3 Huge Travel Mistakes I Made In LA

My first solo trip to Los Angeles is over, so I thought I’d share 3 of the biggest mistakes I made. If you’re like me, and tend not to do much/any research before you travel to a new city, you probably won’t read this, but on the off chance that you do I hope it saves you a lot of time and frustration.

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Image Source: http://www.digitaltrands.com

Mistake #1- Not Renting A Car

I had heard something about horrible traffic in LA, so it seemed obvious to me that I should walk or take transit. Wrong! LA is a traffic nightmare because everything is spread out and the transit system is the worst I’ve ever experienced. Everyone drives here and for good reason.

On my first full day I thought I would take the bus from my hostel in Hollywood to Beverly Hills. The closest bus stop was a 15 minute walk. I gave up and turned back 10 minutes later, after the sketchiness level was through the roof. People were horrified when I told them this story; turns out LA is pretty dangerous and you shouldn’t walk around alone. Who knew!

The next day I bought a pass for a Hop-On-Hop-Off tour. I usually don’t do these touristy things but since I was alone and had no way to get around, it was a good and affordable option. I had planned to go to Beverly Hills, the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. That was a little too ambitious because everything is a lot farther than it looks on a map. I made it to Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica Pier but had to turn back before I could go to Venice Beach because it was getting late and I didn’t want to be stranded. Turns out you can’t really hop-on or hop-off of the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour bus because it takes all day to get places and the buses stop at 5:30.

I had planned to see a lot during my one week in LA and figured out pretty quickly that it wouldn’t all be possible. I was surprised that everything was so spread out and that this wasn’t the most friendly city for a tourist without a car.

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Hollywood

Mistake #2- Staying In Hollywood

As I said, I did no research before going to LA and picked a hostel in Hollywood because it sounded like a central location, right? Wrong again! Turns out Hollywood is a dump (but it looks so nice on TV!) and there is no such thing as a central location in LA so you might as well stay somewhere nice like Beverly Hills or by the beach.

My hostel, USA Hostels Hollywood, which I actually loved, was located on the walk of fame about 10 minutes from downtown LA and 10 minutes to the Chinese Theatre. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really close to anything else. I found the area to be a combination of really sketchy, with these bizarre wig stores everywhere (I think I might have been in a drag queen shopping area), and overly touristy. However, as a solo traveller it was actually useful to be in such a touristy area because I was able to purchase and join tours without going out of my way.

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I didn’t actually see any giant turkeys, but what better way to show American Thanksgiving? Image Source: http://www.dailymail.com.uk

Mistake #3 – Not Checking Holidays

Did I mention I did no planning before going on this trip? I didn’t even occur to me to check for public holidays before booking my trip and I was there during American Thanksgiving, arguably the most popular holiday in the States. Even when I realized that I would be in town for Thanksgiving I didn’t really give it a second thought, and still planned to sightsee that day. Turns out not even Starbucks was opened for Thanksgiving (well a few were, but not the one near me). Luckily I was able to connect with a friend of a friend who invited me to her house for my first American Thanksgiving. Everything was delicious and I even had a homemade dessert tamale, yum! Had I known about these holidays I would have booked my trip so that I was also in town for Black Friday and the holiday parade. Oh well, live and learn!

Despite these 3 big mistakes, I really loved LA and can’t wait to go back (with a car and some planning). If you have any questions about travelling to LA please feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to give you some more tips and advice.

Happy Travelling!

 

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Rechito says:

    The traffic in Southern California is awful and nothing is close so you need to drive. I rarely travel to LA because of this, and I only live 45 minutes away in Orange County. It is a fascinating place and glad you still liked the city despite all your unexpected issues.
    Safe travels!

    Like

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      Yes, it’s crazy! I was shocked by how hard it was to get around. LA is still a really fun city. I would love to visit Orange County next time. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Globetrotter says:

    Thanks for posting. I will be sure to not make these mistakes next time I visit L.A. Thanks for the practical tips. Look forward to the next post!

    Like

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      Thanks for visiting! Glad that this post was helpful!

      Like

  3. wooknight says:

    Thanks for sharing . These tips are invaluable

    Like

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      Glad they are helpful. I wasted a lot of time so I hope I can help others avoid that. Thanks for visiting my blog!

      Like

  4. As a resident of Orange County, Southern California I found it quite humorous to read this post– considering I am aware of everything you’ve spoken about. If you ever have questions regarding LA/Orange County you may ask me if you’d like. Although I know a lot more of Orange County—- I personally don’t like to visit LA all too much with the traffic and such

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      Ha! Glad I was able to give you a good laugh. The people I met at the Thanksgiving dinner found my experience really funny too, and were slightly horrified that I stayed in Hollywood haha. I will have to get some advice from you next time. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  5. zizeloni says:

    I made the exact three mistakes last year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      I feel like they’re such easy mistakes to make! At least we know for next time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shayne says:

    So true.
    I can’t wait to see you back in LA!
    XOXO

    Like

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      It was so fun! I can’t wait to see you in Australia! Xo

      Like

  7. Yep, made all three mistakes, although I stayed in a nice hotel downtown, not the best area to stay in

    Liked by 1 person

  8. drdblogs says:

    My mistake – not having a US cell phone- taxis would not come to our accommodation in Laurel Canyon. Apart from that I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Omg i went during the long weekend in may and i an from canada so i had no idea about this holiday everything was twice the price.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      That sucks! You never think of this stuff when you’re from Canada because the two countries are so similar. It’s so easy to forget that they have different holidays. 🙂

      Like

  10. I concur, LA is definately set up for the car. On my trip there we based ourselves at San Pedro then relocated to Santa Monica, all worked well. Quiet an adventure catching local buses in LA. To check out the reverse, Aussie travel see my blog karenlethlean2014.wordpress.com

    Like

  11. Casey says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I’ve only been to LA for work so I was in and out, but you are so right about the amount of sketchy areas and how spread out things are. I think I’d like exploring the surrounding areas by car though.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Very enjoyable read, thank you!

    Like

  13. Paula Morgan says:

    We made 2 of your mistakes too.
    We stayed in Hollywood near the highland centre so for access to transport so it was better than being too far from buses and metro but still not a great area. We found the buses useful for some places but hopeless for others. Uber became our go to for most day tripping. Next time I would stay in Santa Monica – I loved the vibe there.

    Like

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