California Road Trip: 5 Simple Secrets

California Road Trip: 5 Simple Secrets

Road tripping sounds easy right? Surely you just get a car and get on the road! Essentially yes, but here are 5 simple secrets that can keep your California road trip as easy as it sounds.

1. Car Hire for your Road Trip 

Bigger is always better in the US, so if you can afford it go for an SUV or a Minivan type affair. This gives you bags of room to spread out in and also gives you options when it’s time for nappy changes, ample room for food storage or napping space should you need it… for your children, obviously.

Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s any chance of a free upgrade. We got upgraded to a Chrysler Pacifica with a built in sat nav whilst we were out choosing a car from the parking lot. It was very late at night and we must have looked like zombies trying to contain two sleeping children whilst carting all our luggage around, so it might have been a pity upgrade, but we’re not complaining!

2. Google Maps App

Screenshot of what you might expect to see

Generally, hiring a sat nav is still a pretty expensive thing to do if the car you hire doesn’t have one built in. Don’t panic though! There is a better and free solution: download the Google Maps app from the App Store! Once you have it on your phone you can download sections of Google Maps on to your phone and then you can use it off line just like you would normally. Even though we had a sat nav in our car, I still downloaded a map and to be honest, I found it worked much better and I could be more accurate with it. When your finished with the maps delete them off your phone to free up the space again.


 Here are some other road trip planner apps for you to check out

3. Booking Hotel Rooms on the Road

For us, a road trip usually means we fly by the seat of ones pants, meaning we don’t know where we are gong or where we are going to stay till about 24 hours before hand. Sounds expensive right? Wrong! We do our best to be as thrifty as possible and get the best deals available so this time I used the app and also one called Freehotelcoupon.

For a nights stay with two queen beds and an occupancy of four we were paying between $60 and $130 a night using the two apps mentioned. We could have made this even cheaper, but we chose a beach side hotel and a hotel in a marina which meant we paid a little more. I did notice by using the Freehotelcoupon app our rooms were often upgraded so we had some really nice stays through this one.

4. Lunch from Breakfast

One of my favourite things about a California road trip is the continental breakfast hotels offer. My word! There is always so much food and they nearly always have my absolute favourite thing of all time – a waffle iron! I am always bitterly disappointed if they don’t have one. I have even seen them produce waffles in the shape of the state we are in! Amazing! Anyway, I digress. The point is you can take some of this stuff with you and make a lunch from it if you know you don’t have anything or have a big drive or just want some car snacks for the little ones like a yoghurt, fruit cup or pre made waffle!

5. Patience

Make sure you and your partner have lots of patience for each other. Driving in a different country can be stressful and as the driver or the navigator you are bound to make mistakes – we do, believe me! Do your best to forget them quickly and just keep going. It always works out in the end and some might say it’s not about the destination but the journey… unless your three year old is desperate for the toilet, then there definitely needs to be a destination!

Looking for road trip inspiration? Here’s a 10 day Californian road trip that everyone will enjoy!


Also, get pro-active on these self-drive pitfalls when planning a road trip around LA

Rental car information for LA
Rental car information for LA

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Love this post! Some great helpful advice here 🙂

  2. Good tips. I find Google Maps magnificent and I don’t understand why people still bother with sat navs. That said I’ve been sent wrong a few times. Part of the adventure. I agree 100% with you on the breakfast, go all out and skip lunch. I’ve done that many times. Thanks for sharing

    1. Those hotel breakfasts are my achilles heel!

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