Just over a week now before I embark on my solo mission to California. Im looking forward to nearly 4 weeks of sun and surf in the Sunshine State! However, before my wonderful trip comes all the packing and preparation…..the bit I hate the most.
Before I embark on my adventure’s I thought I’d share a few things about my trip as bit of a guide to anyone else who’s thinking of jetting off to California anytime soon. This is my third long trip to this place so I’ve managed to get a few things sussed!
Getting there: It’s not as expensive as you’d think! You can get flights from the major London airports in the UK to Los Angeles LAX for around £400 return. (last time i checked there was one for £380 too). You can fly with a whole host of airlines – Air New Zealand, virgin, emirates, american airlines to name but a few. However, as a surfer travelling with several kilos of surfboard (and the rest) no all airlines welcome you aboard without an extortionate fee, and some won’t even let you travel with a board at all!
I always fly with Virgin on my trips to California. Not only do they take surfboards for FREE with generous weight restrictions, you can choose your seats, the food and entertainment is great and if you join up to their flying club you’ll earn a heap of aimiles and rewards in no time at all. Compared to other airlines flying this route you’ll save a whole heap of money.
It’s only an 11 hour flight (+ a 5-6 hour drive to london for me!)
Once you’re there: Personally, I have hired campervans. It’s a great way to see all of california. Your little mobile home on wheels also means you can camp up right by the beach and open your curtains to pumping waves every morning.
On my last trip where a few of us went we hired a beast of a camper. www.compasscampers.com offer some amazing rates and deals for international visitors. Couldn’t recommend them highly enough!
This time however, as Im going solo I’ve opted for something a little smaller. I’ve hired a combi van through Lost Campers USA. Such a great option is you’re a couple or dingle traveller. They come unstickered and unlogod for some covert camping, and it works out cheaper than hiring a car. I’ve gone for the ‘Big Boy’ so I can stick my longboards inside. Looking forward to being able to explore some parts of California that were a little difficult to get to in our last 30ft beast of a van!
Where to stay: It is possible to covert camp if you’re not in a huge RV, as long as you check local bylaws and ensure you check the signs (and believe me there are a lot of signs in america!) As a rule, never camp in the same place twice! If you’re planning on going this way check out this great little video from Kordroy TV – Surf Sufficient, How to Live in your van for a bit of guidance!
On my next adventure I will be staying with friends during my trip, and also making great use of the California State Parks Camping Grounds which have great facilities and some of the best camp spots at the best surf spots along the coast. With camping spaces for $35 a night (about £22.50) it works out pretty cheap, especially if there are a few of you! You can’t beat these sites….waking up just yards from the beach!
I have some friends who are also hiring a camper and joining me out in California towards the end of my trip so we’ll be sharing camp spot…can’t wait!!!!!
Explore: California has a great public transport system, and the surfliner and coaster coastal train lines run beachside from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. The cheap and easy way to get out and explore without having to drive!
You’re not far from skiing and snowboarding at Big Bear and only a short drive (or flight) from Las Vegas.
If you’re hiring a camper it’s a great adventure to drive the Route 101 – it’s a must do!!
Surfing: The main reason for my trip is to surf. California has consistent waves and calm weather conditions. A variety of breaks makes it super fun on any given day, and there are world class spots like Malibu and Trestles which are on most surfers ‘to surf’ lists. In the winter time when I’m there the water isn’t super warm. A 3/2 will do for our hardy english surfers in the daytime and you may want to consider a 4/3 for early mornings. You’ll see a lot of Californians in their 6/5/4mm suits with all the extras. It’s not super hot by any means but compared to the UK it’s more like our summer. It’s busier in the water than many UK sports (but considering the coastal population size) but compared to countries such as Australia you’ll find it relatively quiet. Especially during the week and outside of school holidays!
A lot of people don’t think of going to California, but in all honest it costs about the same a surf trip to Europe. If you’ve got any questions about heading there on a trip just pop me a comment!