Background: About a year ago, I got a great idea for a road trip. I’d take my kids, fly from my hometown of Houston TX , to San Diego CA, and then drive from San Diego to Oakland. We’d stop and see all the sights along the way, and then fly home from Oakland. Then I asked my friend Gina, who lives in California, if she’d like to come along. With her kids. She agreed, and Death Match 2014 was born. Two ladies, seven kids, and a 15-day road trip up the California Coast.


So the big day finally arrived! My kids and I packed up the car and headed to the airport. Everyone behaved themselves, and we even got to scoot through the TSA Pre-Check line! Maybe traveling on Friday the 13th with a full moon wouldn’t be as bad as I worried it would be. The flight was uneventful, which is the best way for a flight to be. We each had a carry-on size rolling suitcase, plus a backpack (We packed for about nine days, and plan to do laundry at some point during the trip, so we’ll see how this works out…), and all the kids did a great job of handling their own luggage.

We arrived in San Diego and fell in love with the weather immediately. Even waiting outdoors for the rental car was a joy. Well, almost. But you get the idea.

My teenager and his iPhone did a great job navigating to our hotel, Homewood Suites by Hilton – San Diego Del Mar. I have to say I recommend this hotel. It’s very clean, the staff are really nice, and it has a heated pool and free breakfast. We got a one-bedroom suite, and the room layout is going to work well for us. I’ll be able to work in the living room while the kids get to sleep each night. We have a nice mini-kitchen, too. I don’t anticipate any cooking going on, but it’s a good place to store the junk food.

Faced with all the dining choices that San Diego has to offer, the kids chose Chipotle for dinner. Oh well. Perhaps we’ll be more adventurous another day!

After dinner, my two youngest ones wanted to go for a swim. Amber, my six-year-old, introduced herself to everyone at the pool. She makes friends everywhere she goes. People are going to know all about her and her family, whether they want to or not!

We all got to bed early, so we could do a little sightseeing before our friends arrive on Day Two…


The hotel breakfast had a very good variety, and real dishes, too! I was impressed.

After we ate, we headed over to San Diego’s Air and Space Museum. All my kids enjoyed this place, which is fairly a rare thing, given the ten-year age range between them.

San Diego Air and Space

My oldest just spent a year studying World War I, and he really enjoyed seeing all the planes and information from that time period. My ten-year-old got a kick out of the 3D/4D movies (included in the admission price) and some toys in the kids’ area.

Tiny Plane

And the six-year-old loved the kids’ area as well, with balls you can balance on blasts of air, a simulation-type machine, and other hands-on exhibits.

By the time we finished, it was time to think about lunch, so we drove over to Hotel del Coronado to feel like the rich and famous. Parking for day-guests was $26.00 for two hours, but we were able to get a voucher with our lunch, so that was nice. The kids had standard kid-meal fare: hot dog and chicken sandwich. I had the BBQ pork sandwich, and really enjoyed it. It would be hard to NOT enjoy a meal in those surroundings! The pool was on one side of us, and the ocean on the other, with beautiful blue sky and a cool breeze… I couldn’t have asked for more.

Hotel Del Coronado Lunch

We took a brief walk on the beach to check it out after we ate. Nice sand!

Then we headed to our hotel to await the arrival of our friends!

A couple hours later, the kids were very excited to see each other, and began bouncing off the walls right away. Oh boy. But we distracted them by getting ready for dinner at a kid-friendly place: IHOP. Dinner was loud (I should confess we were the only people in the restaurant, so the “loud” was ALL us) but mostly uneventful, after which we came back to swim in the hotel pool (always a highlight of the day).

Now it’s time to get everyone to sleep and ready for another big day!

My name is Brenda Arnold-Richard, and I’m a travel planner with Travel with the Magic. Like the Travel with the Magic page on Facebook, and follow me on Pinterest to see more of our trip.

It’ll either be fabulous or awful, but it’s bound to be interesting!