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Old 31 Oct 17, 04:55 PM  
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meandmyboy
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West Coast And Hawaii Adventure Oct/Nov 17 - Day 1: Travel Day

Friday 27th October 2017: Day 1 - Travel Day

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My dad was picking us up at 9am to take us to Heathrow, so it was a fairly early start to the day. Everything was packed the night before so there wasn't much left to do other than pack toiletries and do final house preparations before leaving.

The journey to the airport took just over 2 hours and was a pretty easy run, traffic-wise. Although despite this we nearly didn't make it as my dad almost caused a major accident by pulling out to overtake and not noticing a car was right alongside us already! Seriously, his driving is getting pretty terrible and every time he takes us to the airport I regret my decision to ask him. Must remember for next time to sort out some alternative transportation as it's just not the most relaxing start to a holiday when you're not even sure if you'll make it to the airport alive!

Due to my dad wanting to set off super early (to avoid Friday traffic) we were at the airport by about 11.30am for our 3.20pm flight. I'd done online check in so we only needed to do bag drop. We were flying Premium Economy with BA so we had quite generous luggage allowance, but I always try to travel as light as possible because it's just me and Jacob (6), so pretty much everything is down to me to carry.

Actually though, on this trip Jacob was big enough to help by carrying a decent sized backpack and by pulling along the smaller of the cases when necessary. But this wasn't necessary at the airport as I just grabbed a trolley and used that to transport our cases and Jacob's car seat in it's bag to the bag drop point.

Jacob enjoyed watching the cases go along the conveyor belt and then much to his delight the man at oversized baggage let him press the controls to make his car seat go down the special conveyor belt.

After offloading our luggage we made our way through security, which went pretty fast and smoothly, although Jacob did get stopped for a random search and had to go through the body scanner machine. He wasn't phased though thankfully. And then finally we were through to departures.

With about 3.5 hours to kill we had a little wander around some of the nearest shops - mostly spent telling Jacob he couldn't buy Lego/toys/random tat - and then we went for lunch at Giraffe. I had the Reuben sandwich with a mango lassi (both of which were lovely) and Jacob had sausage chips and beans (which went down well). Jacob was excited to receive a plastic giraffe with his drink. He still remembers the one he got on at Gatwick on the travel day of our first trip to Florida back in 2013 when he was 2.5 years old. Thankfully he's managed to keep this one safe as I still remember the tears and tantrums when the original one was lost in Orlando airport as we were getting onto the Magical Express.

After lunch we watched the planes taking off for a while - that's something I love about Terminal 5 at Heathrow - you get a really good view of the runway - and did a bit more shop wandering. Popped into WH Smiths and picked up some mints and bought each of us a travel pillow so we could sleep a bit easier on the plane.

Then, somehow the time had passed and the departures board was showing our gate number, so we started to make our way there. We had to transit to our gate using the train, but we made it to our gate in good time. Just as we were settling down into some seats, a BA person came along and said we could do priority boarding as there were only 4 children on the plane that day - bonus!

So we made our way onto the plane and settled into our seats. Once everyone was on board the pilot made an announcement that we were a little delayed taking off because one of the passengers had incorrectly filled out their passport number on their ESTA and wasn't being allowed to board. They were trying to locate her bags to offload them, but that due to a good tailwind he expected us to be in San Diego an hour and 20 minutes earlier than expected. This was great news... until we wasted nearly an hour of that time sitting on the runway while they struggled to locate the bags to be offloaded!

But finally we were off and on our way! I won't bore you with the flight details...it was long, there was some colouring and game playing and Lego building on Jacob's part, and some reading, and film watching on my part (Wonder Woman - which was pretty good actually). Jacob managed to sleep for a good 4 hours or so on the plane, and I grabbed a few winks, but nothing substantial. I just couldn't seem to nod off properly.

The food was really good, although I did miss the second meal as I was in the toilet and they never came back to check on those who didn't receive a meal. It was okay though as I wasn't really hungry by that time anyway.

Eventually we landed in San Diego, not much earlier than the originally scheduled time unfortunately. The airport in San Diego is pretty cool in that the planes come in to land right over the tops of the city buildings and it's quite a steep decent and a short runway, making the pilots really earn their wages. I wish it had been light when we landed because I'm sure it would have been a cool thing to see - although a part of me is quite relieved I didn't realise what was happening! (To add the reason I know that about the SD airport is that the pilot of our flight ended up being on the car rental shuttle bus with us and I overheard him telling it all to another passenger!).

Being in Premium Economy has the added perk of getting you off the aircraft as one of the first, which meant pole position for immigration. And it was nice to not have to experience the scrum of Orlando's immigration hall, that's for sure. We were through it all fairly quickly and then on to bag pickup. This part is always a pain because I'm never sure where the car seat is going to come out. After a few treks up and down the baggage area, I finally spotted the car seat bag and we were ready to get on our way.

We caught the shuttle bus to the car rental centre which is a little way from the terminal buildings. Picking up the car was easy enough, except for the fact that they didn't have any small or medium SUVs available for me and tried to give me a large SUV. Despite the girl's reassurances that the car was "actually quite small" when I got to see it it was like a bus. Absolutely ridiculous for just the two of us and I had no desire to try and park/drive such a thing in a busy city and on the wrong side of the road.

So I went back to the kiosk and insisted on a smaller SUV. Despite a 10 minute wait, we stuck it out and finally were given a Nissan Rogue SUV which was perfect size. And then it was time to fire up the trusty US sat nav (purchased on our first trip to Florida in 2013) and hit the road. Unfortunately the sat nav didn't seem to cope well with the on airport roads and the software hadn't been updated since I originally purchased it so it didn't recognise the new car rental centre that only opened last year. This meant I struggle to get us set off on the right road and it was all a bit stressful to begin with. And then I realised after about 5 minutes or so that I was driving at night without my lights on!

Fortunately it didn't matter and we eventually made our way to Shelter Island and found Humphrey's Half Moon Inn with no bother. A smooth check-in and I moved the car to a space closer to our room, feeling smug that I managed to get a spot right in front of the entrance to our building. This turned out to be bad thing as I found out a few hours later after I was woken by the phone ringing and hotel security informing me I was parked in a disabled bay with no badge! Fortunately he took pity on me and didn't make me go out and move it in my pyjamas!

Finally we were settled into our room and it was about 8/8.30pm local time by now. Obviously the middle of the night UK time, so we headed to bed for an early night - excited to start exploring San Diego in the morning.
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Nov 2013 - POFQ, Clearwater Beach & Rosen Inn PO
Nov 2014 - All Stars Music Trip Report
Oct/Nov 2015 - Pop Century & Bradenton condo
Oct/Nov 2017 - SoCal and Hawaii Adventure Trip Report

Edited at 05:06 PM.
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Old 31 Oct 17, 07:28 PM  
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Pussycat Doll
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Looking forward to reading along.
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Old 31 Oct 17, 08:36 PM  
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Bellasmummy
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Have a great trip.

Looking forward to reading along as were doing West Coast for the first time next year, LA, Hawaii, San Diego 😁. Im sure Ill pick up some great tips as your plans sounds great.
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Old 31 Oct 17, 09:29 PM  
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Vinniecat
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Sounds like a good travel day. I'm looking forward to reading this trip report.
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Old 2 Nov 17, 04:59 AM  
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meandmyboy
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Relaxing at the Grand Floridian
 
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Thanks for reading along guys! Day 1 is now updated and complete.
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Nov 2013 - POFQ, Clearwater Beach & Rosen Inn PO
Nov 2014 - All Stars Music Trip Report
Oct/Nov 2015 - Pop Century & Bradenton condo
Oct/Nov 2017 - SoCal and Hawaii Adventure Trip Report
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Old 2 Nov 17, 07:15 PM  
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Melbatb
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Great first day - we are flying on the BA flight into San Diego in December so interesting to read about it! Our flight leaves earlier though - 1.45pm!
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Index of my trip reports
2016 Quebec - Kuala Lumpar - New York City 2017 Dubai - Eurocamps France - Ontario and Quebec - So-Cal 2018 Montreal - Bangkok - New England 2019 Argentina - Quebec City - Hong Kong
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