Skip Navigation

Family Travel in dec / jan need help and advice

Travel Forums North America Family Travel in dec / jan need help and advice

1. Posted by Mkgaa (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

Family of 5 ( 2 adults 3 kids between 11-8) booked to travel In mid December

Draft itinerary in mid dec is

LA - 1 night

Monterey - 2 nights

San Fran 3 or 4 nights

Bakersfield 1 night

Las Vegas 5 nights ( over Xmas )

Anaheim (15 nights using as a base for LA , San Diego expect it to be cheaper to stay)

We will be hiring a car for the trip , any suggestions on a good company

Any accomodation suggestions , especially as we have 5 , would really like hotels that will bring out a fold away bed

Any suggestions of Anaheim , happy to look at all options

If any suggestions on the route or things we have missed please feel free to advise

Thanks in advance

2. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 1y

Instead of staying in Anaheim for 15 days right next to Disneyland, stay there for 4 nights and stay somewhere near the beach (Newport Beach or Huntington Beach or Laguna Beach) the other nights to enjoy the southern California lifestyle. Consider going to see the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on January 1st. It will be a zoo traffic-wise, but great fun.

Just go to carrentals.com or orbitz.com or kayak.com for car rentals--they all have the same companies--just be aware that it will take some extra time (like an extra half-hour) to get a car from a company that has their cars not right at the airport (but usually they are cheaper for this reason).

Cheapest (generally) are Advantage, National, or SIxt. Next are Budget, Dollar, and Enterprise. Last are Hertz and Avis. All have their advantages/disadvantages. No matter who you book with, either get the auto refill option or else allow time to fill the car back up with gas (petrol) before you return it. Some car rental agencies will charge a fortune if you don't.

Normally, I wouldn't spend any time in Bakersfield if you didn't have to. Just east of there is a mountain town called Tehachapi that is much more pleasant if you are coming through in summer. Bakersfield got its name because it is like an oven in the summertime. Of course, considering you are coming through in the wintertime, Bakersfield might be your preference to avoid any winter storms.

Lastly, make sure to plan and take the "17 mile drive" near Monterey (or at least the portion of it (8 miles) that is near the coastline). Go to the Monterey aquarium as it is fabulous. In San Francisco, your kids will enjoy the trip to see the prison at Alcatraz as well as the Exploratorium. Riding the cable cars there is a must-do for all ages.

Enjoy your trip.

3. Posted by Sandy23 (Budding Member 10 posts) 1y

Sounds like a really fun itinerary, you're going to have a blast. The timings you put for the places seem about right, although you may need another night in San Francisco possibly. Agree that possibly 15 nights in Anaheim may be a bit too much. You could stay in Santa Monica for a few nights as you will be close to the beach. Or stay in San Diego. Try AirBnB for some cheaper options than hotels, or you could probably pick up something quite reasonable on the edges of the center in San Diego. It would be good to spend a few days in San Diego when you don't have to travel there and back, somewhere you can walk around from your hotel. San Diego is packed with things to do. Remember that too much driving makes a trip more stressful - try to have some car-free days.

4. Posted by Mkgaa (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

Thank you for all the great ideas, the itinerary is developing well , we are almost there I feel . At the moment we are

Pismo -1 night

Monterey - 1nights

San Fran 4 nights

Bakersfield 1 night

Las Vegas 4 nights ( over Xmas )

San Diego - 5 nights

Anaheim 9 nights

LA 3 nights

We will be hiring a car for the trip , any suggestions on a good company

Any accomodation suggestions , especially as we have 5 , would really like hotels that will bring out a fold away bed

Any hidden gems that we need to look make sure we don't miss

All feedback and suggestions welcome

5. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 499 posts) 1y

Las Vegas over the holidays could be expensive, if available. So book early to avoid disappointment. Many Vegas hotels and casinos tack on mandatory “resort” fees for use of the Internet, swimming pool, etc. These fees likely will add to your accommodation cost. To avoid surprises, check the fine print; and ask. It always pays to ask, including for discounts that may be available for seniors, etc. Ask at entertainment venues. Ask at restaurants. Ask everywhere. You could save a bundle.

Car rental rates have rocketed, so shop around. I usually rent from Enterprise, as they have lots of offices. It's usually cheaper to rent from intown locations instead of at airports. Rates aren’t static. So as your day of departure approaches, check to see if the rate has dropped. If so, book at the new lower rate; then cancel the old reservation at the higher rate. Unlike the airlines, car rental companies generally do not charge for changes or cancellations. But like the hotels and airlines, the rental companies like to tack on fees, including for drivers other than the person renting the vehicle. That’s one reason why I rent my cars through Costco, the retailer. Rental companies such as Enterprise, Budget and Avis waive the extra-driver fee for Costco members. The big-dollar question for car renters is liability and collision insurance coverage. If you buy the "waivers" from the car-rental companies, it could be expensive. So check your existing car insurance coverage. American Express card holders can enroll in a program that, for $25, allows you to receive primary coverage for the duration of most rentals, if you use your Amex card for the rental. I participate in that program, even though I’m covered by my auto insurance policy. Also, if you rent a vehicle and don't return it to the same location, you could face dropoff charges. Some can be hefty. Check to see what they are before renting. It’s important to read the fine print to avoid costly surprises. Finally, make sure you inspect the vehicle well before taking it off the lot. Have the representative note in writing where any defects are. Use your cellphone camera to help document the condition of the car. You don’t want to pay for someone else’s carelessness.

P.S. If you have a GPS, bring it along. It will help you navigate some of the complex highways and byways around the major cities. If you don’t have one, the rental companies will supply one, for a fee.

If you have a friend who is a member of the American Automobile Association, ask he or she to supply you with AAA's maps and guidebooks, which are free to members.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Jun-2015, at 22:04 by berner256 ]

Post 6 was removed by a moderator