International Travelers

If you’re visiting Santa Barbara as an international traveler, here are some tools and tips to help you make the most of your time here.

Getting Here

Getting to Santa Barbara is easy, and you have plenty of options. For those who are flying into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Santa Barbara is a pleasant 90-minute journey north. If you’re not in a rush, consider hopping over to the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) and enjoying the coastal views.

amtrack pacific surfliner
Take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner for a coastal California tour. Photo Credit: Mark Weber

Amtrak also offers multiple daily trains to Santa Barbara from a variety of locations in Southern California. The train station is right downtown making it a very convenient option.

The Santa Barbara Airport is located in Goleta, just a few miles north of downtown Santa Barbara, and offers a variety of flight options on three major airlines from six major U.S. hubs.


All Santa Barbara businesses accept the U.S. dollar. There are limited currency exchange facilities, so we recommend bringing U.S. currency with you, or exchanging money at your destination airport. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted.

Driving & Car Rentals

While the legal driving age in California is 16, most major car rental services require anyone renting and driving a vehicle to be at least 25 years old. You must present a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. Many agencies do offer their own supplemental insurance policies.

Driving in the United States is done on the right side of the road with speed limits marked in MPH (miles per hour). Talking or texting on a mobile phone, or driving while impaired or intoxicated, are not permitted in the state of California—all are punishable by law.

Santa Barbaraca
Photo Credit: Mark Weber


Electronic devices operate on a 120 volt, 60 hertz charge in the United States. Adapters are readily available at most electronic stores.

Time Zone

Santa Barbara is on Pacific Standard Time (PST), making us three hours behind New York City and within the same time zone as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.


Smoking is prohibited indoors throughout most of California, including any public enclosed spaces such as airports and post offices. Some public facilities and hotel and motel rooms do offer designated smoking zones or rooms.


Tipping is a common practice in the United States. For most service professionals (taxi cab drivers, bartenders, and waiters), 15% is appropriate, while 20% is expected for exceptional service. Doormen and parking valets typically receive $2 for their service. Bellhops are generally tipped $2 per bag, and housekeeping is tipped $2 per night. Make sure to review your bill for automatically included gratuity or service charges. It is not required to tip twice if these charges are already included.

In Case of Emergency

In case of an emergency, dial 9-1-1 from any phone to reach police or emergency services. Most nations have a consulate presence in Los Angeles, while most international embassies are located in Washington D.C. (three-hour time difference from Santa Barbara).