Road trip to the west coast USA

German blogger Ariane Stippa

Road trip to the west coast USA

2017-10-16 - German blogger Ariane Stippa @ariofcourse is the brains and beauty behind Primer and Lacquer. She and her husband Rainer, her baby girl Alma and three-year old daughter Luca traveled sunny California for two months.

Did you have a plan where on the west coast you wanted to visit before you left Berlin?

We had a bit of a rough idea of what we wanted to see when we finally made it to California. I always had a feeling I would enjoy LA and liked the idea of spending some more time there to get at least a bit of a feeling for the city. But having two months of time to spend we also wanted to get around the area a bit and visit some iconic places like Palm Springs, Las Vegas, the Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Big Sur, Carmel etc. 

How did you break the news to your kids and husband that they were going on this trip? How did they react?

Our eldest daughter loves traveling as much as we do, so she is constantly asking when we are going on our next trip. Even if it’s just to visit my family a few hours away from Berlin she loves being on tour and getting around. 

So when we told her we just booked flights to the US she was super happy and also excited to see her godparents again. It was already her third time in the States - so she is a frequent flyer. ;) She also has her own little suitcase and likes to pack and unpack! It’s always a great surprise to see what she would love to bring on a trip. 

What’s different about outfits and style in California compared to Europe or Germany? How would you compare them?

Cali is definitely more relaxed and boho. When we were in LA I discovered this Label called Dôen and instantly fell in love with it - if I lived in Cali I would only dress in their clothes. It’s the perfect boho-not-too-boho label for grown up women and they have some cute dresses and pants for kids too. 

Also women tend to wear a lot of athleisure on the streets - after the gym, for shopping or just to have a coffee with a friend somewhere. It’s so uncommon in Germany, maybe I should start wearing my workout pants on my grocery run. 

I also fell in love with a few more designers from California, but then I also have to admit that some clothes just don’t work in grey Berlin. They need the warm Cali light and palm trees. 

Can you tell us about 3 of the most memorable places or experiences you’ve had so far?

Phew. That’s a hard one. I can’t narrow it down to three. It was the whole trip itself. Everything was special and had its own vibe. We really enjoyed our first two very relaxed weeks in Venice. Every walk through our neighborhood felt like walking through a botanical garden. And the morning runs by the Venice Canals towards Venice Beach and back to our house were amazing.

One of our best family memories has to be our day at Disneyland. All of us had so much fun with all the rides and Rainer and I felt more like friends to our kids than their parents for the day. 

Naturewise we were blown away by the beauty of Lake Tahoe. It was the middle of April – and when we woke up we saw that everything was covered in a layer of fresh new snow. We were not prepared at all and layered all our warmer clothes and had the most amazing views over the half frozen lake.

Okay, and a #4: the Muir Woods. Just standing there, among those huge, old Redwoods on a slightly rainy Easter Sunday was incredibly peaceful and beautiful. Next time we will try to spend more time in an ancient forest.

How did you get around? Did you rent a car or some other form of transport?

In our first two weeks in Venice we didn't need a car - you can easily get around on foot or bike and take walks to Abbot Kinney or the Beach. 

Rainer felt sick in the first days - so I just took the kids outside - Luca with her scooter and Alma in the Bugaboo Bee 5 and explored our beautiful neighborhood. I loved the little streetwalks with their hidden swings in the trees and the amazing front yards with their gigantic cacti, palm trees and agaves. We don’t have that in Germany - so we enjoyed that a lot. Just wandering the streets with eyes wide open. And of course we also loved the great food, the flea markets and little boutiques on Abbot Kinney. 

In LA we had a practical Prius. After that we got a typical family van that we found on an app for car sharing for our 3 week roadtrip. And for one week we splurged on an old VW Bulli from the 70s. That was the most amazing way of getting around Cali for sure.

So you combined time in the city and time in nature in one trip. Which did your children enjoy the most?

We did a bit of everything - we loved LA, but we also went out of the city to Malibu Beach, the Poppy Fields and went on a road trip through Cali and Arizona. After LA we stopped in Palm Springs, headed to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Lake June und Mono Lake, Yosemite, South Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Carmel, Solvang and back to LA. From there we took the VW Bulli and spent some slow days on the coast in Malibu, Santa Barbara, Ojai and those lovely little gems around the Pacific Coast Highway 101. All of us loved the van and being outside, close to nature 24/7. We also saw some whales, sea lions and dolphins - still gives me goosebumps. This whole week was magical and we would and will definitely do it all over again. 

How is the Bugaboo Bee 5 as a travel companion?

It really is our favorite stroller for everything – especially traveling. It’s light enough and easy to fold. But it is also comfy for our baby to sit and sleep in, and even our older daughter when she is tired from walking. The extendable sun canopy really comes in handy when you are outside all day. And we always found enough space to store the stroller when we were on the road or in a tiny restaurant. 
What are some of your practical tips on traveling with children?

Always try to stay on top of the game. Be relaxed and communicate with your kids, explain what happens while traveling. Our long haul daylight-flight to LAX was crazy exhausting with the kids only sleeping for a total of 3 or 4 hours. So we had to keep them entertained during most of the time. But we made it and when we arrived at LAX everything was forgotten. Make sure to bring enough snacks, water, diapers, wet wipes (and a spare outfit) and stuff like drawing books, crayons and little travel games, headphones and well, an iPad for older kids with audiobooks and some episodes of favorite TV shows. Our experience is that kids under 9 months travel so much easier because they sleep a lot and don’t have the need to move so much. But with Alma being super active at 10 months, wanting to crawl around and pull herself up everywhere, we always had to keep her from disturbing people in their sleep. The good thing is, people usually react really nice to a little baby wanting to get in touch. Also our flight back from Washington DC was much more relaxed because it was a night flight and the kids slept until breakfast. If possible, try and book seats with extra leg space.

What’s still on your ‘bucket list’ of places to visit with your family?

Traveling in general is something we love and the list of places we haven’t seen yet is endless. I would love to spend some more time in Italy with my family, traveling from North to South for instance. But thinking about once in a lifetime trips, places like New Zealand and Australia spring to mind. We only have two more years before our oldest daughter starts school and feel the need to get around as much as possible before…

Follow Ariane’s journeys on Instagram with the hashtag #primerandlacquertravels or #StudioMarSans