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Our California Road Trip

California road trip

We enjoyed a seventeen day California road trip travelling on the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to San Diego. I have combined all my highlights, trips and destination guides in this post. I hope you enjoy it!

The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the world’s most iconic road trips and once you drive it you will know why. Not only is the drive itself spectacular, but to see so many dream destinations on one trip, is pretty cool too. We visited San Francisco, Monterrey, Cambria, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and Los Angeles before chilling out on the beach in San Diego for our last few days. Needless to say there were so many highlights and so many tips and tricks that I couldn’t possibly put them all in one post, but check out my short video here and read all my posts below.

Learn all about biking the bridge in San Francisco and the not so pretty Fishermans Wharf. Find out the best places to stop on route and the best things to do with kids in California. I also have a post on tips for driving the Pacific Coast Highway to make the most out of your holiday.

The Streets of San Francisco – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.

 

San Francisco – Biking The Bridge!

 

12 things to do with kids in California

 

Top Tips for Driving the Pacific Coast Highway

 

The Best Places To Stop On The Pacific Coast Highway

I hope you enjoy my posts and they help you with your California road trip plans.

 

 

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The Worlds Best Road Trips – Prices from €1429 Including Flights, Hotels & Car Hire.

road trip

From California to Cape Town, Christchurch to Canada, check out the worlds best road trips and get planning your next adventure.

 

I spent a month driving through France and Italy, drove the PCH from San Francisco to San Diego, the Garden Route in South Africa and even drove Sydney to Byron Bay – as you can see, I’m a big fan of road trips! I love visiting different places. Having a car ensures you go off the beaten track and experience places you may not have seen otherwise.

However, while I like the freedom a car brings, I also like to pre-book accommodation so I don’t have to spend my valuable vacation time searching for somewhere to stay. Having your itinerary mapped out and hotels booked also ensures you actually get to all the places on your ‘to do list! I have teamed up with Tropical Sky who through their various brands including, American Sky, Canadian Sky and Australian Sky, offer a wide selection of self drive road trips and escorted tours to destinations all over the world. Here are five of their best road trips, all with flights, hotels and car hire included.

 

 

South Africa: Cape Town, Winelands and Eastern Cape Safari

best road trips

We went to South Africa for our honeymoon and loved it so much we went back at Easter with the kids! On this trip you will stay in one world’s greatest cities, visit the magnificent wine region and hopefully see the Big 5 in one of South Africa’s best Game Reserves. In between all this you can be adventurous and paraglide off the top of Table Mountain or go shark diving! If that’s not your thing, just spend a day chilling out on one of South Africa’s amazing beaches.

This luxury road trip includes flights, car hire, a four night stay in Cape Town and a three night stay in Stellenbosch, before catching a flight to Port Elizabeth for a three night stay in the five star Shamwari Game Reserve. You will be staying in luxury hotels throughout and on safari you will have two game drives per day and meals included. You can add on extra nights if you wish, Tropical Sky will tailor make an itinerary to suit you.

Price from €4209 – click here for more details:

 

 

 

13 Night Great Parks Of  Western Canada

best road trips

Vancouver, the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Jasper, Whistler – this road trip is firmly at the top of my bucket list! Hike, cycle, try white water rafting or kayaking, Canada will make you want to get active and bring out the nature lover in you. You begin your holiday in Vancouver before setting off to explore the magnificent Canadian National Parks. Explore the Okanagan Valley and Glacier National Park before spending two nights in the resort town of Banff. Visit Lake Louise, one of the world’s most spectacular lakes. Stay in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Jasper and explore the largest National Park in the Rockies. Go hiking, white water rafting or check out the Japer SkyTram for stunning views from the top of the mountains. Drive through the Yellowhead Pass and enjoy a host of outdoor activities in the celebrity town of Whistler. This 13 night road trip will allow you experience the best of Western Canada. Price includes flights, car hire, 3 nights in Vancouver, 1 night in Penticton and Revelstoke, 2 nights in Banff, Jasper, 100 Mile House, and Whistler.  You will also receive a personalised Canada Roadbook, containing essential travel information featuring overview notes, local sightseeing and attractions, daily itinerary highlights, provincial maps with city guides and customised day-by-day routing maps.

Price from €2129  – click here for more details.

 

 

 

13 Night California & Las Vegas – Best of the West

best road trips

I drove the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to LA last year and loved it, but this trip is even better! The Best of the West road trip includes Arizona and Nevada too. It combines the coastal towns of Santa Barbara and Monterrey with the jaw dropping cities of LA and San Francisco, the natural landscape of Death Valley with the dazzling lights of Las Vegas. Visit Alcatraz, cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge or hang out in Hollywood. You can go designer shopping in Palm Springs and take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. This trip also allows you to see the spectacular rock formations in Yosemite National Park. This 13 night trip includes flights, car hire, 2 nights Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco, 1 night in Palm Springs, Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, Monterey and Ventura. You will also receive a welcome kit with maps and a day-today itinerary. Add on extra nights or make the trip shorter by flying home from San Francisco. Like all of these road trips, Tropical Sky can tailor make an itinerary to suit you.

Price from €2059 – click here for more details.

 

 

 

22 Night, Grand New Zealand Road Trip

best road trips

Spend over three weeks exploring the islands of New Zealand on this once in a life time road trip! Explore the vibrant city of Auckland before setting off to to see the magnificent Bay of Islands. Travel through the wilderness of Waipoua Forest and Rotorua, the heart of Maori culture. Marvel at the geysers, waterfalls and overall thermal activity and enjoy a traditional Maori dinner. En route to Wellington you can visit the Lord of the Rings territory before taking a scenic boat trip to the South Island. Go whale watching in Kaikoura and enjoy some wine tasting in the Waipara Valley before arriving in Christchurch. Take the Milford Sound Nature Cruise, cutting through the fiords in search of dolphins, seals and penguins. Drive south past wineries, glaciers and breathtaking scenery to the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown, your home for two nights. Skydive, bungee jump, go white water rafting, you name it, it’s in Queenstown. Visit the Franz Josef Glacier before ending your trip on the iconic Tranz Alpine Scenic Train back to Christchurch. The price below includes flights, car hire including insurance, GPS, ferry / terminal fees, motel accommodation and a tour pack with detailed driving instructions, maps and guide books. When you click on the link the price will show at €2699, which is excluding flights. If you wish to add or reduce the number of nights on this itinerary, talk to the staff in Australian Sky and they will tailor make an itinerary to suit you.

Price from €4589 – Click here for more details.

 

 

 

 

11 Night, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island & Adelaide.

best road trips

The Great Ocean Road is no doubt one of the world’s most iconic coastal drives and many say is was the inspiration for our own Wild Atlantic Way. You will begin your journey in the dynamic city of Melbourne where you can soak up Australian city life for three nights before embarking on your road trip.  Your first stop will be Torquay, the surfing capital of Australia before driving onwards to famous Bells Beach and spending a night in Apollo Bay. Drive along the Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell passing the iconic Twelve Apostles and discovering the London Bridge. You can then choose the short route to Robe or choose to drive via the Grampians National Park, both options offering stunning scenery and interesting attractions. Drive along the coast to Coorong National Park past Lake Alexandria and Lake Albert before arriving at the seaside town, Victor Harbour. Walk across the Causeway and explore Granite Island. Take the car ferry to the unique Kangaroo Island and enjoy two days with the native kangaroos, koalas and sea lions! You will finish your journey in Adelaide where you will have two days to explore this city of culture. The price below includes flights, accommodation and car hire but when you click on the link the price will show at €1299, which is excluding flights. If you wish to add on stays in other Australian cities, talk to the staff in Australian Sky and they will tailor make an itinerary to suit you.

 Price from €2299 – click here for more details.

 

This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own.
 

 

 

Like long haul travel ? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

America

Family California Fly Drive, Flights, Car Hire & Hotels, 2ad & 2ch, €4116!

family car

Driving the California Coast is probably the most iconic road trip in the world. You will experience classical cities, pretty towns, pacific coast beaches and incredible national parks. Take the kids on a California fly drive and have a holiday of a lifetime!

 

Our California fly drive holiday was one of our best family holidays to date! I originally thought I would drive it in a convertible, with Tom Petty playing loudly on the stereo, instead we had an SUV, the Zootropolis soundtrack and two kids in tow! What struck me the most though was how well the whole experience suited children. I recall in San Francisco how we had to have ‘the talk’ with the kids, about how a visit to Alcatraz was something Mum and Dad really wanted to do. We just assumed it wouldn’t be ‘their thing’. On the contrary, they were in and out of jail cells, enjoying treasure hunts and they got junior ranger badges at the end of their visit. This was typical of most attractions in California, even the ones that were not supposed to be child friendly!

california fly drive

Since our trip last year, I have had numerous emails from families asking me how to book it. It seemed that most California fly drive holidays are priced for couples, but I found this great deal with American Sky for a family of four, which includes flights, SUV car hire and hotels. This is an eight-night itinerary but you can add nights on at any time throughout your stay. Include a few days in San Francisco, the National Parks or have more beach time at the end,  just ask one of the dedicated sales staff and they will organise it for you.

This itinerary starts in San Francisco where you will enjoy a two-night stay. Visit Alcatraz and bike the bridge, two of our favourite things to do in San Francisco with kids! After a busy few days, you will move on to Monterey, where you will stay for two nights in the 5-star Intercontinental The Clement Monterey. The pretty town of Monterey has an historic seafront with a miniature Fisherman’s Wharf. It is also home to one of the world’s best Aquarium – my kids loved it.

california fly drive

You will then drive the Central Coast to Cambria. Drive through the Big Sur, over Bixby bridge and see the seals at the elephant seal rookery at San Simeon. There are thousands of seals playing right in front of you, it’s an amazing sight. We also visited Hearst Castle which is located just minutes from your hotel in Cambria, a fascinating tour, that the kids enjoyed too. From there you will drive to the upmarket town of Santa Barbara, where you will overnight before moving on to Anaheim for your remaining three nights.

california fly drive

Anaheim is a great reward for the kids after the week long drive along the coast. Disney has two parks here, Disneyland Resort and California Adventure and don’t miss my personal favourite, Universal Studios. See the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Transformers and the Minions – this truly is a kids paradise!  If you have more time you can drive further south to San Diego and visit Legoland, SeaWorld or enjoy some more beach time. Read my blog for more info on things to do with kids in California.

california fly drive

This package price of €4116 includes flights to San Francisco and return from Los Angeles, an SUV car rental with fully inclusive insurance, and ten nights hotel accommodation, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing. Want a longer trip? Talk to the expert staff in American Sky and they will tailor make an itinerary to suit you.  Remember the kids wont be going on holidays with you for long, take them on a California Fly drive and you will have a holiday of a lifetime!

 

View offer here

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by American Sky but all views, as always are my own 😎

 

Like Family Holidays? See more here!

 

Sarah

 

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Canadian Rockies Fly Drive, Flights, Hotels & Car Hire, €1519!

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Always wanted to try a Canadian Rockies fly drive? This is the year to do it! Canada is celebrating its 150th Birthday so entrance is free to all the National Parks, the favourable exchange rate with Euro makes it excellent value for money and Lonely Planet has voted Canada as the number 1 country to visit in 2017!

 

Canada is the world’s 2nd largest country, so holiday options are endless, but despite the great cities, its Canada’s majestic landscape that captivates visitors.  Surrounded by the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans and an interior full of jaw dropping lakes and rivers, Canada is a land of natural wonder. You will want to hike, cycle, go kayaking or even camp, Canada will bring out the nature lover in you.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

I have chosen a Canadian Rockies fly drive, an iconic trip with a lifetime of memories to be made, but is surprisingly still excellent value. With wide, well-signposted roads and English speaking natives, this is a fantastic way to explore the Canadian countryside. You will fly to Calgary and have a quick overnight in a hotel before setting off on your magical adventure through the Rockies. Your first stop is the famous Banff National Park. Visit Lake Louise, one of the world’s most spectacular lakes. It’s dramatic setting, a glacial lake with thick forests and snowy mountains – this is the Rockies perfect picture postcard. Explore the incredible countryside and relax in their hot springs before enjoying a meal in the resort town of Banff. It’s boutique shops and trendy restaurants are welcome alternative to the countryside.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

Drive one of the world’s most spectacular road trips, along the Icefields Parkway before arriving in Jasper. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the picturesque town of Jasper is worth a stop on its own and the National Park is the largest in the Rockies. The contrast of tranquil lakes, rugged mountains and massive glaciers will captivate you. It’s the perfect place for a hike, you may spot the local deer or maybe even some bears! If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you could try some white water rafting or kayaking. Check out the Jasper SkyTram for breathtaking views from the top of the mountains.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

You will also have the opportunity to see Mt Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies on your way to Canada’s largest ski resort, Sun Peaks, where you will overnight. Drive the Kamloops wine trail before arriving in the vibrant city of Vancouver. Overnight here once again, go whale watching or enjoy a full day exploring the city before getting your return flight home.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

The price for this 8 day Canadian Rockies fly drive is €1,519 including flights, taxes, hotels and car hire. This is based on travel in September but if you call the dedicated sales team in Sunway they will be able to quote you for alternative dates. You can also add on extra nights in Vancouver, add on a few days on the luxury Rocky Mountaineer, even add on an Alaskan cruise – the options are endless. Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. Why not join the party?

 

Click here for more details or call the dedicated sales team on 01-2311889

 

This post was sponsored by Sunway Holidays but all views as always are my own.

 

Holidays in Ireland

West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

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Whilst I do love a trip abroad, there is also something special about a ‘staycation’ in Ireland. When Chill Insurance asked me to write about my favourite #HiddenDrive, it was an easy task. From West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula is, in my opinion, one of Ireland’s best road trips.

 

After a recent stay in Bantry, county Cork, we decided to do a little exploring with the kids.  My husband and I had not taken a road trip from Bantry to Kenmare since before we were married, so it was about time we returned to one of Ireland’s best #HiddenDrives.

Taking the N71 from Bantry for a twenty minute spin will see you into Glengarriff, right in the heart of west Cork. Glengariff is known by locals as ‘the Natural Meeting Place’. On the Beara peninsula, a town of approximately 800 inhabitants, it can get very crowded in peak season. The popular Eccles hotel is a magnet for tourists, it is a great place for lunch with sea views. We took the short ferry ride to Garnish Island which I would highly recommend. Renowned for its beautiful gardens, it also boasts a Martello Tower which offers stunning views of the bay from the top. The kids loved it too.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Once back on the road, we left Glengarriff, turning onto the R572 and drove south west along the Beara Peninsula. An hour (and about 50 kilometres) later we reached the fishing village and sailors favourite, Castletown Berehaven. Also known as Castletownbere, it is the principle town along the Beara Peninsula, two and half hours from Cork city. A little known fact, Castletownbere is the second largest natural safe harbour in the world. If you have the time, you must visit MacCarthy’s Bar. Genuine and original with groceries on sale in the front of the premises and a bar to the rear. It also won Irish pub of the year in 2016, so that’s as good an excuse as any to pay a visit! Much to my husbands dismay, we did not stop and kept driving. We were only about seven kilometres from Allihies, Co. Cork. Pulling into Allihies, we were now as far away by road from home as we could be! Allihies is 394kms from Dublin making it the furthest village in Ireland from the capital. Just some more trivia for you! 🙂

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

It was time for lunch and we chose O’Neills Bar in Allihies, famous for its ‘warm atmosphere and delicious local food’. Once inside, you feel instantly welcome with an open fire, piano and old photographs, creating a homely atmosphere. The sun had decided to make an appearance so we ordered food and opted to sit outside. You are pretty much on the roadside as you sit on the wooden benches. We had soup and toasted sandwiches, crab salads and the kids tucked into fish and chips. If you have time, try the restaurant upstairs too. They will never admit to it but O’Neills is possibly one of the most iconic bars along the Wild Atlantic Way and has featured on posters worldwide promoting Ireland as a holiday destination.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Next stop Eyeries, a village renowned for the bright pastel paintwork of its terraced houses and the sweeping views of the Beara Peninsula. Eyeries is one of those places that demands you to stop, grab a camera and walk for a while. Overlooking Coulagh Bay and the Atlantic ocean beyond, Eyeries is a place where you can let the sound and smell of the ocean take your thoughts. Here we walked the beach and did a little beachcombing before the final push to Kenmare and our next overnight stop.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Most people might take the direct route from Eyeries to Kenmare along the R571 but we knew better. Driving north out of Eyeries, past the post office, take the coastal road to Kilcatherine for the most breathtaking scenery. You will drive through Ballycrovane. This small fishing harbour also offers spectacular views of Coulagh Bay. Continuing on the road you will arrive at Kilcatherine and then head back towards the R571 to Kenmare. As you drive, look left out to sea were you will see the world heritage and monastic site of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig Rock in the distance. Perhaps more famous of late for being the reclusive home of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

 

Leaving the Kilcatherine coastal road behind us we rejoined the R571 and made our way to Kenmare in Co Kerry, crossing the county border between Cork and Kerry, just north of Ardgroom. The road is mostly along the coast and can be precarious in places but breathtaking at the same time. It was only about 40 kilometers to Kenmare but the last leg of our Beara Peninsula adventure took a little over an hour to complete before we made it to our hotel.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

The total journey from Bantry to Kenmare via this amazing drive is about 175 kilometers and should only take you about three and half hours to do without stopping. However in my opinion, you will need a full day to do it properly. Stop for coffee, stop for lunch, tour the villages, listen to the ocean and give your head peace.

So there you have it, my favourite #HiddenDrive is from west Cork into south Kerry along the Beara Peninsula. Whatever you do, don’t rush it, take your time and Chill.ie. 😉

 

This post was sponsored by Chill Insurance.

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.

 

Sarah.

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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