Some of my regular readers may know that I just took a trip to Los Angeles. We flew from Boston to LAX, three people, ages 18 (me), 19, and 19. We stayed at one hotel, and Airbnb, and another hotel during our stay, each booking one night under our name and therefore solving the issue of splitting the cost. We used Uber and public transport to get everywhere.

The trip was a massive success. I'm so impressed with us pulling it off perfectly, despite it being the first trip we've ever planned ourselves. We've been on school trips or travelled with families but never by ourselves. However, there are a few things that I know would be more helpful next time, or just things we did right this time, that would help a lot. Some of these will be generalized travel tips but others will be LA/Boston specific.

Do Carry On If You Can

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Our flight (Alaska Airlines) allowed one personal item to stow beneath the seat, and one carry on to put in the overhead bin. Each of us used a backpack and a duffle, although a small suitcase would have sufficed and the wheels would have been helpful. A checked bag would have been $25, and we would have struggled to find baggage claim. Only doing carry on was such a smart move. It saved us so much time and stress to have our bags right with us the whole time. The only downside I can think of (besides limited space but a carry on was fine for four days) is miniature liquids. That's it. Do carry on.

When In LA, Rent A Damn Car

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Our biggest mistake was using Uber the whole time. Uber is great, but we went from Inglewood to Highland Park to LAX and some beaches and such in between. Uber cost us probably around $250-$300 for the whole trip, and would have cost us more if we didn't take the train to the bus to get back to LAX from Highland. Like, $75 more. Public transport there is not very efficient and can be confusing (or straight up sketchy) for outsiders. I felt that we missed out on experiences because we didn't have a car. For instance, I wanted to stop in Hollywood, but because the Uber cost so much, it was no longer worth it to me. It was a pain to carry so much stuff around instead of leaving it in the car. If we had stayed in one area the entire time, it would not have mattered. But it did.

My friends disagreed. They said the cost of renting, plus gas, plus parking, would have been the same cost. I looked at some numbers. For a small car, we can rent for $15-$25 a day. It would be very cheap on gas, because we aren't going many miles at all, just lots of traffic. Parking would be dependent on where we went. A lot of places we only stayed an hour, so a couple dollars in meter parking would feel like nothing. I think it's very worth it. My friends were also concerned with the crazy LA driving compared to our polite New Hampshire drivers, but I know that I couldn't handle it. I'm a bit more experienced than them and I can get very aggressive when I need to. My grandma calls me the snapping turtle because I keep a slower pace (only when she's in the car) but am very aggressive.

Granted, we were all very young, so I doubt that would have been an option for us anyway. But if we go again in a few years, definitely renting.

PSA: If you're going to New York City or Boston or DC, they have killer public transport and everything is closer together. You will not need a car there. Also, Baltimore is such a small city that Uber there would be fine, too. Those are the other places I've travelled with family and such, so that's what I can tell you.

Get A Joint Bank Account

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I thought to myself, how do parents pull off trips? I felt like we were always talking about money, whether it be food or the next uber, but I didn't remember parents talking about that on my own family vacations or trips with other families. It was then that I realized most couples have a joint bank account.

I don't think my friends minded, but I did. I didn't want to keep talking about ubers and the next payment. I hate stressing about money, and it's awkward with other people. I would say to get a joint account, or toss money into one person's account, to pay for collective items. Our hotels worked out, but had we stayed at one the entire time, we should have booked it on a joint account. This may not be a big thing to some people, but it definitely took away from my experience a little bit. I was talking to my S/O about travelling to Santa Monica next summer, and this would definitely be something we do.

Stay In One Place

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I really thought that staying in three hotels was a good idea. Wrong. Check out is at noon most places, and check in is at three. We had three hours of carrying around our crap, going place to place. It was stressful and because it was in the middle of each day, it limited what we could do. And the way we chose the days was also dumb. We used an LAX hotel, then all the way to damn Pasadena, and back to another LAX hotel. It was just a pain. We should have spent two days in south LA and one in north or something like that. Jumping back and forth was neither time nor cost efficient.

Have A Set Plan

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We went into this with the mindset of going with the flow. My day of ideas was very well planned and I felt it went well. The other two days were a lot of, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" conversations which piss. Me. Off. While I'm a relaxer on vacation, not an explorer, I still need set plans for the day. This also cost so much money! We went to Santa Monica the first day, then the Getty Villa the next. That cost an extra $60 in cab fare. That's so. Much. Money. Maybe my friends really liked feeling free, but I didn't. I felt like a few moments we wasted when we could have been somewhere, doing something productive.

Bring A Spare Plastic Bag

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A shopping bag will suffice. Whether it be wet bathing suits or a spilled toiletry, you will be glad you did.

Make A Travel Bucketlist

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A good way of keeping myself accountable for using my time wisely was making a bucketlist before I left. I did everything on said list besides one thing, which again, would have been incredibly easy of we just rented a car. It was not worth the cab fare. But otherwise, I felt like the trip had a goal and I accomplished it.

Here is my bucketlist for anyone who wants to see it:

There's all the things I can think of. My biggest piece of advice is just to travel in general! Get out there and explore the world before you get tied down! Lots of Love!

<3