At the and of October we did a family trip to Southern California. I chronicled that trip in a series of blog posts starting here. During our time down there we had a number of tricks that improved our experience and made some new one that would have if we had had them before.
1. Remind your children what to do if lost and how to identify an employee.
Philip got lost of the third day of our trip. The full story is here: Our Southern California Vacation Day 3. The take away from this was that Philip did the right thing and found an employee. He did that because we had made a point of stopping and talking to the kids that morning, mostly for Ian, about what to do if they are lost. For Mommy and Daddy we didn’t do things right. We should not have separated and instead gone straight to an employee as a group. Second being from Canada there was a reluctance to use our cell phones because of roaming charges. I should have called her as soon as I had Philip. She also didn’t call me until she was desperate for the same reason.
2. Research the food options before going.
There is good food to be found at the parks. It is always going to be expensive but at least you will feel like you got more for you money. I do like my burgers but having them everyday is not an option. Some pre-planning meant that we got some good pasta and Chinese and some excellent Souvlaki. The website that I used was: Allears.net but there are more sites our there. Just Google “where to eat in ________” and insert the park name.
3. Try to limit food to lupper.
What is Lupper you ask. It is my families name for combining lunch and supper. We found with having a large breakfast at the buffet in the morning we were not hungry until later in the afternoon. Sometimes we had a snack of something while waiting in line. For the most part we ate lupper around 3pm and then had a snack or dessert around 7pm. It saved us money by cutting out a meal. The kids ate more of what was on their plate and the line ups were almost non-existent at those odd hours.
4. Use the fastpass system.
Using the Fastpass system meant that we were able to get on more rides in the day. Pick a ride that has Fastpass and a long line and get a pass. Then go and ride on something with little or no line and go back at your appointed time. Some rides that have Fastpass go fast, first thing in the morning. For us that was Radiator Springs Racers. We did get passes for it but it was luck the first day rather than planning.
5. Plan a rest day.
This is one that we didn’t do but should have. We went as late as we could at Disneyland and then went and got on a train for San Diego and did the Zoo the next morning. We should have added a travel/rest day in there. We would have been able to stay at the park later and not feel rushed. I wouldn’t have been worried about missing the train. We would have been able to see the sights between Anaheim and San Diego. As it was it was dark outside the entire trip. We also really need to rest for a day to recover our energy.
6. Research ground transportation, taxi costs, shuttle busses and so forth.
We didn’t research this one very well. We had planned one using buses a lot but we end up in taxis more often. Cost wise I think we save more on breakfast that we spent on taxis. I hadn’t counted on 5 suitcases. The trains worked well but they are meant for commuters and thus the door are not open for long. Getting off with 5 suitcase and three kids at 10pm is a challenge. Philip was a great help there. Margaret too. We also got ripped off by inadvertently getting a per person shuttle rather than a real taxi. More of our ‘taxi’ misadventure is at: Our Southern California Vacation Day 6.
7. Travel in the off season if possible
Since we homeschool we could choose to go whenever we wanted. I am going to shorten Christmas break by a week. My wife has to work anyways so they are not going to miss anything. Being away from the holidays and the traditional times meant much less crowds.
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