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A California Love Story: Top Road Trip Tips

Ten years ago, a brightly colored sign was freshly hung outside our daughter’s preschool: “Less is the new more.” We had just downsized and moved to a remote area best known for its nothingness and all the hiking trails in between. We were comfortable with rural and enjoying nature just as much as the next Californian, but being a young family born in the age of smartphones, apps, and hashtags it was new territory to navigate what we wanted to bring into our life. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, the sign resonated well with what was at our core and became a literal sign.

Fast forward a decade, along with another move, and two more kids, and we’ve stuck well to our family planning: experience and appreciate all that is around us in lieu of material goods.  Certainly, we’re not the only ones preaching this concept.

Fine tuning our road trips and weekend getaways down to a perfect science.


Having three kids can squash a bit of your dream travel plans (and no, we’re not the type to sell all our possessions on a quest to be free-spirited nomads), so very early on we discussed and agreed that we would fulfill our travel itch by fully enjoying our home state. It’s been a tedious, carefully curated ride, fine tuning our road trips and weekend getaways down to a perfect science of iced teas, roadside fruit stands, vista points, and breweries, to secret five-star motels, RV resorts, and friends’ guest rooms. Our formula for success isn’t in these details though; our formula is simply a willingness to explore and discover what works for us.


Take a moment to relax.


But we’re often asked how to maximize trips and find the hidden, so here is what we know:

Drive slow and let the road ragers fly past you. You see so much more this way, and it’s empowering to just feel relaxed.

Make small towns a pit stop. Main streets (or lack thereof) can be a great reflection of local pride and if not, you’ve still learned something new. Consider how many times you’ve driven an interstate or highway and seen an exit sign for a town you’ve never bothered to stop at. Next time, make it a point to detour there.

Grab the local magazine or paper and read up on what’s going on in the neighborhood. Who knows? Maybe you arrived just in time for a farmers’ market or festival!

Ask questions. To yourself, to Google, to the locals serving you. The world is a fascinating place and curiosity feeds excitement. So ask. Our favorite questions? “What do you recommend we check out while we are here?” And “What are you most excited about?”

Decide your must do’s and then do them. Is it food? Art? Coffee? A brewery? Trails? Shopping? Pampering? Nature preserves? Museums? Tourist traps?

Put down the screens. Our kids learn SO much being bored and staring out a window. Consider this:
  • Geography
  • Landscape & terrain
  • Farmlands & ranch lands
  • Crops & agriculture
  • Seasons & weather patterns
  • Time
  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Road laws/rules
  • Driving skills & safety
  • Cities, counties, regions, & infrastructures
  • Advertisements, marketing, & businesses
  • Car makes, models, & brands
  • Road trip culture
  • Self-entertainment & creativity
  • Family conversation & bonding
  • Self-reflection & emotional regulation
  • Listening, observing, & thinking


Find your favorite rest stops.


Our friends often comment that we always seem to be on the best adventure, and we suppose it’s true. But oftentimes, the adventure is just looking for fun in the next town over.


Loomis-based Instagram travel blogger journeys across the state with her family discovering under-the-radar people, places, and cultures. “Follow” her and her adventures here.

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Don't forget to follow the signs.