Last year our family of seven embarked on a 3-week road trip in California, Nevada, and Utah. It was a daunting prospect to be on the road with 5 children aged 12 and under, but we found a way to make it fun and manageable. It took a lot of forward planning to make our trip the best holiday we have ever had.
We flew into Los Angeles Airport, and from there we went to Las Vegas, St George, Salt Lake, Reno, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, and back to Las Angeles via the Californian coast road. We chose to fly into Los Angeles from London because of the price and the flight times. A 10 hour direct flight is about all we were prepared to do with the children. At the time of booking, Sam was about 3 months old so it was difficult to imagine what it would be like to fly with a 10 month old, luckily he is a very placid boy.
Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn….?
I felt a little overwhelmed with the number of hotels we had to stay in for 3 weeks. First, I had to break down how many days we were going to spend in each area. From there I decided that I would only make one hotel booking a day. That way I could take my time to research the area and see what would work best for us. I decided beforehand who would be sharing a room. Some hotel rooms have pull-out sofa beds and could accommodate all 7 of us, and other places (like motels) would only have twin beds so we would have to get 2 rooms. I had all the bookings on my email, listed in order to make them easy to find. I also wrote in a notebook where we were staying each night, because it’s good to have a backup!!
We asked on Facebook for suggestions of things we could do. We had a good response because we have a lot of friends and family who live in America, and were able to plan several days through their recommendations.
It was important to us to try and keep the costs low, otherwise we could spend an absolute fortune in 3 weeks (don’t forget we have to times everything by 6!). We found a good mix of free, and paid things to do. We also tried to alternate between busy days, and quieter days so we didn’t exhaust ourselves. It would be horrible if we were tired parents, dragging tired children around America!
I also spent some time reading blogs, and I bought a California guide book which I am planning on taking with me. It has been a great source of inspiration, and although it wasn’t really geared towards families it has helped familiarise myself with the areas we will be visiting.
Preparing to Go
We worked out that we would only be able to fit 4 bags in our hire car. We bought 3 big suitcases, and split into groups of who would be sharing a room on the days we were staying in motels – me and 3 kids, Ben and 2 kids. Then we had one case for the things we wouldn’t need very often (presents for family, beachwear, extra shoes, raincoats).
I wrote a list of what everyone would be allowed to take: We decided to wear jeans, t-shirts and hoodies because the weather will be different from one day to the next depending on where we are.
The Long Car Journeys
Travelling with kids nowadays is made easier with smart phones and tablets, I think we would all agree? Some of the journey will have up to 10 hour sections of long road with nowhere to stop. We love that the kids can download movies from Amazon and Netflix to watch on the go. Another of our favourites, is the Toca Boca games from the App Store that Max (5) loves.
Probably the most important thing for us all is snacks. We will definitely be buying our road trip snacks in America. It’s all part of the experience.
I wish I was planning another road-trip for us this Spring because we had an amazing time, but we have other exciting plans that will keep us busy for 2019.