SoCal Fun Family at Big Sur

Meet: April, Southern California Expert and Blogger

April’s family is all about their backyard. 

Not their actual backyard, but their corner of the world–sunny Southern California. April and her husband, Weston, were both born and raised there, just 15 minutes away from each other. But neither of them had fully explored their home state. 

Four kids later, they spend their family time roaming Southern California, trying everything out the way a visitor would and blogging about it at SoCal Fun Family. 

We caught up with April to chat about saving money on travel, her best travel hack, and why travelers shouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to get the ‘gram. 

 In three words, our travel style is…

Family, friendly, fun!

Some of our favorite hidden gems in Southern California are…

We love the great outdoors and think there are so many gems of hikes in the area. One of our favorites is in Anza Borrego—it’s a true blue oasis. Or, if you are a bit of a rebel, the Sunken City in Long Beach. [A coastal neighborhood destroyed by a landslide in the late 1920s.] 

Then again there are cool weird places like Tio’s Tacos in Riverside, or the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A. or Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch in Barstow.

Of course, there are the fun, family friendly activities like water bikes in San Diego, renting surrey bikes at Irvine Regional Park, and fun pop ups.

Our best advice for traveling on a budget is…

Bring your own food. Spend on the activities and maybe splurge on one or two food places you really want to try while you are out. Also, check Groupon and places like that for activity discounts. We also like to camp at different spots because it is much more affordable and you can see so much more being out and about.

Each of my kids has…

Done a week camping in Yosemite before their 1st bday.

We especially love…

National Parks and beautiful outdoor places. Our favorite place to camp is definitely Yosemite, but we love the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, Yellowstone, Zion, Big Sur and gosh just about everywhere.

But, we also love cities and exploring new ones too. Seattle has been one place that has just stolen our hearts.

However, one of our favorite ways to travel is cruises! You get the best of all worlds that way. You get all-inclusive food and drinks, lots of down time to sit and relax, but once you dock it’s go and explore and come back beat at the end of the day.

At the top of my (long) bucket list are…

Visit every state in America and visit every continent. I would love to take an Antarctic cruise. Iceland is up on the top right now of places to go. And I would love to do an African safari. 

I fell in love with traveling when…

I was 19 and my mom and sister and I went to Prague. It was amazing. So right after that, when I was 20, I signed up to study abroad in London/Europe. It was truly the best experience of my life. Luckily, I married a man who is truly the most easy-going, down-for-anything guy. He is fun, and spontaneous and loves to have a good time; so whenever the whim hits us, we just go.

What determines where we travel is,…

Usually budget. We set a date and find the deal.

Our best family-travel hack is…

Go in with a loose itinerary (places to stay, a few top places to go) but have extra time to enjoy the unexpected. Keep expectations low so you can make the most of the times you aren’t planning.

My advice for families who want to travel like us is…

Don’t wait, go! Your kids may not remember everything, but they’ll enjoy it. Start small and local and as you get more comfortable expand out. I love the quote “Travel is the only expense that makes you richer.” It’s so true. I have never gone on a trip that I regret. The experiences have all enriched my life and I can’t wait to venture out more.

Our must-have travel gear is…

A baby backpack carrier, a sound machine for sleeping, snacks, and GPS. Really every trip is different but I am also kind of a minimalist. Less is more.

The best travel advice I’ve ever received is…

Keep expectations low and have fun! Don’t stress about the unknown. And in a foreign country, don’t put a wallet in a pocket. 

I would love to make travel…

More affordable and less about the picture for the ‘gram. We all want the iconic photo in front of the well known landmark, but people setting up photoshoots and spending an hour trying to get “the picture’ is kind of obnoxious. See it, snap the photo and move on.

The most important lesson I want our children to learn from traveling is…

That different is not worse. To understand that each culture is different and beautiful.

My favorite travel app is…

TripAdvisor. I love hearing what people say about an area, and their experiences. I also love AlTrails to find great outdoor areas.

Other families learn more about me at…

Our website, www.socalfunfamily.com, on Instagram, on Facebook and on Twitter

Sara Clemence is a freelance journalist, formerly travel editor for The Wall Street Journal and news director for Travel + Leisure. She's the author of Away & Aware, a guide to mindful travel.

GET YOUR FAMILY THE BEST PRICES ON TRAVEL.