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Old 21 Jan 19, 03:15 PM  
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smithlane
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The BIG Little Lies California Road Trip - July/Aug 2019 - updated 17/03/19

Update 1 - 17/03/19

Update 2 - 05/07/19

Hello and welcome to The BIG Little Lies California Road Trip pre trippy

The idea for our next summer holiday started in the bleak and depressing month of February last year when I started watching the hit tv show Big Little Lies with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.



Well I thought it was brilliant after just the first episode so I proceeded to binge watch the rest in one afternoon/evening. I loved the cast and the story but most of all I was in love with the houses and scenery of where it is set - Monterey, California. I mean it’s pure property porn



I had read a few West Coast trip reports on here and knew I wanted to visit one day but this show kind of sealed the deal for me. I now just needed to get Jim aka ‘the one that holds the purse strings’ to get on board!
So devious little me one evening shortly after said I had watched a great series that I thought he would enjoy and that I didn’t mind watching again... !
He loved it nearly as much as I did and asked where it was set.
The conversation went something along the lines of
“Oh I think it’s in Monterey California” says I. “I would love to visit one day...”
“Monterey? I think there is a famous PGA Golf course there”
Goes off to Google
“Yep it’s Pebble Beach, I would love to play golf there. Um it is fairly pricey though at $400 a round!”
Cue me picking myself up off the floor in shock of how much ONE round of golf can cost!
“Well maybe we could go next year, I mean we have no plans yet. Although 3 weeks is a long time to spend just there so maybe we could tie it into a little road trip of California”
“Yes dear sounds good”
At this point he’s not really listening to me as he’s too busy researching other golf courses he can play...
And that ladies and gents is how one gets ones own way

Now that we had the where we now needed to sort out the when. We normally like to go away the last 3 weeks of the summer holidays but as it’s Hope’s GCSE year we need to be back by the 22nd August for her results but other than that we were flexible on dates. We just needed to wait for the flights to be released to find the cheapest day!
Meanwhile we had been speaking to Jim’s sister and bro in law, Helen and Nick about our plans and asked if they fancied it. They jumped at the chance, California is somewhere they’ve always wanted to visit. Sean and Jenny their kids were very excited! From now on they will be referred to as the Leans, some of you may remember them from my Florida 2015 & 2017 trip report.

The cast
Now that I’ve waffled on a fair bit I better introduce you to who we are!
First up there’s me Alicia! 36 years old and a Mobile Beauty Therapist by trade. LOVES holidays but equally loves the planning of them too. I’m also partial to the odd spot of shopping on said holidays



Jim my long suffering partner and wonderful step dad to my 2 children. Just turned the big 4-0 and a Construction Manager by trade. LOVES golf, golf and um even more golf!





Hope my daughter. 16 years old and would have just taken her GCSE’s when we go. Loves holidaying in the USA and would love to study there one day. She’s also my little shopping buddy which I just love. She is most looking forward to celeb spotting in LA!



Sam my son. 14 years old and a typical teenage boy. He gets more reclusive as the days go on but is great company when he comes out of his hole! Most looking forward to seeing a whale in the wild and camping in Yosemite.





The Leans
Last but not least we have Jim’s sister and her family Helen, Nick, Sean and Jenny. We have holidayed with them 3 times now and have such a blast each time, we’re very lucky we get on so well!
Sean is severely autistic but nothing gets in his way. He is always so happy and becomes my shadow on holiday which is lovely. Jen is a year older than Hope and they get on great, they’re like honorary cousins!

Taken back in 2015!


Flights
I had put together a rough itinerary of where we wanted to go and for how many nights in each place. We wanted to start the holiday in San Francisco so it seemed only logical to fly into there and fly out of Los Angeles.
After what felt like AGES flights were finally released for all our dates by the beginning of September. It didn’t look good, the prices were eye wateringly high! I wasn’t panicking to begin with as I always find prices high on release. I started a Glitch/Cheap thread on here so that other Dibbers could post if they found any good deals and to help us all out. One day in October a post came up with some really cheap indirect flights with Virgin/Delta. The only airports that were included were Oakland and San Diego but I knew I could make that work instead. The price to fly into Oakland and out of San Diego was £340pp including luggage! I called up Netflights to get a price with a car and that came out at £2000 for the flights and a VW Jetta (or similar). Booking the flights and car together meant we could just pay a £300 deposit which was handy as we hadn’t long got back from Florida!
I waited for Jim to get in from work to show him but somehow and I’m still not sure how said we should wait for the December BA sale as he thought we could get better flights for the same price!
Well you know where this is going don’t you? After a couple of days those bargain flights went up to over £1K each and you guessed it no other bargains were to be found especially now that you have to pay for luggage on top which with some companies was nearly another £100pp! The prices with BA for direct flights plus car into and out of San Fran were around the £700pp mark which I didn’t think was too bad but again Jim thought we should wait. Once the sale started the prices actually went up! WTH



Most days they were floating between £800-£900pp for SFO return, to fly out of LAX was even higher! All flights were way above our budget and my dream of getting to California was getting further away . It didn’t stop me checking prices 3 or 4 times a day though.
Last Wednesday on one of my daily searches on BA the price had gone back down to just over £700pp. Unfortunately they weren’t direct going out but good times via Dublin which we’ve gone through before back in 2017 and loved the pre clearance, they were direct going home though. This was for the 17th July to the 7th August. A quick call to Jim and Helen to see what they thought and they both gave me the go ahead. To be honest I think Jim just wanted to shut me up talking about flights all the time
It was at this point that the British Airways website decided to play silly buggers. Honestly I’ve never known a website to play up as much as BA’s! I had my phone, my iPad and my laptop all trying to bring the flights back up all whilst getting Hope to call Helen for her CC details. I’m not gonna lie it was a little fraught for a while!



I eventually managed to get ours booked, checking and double checking I had inputted all our details correctly! The price per person for us was £721 including a Group D car for 3 weeks. Ideally we wanted an SUV but the price was a lot more and I figured I can always upgrade at a later date. I then booked the Lean’s straight after, as they have to pay for 4 adults their price was £740pp. We both paid a £300 deposit.
Phew, I needed a lie down after all of that!

Accommodation
Now that our dates were set I could finally get down to booking where we would be staying. Whilst waiting to book our flights I had been doing a lot of research on different hotels and apartments so I knew roughly where to look. As we have 2 teenagers there’s not a hope in hell we can all squeeze into one hotel room for 3 weeks so I’ve had to find places that have either 2 bedrooms or 1 bedroom and a living area for the kids. Everything has been booked with Free Cancellation so if plans change or the price drops it’s no biggie to cancel and rebook.

San Francisco - 3 nights
First up San Fran! Now if you don’t know, San Francisco is the most expensive city in the US. The hotels are extortionate at most times of the year but even more so at the height of the summer holidays! The Columbus Motor Inn is highly rated on here and they do a suite with 2 bedrooms which is perfect. It’s very dated but looks clean and has parking included which is most important in this city! The total for 3 nights including tax is $992.78





Monterey - 3 nights
Trying to find a suitable hotel within budget in Monterey was proving to be quite difficult so I started to look at self catering options. I’ve ended up booking this charming cottage within the 17 Mile Drive area through AirBnB. The host Victoria has already sent me a lovely message thanking me for our booking. The total including all service fees for 3 nights is £642.57. The Leans still need to find their own accommodation.







Solvang - 1 night
We wanted to break up the journey down the PCH and after reading about this Danish town from reports on here it looked the ideal place to stay. As it’s only for one night I’ve just booked us one room with 2 double beds at Svensgaard Lodge through Booking.com. The total price is $155.94



Los Angeles - 2 nights
I found LA the hardest place to find accommodation as it’s such a huge city with terrible traffic I didn’t want to be too far from the attractions we’ll be doing. I eventually found 2 one bedroom apartments, one for each family, a couple of blocks away from the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theatre. This was through Booking.com. Total for 2 nights is $402







Anaheim - 3 nights
Even though we are in Anaheim for 3 nights we are only doing 1 day in Disney, I know shock horror! We do have 1 day at Knotts Berry Farm though so because of this we’ve decided to stay at the Radisson Suites Buena Park. It’s about 20 minutes to Disney but only down the road from KBF, as we need a suite it’s also a lot cheaper than the neighbourhood hotels by Disney. Total for 3 nights is $424.80 and was booked through Hotels.com





Oceanside - 5 nights
I originally wanted to stay nearer San Diego but the suite hotels there were ridiculously high in price and they are phasing out short term rentals so we’ve had to look further out. This is the part of the holiday for relaxing and Oceanside looks just the place. I found some gorgeous apartments in a development called North Coast Village which is right on the beach. We booked this one bedroom through Booking.com for $1392.25. The Leans need to book their own apartment here.









Bakersfield - 1 night
This overnight stop is only to break up the journey to Yosemite. After a family pow wow we all decided that none of us wanted to do the 7 and a half hour drive in one go! Whispering Meadows one bedroom apartment was booked through Booking.com for $155.82



Yosemite - 3 nights
Saving the best for last! We wanted to stay in the park itself so plumped for the campsites at Half Dome Village. Jim took some convincing on this choice as one he doesn’t really ‘do’ camping plus he is scared bears will get in and attack us! I’ve told him to grow a pair and that it is highly unlikely we will even see a bear let alone one get inside our tent . This was booked through TravelYosemite and came to $557.37. Expensive camping!



That's it for now. I'm just putting some final touches to the Itinerary then will be back to post it.
Thank you for reading if you made it this far

Edited at 08:23 PM.
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Old 10 Feb 19, 06:21 PM  
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Ohhh it’s going to be GREAT!
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Old 17 Feb 19, 08:59 AM  
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Looking forward to hearing all about it
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Old 19 Feb 19, 07:17 PM  
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Lmjenk
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Excited to read along and see your accommodation choices as we are going August too and I finally booked my flights today with Virgin. Let the road trip accommodation and planning obsession begin
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Old 2 Mar 19, 01:43 AM  
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Originally Posted by KarenG View Post
Ohhh it’s going to be GREAT!
Hey Karen! Oh I really hope it will be, we are all very excited to be going somewhere different
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Old 2 Mar 19, 01:49 AM  
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Originally Posted by Tinkermom View Post
Looking forward to hearing all about it
Hey, thank you for reading. Looks like you'll be out there before us, I hope you have a great time
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Old 2 Mar 19, 01:58 AM  
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Originally Posted by Lmjenk View Post
Excited to read along and see your accommodation choices as we are going August too and I finally booked my flights today with Virgin. Let the road trip accommodation and planning obsession begin
Ooh so exciting, what are your plans so far?
I think I've finally nailed down our itinerary, its only changed about two dozen times
There's just so much to see and do I could easily fill another 3 weeks over again!
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Old 16 Mar 19, 09:35 AM  
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What a pain that you didn't go for the cheap flights you found. This sounds like it's going to be a fab trip. Lots of great places to see and I bet you manage to fit in a bit of shopping too. How many Starbucks mugs are you going to be able to find in each of those cities? That will really add to your collection but the weight in the cases on the way home could be huge!
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Old 16 Mar 19, 11:18 AM  
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It sounds like an amazing trip, we have not done the West Coast yet so I look forward to reading along and seeing how you get on!
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Old 16 Mar 19, 08:37 PM  
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Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
What a pain that you didn't go for the cheap flights you found. This sounds like it's going to be a fab trip. Lots of great places to see and I bet you manage to fit in a bit of shopping too. How many Starbucks mugs are you going to be able to find in each of those cities? That will really add to your collection but the weight in the cases on the way home could be huge!
Ooh I wasn't happy Abby! In fact we had a similar conversation to the one we had about changing the Mustang in Vegas
We will definitely be doing a spot of shopping on our travels. Apparently there's a huge Premium Outlets on the Mexican border so of course that's been earmarked
I sadly won't be getting any Starbucks mugs as they've discontinued the ones I collect but you'll be pleased to know I have them all from the huge haul I got last year. At least I can then say that I've actually been to the cities I've got . I'll have plenty more room in the suitcases for shopping now
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