Our California Roadtrip
As a child, I spent much time swimming or lazing on light brown sandy Indian Ocean beaches with huge waves in South Africa in a beautiful city called Durban with in a all-year sub-tropical climate. When I moved to London in my early twenties, I realised that despite me loving the city for it's dynamic cultural influences and cosmopolitan nature, I would always miss the sea. So we get our fix every Winter where we travel to fun sunny destination for at least one week, to top up our vitamin D! Last December, we planned to escape the Winter sun for 3 weeks just after Christmas. We felt a bit more 'seasoned' as we knew what Alex needed having just travelled to Germany and Jamaica when he was 3 and 4 months old (I have a travel list that up date before and after each trip. California seemed like the exciting and suitable fit! Both my husband and I have been before, but experienced it very differently. Me more laid back, keeping it more social and sticking to the big cities, whilst he experienced all the sights and sounds as a true tourist on a road trip without really feeling the soul of California. We decided to do a road trip, starting from San Francisco, going down to San Diego, to maximise the experience, but in a very different style, as we had our precious baby to consider as first priority.
We thought about how we would accommodate his needs:
- Taking a few special things that helped him feel at home like his sleeping bag, crib mobile, car seat and favourite toys
- Staying at each hotel for at least 3-5 nights
- Ensuring the hotel had a bath and supplied a crib plus kettle (for his formula)
- Doing the long drives at night so that he could sleep and not be too disturbed
- Taking breaks every 2 hours on each drive
- Staying along the California 1 route between San Francisco and San Diego at a few places so that the we could experience each place at leisure and also give him a chance to adjust and not feel out of his comfort zone
- Ensure that we kept his bedtime routine and playtime
What made us anxious was that we were travelling to a coastal destination in Winter, for the first time, and that the temperatures varied widely, from 13 degrees in San Francisco to 25 in Los Angeles and San Diego. We had to be a lot smarter with packing to ensure we travelled reasonably.
We decided to plan our journey such that:
- We landed in San Francisco and stayed with my Uncle and Aunt for a 4 nights and experience the outskirts of San Fran & Napa Valley
- Move into San Fran city for 4 nights to celebrate New Year's Eve with my cousins and explore the city
- Hire a car in San Fran and drive down to Monterey for 3 nights (2 hour drive) to explore Santa Cruz along the way then The Big Sur, Monterey Bay and Carmel in Monterey County
- Drive down to Santa Barbara for 3 nights to spend time exploring the area there including Malibu and San Timeon
- Go on to LA for 5 nights as it's one of my favourite cities
- San Diego for 3 nights exploring Laguna and Huntington Beach, as well as San Diego
So the excitement began! Unfortunately a storm hit the area for a couple of days which meant we had to revise our travel slightly, but we still had tons of fun. See the next posts to find out what we did when we got there and what can be recommended!