California with Children: 6 Tips for Proper Planning
A road trip through the Golden State offers plenty of opportunities for a perfect family vacation – especially if pieces of the puzzle come together correctly and you plan your trip in advance! We’ll give you tips on how to keep the fun quota high and the stress level as low as possible:
#1 It never hurts to layer
The temperature differences in California can be surprisingly drastic: between sun-drenched areas in the south and mountainous, rugged areas in the central part of the state, it’s best to travel around with multiple layers of clothing to be prepared for any temperature. If you are traveling for a longer period of time and do not want to take your entire closet with you, you can use one of the countless, inexpensive laundromats available on the road.
#2 Pack enough sunscreen
The Californian sun will be a constant companion, whether you’re on a road trip in the summer or a ski vacation in the winter. A high SPF is necessary because the sun here can be aggressive. Especially if you’re spending a lot of time in nature and traveling with children or a baby, you should take extra precautions with sun protection and appropriate sun clothing.
#3 Book campsites in time
Of course, the perfect campground will make your family vacation an unforgettable experience! However, keep in mind that you can’t stay free everywhere in California and campsites should be booked well in advance when possible. Popular sites in state parks and national parks are sometimes booked months in advance. You’ll want to avoid the problem of last-minute campsite searching with kids in the backseat.
#4 Stress-free theme park trips
California is a paradise for theme parks of all kinds and a sure bet for happy kids. However, such a visit can quickly end in stress! It’s best to buy tickets directly online, find out about Express Pass offers to avoid long lines, and bring your own snacks with you to avoid spoiling the mood with the sometimes horrendous prices of the food.
Tip: It is always best to visit theme parks on weekdays!
#5 Junior Ranger Programs in the National Parks
Even though the national parks are often a big enough adventure for the little ones, the free resources, games, and activities from the junior ranger programs provide additional possibilities to explore nature in a playful and entertaining way. You can get these either by asking at visitor centers or by downloading them online in advance. Maybe this is the start of a ranger career?
#6 Allow for enough time
In a state like California that offers so much (national parks, amusement parks, beaches, and mountains) it’s easy to want to cram too many stops into your road trip. But remember, especially when traveling with kids, everything takes a little longer. Keep in mind, that many highlights in California are very interactive, so kids will be well entertained. Worst case scenario, you have to come and visit California for a second time!