Donna, the Progressive Traveller and I were talking about travel essentials and L.A. (Los Angeles) came up. She was amazed to hear that I too love visiting Los Angeles. After much discussion, Donna invited me to write a guest blog on ‘Why I Love LA’ and what wouldn’t I leave home without!
So, Who is Kate?
First let me introduce myself. My name is Kate Hawthorne, and I just love travelling!
Yes, I work full time in Insurance, manage two small businesses (Social Playground Licencing, and Mr & Mrs Booth), started a charity (Love Uganda Australia) and I’m trying to do that work / life balance thing!
Why I Love Travel!
I love travelling not just for a holiday (I don’t use the word ‘relax‘ as I’m not so great at that!)! The holidays I love are the ones that build memories that honestly do last a lifetime.
Whether it’s to a new local café, or an exotic location; I’m always keen. With 38 countries under my belt, and some unbelievable experiences, I am so looking forward to continuing to travel and create lifelong memories with my husband, family and friends.
I’ve been so very fortunate to travel extensively for personal and business purposes over the last couple of years – hosting expos in Las Vegas, working events in Texas (SXSW), having meetings in London and the list goes! One of my absolute favourite cities is Los Angeles though – if I can do a stop-over en-route (to anywhere really), I’ll take it and lap it up!
I don’t stay fancy in LA – in fact I stay with my cousin, sleep on her couch in Sherman Oaks, and she ensures there is always a hot coffee (American style percolator) on arrival, and then a cold Bud Light for the evening. When I tell people, I could easily pack up and move to LA, I often get weird looks – there is a misconception it’s a grimy, busy and not visitor friendly destination… in fact, it’s pretty much the opposite.
Here are four reasons for loving LA
1. The Valley
It’s the best place to stay – hire a bike, rental a car, get an Uber or a taxi and start exploring. There are literally so many hidden gems. Sherman Oaks (where I stay) is in ‘The Valley’. Amazing high streets with great cafes and restaurants, dive bars, cheap food and great convenience stores (think cheap beers and authentic Mexican).
My fav eats are Casa Vega (Mexican food and a Kardashian fav) and Carnival (Lebanese with an American twist). I also always visit Burbank Empire Center – it has Target, TK Maxx, Marshalls, Walmart, Ulta etc – my shopping is pretty much done!
2. Hikes and Walks
LA has some amazing walks and short hikes, if you are feeling a little sporty… or even if you want to get there, take a book and plonk down – they are worth exploring.
Runyon Canyon is a favourite for celeb spotting, rattle snakes and a great view (some days it can be a little smoggy!) Bronson Canyon Walk is another favourite – it’s been featured in a heap of different movies. Franklin Canyon Park is a good one to have a chill out – you’ll forget you’re in LA!
3. Sporting Events
You cannot visit LA and not go to a sporting event. My all-time favourite so far has been seeing the ice hockey at the Staples Center (where the Lakers also play). I use StubHub to buy tickets last minute, and we grabbed stellar seats for $15 USD each – you can be a little more organised and buy earlier, but it lists all events up and coming, and last-minute ticket sales.
The Staples Centre is in Downtown, so grab a ride share, take in the atmosphere and have a few drinks. Outside the Staples Center are some pretty iconic sporting statues. Depending on when you go to LA, you may be able to catch some college football, NFL game or a range of other sporting events!
4. The Weird and Wacky
LA definitely takes the cake on this one. Seeing all those memes of people in Walmart… well they aren’t just memes – they do exist. The Echo Park Time Travel Mart … it’s literally a shop, that has items you may need to time travel. It’s odd – would I go back? No… Was it weird and Wacky? Yes!
Jumbo’s Clown Room is another weird place… it doesn’t have clowns (in fact it’s a strip joint), it’s super tiny, the drinks are super expensive and it’s possibly one of the weirdest places I have ever been! It’s pretty punk rock and pretty weird.
I do love walking around LA- Hollywood Blvd and Melrose Ave, you are bound to see some unique characters – I love it though. If it is your first visit to LA, I recommend you stay in Downtown Los Angeles, a premier location with awesome restaurants and exciting nightlife.
I could go on about all the amazing things to do in LA and why I love it! The live music and bands, weather, the views of the city, the cheap and delicious Mexican food, the star studded suburbs and celeb hot spots… you can see the list goes on.
Things You Must Do In LA
- Getting around LA on public transport isn’t super easy (it can be done, and it’s super cheap) – I always hire a car and download an app called Wazes. It’s the best for driving in LA as it gives you up to date traffic advice. If you don’t want to drive though, get ride shares (Uber, Lyft, Ola) – download the apps before you go.
- Wi-Fi is everywhere in LA so don’t fret that you can’t insta but check with your telco if you have a good travel pack if you are worried.
- Eat street food – it’s delicious! The cheaper the Mexican or hot dog… the better!
- My go to for coffee in LA… I usually end up at Starbucks (in case you’re interested I get a caramel mac on almond milk extra hot). I know what I’ll get… or I’ll stick to coffee at home.
Enjoy LA – Get away from the tourist traps and see what an amazing city Los Angeles is!
P.S. If you have time, make sure you get to Disneyland, which is about an hour out of LA. It really is the happiest place on earth!
Just Some Final L.A. Advice!
Kate’s Travel Essentials | Must Pack Travel List | Click Here +
1. Burts Bees Lipbalm – I take the tinted one everywhere. Perfect to a) keep your lips smooth, and b) you can use as your lipstick if you need to go out. I actually have about 10 at the moment!
2. Portable Phone Charger – invest in a good one. I paid about $70 for mine last trip and gave me about 5 full charges before I had to charge
3. Laptop – For me, I always take my laptop. I run event hire companies, so I always need to be accessible and dial in remote. I have a super lightweight HP Spectre – I take it everywhere. It charges well, fits in my handbag and folds into a tablet if need to. This year I had to dial in to a computer in Australia, whilst I was on a bus from Kenya to Tanzania – was def the weirdest place I’ve done tech support.
4. Vitamins – I take an EmergenC Immune Defence daily. It’s a sachet of vitamin powder (think like a Berocca). I buy these in bulk when I’m in the USA or get them sent over to me. You can buy from some resellers in Australia, but they are a little more expensive… so worth it though! I always take enough to have one per day (and throw a few in my wallet / handbag to ensure easy access in case they lose my luggage).
5. Lemsip is another thing I always take with me – nothing worse than getting a cold or blocked nose on holidays. It’s pretty soothing to have in hot water if you aren’t feeling well. It contains Panadol and again comes in a sachet form! I’ve really struggled to find a similar item overseas, and I often find I’m congested when I fly. This seems to clear me up and gets rid of any headaches!
6. eBooks – I borrow a heap of books from the library on my phone / iPad before I go – it’s FREE, and it doesn’t take up space of physical books. Yes, I love the feel of an actual book but space saving, digital is the way to go. You also can download lonely planet books from the library, so a great way to also read up on your destination.
7. Multi Convertor Power Plug – I spent the money a few years ago and bought one that does most countries. It saves you losing the trillion different plugs and carrying around a heap (especially if you are going to more than one place). Mine was about $50 and worth every cent.
8. My Giant Scarf – a couple of years ago we went to France for Xmas and I purchase the world’s biggest scarf. It’s almost like a blanket… since then, it’s travelled everywhere with me. Not only does It keep me warm as a scarf but I can use it as a pillow, blanket etc on the plane. I’ve also used it to wrap wine in when travelling. I bought mine from H&M for about $20. Best investment ever!
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