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budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

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budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

ok bit of a tall order here i think but here goes - we're looking to take a 2 week holiday in california either late summer or october next year . myself, husband, daughter and son who will be 14 and 3 respectively .. so thinking to cover all interests : beach, disney, palm springs, hollywood (daughter just HAS do do the sign shot, lol) possibly vegas .. so im guessing we need to do a road trip although not confident of my husbands driving skills abroad! (shhhh!) just wondered if it was possible to visit all these places by greyhound bus? and plot up for 3-4 days in each location - ideas, recommendations for hotels, b&bs. campsites, anything really appreciated - oh and did i mention we were on a budget ? xx

Las Vegas, Nevada
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1. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

welcome to the forums surpriseholiday,

the best place for you to get info about a california trip is the california forum,

you should repost in that forum so they can help you with planning your trip

on the california forum you will also see alot of helpful info on the page, such as itineraries, hotel listing ect ect.

you can also post in the specific city forums with questions about where best to stay, and things to do in that area

such as the anaheim forum for disneyland, las vegas forum, ect.

here is the general california forum for you,

you can see the various city forums you can post in as well if you look where it says "Jump to a more specific forum" above the forum posts.


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2. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

thank you for your help .. i will re post on the various forums! x

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3. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

You should definitely rent a car! Sounds like a fun trip.

For a budget trip I would stay across the street from Disneyland. I think the hotel with the best location is the Park Vue Inn - right across the street. They have rooms with bunkbeds too. Your stay includes breakfast, and there is a fridge and microwave in the room.

You may want to consider getting the Southern California City Pass. Gets you into 5 different attractions I believe.


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4. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

my wife, 13-year old son and I did a similar trip last summer for 10 days.

flew from DC to san diego then drove up the coast and departed from san francisco. 3 nights in san diego, 1 night each in LA, Santa Barbara, Carmel, then 3 nights in San Fran. The drive along the coast is fantastic.

Additionally I have traveled there numerous times for business.

here's my input-

1. try to identify your trip priorities- cities, mountains, beaches, etc. CA has it all but trying to do it all on one trip may be a bit much.

2. order the trip planner from the CA travel website (visitcalifornia.com)(?)

3. would think twice about bus. it will get you from city to city but may not get you close to where you want to be. there is a intrastate rail system (I forget the name) if you don't want to drive.

4. think hard about whether Vegas is where you want to take 2 kids. fun for adults but you would need to get out of the city for the kids.

5. august might be better than october depending on which parts of the state you go to. remember that coastal CA can get cool temps, even in summer.

6. can't help with B&B or camp suggestions as we did hotels. but we had good luck with Holiday Inns, Residence Inns, etc. Can be reasonably priced and usually have enough space for kids plus kitchenettes, etc.

lastly- you have GOT to visit San Francisco if you can. a beautiful city with a great vibe.

western WA
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5. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

Two weeks with a three year old and a teenager on a budget....

You won't need a car when you're AT Disneyland, but it really would be handy for getting around elsewhere. Public buses would strain the 3yr old's available patience, I think. There are options for getting to Vegas. Greyhound is certainly an option from one city to another. I have taken it myself. Driving here is not that hard and your husband would probably do fine, however.

With just two weeks, I'd stick fairly close to southern California. Allow three days for Disneyland and one for Knott's Berry Farm (more exciting roller coasters) or Universal Studios. SeaWorld is a lot of fun, too. You could go see a few things around LA such as the Hollywood sign and Venice Beach, but after that I would choose San Francisco OR Vegas, not both. Palm Springs is not that much fun for a family, worth a drive by if you go that way to Vegas. Joshua Tree National Park is very accessible and fun for some hiking and walking. My kids loved it at your daughter's age. I personally have chosen not to take my kids to Vegas, but I have friends who take theirs to Mandalay Bay for the swimming.

You might want to look at biddingfortravel and betterbidding to learn how to get good deals on lodging with Priceline. It is a system and requires a little study, but you can save a lot.

I don't live in Southern California but I have visited recently several times.

Uden, The...
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6. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

I'd stick to an october visit. It's just the perfect month for SoCal. Summer will be far too hot, crowded and most expensive time of the year. (Except for Palm Springs..)

Edited: 12 August 2011, 14:41
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7. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

I think October would be a great time. I love traveling when the crowds thin, and prices will be in your favor.

Really a car is your best option. Remember Southern California is all about driving, and freeways are extensive. Public transportation, while available, still takes 2nd place to the automobile.

I have lived in Southern California and have done very inexpensive vacations thoughout California when our budget was limited. Definitely, camping will be the most budget friendly, though you can find inexpensive hotels or work package deals if you are not picky. Don't shy away from the bidding sites for cheap prices on decent hotels. Also consider perhaps a condo rental. One trip we based ourselves in north San Diego County and did day trips. I used my frequent flier miles for airfare, the condo came with boogie boards, plenty of DVDs and board games and we ended up with a very budget friendly vacation.

For LA, one of my favorite urban state parks is Huntington Beach State Park. We camped there, and explored LA, Disneyland, Universal and the entire area. Cheap!


If you camped, would you bring equipment with you or rent it here? I have suggestions, depending on your preference.

Regarding Las Vegas. I have been there with my kids several times. I must preference this with the fact that I am not huge Vegas fan. I take it for what it is worth - love the shows primarily, and for us it's a stopover when going to other places, but it is not as family friendly as it has been made out to be. You may have noticed that they have dropped the family focused ad campaigns and now focus on the adults (What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...). There are certainly ways to navigate Vegas with a family, and I would be happy to help with that. I am not necessarily discouraging you, just know that there are different viewpoints on Vegas with kids.

So, based on the suggestions that you have been given so far...what are your current thoughts?

8. Re: budget family california trip with 3 and 14 yr old !!!

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