I’m more in a storytelling mood recently, but since you guys always ask me what to pack for different destinations and because my packing list for Iceland in summer has been pinned more than 500 times on Pinterest, I decided to write down this packing list for California in autumn.
Planning your trip? Take a look at my 10 days road trip in California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
California, especially San Francisco, is the layers’ kingdom. Hot during the day and chill at night, temperature forces you to think wisely about the way you dress. It’s also a state where the « dress to impress » seems the norm, so you may want to bring more stylish outfits than a backpacker usually do. (Unless you’re in the same tribe than me and you just don’t care Ahah!)
While I was comfortable all-day in San Francisco wearing pants, it was too hot for Los Angeles. So even if it’s autumn, pack both pants and shorts. Long sleeves and one coat are also essential to go out at night. If you don’t want to carry a coat all day long, a scarf can be a good option to keep you warm.
This being said, it’s still California… Don’t go without your swimsuit! Beaches in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles are great and, even if the water is cold in autumn, you might just want to soak up the sun.
There’s also plenty of gyms and opportunities to exercise in California. It can be jogging at Venice Beach, hiking in Yosemite or rollerskate in Santa Barbara. Be sure to pack one sport outfit.
One last thing: Angelenos are party people! If you plan to go out, bring one party outfit. I think high heels are mandatory if you want to blend with the crowd, but because I always try to reduce what I pack, I survived very well with my flats.
Speaking of footwear, be sure to bring hiking boots if you plan a detour to Yosemite or another National Park. There are some very nice hikes there, but they are not always easy. It will be safer, and also much more comfortable, to wear hiking boots. I saw a lot of girls going up the trails in flats and my feet hurt for them. Comfort before cuteness please.
Otherwise, a good pair of comfortable shoes and a pair of flip-flop to the beach will do the job.
California has plenty of beauty products to offer. You’ll find everything you need in cute, practical sizes. So no need to pack too much. I would suggest to bring the minimum.
One essential: sunscreen! Be sure to put some even on cloudy days or on chilly days in San Francisco. You’ll have an unpleasant surprise if you forget, trust me.
Medication & Pharmacy
You know more than me what medication you usually need and I didn’t notice anything special to pack for California. Pharmacies are everywhere and open late. In case you need something, you won’t struggle to find it.
Gadget & Comfort
Here’s the list of miscellaneous things I found practical:
- Bottle for water and re-usable bags: Being environmentally responsible is very important no matter where you travel. These items will help you to reduce your trash.
- Car charger: Since it’s a road trip, you’ll never have a dead phone or camera if you bring a car charger.
- Fast-Dry Towel: We all know the smell of a wet towel in a car… Nobody wants that.
- Sand Repellant Blanket: This is one of the coolest thing I discovered on the internet recently.
- A Wine Rollup. Trust me, you’ll want to bring back bottles of wine from Napa Valley and a rollup will avoid breaking the bottle in your luggage.
Passport, ID, Flight tickets and reservations, cash and credit cards, itinerary and guide, insurance, driver’s license and, of course, a travel journal, because you’ll have a lot to say!
Society6 have a collection of notebook on the theme California and they’re just too cute to be true! If I had find it before my trip, I would have totally use them as my travel journal!
I used the Lonely Planet California Travel Guide to organize my road trip from San Fransisco to Los Angeles and it was full of practical informations. I recommend to travel with a guidebook because it can help you find a plan B in case something doesn’t go as planned.
I know we all relate to GPS now, but I always suggest to bring a paper map. First, it’s really fun to look at AND you can recycle it in some home decor. Second, it will be a good plan B if your GPS dies.
Depending on your nationality, be sure to check if you need a Visa to enter in the USA.
If you want to know more about California:
- California – My 10 Days Road Trip Itinerary
- What You Can See in One Day Walking in San Francisco
- Best Road Trip Songs to Drive Down Pacific Highway
- Monterey Aquarium: Please Don’t Flash the Octopus
- Los Angeles is Disney World on Crack
- Photo Essay: Alcatraz Prison
- Why We Had a Terrible Day at Yosemite
Here’s a practical printable packing list! Enjoy!
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