Monthly Archives: August 2016

Planning a Trip to San Diego

San Diego: It’s a vacationer’s paradise with near-perfect temperatures and a laid back vibe that will leave you wanting more. When most people visit San Diego for the first time, they tend to stick to the downtown area, but you haven’t seen the real San Diego until you get out and explore the coast!

This San Diego travel guide is perfect for any short or long stay in San Diego, complete with insider tips on where to stay, where to eat, and more.

INSIDER’S GUIDE TO PLANNING A TRIP TO SAN DIEGO

WHERE TO EAT IN SAN DIEGO

George’s at the Cove in La Jolla

George’s is great for either lunch or dinner and has one of the best beach views in all of La Jolla. If you come on a weekend, you must make reservations! George’s Famous Soup — a hearty, cream-based soup with smoked chicken, broccoli and black beans — is one of my favorite items on the menu.

Beach Break Cafe in Oceanside

Beach Break is great for breakfast if you are staying on the coast in north county. It’s diner-style food with friendly service. Make sure to try their famous coffee cake!

Public House in La Jolla

Public House has an extensive beer menu, which includes some of my favorite Belgian beers and almost any other type of beer you could imagine. This place is just off the main strip, so it has more of a local vibe to it.

Uptown Tavern in Hillcrest

The thing that appealed to us initially about Uptown Tavern in Hillcrest was the Chicken and Waffles on the menu, but we had no idea we would love this place so much. Their brunch menu offers menu items like meatloaf and eggs, chicken fried steak benedict, and five different types of unique waffle dishes — including their famous chicken and waffles.

Gaslamp Strip Club

No, it’s not that type of strip club. This place is a personal favorite mostly because it’s so unique. Not everyone will love it here because you actually have to cook your own steak — but we think that is part of the charm. Come during happy hour for half off appetizers and, of course, specials on alcoholic drinks. This is a fun place to come with friends.

Bull Taco in Cardiff

If you ask any San Diegan about their favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican food restaurant, you will probably get a different answer from each person. My favorite places tend to be near where I live, so this is another personal favorite. BUT… you really can’t go wrong with many of the Taquerias in San Diego. Bull Taco is known for their delicious lobster tacos and the amazing open-air seating overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO

Sailing Adventure from Harbor Island

There are multiple options for sailing adventures in San Diego. For about $70 per person, you can take a two-hour sail around San Diego Bay. Companies like San Diego Sailing Tours include a round of local craft beer or a glass of wine and a platter of snacks. The best part is that you don’t have to rent the whole boat, so even if you are traveling solo, you can experience San Diego on the water.

Catch a Sunset at Windansea in La Jolla

After my aerial tour of San Diego, I’ve fallen in love with Windansea Beach. It’s located at 6800 Neptune Place in La Jolla. Just make sure to give yourself enough time to find parking.

Keep Your Mobile Devices on Trip

images-47Cybersecurity is more important now than ever before.  We all know the importance of purchasing travel insurance to protect our valuables and take care of medical expenses, but what our online security? As frequent travelers, keeping our online information safe while traveling is a huge concern for us.

Here’s how to keep your personal, family, and business files and information safe while you’re away from home. No need to worry about hackers breaching your electronics again!

HOW TO KEEP YOUR MOBILE DEVICES SECURE WHILE TRAVELING

USE A VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK (VPN).

Using a VPN while traveling is our number one tip for keeping your information safe! Bitdefender BOX protects EVERY device connected to your home internet (computers, phones, TV’s, game consoles, home security systems), but it even protects you while you’re away from home. It is the first and only such device of its kind to be announced and available in the market and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as a “breakthrough idea” and by FOX News as “the best way to prevent future digital break-ins.”

Bitdefender BOX encrypts and secures all information coming and going from your personal devices at your home and while you’re on the go so you can safely go online anywhere. Many countries censor what is available online to the public and block certain websites, but a VPN will allow you to access such sites anonymously. Virtual privacy and protection plays an important role in keeping your devices safe, and is absolutely a must-have for travelers. (Note: Bitdefender BOX is available for purchase at $99 for a limited time — a value of $199.)

USE STRONG PASSWORDS.

This should go without saying, but don’t use the same password for all of your accounts. You should have a complicated password not only on your phone, computer, and tablets, but on any sensitive files or information on these devices as well. Rather than writing down usernames and passwords on a piece of paper (which can easily be lost or obtained by pickpockets), create a password-protected computer document organizing all of your sensitive account login information.

AVOID OPEN PUBLIC WIRELESS NETWORKS.

Public wifi spots like coffee shops and hotels may offer authentic wifi with passwords, but hackers will sometimes create a second wifi with nearly the exact same name with open availability – no password required. Don’t take the easy way out! Ask an employee of the wifi provider to verify the exact wifi name and password, or use your own private mobile hotspot on your phone.

Using your private mobile hotspot (a feature available on nearly all smartphones) protected by Bitdefender BOX, you’ll have virtually no connection to any outside sources or networks. This is without a doubt the safest way to surf the web with peace of mind.

Guide to San Francisco in a Weekend

San Francisco — the easiest city to love and the hardest to leave. Its vintage charm is enough to capture the hearts of travelers from all over the world, but this “City by the Bay” has so much more to offer than just cool weather and the Golden Gate! After just one visit, foodies, fashionistas, and culture enthusiasts alike will realize why San Francisco is arguably one of the greatest cities in the U.S.

INSIDER TIPS: PLANNING A WEEKEND TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO

TRANSPORTATION

UBER EVERYWHERE. Just kidding, that gets expensive.

SF is infamous for its cable cars so definitely ride one if you get the chance! Fare is $7 for a single ride, and stops at popular areas like Fisherman’s Wharf, Market Street, Union Square, Ghiradelli Square, and the Financial District. There are 3 cable cars that each take different routes through the city so make sure you’re getting on the right one – they’re color coded (see the routes and color codes here).

Although traffic can be frustrating, driving may be more practical and convenient so be smart about it. Search online to find a parking garage near your destination ahead of time, or download the app VoicePark to find street or garage parking anywhere in the city; most street parking is limited to 2 hours so this app will allow you to choose a longer time allowance and will find a parking spot accordingly.

Thankfully, parking garage rates are much cheaper on the weekends in comparison to weekday rates so you’re in luck! BART is also popular, and on Saturdays and Sundays you can park your car at the S. San Francisco station for free.

WHERE TO EAT

SF is a melting pot of good food, so here’s the best of a little bit of everything:

Ike’s Place: The most incredible vegan/vegetarian sandwich you’ll ever eat, not to mention the meat sandwiches are loaded with more toppings than you could imagine. Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

Pica Pica: Venezuelan cuisine, featured on Food Network!

Boudin: The classic SF sourdough bakery – opt for the clam chowder or tomato soup bread bowls.

Eats: A cute and cozy breakfast/lunch spot that’s easy on your wallet.

Brenda’s Meat and Three: A true San Francisco spin on homestyle southern food – their fried veggie po’ boy sandwich is to DIE for.

The Grove: Fresh and locally produced seasonal veggies for awesome soups, salads, and sandwiches.

Elite Audio Coffee Bar: Two words: Latte. Art. Go in between 12-4pm on Saturdays and get amazing latte art by the locally-famous Melanie Aquino!

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market: On Saturday’s from 8am-2pm you can stroll the Farmer’s Market off Embarcadero and stop in one of the many cafés and eateries. Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick is on the top of my list because they load everything with cheese.

WHERE TO STAY

Hostels are always a go-to for young travelers trying to cut back on trip expenditures, but now that Airbnb is becoming more popular (you can even rent out one of the Painted Ladies!) there are plenty of budget-friendly options.

If you want some classic San Francisco charm on a budget, try the San Remo Hotel; it has authentic Victorian décor, a gorgeous view of Coit Tower, and is within walking distance of the Wharf – all for a cool $100.

Coming with friends? The funky Phoenix Hotel is worth a bit of splurge, and has the trendy rock-n-roll themed restaurant with poolside seating. This place has some killer potential for Instagram-worthy shots!

Lets Should Never Forget Before a Trip

Over-packing can be heavy and costly, but there’s no doubt that under-packing can sometimes leave us worried we’ve forgotten something. Leave the anxiety at home with our list of five important things to always remember before a trip!

CHECK VISA & VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS

Every country has different tourist visa and vaccination requirements, so make sure you abide by the guidelines and meet requirements well in advance. This user-friendly interactive guide is helpful in starting your research to ensure you are well prepared. Health updates regarding country-specific illnesses – like the current Zika virus outbreak – should also be monitored regularly.

GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel insurance can cover the cost of lost or stolen personal items, trip cancellations, and even medical emergencies – this can prove to be beneficial in the event of an unplanned disruption of your trip. Just as you insure your home, car, and even your phone, make sure to insure your trip to avoid costly penalties! Different insurances cater to specific needs to travelers (low-cost, medical, international travel) so choose one than fits your travel style and budget.

MAKE COPIES OF IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

Although nearly everything is sent via email or saved on a back-up drive now, it’s important to realize the value of hard copies. Should your travel documents be lost or stolen, it’s critical to have them saved elsewhere. Keep a folder of these documents on you at all times (in your purse or carry-on) while traveling, and email them to yourself before your trip for added precaution.

  • Passport (Identification page with photo.)
  • Visa
  • Travel Insurance
  • Driver’s License
  • Credit Cards (front and back.)
  • Travel Itinerary
  • Airline Tickets
  • Reservation Confirmations (hotel, rental car, cruise tickets, etc.)
  • Vaccination Certificates

BOOK ACCOMMODATION

It may be tempting to be spontaneous and book your hotel rooms or lodging on a whim, but it’s not usually something I recommend. Events like holidays and festivals can be a nightmare if you don’t already have accommodation booked.

Don’t be stuck with the leftover, low grade rooms and instead book at least a month in advance. Hotel staff insiders even admit that those who book through their website or over the phone usually get better rooms than those who book last minute or through other online booking sites. Be sure to read online reviews, and beware of additional charges like parking, cleaning, and pool/spa fees.

HAVE A WELL PACKED CARRY-ON

In addition to your travel documents (and copies), you’ll want to have some basic essentials within arm’s reach:

Headphones: Thin hotel walls and noisy plane passengers are inevitable, so come prepared and pack a pair of headphones that can easily plug into your phone or iPod.

Dramamine Non-Drowsy Naturals: Better than any generic ginger chews on the market, Dramamine Non-Drowsy Naturals contains the clinically-tested ginger dosage required for preventing and treating motion sickness common on planes, boats, and windy drives.

Scott and I both suffer from motion sickness on rocky boats and flights, but we’re hesitant to take something that is going to make us drowsy. I tried these Non-Drowsy Naturals on a recent trip to Kauai –during a zodiac tour of the notoriously choppy Na Pali coast as well as a bumpy helicopter ride — and I did not feel a hint of nausea! These are our new go-to motion sickness pills and it’s something I will not leave home without.

Hand Sanitizer: Don’t overestimate your immune system; the last thing you want on your vacation is to catch a cold. Hand sanitizer, or antibacterial hand wipes, should be compact and easy to stash in your carry-on.