i was never one to have “age goals” – you know the ones: by 16, i’ll have my first kiss; by 20, i’ll buy a car, etc etc. i’ve only really had 2 in my life: work in nyc by age 25 (done!), work and live in california by age 30 (working on it). with the latter goal, i knew i’d have to check out the west coast before i made that kind of commitment. i had been once, when i was 3. so obviously i remember nothing. i’ve seen the home-videos (well, when i owned a vhs player i saw them), and i know i went to the san diego zoo and disney land. but the footage doesn’t count as real memories.
so when moomies told me she was going on a conference trip for work to san diego, my response was: so your hotel room is free? if i pay for my flight can i come?? she knew it wasn’t really a question – more of a warning that i was tagging along. and thus begun my california vacation planning
the flights there -
this was a learning experience. i’ve dealt with connecting flights before; however, on my way to san diego, i had 2 connections to go through. fast forward to me running through chicago o’hare airport to make my first connecting flight with 2 minutes to spare. not fun. i do not recommend booking more than 1 connecting flight. instead, book the flight long enough in advance for you to pay it off and be comfortable when traveling. no one wants to start their vacation off in a bad mood because their flight got messed up
hellooo san diego! -
i arrived in san diego the day before moomies did. no, i did not sleep in the airport or on the street upon arrival! a few weeks before my trip, i contacted my friend blair. its much too complicated to explain how we know each other, so let’s just say we met in college for simplicity. i told her i was coming out to cali and would love to see her. blair immediately said i could spend the weekend with her and we could do activities. this brings us to our first lesson of traveling – go where your friends are! if you’re actually friends, then they’ll put you up no problem do be considerate though, as you are their house-guest. pay your own way, and clean up after yourself. and do things they want to do; in most cases, you’ll be glad you did because it means you’ll stay away from boring tourist attractions and do what the locals do. here are a few photos of my days with blair
san diego zoo -
ok, i know i just said staying with a local means you see the cool places the locals go to and not the tourist attractions. well, there are some toursit things one should do depending on the city. when you’re in san diego, you have to go to the zoo – it’s the only zoo in america with a panda. come on people! it’s a panda! the zoo can be expensive, so it’s good to know of ways to save money. (1) ask about the discounts they have. luckily, i heard the person in front of me ask for a AAA discount, and got 10% off their ticket. so, me being a black-AAA card carrying member (pause for your jealousy), did the same, and got 10% off blair’s and mine’s tickets. (2) sneak your own food in. many zoos (like the bronx zoo) let you bring in your own food. the san diego zoo does not. however, they don’t really pat you down. nor did they take away my chips and hummus. keep it small and throw out your trash, and you’re good to go. some favorite zoo photos below
beer samplers -
i’m definitely a beer girl. and i don’t mean water-that-tastes-like-beer (aka coors light. yuck!). so i always like to try the beers of the area. a great way to do this is a beer sampler; it lets you try mutliple kinds of local beer (if you’re at the right restaurant for local brews) without having to pay for full beers. its also a good way to get moomies to lighten up and enjoy her semi-vacation
diners, drive ins, and dives -
i am obessesed with this show! i used to watch it all the time, have the cookbook, and even got guy fieri to call my brother before he passed. it shows you awesome food that locals eat for cheap! therefore, it was definitely a necessity for me to go to a place if it was nearby. so i packed my Triple-D cookbook up, and whipped out my iPhone and found a mexican place that was close to my mom’s hotel. IT. WAS. DELICIOUS! for about $15 (which was much more than one had to spend – i just had to try everything!) i ate enough to feed 3 grown men lol simply amazing. the area was a bit sketchy, but it was right by the train and i went during the day lol here’s a photo of the restaurant:
sea world san diego -
the other big tourist thing i did was go to sea world. me and shamu had some serious bonding to do. now, the sea world ticket is expensive. however, it’s made for you to be there the whole day so take advantage. i got up by 7, was on the train by 8, and the bus by 8:30. i got there at 9 when they opened, and didn’t leave until 4:30. i went to every single exhibit, saw the whale show and the dolphin show, and treated myself to an experience because its not everyday i get to pet a dolphin. i also learned you can drink at seaworld, so bring on another beer sampler!! funny side note – i got triple ID’d while there. apparently not many drink at sea world haha some of my favorite pics:
some other helpful tips for san diego -
here’s something wonderful to know: the public transportation system in san diego is a joke! lol for the train (think subway but not underground) no one collects your ticket, there’s no machine to swipe the ticket through, and the bus driver barely looks at your ticket. so basically, i paid for one all day ticket ($5) and used it for 3 days. altho if the city of san diego reads this, i mightve ruined it for everyone. sorry! the transit system is super easy to figure out and most of what you want to see is right off it. aka there is definitely no need for a car! i took the train and the bus everywhere (with the exception of when i stayed with blair and she drove – remember your manners and give your host gas money! even if you have to hide it somewhere in their house hehe :] ) other toursit places i was by included the gaslamp area, the seaport village, and little italy. one day i just walked up and down little italy going into the cute shops (a great deal for souvenoirs!!). i made it a point to ask the shopkeepers where they’d recommend getting gelato. i also did some research on my walk and found a famous shop (which of course i cant remember the name) and got some gelato from there. across was a cute park that i could sit and just take in the view. it was perfect. never be scared to ask locals where they’d eat – it’ll only help you in the end.
i head north! -
now when i started to plan this trip, i knew i couldn’t go all the way to the west coast and not hit up vegas! lol so when i started researching flights from san diego to vegas, i realized they all went through LAX. so i figured, well why not just go to LA for the day and then leave for vegas from there i reached out to my friend manny whose from LA and lives/works there. he said he’d show me around well now i had to get to LA! everyone told me to rent a car because the PCH is amazing. yea, renting a car is mad expensive! so i investigated Amtrak, which travels right up next to the PCH. For only $25, i went from san diego (the train station was right by my hotel, which took me there for free), to LA. I was allowed to check my bag for free, and had coffee and breakfast. the scenery was beautiful! simply amazing trip
no manny -
unfortunately, manny couldn’t get off work :/ so i grabbed a cab to his job at Sony. this was the most expensive part of my time in LA lol now i understand why everyone told me cabs wouldnt work in LA. thankfully though, because manny is awesome, he handed over the keys to his car for the day. this meant i didn’t have to worry about my luggage and could get around easily. and thus begun my day of cruising around LA by myself. i hit up in-n-out (AMAZING!!!), saw the Hollywood sign (which i accidentally drove up to haha but it was an amazing view of the city), drove down Rodeo Drive, and walked along the pier at Santa Monica. i also got to see the Hollywood walk-of-fame and Chinese theater, as well the Kodak Theater which apparently had been recently renamed to the Dolby Theater. Tip about these tourist spots – you dont have to actually go in to enjoy them. i liked just being there and seeing it all. obviously though remember to fill your friend’s gas tank up!! your friends are amazing and help keep things cheap lol so you want to keep them and appreciate them
VIVA LAS VEGAS!!! -
firstly, i fucking hate LAX. secondly, i fucking hate LAX. my 40 minute flight to vegas was delayed FOUR hours. omg, i wanted to shoot myself. once i got there though, i was in heaven. thanks to the casino-rewards cards me and mom have, we receive mail and email offers which usually means free rooms. thats right – we stayed at the hotel for FREE! the wynn is gorgeous (this was right before prince harry got nasty there lol) i had bought mom tickets to dancing with the stars a few months earlier for mother’s day, so we took in a show. and i signed up for my wynn card, and won a free buffet. we then earned enough points for a second free buffet. plus if youre gambling you get to drink for free. see how many times i used the word free in this part?? so even though i lost all my money lol that was my only big expense. but of course, what happens in vegas stays in vegas. so moving on…..
coming home -
this trip happened to be right before my 25th birthday, so i’m lucky because my mom treated me to my flight back for my birthday. when i got home, i realized i had accumulated enough credit card points to get $100 back on my adventures. score!
overall, my trip was amazing and i did it all within my budget! if you plan ahead and research, you can go away for a week and not go bankrupt