Home » Trip Interview: Adventurous Family of Four takes a West Coast Road Trip!

Trip Interview: Adventurous Family of Four takes a West Coast Road Trip!

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This summer, a lot of families took to the roads and we saw an uptick of domestic travel. There are so many places still on my bucket list of travel, so when I saw that my friend Amanda had done an epic 2,700 miles of the West Coast with her family this summer, I had to pick her brain and get some tips for you! Here’s our interview:

Ok, so was this a typical family trip or was a big road trip something new for you?

We always go to the same beach every year with my husband’s family. Then we do long weekends to the mountains but usually with friends. We love the Virginia creeper trail in the fall. But once a year,during summer break, we try to do just our family. We have been doing road trips for the last six years (minus 2020) due to Covid.

Wow! So you’re a pro! So who was on this trip with you and have you done a road trip to this area before?

The kids and I had never been to this area. My husband Elliot had done part of this road trip with his family almost 25 years ago, when he was my son Lucas’ age. This trip was just me, my husband and our two kids, Lucas (13) and Emma (11).

Now, how did you fit this all into just over 2 weeks? You live on the East Coast and it takes days to get out there.

When you’re doing a road trip, 2700 miles is a lot- especially when you wanna love your family afterwards! I think flying to your destination and then renting the car and then flying back home is the best option. The car gives you the freedom to drive where you want to and the flying eliminates a lot of miles in the car and Saves time. We flew into Seattle, rented a car from there and drove down the coast and then flew out of L.A. to head home.

Perfect, a fly/drive combo. That’s smart! So give us a rundown of your itinerary…

We were gone 15 days (originally it was for 16 we decided to come home a day early). We visited three states (Washington, Oregon and California) We drove 2,700 miles and hiked over 45 miles! We hit all the major national parks (Olympic, Mount St Helens, crater lake, redwoods, Sequoia‘s, Kings Canyon, Yosemite). Flew into Seattle, rented a car and drove all the way down the coast and flew out of LA. We hit some of the state parks also (Smith Rock state park, Jedediah state park, Russian gulch). And we also did three major cities (Seattle, San Francisco, and LA). We went rafting on the White Salmon River.

That sounds action packed! What’s one tip you have to staying on track and fitting in everything you wanted to do?

We used the road trippers (plus) app to plan our entire trip. It maps out all the points along your route :points of interest, hotels, restaurants, and it tells you the distance between the points and the time it will take. It is an absolute must for a road trip!

We like to keep it real here and talk about both the ups and downs of the trip. Did you run into any issues?

The only issue we had was at the rental car place. They wanted to give us a smaller size car than we thought we had chosen. You want a Lot of space when you’re living in a car for two weeks! Fortunately, eventually, they were able to find us a suitable vehicle. The four of us ended up with a Chevrolet Traverse, which worked well size wise.

You mention living in the car for two weeks. Did you guys camp?

We stayed in hotels every night! We are not an RV family. I think having that much time in a car on a road trip is enough time in a cramped space. I like a hot shower, a nice bed, and not having to worry with any of the hook up hassle of a camper. We also move so much that Airbnb‘s are not really an option. The most we stayed at any place was two nights. Airbnb‘s usually require a minimum of 2 to 3 night stay. We use the hotels.com app to book all of our bookings months in advance. We only had one lodging, the Timberline hotel at Mount Hood, that we had to do online on their website.

I know you’re a very active family- so tell me about your favorite part of the trip…

Sometimes it just feels like the universe is on our side. We did a hike at Smith Rock State Park, a Trail called Misery Ridge. The kids thought it was appropriately name. But, it was on the shady side of the mountain at the time a day we arrived! It would’ve been close to 100 during the sunny time of the day so the timing worked out perfectly.

I love the spontaneous things that happen when we just allow ourselves to take it in. The river that the kids got to jump in and cool off one evening in Kings Canyon was a great memory for me. The crystal clear water was freezing cold!

Any other tips to families planning something like this?

We always have a plan but being flexible allows for things to just fall in place! Never take it too seriously!! And also use this as a time to educate your kids! Fortunately for us, my husband is awesome with dates and names and he can recall lots of historical events. We talked constantly on our trip, on our hikes, and even quizzed the kids afterwards so that they hopefully one day will be able to recall some of these awesome things that we saw. Also, It’s a requirement in our family to read all the signs at the national parks.

We also bought a cooler upon our arrival at Walmart. We stocked this was sandwiches for lunches and fruit and snacks. When you are in national parks food can be hard to find or super expensive. The last thing you want is hangry people stuck in the car an hour away from food. But, by the second week we were all tired of sandwiches!

P.S. At the end of your trip there is always someone at the last hotel you stayed at or at the rental car place that is happy to take your cooler so you do not have to worry with it or throw it away. Talk about a $$$ and time saver!!!

There is so much good info available in the parks. What would you say you struggled with?

We had a couple days where we had to drive 3+ hours. My husband planned it so that he did not drive more than four hours day. But traffic happens!! This might be TMI but it always seems that the kids need to use the bathroom at the most inappropriate times, at the most secluded wilderness area with no facilities . Let’s just say they got to be professionals in using the restroom in the woods. But let’s be real…it’s a life skill! Our kids are 11 and 13 so it was not all harmony and love. We had to play the quiet game a couple times. Lol!! “Normal” life doesn’t stop on vacation

So true! How about Bloopers?

We had a pretty smooth trip this time! We did however run into a few things where the times were different than what was posted on the Internet. I think most of this had to do with Covid. At Mount Hood we wanted to ride the chairlift up to the top and we thought it closed at 5 but it closed earlier than that. We also had an encounter with the restaurant we all had agreed to eat! Once we arrived we found out that the restaurant was closed due to staffing issues but they had not changed that on Google We do have lots of stories that we laugh about! We call it “the top 10 idiots”. And I think we all four are included in that list!. The whole family got a pretty good laugh once they figured out I was OK in Olympic national Park. We were on a hike on the beach called “the hole in the wall”. I was walking to get to ..the hole in the wall …when I slipped on a rock and fell. As I was falling, I slid down the rock and took out an eight-year-old girl. She fell on her bottom. Everyone was OK but My pride was shattered! You can imagine what fun a 13-year-old has laughing at their mother. FYI that wasn’t the top five.

Amanda, thank you so much for answering my questions and sharing your trip with us! This will hold me over until I can get out there myself and I know we will all enjoy your amazing photos!

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