Headed out West-Family Vacation 2019
We’ve just come home from an amazing 7 day trip out West. We flew over 1800 miles, drove almost 1000 miles in the car, saw 4 states, stayed in 4 different hotels, and visited some cities we’ve never experienced until now!
Here are the cities/places we went:
Los Angeles, California
Santa Monica, California
Las Vegas, Nevada
Drove through Utah to get to Arizona
Sites we saw and fun stuff we did along the way:
Griffith Observatory (although it was super foggy the morning we drove up there)
Disney’s El Capitan Theatre (where Jimmy Kimmel tapes his show)
Hollywood Walk of Fame
TMZ Celebrity Bus Tour-we saw tons of sites on this tour, including The Viper Room, The Ivy, Lisa Vanderpump’s Restaurants, lots of Hollywood hangout spots, the pink “Instagram wall”, Chateau Marmont, the Sunset Strip, Melrose, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and so much more!
The Beverly Hills hotel and neighborhoods in Beverly Hills (average price $4.4M)
Santa Monica Pier
The Vegas Strip-including The Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, the National Geographic Art Gallery, Buddy V’s aka “The Cake Boss” Restaurant-it was delish, The Mirage and lots of walking around to take in the sites.
The Beatles Love Show at the Mirage. This was seriously one of the highlights of our trip. The music, the costumes, the stage, the choreography, the scenery was breathtaking. The theater has 360º seating, so every seat in the house is amazing. All 4 of us agreed it was one of our most memorable parts of Vegas and this trip. I searched lots of ticket sites for the best deals. Buying our tickets directly from The Mirage’s website was by far the cheapest ticket.
Upper Antelope Canyon-led by a Navajo Guide. Words cannot describe the beauty of this place. If you go, make sure to make reservations well in advance and don’t forget to ask for our guide-Abraham. He took his time explaining the history, as well as teaching us how to use our Canon Rebel. (He helped us capture the images you see on the blog!)
Sedona-not our first trip here; because we have family in Phoenix, we’ve visited this city a few times. We stopped and had lunch at a quaint little restaurant that overlooks the airport in Sedona.
Papago-Hole in the Rock in Phoenix-a quick hike that all of our family enjoyed
A private tour of the Diamondbacks Stadium (thanks to a brother who works in MLB). We even got to see them ripping up the field to make way for the artificial turf they are laying down. (We can’t show pics, but it was unbelievable to watch it happen).
Los Angeles, California
Santa Monica Pier
Las Vegas, Nevada
Upper Antelope Canyon
Sedona and Phoenix, Arizona
Fun travel tips:
If I know far enough ahead of time about a trip, I set a Google Travel alert to come to my email. I put in parameters such as the day I’m flying and where I’m going. Then, if there is a price change-increase or decrease-I get an automatic email. We’re going to Jamaica this summer and I’ve had a travel alert set up for months waiting on the best flight price.
Rumor has it that Tuesday mornings are the best day for flight deals.
I am a HUGE Southwest fan. I try to fly that airline every single time. I love no baggage fees, no change fees, and just how easy it is to travel with them. I have a Rapid Rewards Account, and we flew for free out west!
If you travel a lot, I recommend getting a Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa. For any purchase you make, you get flight miles. If you pay it off every month, than you don’t have to worry about credit card fees. Plus, when you sign up, they usually offer a ton of free miles to use for free plane tickets.
We used Southwest.com to book our rental car. They have 8 different companies they work with on rental cars, and you usually get a great discount. Plus, you can easily compare 8 companies at one time to see which is the cheapest. Believe me, I researched rental cars on this trip because the prices were all over the board. I found that Southwest offered the best prices.
I use hotels.com to book most of our hotel travel. After 10 hotel nights, you get one free night. It’s essentially a rewards program, and I find that the prices are some of the best online. *Key tip-when you check into the hotel, ask if you can give them your hotel rewards number. Because hotels.com is owned by Expedia, you can’t put in your hotel rewards number when you book. But at every hotel I’ve ever stayed at, the front desk let’s me give them my rewards number for points. I tend to try to stay at Marriott or Hilton brand hotels so that I only have to keep up with 2 different hotel rewards.
When booking a hotel for travel, make sure to see if parking or breakfast is included. I learned this when I traveled for my corporate job. It’s usually not included in the price in big cities and can be more than $30/additional per day. Also, free breakfast is a great perk when you’re traveling with family. It’s a quick way to start the day!
If you are flying, especially with kids, buy your snacks for the plane ahead of time. Believe me, I’ve been in enough airports to know that a $6/bag of candy that costs $1 outside the airport is ridiculous. So, I pack travel-size bags of nuts, candy, gum and other things my kids will like. I put them in a large ziploc in my purse, so they are easily accessible when my kids are at the airport and hungry.
Pack an empty water bottle for everyone and have it with you at the airport. Most airports have water bottle filter stations now. So, if you pack an empty bottle (remember you can’t enter security with more than 3 oz) you can fill it up once you’re inside the airport and not have to buy a $5/bottle of airport water.
If you have a Kindle, load it up with free reads from your digital library card before you go. I learned this a long time ago, and it was a game changer. Because I like to read on planes, instead of carrying multiple books with me, I carry my slim Kindle in my purse and have all my books within easy access!