California Dreaming with Dad
Ramon is the creator of Traveling Companion. He focuses on flight review, hotel reviews, and helping stretch your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
California Dreaming with Dad Trip Report
California Dreaming with Dad Overview
Delta 757 DCA-LAX Economy Class Review
Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel Review
Amtrak Surfliner Los Angeles-Santa Barbara-Los Angeles
Exploring the Central Coast
Exploring Los Angeles
Delta 757 LAX-DCA Economy Class Review
In February 2020, I had the pleasure of taking my Dad on a trip to California for his 70th birthday. This was the first time he had traveled to the West Coast of the United States. The planning of the trip began months before when I let my Dad know that for his 70th birthday I would take him anywhere in the world. He narrowed it down to two places he was interested in visiting California, and England. After a lot of discussion, we decided to take a trip to the Central Coast of California to see my wife's family and to check out the sites in the Los Angeles area. For this trip Christina and my Mom also decided to come along and it was the first time all four of us had traveled together. I was happy to have three traveling companions along for the trip.
This trip was truly eye opening my for Dad. He really loved the kindness of the people in the Central Coast of California, was surprised by the traffic in Los Angeles, and thought the beauty of the California Coast line was stunning. However, the most memorable line from our trip was him telling me he was shocked by size of California and couldn't believe it was all just one state! It also still amazes me that despite all of my trips just how much more relaxed the vibe is in California versus the East Coast.
For our flights we decided to book all of the flights into and out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) because it allowed my parent's to only have one stop flight from The Bahamas. My parent's booked flights from Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) to LAX with a connection in Charlotte on American Airlines. This was the flight that had the best timing and ended up costing $426 per ticket. We had previously broken up with American Airlines and decided to match our American Airlines Gold status to Delta Silver in 2019. Since only American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta offered non-stop flights from Washington Reagan National (DCA) to LAX it made our selection easy. One added benefit of flying Delta on this route is that it is a premium route so we would be served a meal even in economy and have the chance (an extremely small chance) to have a same day upgrade to Delta One lie flat seats.
Since we had few Delta miles and the mileage cost on this premium route was expensive, we decided to book with cash. Also, Christina had a work meeting back in Washington D.C. so we booked separate tickets. Her roundtrip DCA-LAX ticket was $413 and she earned 2,506 Delta miles which I value at $31. My roundtrip DCA- LAX ticket cost $473 and earned me 2,982 miles which I value at $36.
On our trip we needed to get to and from Los Angeles and Christina and I really don't like driving especially in the Los Angeles traffic. So, we decided to take the Amtrak Surfliner from Los Angeles Union Station to Santa Barbara and back. The cost was ~$30 for each of the three tickets and we redeemed Amtrak Guest Reward Points for one ticket.
We stayed with Christina's parents in the Central Coast and in hotels during our four nights in Los Angeles. Because my parents' flights arrived at about 11 pm and departed at 5 am we decided to stay in an airport hotel for all four nights in Los Angeles. Because of Christina's Marriott Platinum elite status we chose a Marriott brand hotel the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel. The cost was $167 for the first night and $474 for the second three-night stay. I thought both of these were quite reasonable for a California hotel and after our stay I would say this hotel offers very good value.
It was such an honor to take my Dad to California and even now I look back on the trip and it warms my heart. I also feel it was amazing timing since the following month the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most travel and we would have cancelled the entire trip. I look forward to sharing my reviews especially of some of the beauty of California and some interesting attractions in the Central Coast and metropolitan areas around Los Angeles.
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