Logistics of taking a toddler and a baby to California

(20 Posts)

Do it! Easy least with them beng little. I live in LA, emigrated when DS was 3 and DD 2months we've done a long weekend in SF, drove the quick way up, leaving at bedtime and stopping in a motel 6 en route, took a more leisurely drive back down the PCH.

There is TONS to do in California with children. I'm personally holding off on Disney til DD is 2 just because there'll be more for her to do

I've done the long haul flight several times on my own with my two, DD was 8months last time and was manageable she wasn't crawling yet. Wasn't actually too bad, the older one happy to just watch tv, even managed a glorious 1.5hours when they both slept (95th centime DD just about fitting in the bassinet) at the same time, I drank gin.

Everyone who only visits LA doesn't like it but actually I'm liking it more and more and theres so much to do with children without having to go anywhere near Disney....also you're guaranteed nice weather, SF not so much!

Other accommodation advice, check out air bnb, we stayed in a yurt near Carmel which was amazing and the kids LOVED.

I think it's pretty good timing, better than baby being more mobile and a year old...if you want any LA advice (bearing in mind I've only lived there a year and haven't been anywhere near Disney!) feel free to pm

Re formula, American brands are more than fiend, infamil is closest thing to aptamil etc

Seconding everything pitmountainpony says...

JetlagandMayhem Fri 11-Jan-13 14:27:09

Do it! You'll have a fab time. The US is such a baby friendly place to travel. Will you be in San Fran when you are alone with the kids for a few days? Get/borrow a double buggy and stroll the amazing streets of SF, take them to a few museums, google what's kid friendly.
It's an awesome drive from San Fran to LA, lots to see along the way. I'm not a massive fan of LA itself although Santa Monica is a nice place to base yourself.
As for the flight, they're actually at a decent age to be manageable! I have to fly long haul with my 3 yo regularly as I live overseas and I find she's quite happy to watch TV for hours and then fall asleep. 8 mth bit more tricky but at least they'll fit in bassinet and hopefully sleep for a bit depending when your flight is. Have a fab trip! And don't forget to get your ESTA visa....

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 11-Jan-13 06:24:08

I (too) know it's not what you are asking, but frankly the transport when you get there would be the least of my issues with this trip grin

I would have 2 major thoughts if it were me

1. How are they both going to be on the flight? Esp DD1 - is she easily amused for 11 hours or will she be a nightmare (have just spent today with my friends - errr- 'sprited' DD and I woudn't take her on a plane to Newcastle, let alone SFO!! But other 3 year olds would be fine.

2. Financial impact. It will be £££ and the girls wont get that much out of it (no more than a holiday much closer to home and it's not as though you are visiting family) so I'd have to weigh up whether I thought it was 'worth' spending the money on or not.

Pitmountainpony Fri 11-Jan-13 06:23:37

It is only 5 to 6 hours SF to LA if you take the boring inland route.
Yosemite would be a fabulous trip from sf too...you can find cabins on vrbo.com for 50 to 80 quid a night and then you just drive into the park.
Honestly the best holidays of my life have all been in California.
From LA the grand canyon is about 6 hours....we stayed in a basic motel for 30 quid a night for all of us.....last year. But in two weeks I would just do SF, Yosemite LA ia the coast... 3 weeks and you could also do the canyon and Vegas.....not my thing so have never been but it is close to the canyon.
I think you can hire a car for 20 quid a day if booked before you come.
I think this is the best time to come as your Baby will be free on the plane and free for most attractions.

Pitmountainpony Fri 11-Jan-13 06:15:31

You will have an amazing time.
We travel California a fair bit and our kids are the same age....there is tons to do and we have done SF to LA three times now....highway 1 is amazing......loads of stop offs too to enjoy nature.
lA is full of kids stuff to do...under threes are free for most stuff......apparently ther is no checking at Disney for the age if stroller is being used......so basically if both your kids are under three they would not pay.
In LA there is kidspace which is lovely for a morning out...kids museum.
All the usual stuff.
Universal studios has a fair bit a 3 year old would enjoy.
Or you get accommodation near a beach.....and beach holiday the la bit....SF may well be cool but LA is lovely and hot by April time.
California is amazing with kids.
Bring a light stroller and a good carrier.
Car it to LA the long coastal route....spectacular.
Santa Barbara zoo is so sweet...
So much I could go on and on.

SeashellHoarder Wed 09-Jan-13 12:01:52

Oh - I meant to say there are some good grocery stores nearby. One in the basement of the Westfield shopping centre which is particularily good - handy when you have little ones and don't want to eat out all the time.

SeashellHoarder Wed 09-Jan-13 11:59:44

Hi, it's called the steinhart. www.steinharthotel.com

EarnestDullard Wed 09-Jan-13 10:46:13

Thanks all smile

I'm in two minds tbh. I got swept up in the initial excitement of the idea, but now I'm wondering if it's just too far and too much money when the DDs are so young. DH is very keen though, so we'll see.

Nothing booked yet Seashell so if you could let me know the name of the apartments that'd be great, thanks. Central location is definitely good if I'm going to be getting around with the DDs by myself some of the time.

SeashellHoarder Wed 09-Jan-13 08:06:48

Hi, I think SF would be a great trip. We took our baby to Monterey aquarium for her 1st birthday and she loved it, also there's plenty of beaches around there for a bit of a beach holiday if you wanted it.

Regarding food, Babies R Us in America sell ellas pouches and some plum organics, but all other baby food contains plenty of sugar. Also you will need to take your regular formula as you can't buy our brands there. We took powder when we went to Monterey and it exploded in the suitcase on the way back - but the cartons made it fine.

I know BA at least have a large bassinet - this is still suitable for our 18month old - it's sort of like a large bouncy chair you'd have for a newnorn.

I'm not sure if you already have a hotel booked, but there is a really nice appartent hotel right in the centre of SF, if youre interested I'll give you the name.

Good luck! Sounds Fun!

ArtigeneAuberchoke Sun 06-Jan-13 21:13:10

We had a Californian holiday thus summer although our DDs are a bit older: 3 and 5. We had a fabulous time. 3 days in San Francisco (they loved the hotel with the pool, eating Dim Sum in China Town, great museums etc). Then we drove 3.5 hours to Yosemite where we stayed at very friendly Evergreen Lidge with fabulous children's facilities in the wilderness. Yosemite was best 5 days ever as we swam in waterfalls, hiked (with buggies), had picnics and saw amazing scenery. We also went to family in Silicone Valley and then spent a few days in Monterey where we went whale watching (humpbacks and blue whales right by the boat!) and did the aquarium etc. Those distances were quite long enough, a drive to LA would have been too much.

I have flown to the IS with the kids many times and I hate night flights. The kids never sleep as they are too excited. Day flights are better as you have no expectation on sleep and just throw yourself into entertainment.

forevergreek Sun 06-Jan-13 21:12:42

ah yes sorry, i forgot about times of flights. but still a midday nap will coinside with naptime of some sort to help.

ba for example provide skycots for smaller babies, but also can provide britax style seats or larger bassients up to 2 years.

the alternative is to buy youngest their own seat also and take a car seat on board (has to be form a list of certain ones. the maxi cosy pebble def does as we have used before

"book skycot for baby on plane. take a blanket for toddler. fly over night (ie a 7/8pm flight from london so they sleep most of it.)"

Skycot may now be too small for little one; they are mainly for newborns and tiny babies. Blanket or favourite toys for toddler (as well as all the foodstuffs they like, do not rely on the airline ever to fully provide) is a good idea.

There is however, a problem with the last suggestion made by forevergreek. All flights from the UK to the West Coast of the US have all departed by mid afternoon so it is not possible to obtain a night flight. You will be getting on an overnight flight on return to the UK and this arrives into the UK mid afternoon the next day.

(Late evening departures from Heathrow usually are flying to the Far East and Australia).

Flying within the US can be a trial in all sorts of ways. Many if not all carriers charge for a suitcase and any extra bags that are handled by the airline. It can also be costly and there are often no discounts applicable for children.

If you are planning on only spending 1-2 days in LA from SF I would say its not worth it. LA needs more time than this. There are now 2 theme parks at Disneyland and both need a day really to gain the most from them.

EarnestDullard Sun 06-Jan-13 14:40:43

And thanks forevergreek, that's good advice re: night flights, it's definitely easier when they're alseep! I just looked into hiring carseats and they're about $40 each, so not as extortionate as I thought.

EarnestDullard Sun 06-Jan-13 14:36:28

I see what you mean Earlybird, and it did cross my mind that maybe we'd be better to let DH do the trip alone and go elsewhere as a family. I guess I was thinking in SF we'd wander round the shops a bit, find a park or two, maybe take a cable car (with littlest in sling) up to Fisherman's Wharf, ice cream at Ghirardelli's. I know there's at least one children's museum in SF which I'm sure DD1 would enjoy. We'd probably only stay 4 or 5 days before moving on. Then there's the aquarium at Monterey, and the beaches further down the coast. LA would be a day or two half-days at Disneyland and maybe a bit of shopping; I know the 8mo won't get much out of Disney and even the 3yo won't be able to go on a lot of the rides but I'm sure she'd love the atmosphere, the surroundings, the characters, even the shops and restaurants. DH and I don't need to eat gourmet food, we're happy with burgers, pancakes, sushi - and so is DD1 smile It'll obviously be a very different holiday than with just DH and me, but I still think it could be fun. We're not really the types that pack every minute of a holiday with sightseeing and stuff; we're happy to take it slow and pootle around a bit. It would more about spending time as a family in a different environment than about doing everything California has to offer. Especially since DH and I have been twice and have done most of the tourist bit already.

forevergreek Sun 06-Jan-13 13:54:52

California has a beach! it will be great

forevergreek Sun 06-Jan-13 13:53:03

car rental - get car seats included for both and hire at the airport, so you have them start to finish.

take a small folding buggy that reclines, and a sling suitable for both. buggy can be used for baby or 3 year old, sling such as ergo/manduca etc can be used on front with baby or back with toddler. combined with buggy, either toddler or baby can be contained/sleep/ moved fast if needed (and by one person). great for baby at the airport where you will have to wait for buggy and luggage when you land. im assuming 3 year old will/can walk most places though, just above for when tired blah blah

book skycot for baby on plane. take a blanket for toddler. fly over night (ie a 7/8pm flight from london so they sleep most of it.)

i would drive down as everyone and everything can be contained in car ( also drive down in the evenings/ over naptimes etc if possible)

sounds fun!

Earlybird Sun 06-Jan-13 13:52:15

I know you are asking how to make it happen, rather than if it should happen......but.......

What sorts of activities are you imagining all of you will do as a family?

As you know, there is a lot to love about California - but personally, think it is mostly suited to older dc. For instance - a toddler and baby are not going to enjoy seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, or going to museums/galleries, or hiking, or the wine country, or the spectacular scenery. You won't be going out for fab gourmet meals. They're mostly too young for Disney, and all that 'child oriented' holiday stuff. And I doubt you'll enjoy it as much with them/their gear in tow.

I know it is so tempting to take advantage of your dh's conference to go on a family holiday to a place you enjoy. But seriously, I'd just go on a lovely beach holiday somewhere and delay California until they're a bit older.

Not what you wanted to hear, I know. Sorry if I've rained on your parade.

EarnestDullard Sun 06-Jan-13 13:40:56

S'pose <petulant>

grin
I know what you mean, it would eliminate a lot of the hassle (car rental, long drive with children, car seats etc.) but part of me feels that if we're flying all that way, we may as well make it a big holiday. But yeah, it's something to think about.

Could you put the LA part of this trip hold till the children are a bit older and spend all your time in SF instead?.

EarnestDullard Sun 06-Jan-13 10:08:46

Didn't want to hijack the other California thread smile

DH has a conference in San Francisco in June and we're thinking of making a faimly trip out of it. We've been to California twice (San Fran to LA with a few stops on the way) but never with children. This time we'd probably fly to SFO, then somehow get to LA (mainly for Disneyland for me grin), then hopefully fly back home from LA to save having to get back to SFO.

My two main questions are: are we better to drive down to LA, with a stop or two, or just fly? A car would be handy for getting around LA, but we'd need to bring or hire car seats for both DCs (they'll be 3yo and 8mo). Secondly, I'll have three days just me and the DDs while DH is working and the idea of managing the DDs alone in a strangeish city scares me a little bit. I've been twice so know my way around, but still. Is it a crazy idea? The alternative woud be for me to fly out with the girls after DH's conference, but a longhaul flight alone with toddler and baby scares me even more! Any thoughts?

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