We spent last week in Temecula, Calif., an area known for its excellent wine. My brother graduated from San Diego State on Sunday (go Aztecs!) and is headed overseas to teach. I decided to stay on for a few days and show the kids a little part of Southern California. (And no, my daughter didn’t get her degree, but she borrowed my brother’s robe for that photo.)

Along the way, we learned an important lesson about the benefits of being contrarians, especially as travelers.

While everyone else sampled wine, I was out hiking with the kids. While the tourists were polishing off the second bottle of Chardonnay at dinner, the children were already tucked in bed at our vacation rental, listening the the coyotes howling in the darkness. And while the other visitors were sleeping off their hangover, we watched the hot air balloons rise majestically in the valley below.

I’ll have a full report on our trip soon. But that thing we were doing — zigging while everyone else zags — that’s worth writing about now.

Being a contrarian has served me well, both professionally and personally. (When everyone else wanted to write destination travel stories, I chose advocacy, for example.) It can do the same for you.

Take the upcoming Memorial Day sales. You know the herd will stampede toward the mall in search of a “deal.” Check out my advocacy site on Monday and I’ll have tips on how to be a shopping contrarian.

But contrarianism is also a philosophy. It’s that little voice that says, “It ain’t necessarily so.” When the crowds stands, it’s the voice that tells you to remain seated. And the one that makes you stand up and say something when everyone else is silent. If you know what I’m talking about, then you’re definitely in the right place.

I love Temecula, by the way. When your kids say, “Dad, let’s move here,” then you know you’ve found a terrific place. They’re such contrarians!

Here are this week’s stories:

I was also honored to be featured in this week’s ProfNet journalist spotlight. Many thanks to my friends at PR Newswire for writing about my advocacy work.

See you next week.

Psst! I'm only going to show this once.

Psst! I'm only going to show this once.

This is my one time only invitation to my friends-only newsletter. It's called Chris Elliott's Personal Newsletter, and it's all about my adventures in advocacy. Please join me and I'll share some of the secrets I've learned about being a better consumer.

You have Successfully Subscribed!