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anyone taken small kids to California?

(14 Posts)
elliott Wed 20-Apr-05 09:28:32

Ok I admit it - I'm bored and dreaming about holidays
we have several friends in San Francisco and I'm wondering about a family holiday there, before we get locked into school holidays. Anyone any experience? We would be looking for self catering accommodation possibly up in Marin County on the coast, plus maybe some camping in the national parks there.
I've had a look on the web but it would be good to hear any feedback of experiences of booking US self catering accommodation online. From what I can see most places seem huge!!
And what about jet lag? Is it worth the hassle or maybe I should wait till the ds's are older? They will be 4 and 2 next year.

Joanna3 Wed 20-Apr-05 10:50:37

Hi I took dd now 8 but then 2 to San Jose for two weeks. We had a good time visiting places like Big Sur, San Francisco and Lake Tahoe (stayed in a lakeside motel place). We stayed in one of those Suite hotels which was comfortable but pretty characterless. Holiday was good and there was loads to do. Americans are extremely welcoming to children. However the journey over there and back was horrendous. DD was awake for most of the 10 hour flight and it was the longest 10 hours I have ever experienced even though there was a tv to watch. Jet lag hit hard on both legs and seriously impacted on the holiday. I was up at 3am for several nights with dd!! I decided not to go stateside until kids older. Now on my own and ventured to Orlando a few weeks ago with dd (8) and ds (just 5). Flying was so much easier and we had a great time. Hope this is helpful.

elliott Wed 20-Apr-05 10:55:42

Thanks Joanna, that's certainly food for thought. I know dh would need seriously convincing about the flight and I just hate being sleep deprived...

elliott Wed 20-Apr-05 11:00:48

btw my other idea is South Africa which would do away with the jet lag. More complicated to sort out accommodation though. Again we have friends there but they are not in a very accessible place.

MeerkatsUnite Wed 20-Apr-05 11:06:07


We first went to the West Coast when DS was three years old. He was okay on the plane both ways but did want to walk about!. Generally speaking the flight back to the UK is worse than the journey to CA as you lose time (UK is 8 hours in front of CA). It usually takes us all a couple of days to get over it.

Would not think that getting self catering accommodation in Marin County would be a problem (you might want to see if there is anything like an Embassy Suites hotel there as these are good for families in particular) but the National Parks may be a bit more problematic. Such places can and do get booked up far in advance. Have you looked into sites at Yosemite?. You may want to start now.

Talk to your friends also.

Joanna3 Wed 20-Apr-05 11:10:14

Never been, but a friend of mine went to Cape Town with kids a similar age to yours last year and had a fantastic time. Jet lag not a problem so you just have the ten hour flight to contend with. I think it was the combination of jet lag and the flight which finished me off in California. Also my (now ex) dh was his usual selfish self and did ** all to help on the plane.

RTKangaMummy Wed 20-Apr-05 11:17:33

We came back from LA last week

We didn't have any jet lag either way.

DS slept on the plane and when we landed at 11.45am

We came home and he went straight to school for afternoon school @ 1.30pm

We went to bed at normal time and up at same time

elliott Wed 20-Apr-05 11:21:18

Thanks again. We've been to both places before but prekids obviously.
Absolutely loved loved Yosemite - I remember they had a system of prebooking camping which opened exactly 3 months in advance - very organised, very American! I do have a year to think about this so could probably manage with the advance booking issue.
Cape Town has its attractions but I do feel a bit nervous, oddly - and would need to make pilgrimage to our friends (very old family friends who I lived with in my gap year) which would take at least a week!

Joanna3 Wed 20-Apr-05 11:22:23

Brilliant!! Jet lag was not a problem for us on the Orlando trip and both kids seemed to adjust very quickly both ways. They were both really good on the plane as well.I had been dreading it but it made a big difference that the kids could understand what was going on ie that they were going to America and the time difference. It has taken a week or so before they stopped going to bed very late but school seems to have sorted that out. Now I can't wait to go on another trip - just have to find the money somehow!!

elliott Wed 20-Apr-05 11:24:25

wow RTKM - is your ds normally very adaptable sleep wise? Did you do anything particular to adapt on the way out? I'm not so bothered when we come home but would hate the holiday to be ruined by exhaustion!
I can imagine ds2 being ok(ish), but ds1 is the type who easily goes off the rails if out of routine. But he would be that bit older and he is quite sensible, so would probably tolerate being told to lie quietly even if he felt wide awake!

Joanna3 Wed 20-Apr-05 11:29:19

I love Yosemite and it would be great to take the kids. One of the things I would like to do is hire an RV and go to Yellowstone National Park. Might have to persuade another single mum to do this with me however as it could be a bit scary being in charge of such a large vehicle on my own!!

littlerach Wed 20-Apr-05 11:35:40

We did it at Xmas, DD1 was almost 4, DD2 was 5months. It was fine, kids adjust more than you think. Do it now, before they are stuck in school. Plus, Americans are fab towards children, airline staff are generally great too.
Think it works better if you can do night flights, also work out journeys to airports, as DD2 ended up sleeping al thwe awy back from Heathrow which threw her sleep more than the flight!

RTKangaMummy Wed 20-Apr-05 11:39:06


DS is nearly 10 years

He has been on more planes than trains or buses

He has always slept on them

Several years ago he slept through the landing we had to wake him to get off the plane.

When we went on our "round the world in 80 days" trip he was 6 years old and we just adjust clocks to arrival time when at airport or plane.

He does NOT eat on the planes though

so we eat at airport and then he drinks on the plane.

At home he sleeps from 7/8pm until 6/7am

So he is a good sleeper

He always sleeps in car too so does DH {a good job I do all driving on long trips}

RTKangaMummy Wed 20-Apr-05 11:40:41

California is 8 hours behind atm

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