For me, I think the biggest thing to prepare for is the weather. The city has a "microclimate"; not only is the weather here different from the rest of California, but the various areas of town have weather patterns independent of one another. In regular terms, that basically means you can be sweating and freezing in the same mile. Harley and I have a running joke that it doesn't matter how we dress because we'll be uncomfortable at some point regardless!
I'm an extra big baby when it comes to being uncomfortable, so I've made a "daily packing list" of sorts to make sure I've extra prepared and have a good time!
1. Comfortable Shoes :: This is probably the single most important thing. We've been here for a little over a month now, and we've averaged 9 miles of walking every Saturday and Sunday that we've gone out in the city. This is not the time for the shoes that are pretty comfortable but kind of rub your heel that weird way sometimes. This is the time for the shoe that has never let you down. For me, that's typically my Chacos (I have both the classics and a leather pair) or sneakers depending on the weather. I've also had success out of my winter boots, but I reserve those for days that are more in the 3-5 mile range just in case!
2. Hair ties :: In Tennessee, you'd occasionally see that wind emoji on the Weather app and know it was going to be breezy. When the wind emoji happens here, be prepared for strong gusts. I almost got pushed off of my bike one time. I hate the way I look with my hair up so I always try to suffer through it, but once I give up I'm always glad that I did! Don't be me, just put your hair in a bun.
3. Granola bars :: If you get hangry like I do, these are vital. Nine miles of walking isn't easy on the metabolism, but buying a snack every time you get hungry isn't easy on the wallet. Absolutely stop for super tasty things when you get the chance (like ice cream cookie sandwiches!), but going into a Walgreens when you're ravenous should be avoided at all costs.
4. Water bottle :: A strong must! Because of the continuous drought, restaurants don't serve water unless you ask for it and most grab-and-go places charge for cups. Make sure to bring a bottle with you and keep an eye out for water fountains. They're everywhere once you start looking!
5. Down Coat :: Before our snowboarding trip in March, Harley bought me the most wonderful Patagonia coat. I love it, and when we decided California was our next move I was pretty bummed that I wouldn't get to wear it much. Surprisingly, it has come in handy a TON. It's packable enough to fit in my big purse, and each time I've left the house without it I've regretted it. When it gets cold here, it gets really cold so this coat is a life saver.
6. Adaptability :: I know this sounds a little weird, but trust me! Things do not go as planned here more often than not. This past weekend, we had to reorganize our entire day because of a parade that shut down a large portion of the city. This made it impossible for us to take the bus we needed, but we saw a beautiful parade and a part of town we hadn't been to yet! It would have been really easy to take this as a bummer, but being adaptable to the situation was so much better!
7. Lyft app :: Public transportation here is fantastic. It's pretty straightforward to get around and it's an overall reliable system. However, when you've walked 9 miles and you're across town from where you need to be, you aren't going to want to walk 6 extra blocks to the bus stop and that's ok! Cut yourself some slack and just get a ride. The drivers here have such interesting stories, it's kind of an experience in itself!
So these are some of my survival tips! The city can be brutal at times, but if you're prepared and flexible it will all work out okay. Just go with the flow, and it'll be impossible to not have a blast!