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Los Angeles: the city of glamour, fame, and fortune. It can be a “hella” fun place to visit — but it can also bottom out your bank account if you aren’t careful.
Traveling to Los Angeles? Then take note of these simple hacks to save money in the City of Angels. Some travelers come to LA expecting to spend tons of money on the clubs and clothes, and if that’s your intention for a vacation, fine. Splurge on the high-end restaurants and wax museums and “Star Sightings” buses.
Are you a backpacker or budget traveler? Then this guide is for you. If you want to take in all Los Angeles has to offer AND save mad moolah while doing it, here are some ways to make your dollar go the distance.
<< Hunt for Cheap Eats >>
FOOD TRUCKS/STALLS: Los Angeles streets are dotted with food vendors, food trucks, and carts that cater to the fatty in all of us, and also means there are plenty of cheap eats too. Get your nom on by eating at places along the streets you see construction workers and locals grabbing a bite. These are the food trucks and stalls that they eat at every day because they are cheap and tasty. Favorites — Los Angeles has amazing Mexican food, but also keep an eye out for fusions things like Spanish and Korean mix. Also, don’t forget about the quick-grab fruit stands that you usually see in Southeast Asia — they’re in LA too and still only $1-$2 for a bag of fruit.
FIND A FOOD TRUCK: Roaming Hunger Tracker
MEAL DEALS: Like most cities around the US, even the glitzy restaurants sprinkling Los Angeles have specials too. Scout out the happy hours and meal specials before you arrive, or do a quick search for best happy hours in Los Angeles. There are 1/2 price burger nights, Taco Tuesdays, and Thirsty Thursdays abound and easily found. My favorite go to is Cabo Cantina on Tuesdays for all you can eat tacos and cheap beer.
One week, while testing how far I could stretch my budget, I went out with a friend and had dinner and drinks for under $10 each night. Here are some of the places we hit.
Monday’s at The Stand the deals is $1 hot dogs and $2 house Honey Blonde Ale, so we scoffing down some dogs and beers and moved on.
Tuesday in Santa Monica we went to All-You-Can-Eat Taco Tuesday at Cabo Cantina ($4.99) and ate until our bellies threatened to burst.
Friday night at Maui & Sons in Hollywood we hit happy hour and their $3 import beer deals.
<< Hit the Vintage Shops >>
The City of Angels is a bit grungy…but it’s also littered with good things like consignment shops, thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, and shops that sell wardrobes from movies.
What does that mean for you? Super cheap clothes. Get your hobo-chic on.
While wandering Hollywood, Santa Monica or Venice Beach, make sure to step into the numerous vintage clothing stores lining the streets to score some deals on clothes. Some places are just old-school digs, but others get all of the wicked cool props and costumes from studios that don’t need them anymore — even articles like jeans or leather jackets.
These shops around Los Angeles are packed with every era of style your heart might desire. I was short on warm clothing before my trip to New Zealand, so I stopped by a favorite of mine, Iguana Vintage Clothing in Hollywood, and scored an awesome Mexican poncho for only $10. It lasted me for years until someone stole it.
<< Master the Metro >>
If you’re in Los Angeles with no car, you aren’t completely helpless. The Metro bus and rail system, like most of the US, isn’t top notch compared to some European and Asian countries, but it will take you where you need to be.
The Metro rail is a huge money saver. Grab an all day pass good for bus and metro for $5 and you can go most anywhere in the city. The buses come more often and more on time than cities like Washington DC, but don’t expect the Metro rail to follow suit.
Planning on some late nights out? Some buses in Hollywood run 24/7 every 30-60 minutes too.
Most places of interest around LA will have a bus stop or metro link to that destination. You can get to South Bay, Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood, China town, Venice beach and more all by bus or metro. If you’re a picky about taking buses and metro because the are dirty and grimy, get over it or spend loads on taxis and rental cars.
<< Budget Beds >>
While the United States isn’t very accommodating when it comes to backpacker style guesthouses and hostels, Los Angeles is one of the few spots that I’ve seen in the US that has them. There are a few around the city, one being a hostel located right in the heart of Hollywood. But the hostel that I’ve stayed at and loved was HiHostel just off of the 3rd Street Promenade. Here you can get away from the mayhem of the city and be just a few blocks away from the beach.
As always, some alternatives are AirBnB and Couchsurfing. Obviously the best budget choice is Couchsurfing, but remember that Los Angeles is a tourism epicenter and you’ll need to start looking far in advance. For AirBnB, just remember that peak season for summer and times when there are festivals or events, prices will hike.
<< Do Free Shit! >>
Everywhere you look, someone will be trying to sell you something in Los Angeles. Not like Southeast Asian countries, but take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard and you’ll come out with a million flyers. Ignore all of the paid tours and cheesy attractions, because Los Angeles has amazing free things to do.
You have feet right? Then wander!
Los Angeles has a storied history from its rise by gang influence, to becoming the center of the entertainment world, to the eclectic and unique hippie culture that seems to be stuck in the 70’s.
SANTA MONICA: Hang out on the pier and watch a sunset or lay out on the beach all day. Go to the 3rd Street Promenade to people watch or enjoy a street performer.
VENICE: Gawk at the hippie RVs, fascinating weirdos, and street performers. Hang out in a pop-up drum circle on the beach, or take a stroll along the Venice Beach canals.
BETWEEN: All along the boardwalk from Santa Monica Beach to Venice, there is sometimes a festival or show going on like this car show I stumbled upon.
HOLLYWOOD: Walk the streets night or day and fight the crowds while following the stars. You don’t need a car to get to the Hollywood sign, just follow a maps app and you can walk there. Head up to the Griffith Observatory, opened in 1935, to have the best view of LA from above, and attend a stargazing night that they put on during the week.
PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY: This you’ll need a car for, so let’s hope you have friends. The PCH is one of the most beautiful drives in the world, so pack a lunch and drive all day up the coast and back.
HIKING: You’ll also need a ride for this, but there is some incredible hiking opportunities just outside of downtown Los Angeles. Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu Creek are national parks close by the city where you can spend all day trekking on and off trails through the rugged landscape taking in the views of the mountains like these below.
<< Getting there >>
Getting to and from the City of Angels can be pretty freakin’ cheap…IF you give effort and search for deals. Los Angeles is a hotspot for domestic and international travel, and being that Mother Nature decides to stay beautiful for majority of the year, it’s always busy. Even with that, there are so many flights coming and going from LAX that airlines are competing for the lowest fare.
Give yourself a few months in advance to look for tickets for flights and trains, and get on a mailing list for airfare alerts when prices drop. Southwest, Virgin, US Airways, and American are the most popular airlines. I’ve personally flown to Los Angeles from DC for $150, but it depends on your timing. If you’re already in the United States, get on AirFare Watchdog and you can schedule alerts for price drops when they happen for the best deal possible.
[x_alert heading=”DISCLAIMER” type=”muted” close=”true”]All links and companies in this article are solely mentioned because I have used them before.[/x_alert]
<< What are your budget travel secrets in major cities? >>
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Ooh, those are some fighting words aren’t they? Did that hurt?
It is a touchy subject when somebody takes your New Year resolutions and categorize them as trash.
Except I am right — and by the end of this post I guarantee you and I will be in agreement. Then you’ll be ready t take on 2015 punch for punch.
It’s a sick cycle that happens every year like a skipping record.
Another 365 days are scratched off that paradise calendar; and after drudging through another year of living on this planet in misery, people are in dire need of some something more.
Well, usually the bright light of inspiration that promises a better year than the last is just a gigantic disco ball distracting you with shiny lights.
Then just like a broken record your goals may be going smooth, and sooner than later you skip a beat.
Each year goals are set, and each year goals are not accomplished.
The promises made to yourself, the glorious feats you are determined to beat, the changes you decide that need to happen to live a better life; 90% of people will fail. And then it’s brushed aside until the next New Year, and next failed attempt.
Trust me, I’m not saying this to get you down. I just want to slap you in the face a little, because I have done the same thing I’m writing about, and I am damn sick of failure.
Are you sick of failed resolutions?
Pay attention. This is how we are going to get shit done this year.
The issue begins by putting your faith into thinking that promising something on the first day of the year is going to suddenly change your life.
Somehow, the 1st of the year is going to pump you up full of life mojo like Neil Armstrong on steroids, and you are going to blow away every obstacle leaving problems in the dust.
Only YOU can start to change things.
Only YOU can continue the change.
Only YOU can do the work it takes to live your dream.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
So how the hell do you take on your 2015 goals?
The bottom line is that New Years Resolutions are just a big fat excuse to procrastinate more. I am always hearing, “Oh well, maybe I’ll give it another shot next year…”
What kind of crap is that?
Just because you set a personal and you missed a beat, that means you need to wait for another couple hundred days to give it another shot?!
Quit waiting for that magical date each year, because it’ll come and go each year and you are going to still be sitting around doing the same thing.
A New Day Resolution.
One of the biggest attributing factors in the failures of resolutions is that you bunch up goals into a giant clusterfuck and think about it the terms of the whole year.
If I thought of all the things I need to accomplish before I travel again, I’d lose my freakin’ mind! Pay off debt, buy my Mother’s gravestone, save money for the actual trip, get in shape to bicycle across the United States. The list goes on.
Yeah, it’s a mess; and there is nothing that saps your motivation more than being overwhelmed with tasks. Even typing that gave me a pang of stress.
So go in small steps and work toward a goal each day. Wake up and start realizing each sunrise is a new day, each day you have a breath in your body is a fresh start, and each day is a chance to meet that next goal on the journey to your dream.
Make Daily Resolutions Matter
Nothing is going to put a stop to you momentum more than doing something that isn’t fun and most importantly isn’t something you give a damn about.
Some people want to lose weight, or quit smoking, or buy a new car, or stop eating meat, or get a raise. And they are all bad resolutions.
How will you quit smoking when you are still stressed? How will you get in shape if you aren’t happy? How are you going to be happy if you are still working a shit job you hope to get a raise in to buy that shiny car to fill a void that will temporarily make you happy?
How about you start connecting the dots with the end goal at your life dream?
-I want to Travel
-Believe in working to Live not Living to Work, I know everything I do contributes to my dream.
-Knowing this, I can focus on staying positive
-I work more because I am now not working for nothing or miserable
-I make more money because I work more
-I spend less because I don’t need shiny things anymore
-I pay off my bills because I have more money
-I save up plenty of money because I worked hard and knew it was worth it
-I can now travel!
It’s as easy as that.
And many other travel bloggers can attest to this. How did all of these people break free of their corporate confines? They did it step by step.
Once you map out the steps it will take to accomplish your goals, and as long as your end goal is something you truly want that will make you happy, you don’t need to wait for a New Year.
So this is what I want you to do: Write on a piece of paper “New Years Resolution” and then cross it out. Hell, scribble it out if you are pumped up. Then write down “New Day Resolution” and begin your first step today.
Each day see it as a new chance to create a better ending. Then repeat.
Here is an inspirational video to watch. You have 84,600 seconds in a day. What if that was money, and it disappeared at midnight? Wouldn’t you try to use every last penny?
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