In the fall of 2008, Brooke and I, newly parents of our second daughter, floated a dream that one day we would take month-long vacations. First, we wanted to be able to really experience a location, have enough time to visit all the sites. Second, we had recently returned from a week-long Disney Cruise and I observed that around day 5 or so, you start to notice this enveloping feeling of euphoria, a deeper stage of vacation relaxation; where you are comfortable enough with your surroundings that your mind no longer has to focus as much effort on learning and adapting, but instead can focus solely on enjoyment and time spent together as a family. At this stage, your trappings at home, work related stress and other concerns have been muted. Maybe some of these feelings were purposefully implanted by Disney, but in any case, I felt that there is more to gain from longer vacations and tapping into this emotional stage. Third, we love to travel and being able to do it for month would be fantastic. Fourth, we know that children that travel more are smarter, more socially aware, accepting and more easily adaptable. Now, we were faced with four major hurdles in order to accomplish this.
- How do we afford such trips?
- How do we arrange for our kids to go on trips like this with us?
- How do I collect enough vacation time to take a month off?
- What do we do with our dog?
One of the biggest hurdles was the cost, but with some planning and scrimping, we were getting close, but it was taking a long time. Just after our 10 year wedding anniversary, I decided to upgrade Brooke’s rings and she helped pick out her dream set. After having it resized and then trying it on, however, she decided that she would rather spend that money on our California trip and create family memories than to have a material possession such as this when she liked her current rings well enough. We eventually worked out the other hurdles and in 2015 began making travel plans and reservations for our first month-long trip, a road trip in California! The dates of the trip shifted slightly throughout planning and the direction in which we were traveling (we changed from South to North to North to South), but the winter and spring of 2016 had us heavily into travel planning and other arrangements. Finally, on June 21, 2016, we arrived at the Tampa Airport (TPA) and flew out to San Francisco (SFO) by way of Saint Louis (STL) on Southwest Airlines. Our trip began and I began to document our experience for our future enjoyment.
A big thank you is due to my cousin and best friend, Graham, who house and pet sitted while we were gone and this trip would not have been possible if he had not volunteered to do so.
When we returned, family and friends also asked for details of our experience and I shifted that documentation online through simple pictures and eventually that evolved to this blog. Find the log of our fantastic trip below, listed by date and let me know what you think! I have starred the days that particularily stood out to us!
June 21: TPA to SFO
June 22: San Francisco, CA *
June 23: San Francisco, CA
June 24: San Francisco, CA *
June 25: San Francisco, CA to Yosemite
June 26: Columbia, CA
June 27: Yosemite *
June 28: Yosemite
June 29: Yosemite to Monterey, CA
June 30: Carmel, CA *
July 1: Monterey, CA to San Simeon, CA
July 2: San Simeon, CA to Studio City, CA *
July 3: Studio City, CA
July 4: Santa Monica, CA & Studio City, CA *
July 5: Huntington Beach, CA *
July 6: Los Angeles, CA
July 7: Los Angeles, CA
July 8: Santa Monica, CA *
July 9: Los Angeles, CA *
July 10: Studio City, CA to La Jolla, CA
July 11: San Diego, CA *
July 12: San Diego, CA *
July 13: San Diego, CA
July 14: San Diego, CA to Sedona, AZ
July 15: Grand Canyon *
July 16: Sedona, AZ to PHX to TPA
By the numbers (I am a stats guy, so this stuff is extra interesting to me):
- We stayed at 4 different hotels, all two nights or less.
- We stayed at 5 different vacation home / town homes, all of which were two bedrooms.
- We spent a total of $2,276.49 on food, an average of $14.60 per person per day. Of that, 34% was spent on groceries and 66% was spent on eating out. We weren’t very strict with budgeting here, but did not fare too badly. We definitely could have shifted more of the spending toward groceries which was certainly cheaper.
- We spent $490.24 on fuel and drove approximately 2,400 miles, a cost of $0.20 per mile.
- We were able to save a lot of money on attractions and events by utilizing our MOSI reciprocal pass and Emily’s 4th grade National Park pass, along with spending a lot of time at free outdoor places like the beach and playgrounds.
- Our estimated savings by using the 4th grade National Park pass was $75 ($20 for Muir Woods, $30 for Yosemite, $25 for Grand Canyon).
- Our estimated savings by using the MOSI reciprocal pass was $356 ($84 at Discovery Science Center in Sausalito, $78 at Kidspace in Pasadena, $86 at theNAT in San Diego, $108 at Fleet Science Center in San Diego)
- We saved up my airlines miles from business traveling, along with purposeful (and disciplined) credit card miles to cut down the cost of the flight as well.
- We were able to use my business contacts to save on the rental car as well.