The reality of spring break being over has set in with the craziness of mornings and my dang to-do list staring at me! Oh, but it was a wonderful week! Seriously, one of the best. Which is funny because we did nothing flashy or extravagant. We didn’t even go to Disneyland. (gasp!) I know, I know I was sad about that too but I just wanted to pull up to our place for the week and not have to leave it until it was time to say goodbye. And that’s what we did.
Our days filled with beach, bike rides, eating, exploring along the pier, playing in the sand, gathering shells, more bike rides and more eating. I’d never stayed at a beach house steps from the sand before and it was perfect for the ages of my kids. Because we would go back and forth all day.
Our family needed this. Life was flying by and we needed this time to connect. You definitely don’t have to go to the beach to accomplish that, though it didn’t hurt. I think it’s hard when I work from home because I constantly have that pull to work on something. I felt more detached from stuff I needed to do and could focus on them.
I did have some down time when Myles was napping or the kids were getting ready for bike rides that I could use my art journal. It worked out great! Going to finish parts of it and share this week.
Summer is coming up and I wanted to share some tips. I could go on and on but here’s some things that stood out in my mind that hopefully will help some of you. Please leave a comment with any of your tips!
- Bring your bikes. Renting bikes at the beach is $8 an hour per bike and up to $35 a day that adds up like crazy. We only brought three and had to rent one for Collin when we all rode together. It actually wasn’t that much added work to bring them for the money that we saved. And we rode our bikes everyday we were there. I also love my WeeRide bike seat for Myles. I woke up cruised along the beach before bike rental places were even open so I am glad we brought ours. Bike racks for a hitch are anywhere from 100-150 depending on how nice and how many bikes you have. There are also bike rack options for car trunks. (PS If you make a stop at a hotel bring your bikes into the hotel room. Better safe than sorry. Plus, you can ride them through the casino like me did. ; ) We also brought a bike lock and brought our bikes into the beach house every night.)
- Start A Tradition. Ours is to get Hippo Cookies on Balboa Island at Dad’s Original Frozen Banana. We ride the ferry across the island in our car (You can get out and sit on the ferry too.) Then we drive to Dad’s and buy these colorful sprinkled hippo cookies. I am sure you’ve heard me talk about them before. We went our last night we were there and the girls reminded me of it everyday until we finally went there. Vacations are about memories and traditions stand out in children’s minds.
- Research online for activities before you go. That way you have options ready, addresses, costs and information so you don’t waste time doing that while you are on vacation. It might not be needed but it’s nice to have ready if there’s bad weather, kids are tired or sunburned or you feel like exploring.
- Pack lunches and snacks. Since we stayed at a beach house we made one trip to the grocery store upon arrival and bought enough for breakfast, lunch and snacks for the week. As well as a couple dinner ideas too. This helps with younger kids because they have the food they like and my kids are active running around the beach so they got hungry lots. Most hotels have small refrigerators too so you can at least have options for sandwiches, milk for breakfast and fruit etc. Even Disneyland let’s you bring in food. Which is great if you have picky eaters and people who get irritable when hungry, like me. ; )
We walked to dinner a couple nights. Our favorite was ordering take out and delivery the other nights to eat on the beach during the sunset. That was a lot more fun than a restaurant with small kids anyway.
- Organize clothes into outfits before you go. This saves you the headache from digging around the luggage. Even just wrap each outfit with a rubber band.
- Road Trip bags for each. Each kid had a small backpack at their feet in the car with coloring book, crayons and snacks. (Not drinks unless you want to stop every 30 mins.) Since we have DVDs that helps them to stay seated and happy for long hours but they even get tired of that. They loved coloring, reading and having a small prize in their bag.
- Road Trip prizes: Have a prize ready for small kids to open while they are driving to keep them happy. This works awesome for toddlers. One trip I had a small present for them to open every hour or if they were getting fussy.
- Offer fruit first instead of drinks. When one of my kids needed to go potty literally 5 minutes after we left our house I knew this would be a long trip…Instead of handing over a water bottle I gave them an apple slice or an orange. I still gave them drinks but just not every single time they said they were thirsty.
- Plan on incidentals in your budget. Don’t be a Debbie Downer and expect the worst but there usually are a few things that get lost, stolen or forgotten. We lost one flipflop, one scooter, sand toys and forgot one pillow.
- Don’t put all your pictures on one memory card. Bring two memory cards. After one of our vacations a DSLR card said that the files were corrupted. It was only a few pictures so it wasn’t tragic but if you plan on taking lots of digital picture maybe switch out your card mid-trip and put it somewhere safe so you don’t lose all your images if happens to go wrong.
- Day Bag: If you have to make a one night stop somewhere along your journey pack one bag with everyone’s change of clothes in it. We stay in Vegas on the way there and I always pack the kids pjs and change of clothes for the morning so I can just grab that one bag and keep it simple.
- Here are some fun places to visit in New Port Beach we found out before we arrived:
Crystal Cove State Park is a great place to explore tide pools and they even have cottages you can stay in. It’s a nice beach to spend a day at.
NewPort Dunes is a fun RV Resort. We were thinking of bringing our camper there sometime because there’s lots to do. In the summer months anyone can go there and watch a movie on the beach.
Balboa Island Fun Zone Boat Tours: We took a sunset boat trip Friday night. It was fun! The tour starts on the Newport Harbor where we saw newborn sea lions resting on rocks, celebrity homes like Shirley Temple & then we traveled out to the ocean. There we saw more sea lions and dolphins. The sunset was beautiful and it was a great evening activity. They’ve done this tour since 1948. It was about $34 for our whole family to go. Online you can use the code FRIDAY for 10/off adult tickets on Friday Night. They also have other fun cruises available. While you are at the Fun Zone on Balboa Island there is a ferris wheel and other activities.