might even want to keep it going and end up in Mexico!

By Hayley Bloomingdale on 13 June 2018