California is a vast and diverse state both in terms of culture and terrain. It’s the most populous state and the third largest by area. It’s home to thriving cities but also a seemingly endless expanse of forests, deserts, beaches and mountains. It can feel intimidating for a visitor and there are legitimate concerns about a traveler’s health and safety.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of people who visit California leave without any incident that threatens their wellbeing. By applying the following tips, you can make your visit memorable for all the right reasons.
1. Protection from the Sun
Many people are attracted to the state of California due to the clear skies that are a far cry from the overcast, gray days they are accustomed to back home. But the sun, for all its merits, is also a health hazard.
Ergo, make sure you carry sunglasses with you and always apply sunscreen when you are engaged in outdoor activities during the day. You could also bring a hat with you for that extra level of face protection.
2. Layered Dressing
Just because California is renowned for clear, sunny skies doesn’t mean it’s always warm. A sunny day can give way to a chilly evening. Dress in layers so you have something warm like a jacket or sweater when its chilly but can quickly transition to light and comfortable attire when the sun is high.
Take note that, given California’s size, the weather varies greatly between different parts of the state. Destinations up the mountains or closer to the coast are cooler than places further inland. Always refer to your weather app to get a feel of the forecast for your area.
3. Don’t Hike Unprepared
Check terrain conditions and weather forecasts beforehand. Trail conditions aren’t the same throughout. A hiking trail that was in near perfect condition a month ago could be unusable today. Pay special attention to advisories, especially because phone service signals may be weak and unreliable in more remote locations.
Make sure you let at least one person know where you’re going and the time you expect to be back. Do not hike alone as it could make it harder for you to get help quickly if you were to be injured or trapped. Pack drinking water to run a day or two longer than you expect the hike to last. Stick to the well-beaten trails and always stay alert of your surroundings.
4. Book Accommodation Early
Whether you’ll be staying at a hotel, vacation rental, campsite or caravan, the earlier you book your accommodation the better. Early booking gives you time to evaluate the options including checking reviews, studying the area’s crime records and looking at weather forecasts. It’s best that you try and get more information right now, as you don’t want to miss out on your perfect coastal retreat.
Last minute booking leaves you more susceptible to accommodation that could place your health and safety at risk. Remember, if accommodation is affordable, high quality and in a nice location, the demand for it means it’s hard to get at the last minute.
5. Brace for an Earthquake
You’re unlikely to experience a serious earthquake during your visit to California. Nevertheless, it’s important that you know what to do in the event that one does occur. Stay away from windows, free-standing shelves and hanging furniture. Cover your head and get down on all fours to shield yourself from any falling debris. Sturdy furniture may provide some extra protection.
In the outdoors, stay away from utility wires, buildings and trees. Seek open ground instead. If you are driving, stop the car away from anything that could topple over and stay inside the vehicle. In the event that you do get trapped under the rubble, use your smartphone to call emergency lines, friends and relatives to notify them of your state and location.
6. Stay Safe in the Water
California’s coastline is breathtaking but sadly, some visitors have lost their lives or suffered lifelong injury in these beautiful waters. Follow a safety first principle. Do not go anywhere alone. Look out for local advisories and hazard signs. Always be conscious of the tide. When on a boat, wear a life jacket.
Stay away from flood channels and aqueducts as these can be dangerous after rain. Do not swim in the ocean 72 hours after heavy rain as ground runoff may discharge potentially lethal bacteria into the sea.
A visit to California is one you are likely to remember for the rest of your life. By applying these tips, you can make sure your experience is not marred by safety and security risks.