In December my little tribe set off for a 3 week adventure throughout California, you may have followed along in my snaps and stories on Instagram but it was pretty epic. I have been asked so many times to put it all down on paper, or the internet so to speak. So here it is. Everything we got up to state side. I have to say before we left on holiday we had two pretty shitty weeks, 3, yes 3 break ins, our house, my car and then had our other car stolen. Fun times! Even better? My passport was in my car as I had to use it to apply for a new license since that had been stolen earlier in the week. Which meant I was rushing through an emergency passport 2 days before leaving. What tops that off? Jay realised the night before we flew he too had lost his passport "somewhere" - nightmare. Had a very tense morning not knowing whether Jay would make it on board with us. Can't believe I didn't lose the plot at him for "loosing" his passport. Thankfully the passport office pulled it out of the bag and they turned it round in a matter of hours for us. I used introverted commas when talking about his lost passport as two days later my mum found it in the house. Jay was convinced he had lost it at the airport when he returned from Melbourne a few days earlier, so told me not to turn the house upside down looking for it. No shit, it turned up under some paper on his bedside table, idiot!
Anyway it was a timely reminder that things can go wrong with travelling, from the small - lost luggage, to the big - broken bones! Especially when you plan on spending a large chunk of your holiday skiing and helping your toddlers to learn how to ski. We follow precautions and I like to think I’m a pretty good skier but accidents happen, which is why I always make sure we have travel insurance before going anywhere. For the small price you pay, it puts your mind at ease and can save you thousands of dollars if something was to go wrong. I would be so mad at myself if something like that were to happen. Lucky for me Worldcare gifted myself and the twins a GoComprehensive travel insurance policy for this trip, which meant I had one less thing to worry about. We also bought Jays insurance through them, it was a really easy process and I will definitely be using them again. You can get your own quote or check out their different plans here.
Before we left I was loosing sleep over handing the boys in the airport/plane. I have two toddlers who like to run in different directions, who don't like to sit still and don't even sleep well in a comfy bed at home let alone a seat in a plane. I found the Fly Tot to help with the later problem and it worked like a dream, check out the review I wrote here. To sort the airport issue I invested in some Trunkis and they were awesome. My two LOVE motorbikes or anything you ride on, so these were an instant hit. A bit admin to have on the rest fo the trip as our car was packed to the brim, but def worth it for keeping them under control and moving in the right direction in the airports. On the way back Jay even linked them together so he could pull both at the same time like a little train. Safe to say we had LOTS of looks and laughs as we made our way through busy LAX.
I LOVE LA and you either love or loathe it. I grew up visiting LA multiple times a year. My grandma lives in San Diego - only a few hours down the coast - and since my dad is a Pilot we were lucky enough to be able to travel cheaply.
This time we stayed in Venice beach at a really cool retro hotel, The Kinney. It was a drive in motel in its orginal form and they have completely re done it, it was super cool and in a great location. We were in LA for just under 48 hours so we only had time to catch up with some friends and sneak in some serious shopping. I had all that stuff stolen remember? So it was a mad rush around the shops to replace the items, shoes, handbag and some jewelery. But of course we stopped to visit Santa at The Grove. The Grove is so beautifully decorated over the holiday season, that's one things the Americans do great, the Christmas spirit is alive and well, you can't help but be happy with al the beautiful decorations. We paid far too much for our photo with Santa but it was worth it, one for the memory book!
My favourite places to shop are The Grove, Beverly Centre and the big departments stores Neiman Marcus, Saks and Barney's which are all in a row down by Rodeo drive. Melrose Ave and Robertson Boulevard all are lined with great boutiques too. Wear comfortable shoes, you will do a lot of walking. I like to browse Maxfield too - note browse as it's a shop you need to lay serious cash down in.
Venice Beach is always amazing people watching, hire a bike and ride all the way down to the Santa Monica Pier if your game. We didn't get to take the kids to the peir as we had such a short amount of time, but if we had more time it would have been on my list. Third street promenade down in Santa Monica has lots of shopping too if you are staing in that area.
The happiest place on earth, I was so excited to take the boys to Disneyland and was a bit gutted when a storm came through Southern California during our time there. It hardly ever rains in LA so it was a case of bad luck. Although what they called a storm turned out to be a bit of drizzle, so no pastic ponchos were needed!
We arrived mid parade, which meant it was super crowded as you entered and you couldn't walk through the parade and get into the park. It was all very overwhelming and the boys were grumpy so we had a few tears. We had two days in the park which I think is more than enough time to check it all out. We had tickets for both parks, Disneyland and California Adventure park, to make sure we went on everything we wanted to we made a list and checked out hight limits on rides as some of them like Splash Mountain and Radiators Spring Racers ride had them and sadly the boys were a few cm's under and they were very strict with it. BOO.
Second day the weather was much better, and luckily for us the rain the day before had scared people off so the park seemed much quieter than its usual standards. We were there for 9 hours with the boys and had an amazing time, it was so cool to go on rides like Small World which was a favourite of mine when I was young and my parents took me. Even better as it was Christmas the park so so beautifully decorated and heaps of the rides had decorations added that aren't usually there, so it was fun see the rides in a new light. I have been during Halloween too and that is super cool! So if you can plan a visit during a holiday it's always that much more special.
Boys favourite rides? Mators tractor ride in Adventure land and Buzz Lightyear in Disneyland.
Tips and tricks?
Fast track is available at some rides, you get given a certain time frame to come back to a ride in usually about an hours time. You can have 1 fast pass at a time so pick wisely. Choose the rides with the longest lines to use these on.
With toddlers, unless they are really patient, don't bother going on any ride that has a 30 minute or more wait time. All the rides have markers telling you how long it will take to get on the ride, they are very accurate so take notice and don't bother waiting in a line for too long only to have kids melt down and have to leave.
Pram is a must for any kid under 4, the parks are bug and there is so much walking! Especially if your kids nap, we were able to get them to sleep in their pram so we didn't have to head back to the hotel for an hour. Was so much easier as Jay and I got to sit and eat our lunch in peace while the boys snoozed. If you don't want to travel with a pram then you can hire them at the park. Don't worry about leaving it when you go on rides either, there is "pram parking" at each ride and it is usually supervised. We left cameras etc in zipped bags under the seats and didn't worry about them getting stolen.
If you stay at a Disney hotel then you can have access to a "Magic Hour" so you can visit the park for an hour before it opens, hello no crowds and access to all the rides! We didn't get to this time as the Magic hours happens on certain days and we weren't there then, so double-check that before booking. We ended up stayng at a non Disney hotel since we couldnt use Magic Hour and those hotels are more exspesnive. Since we didnt plan on spending too much time at the hotel we didn't think it was neccesary to spend that extra cash.
Avoid weekends and public holidays - I feel like I don't even need to explain that.
Buy tickets online, saves you lining up at the park and those lines can be long. Don't want to be queuing before you even get in there.
If you plan on eating dinenr and having soem drinks - Alcoho is served at California Adventure Park - they dont accept forgein drivers licences as ID so you will need to take your passport if you want a beer at the end of the day!
Part two with my tips to skiing with Toddlers and our time in Mammoth and San Diego in the next few days....