I Will Drive 500 Miles...A Family of 5--and a Dog--Do California by Car (Part 1)

Aug 14, 2017
Bleisure: mixing a work trip with leisure. It's an appealing concept for those of us who travel on business -- tacking on a day here and there to expand our experience on the road. And more and more of us are doing it: Travel Weekly's 2016 Consumer Trends Report showed a 6% bump in bleisure trips since 2012.

The 'bleisure' trip has become increasingly easier to pull off, mainly thanks to our connectivity -- we're able to remain productive even when out of the office. There's also growing acceptance of the notion that positive personal experiences, even in the form of a little travel, can make us better employees. But for U.S. workers, what 'bleisure' does best is ease that disheartening realization that we don't take enough time off -- certainly a lot less time off than much of the rest of the world. Our friends at Project: Time Off say Americans left 662 million vacation days unused in 2016. And vacation usage is declining: we took an average of 16.8 off days in 2016, compared to 20.3 in 2000.

Even if in doses, 'bleisure' trips provide a break from work, and they allow us to enjoy more of the healthy, happy perks that follow.

When it hit me just how quickly summer was winding down, and how soon my boys would be heading back to school, a 'bleisure' trip became our big summer family vacation. I used two scheduled work stops in San Diego and San Francisco as bookends, and the 500 miles of gorgeous California coastline in between became our destination.

We’ve done drives up and down the Golden State before. This would be our longest to date with our children in tow – our sons, ages 11 and 9, our daughter, age 2, and Milo, our 5-year-old golden retriever. A lot of moving parts!

And we're off!
  • Tip: Involve your kids in planning your family road trip as much as possible. That way everyone’s got skin in the game.
We broke our trip into four stops, based on locations of Kimpton hotels. The sleek boutique hotel brand is famous among pet owners: no pet fees and pet amenities that include food bowls, gourmet treats and recognition by name on chalkboard signs by the front door. Kimpton is famous among sophisticated travelers, too, for its pervasively hip vibe, upscale restaurant partners at each property and one of the best loyalty programs in the industry (think personalized amenities upon arrival, like wine and chocolate and cheese platters). Travelzoo features exclusive deals at Kimpton hotels across the U.S. regularly.
  • Tip: Forgot your toothbrush? What about a lint roller, or nail clippers, or fashion tape, or contact lens solution? Kimpton hotels offer guests a slew of travel amenities for free.
Our adventures (which we dubbed #saglieadventures on social media) lasted seven days, and were broken up into four major stops. We began in San Diego, which went something like this…

Starting Line: San Diego (1 night)

Our first afternoon got us checked in to the Hotel Palomar San Diego, a slick and spacious property in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, downtown’s entertainment epicenter. There are more than 200 restaurants, bars and shops, even the waterfront, within walking distance. Milo was happy here: Horton Plaza and Petco Park, both near the Palomar, feature grassy patches and several poop bag dispensers.
  • Tip: 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Gaslamp Quarter, so look for special events throughout the year.
The beauty of San Diego is that it is, in essence, a tapestry of myriad neighborhoods – unique destinations with unique personalities. We people-watched at the Palomar’s complimentary nightly 5pm wine hour before flagging an Uber ride to Ocean Beach, a laid back haven for beach lovers with a vivacious, even bohemian, evening scene. Our dinner at the new Ocean Beach Surf Lodge was great: The cheeseburger sliders on the kids’ menu got thumbs-up, and my “Everything Salmon,” with its nutty crust and side of creamy polenta, was delicious. We took a stroll on the sand and shared candy for dessert at Beach Sweets.

We headed to the pool before checking out the next day. Located on the fourth-floor rooftop, it features views of the buzzy streets below, a bar and even music pumped underwater! There was a DJ spinning tunes when we were there, too.

Cool hangout: the pool at the Hotel Palomar San Diego

...Coming up: Part 2 of our California road trip -- a visit to Huntington Beach!

For more images from our California road trip, check out #saglieadventures. For more travel tips, follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And for deals to make your next road trip easier to budget and plan, become a Travelzoo member today!

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