I’ve had and long and happy association with the United States of America. Through family, friends and work I’ve been lucky enough to visit 14 states, including living and working in California and Florida. The sorry state of politics aside (all of my American friends and acquaintances are appalled by the current situation), I’ve a fondness for the US and its people. From the chilled-out coastal vibes in California, to the frentic rush and confidence of New York, to the vast emptiness of Montana and Arizona, the US really does offer something for anyone.
Our last trip to America was merely a stopover on the way to New Zealand in 2011. Happily my wonderful godmother lives in Santa Monica. She is always so generous with her welcome. We stayed with her for a couple of days with our then 3-month-old son to rest up from travelling. It also gave me the opportunity to revisit some old haunts and catch up with friends.
Our next trip to America’s west coast will be rather different. We’ll be entering the country from Canada, with the length of the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) in our sights. The road will take us through Washington State, Oregon and California (adding two new states to my checklist), and even down through Baja California, which is actually in Mexico. We’ll pass through some great cities, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. We’ll also have to work out which of the great national parks and natural sites to visit from such a wealth of choice – Yosemite, Big Sur, Joshua Tree – and do we take a detour to visit the Grand Canyon? We will definitely plan to spend some extra days in Santa Monica to take time out from endless travelling.
Taking a break
From all the travelling blogs I’ve read, there are a few key messages that I hear over and over again. The first is how important it is to have a break from time on the road. We’ll be able to do this in Santa Monica where we know we’ll be welcomed into my godmother’s home. We’ll probably take up to a week here to truly give ourselves time to regroup and look ahead to the next stage. I actually came across an insta post this morning from @carpediemourway reminding me the importance of letting the kids have downtime. Their post showed a picture of a kid playing in a pool. As we were reminded on our recent Spanish holiday (see previous blog), a pool is the perfect place for our kids to let loose and relax.
The second key message, especially when travelling with kids, is to stick to some kind of routine. This will be especially important to us as I feel it’s the best way to bring some formal learning into our journey. They will be learning all the time from the experience, and we’ll make special efforts to go to museums and other sites which feed their minds, but we will have to keep up with the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. The best way for us to do this will be to carve out time most days to fulfill certain tasks. I’d be keen to find out how other family travellers have worked this into their days on longer trips. Do tell!
How will we travel? Will it be a classic Winnebago, will it be a big, brash car? Will we rent for the duration, or will we buy and sell at the end of the road? If we go with the car option, where will we stay? So many questions to address, and budget will be a key driver. Tell me about your experiences. What do you recommend?