Wallet-Friendly Tips for Living It Up in Los Angeles

Traveling to Los Angeles? If so, you’ll want to stay out of the expensive touristy places. Yeah, you can still have fun without it costing you an arm and a leg.

Choose The Right Travel Option

Before you even think about booking a hotel, book your flight. You can save a lot of money just by shopping around several months prior to your trip. Sites, like Hipmunk, will help you search deals on flights, lodging, and more.

Most plane ticket prices are at their lowest on Tuesday or Wednesday. And, you’ll get optimal pricing at least 3 weeks out.

Save Money On Room and Board

When you arrive in Los Angeles, it’s important to find a cheap place to stay. The area is known to be pretty expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a decent hostel or rent a room from someone through AirBnB.

Hostels can cost you roughly $25 per night, and some places offer free meals with your stay. The catch? You have to be willing to bunk with lots of other people in the same room or in close quarters. It will sort of feel like you’re back in college, sans the books and 6AM classes.

Depending on where you stay, you’ll get free breakfast, dinner, and drinks. Some places, like the Banana Bungalow, offer lots of amenities like foosball and T.V., air conditioned rooms, and private kitchens with a bathroom.

Take Advantage Of Free Stuff

There is a lot to do in Los Angeles, but most of it costs money. However, there are plenty of free things too, like exploring the Hollywood Walk of Fame, checking out the Chinese Theater, hiking up to the Hollywood sign, strolling the beach (especially Venice Beach), Window shop at Rodeo Drive, and checking out a museum like the J. Paul Getty Museum or the Banning Residence Museum. In fact, there are over 10 museums that you can get into with little or no cost.

If you’ve rented a vehicle, you can just drive around. There’s plenty to see.

Explore Inexpensive Food

Los Angeles has a diverse culture, and the food is evidence of that. Huge Asian and Hispanic cultures influence the cuisines you’ll find here. And, the food is surprisingly affordable. Thai is especially cheap in Los Angeles. Yelp can also help you find cheap eats that suit your personal tastes. For example, Marie Et Cie, Porto’s Bakery and Cafe, and the famous In-N-Out Burger are all reasonably priced – just make sure you get “animal style” on everything.

Take Public Transportation

It’s tough to beat public transportation. If you do rent a vehicle, make sure you book it in advance and you do lots of research. Places like Enterprise can cost you a fortune if you don’t book in advance. Typical rates for “day of” rental are $35, and that’s for a 3-day rental time. Weekdays are oddly more expensive with weekends offering deals for travelers.

And, as you might expect, all of the big names in the business are going to be more expensive than the local or “mom-and-pop” rental places.

Oh, and don’t forget gas, which tends to be more expensive in California than in other areas of the U.S.

Other than that, your options are to take the bus or the LA metro. Red Line metro is an underground rail that runs between Union Station downtown and Mid-Wilshire area in Hollywood and through the San Fernando Valley. Purple Line Metro is also underground and runs between Union Station and Koreatown.

Blue Line is mostly above ground and runs north and south between LA and Long Beach, while the Green Line Metro rail (also above ground) runs east and west between Norwalk and Redondo Beach, stopping only at LAX. You can’t get to the beach from the Green Line though. you must transfer to Bay Cities Transit bus.

The Gold Line Metro runs northeast from Pasadena and southeast into East LA. The Expo Line goes from downtown LA to Culver City and, if you’re feeling adventurous, it will take you straight to the ocean.

Orange Line Metro isn’t actually a railway but a bus, but it runs on its own dedicated roadway. Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus is the same way – it runs on its own “line.”

DASH is a short-distance bus that services LA, Line 720 is the Wilshire Rapid bus serves Hollywood, Beverly Grove, and surrounding areas. Finally, the LAX Flyaway Shuttles take you from Union Station directly to LAX.

You really shouldn’t have any serious problems getting from one place to the next in this city using public transport.

Fiona Moriarty is a busy content strategist at Hipmunk. She loves to write about ways to save time, effort and money. Her posts appear mostly on finance and better living blogs.

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