16 things you need to know before traveling to Los Angeles

How to save on car rentals, why not to expect anything from Hollywood, safety tips, and more 🙂

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-> Enjoy your trip to Los Angeles!


1. Don’t be scared
Let’s start off with safety. There are still plenty of gangs in L.A., shootings, stabbings, whatever. And there’s endless homelessness and poverty, so prepare to see or drive through places you would never expect in a first world country. Nevertheless, if you stay in tourist areas such as by the beach areas, Studio City, Burbank, North & West Hollywood, and some parts of downtown, nothing should happen to you. However, if you make the mistake of carrying your laptop or another expensive electronic gadget at night when you’re walking alone – uhm hello – you’re literally asking to get robbed. You probably wouldn’t do that in another big city either.

2. Traffic = L.A., L.A. = traffic
You will want to hit the beach when you’re in L.A. – at least once. If your accommodation is close by, go for it, if it isn’t – don’t think about going to the beach around 3, 4, or 5 p.m. because you will find yourself in some nasty traffic. You know, there might not even be an accident or a mattress on the freeway (yeah – that happens) – but people just slow down for no damn reason.
L.A.’s real rush hour starts from 7.30 a.m. and lasts until 9 a.m., and then goes from 4 p.m. until around 6.30 or 7.30 p.m. There’s a possibility that you’ll find yourself in “rush hour” at 2 a.m. as well or 1 p.m. Or 4.30 a.m. Whenever actually.

3. Public transport is the best way to people watch
How about taking public transport then. Pshhh, ok, ok, good luck. You’re doing something a lot of L.A. natives don’t even dare today. But okay… The busses won’t be much faster or more reliable than a car, but sometimes the trains are. You might find yourself next to someone who has a Gothic blowup doll on their lap or have a homeless man hand you a copy that reads: “I want you in my life. Take me away. Please boo.” And be aware of people starting to pee while you’re riding up the escalator or bus passengers with bleeding wounds and no pants – that includes no undies, too. True stories.

4. Don’t rent cars at the airport
If you rent a car, please don’t do that at the airport unless you want to pay up to 40% airport taxes (damn – that’s a whole other flight ticket to New York or Mexico right there!). You can literally take an Uber halfway across town to another car rental place and still save money.

5. Parking is a bitch in L.A.
Now if you’re going to rent a car, which – remember – you hopefully won’t do at the airport, be aware of where you park it. L.A. has something that you might be unfamiliar with: Street cleaning. Yes, I know – L.A. is still dirty as fuck… and it smells… like rotten meat. Anyway, if you park your car in Hollywood, go to dinner with your friends, and come back 10 minutes after your meter ran out, you just lost $75. At the very least. Oh – and good luck figuring out the 5 to 10 parking and no-parking signs that you can find on some streets. You’re on your own here, buddy!

6. Use Cabs, Uber & Lyft
Your alternative to public transportation and cars are the taxi apps Uber and Lyft or actual cabs. Uber and Lyft are cheaper whenever you don’t find yourself in the regular rush hour… And, believe it or not, the drivers can become your friend. That’s if they don’t try to kidnap you… Unfortunately, I’m not being 100% sarcastic with this one because it has happened, but hey – I’m just telling you as it is.
(If you haven’t used Uber before, apply my code for your first free ride: jennifers18652ue )

7. Hollywood isn’t as glamorous as you think
So if you survived your way on public transportation or by car, which includes decent parking, you’re most likely visiting Hollywood at some point – or “Hollyweird” – as we sometimes call it affectionately. Do not make the mistake of expecting ANYTHING of Hollywood please. Instead, prepare yourself for a dirty, rundown, sometimes unsafe, super touristy place with a lot of homeless people. What you’ve seen on TV may have been Beverly Hills or Bel Air.

8. Organic, gluten-free, vegan ice cream and cookies
Don’t assume American food only consists of burgers and fattening, sugary stuff. Well, it does, for the most part, but not here in L.A. People want to be skinny and shit, you know, so there’s plenty of healthy options. Try a vegan, organic, gluten-free cookie or ice-cream or whatever you want. L.A. places are THE experts in perfecting such dishes.
Find more on L.A. food here.

9. Free stuff at restaurants – say whaaat?
If you’re at a restaurant, expect free chlorine-tasting tap water and free refills for coffee and soda. Yes, America really wants you to get fat and load up on sugar so you get fat and lazy and dumb, so they can have “politicians” like Trump run this country. My bad I, digressed.

10. Chlorine tap water
Fresh tap water? If fresh equals a chlorine taste in your book, then sure, L.A.’s tap water is fresh. Joking – you are not going to die or get a disease from drinking it; however, you’ll get a much better taste if you filter it or buy bottled water.

11. Plan in a good tip when eating out
Waiters in the US don’t make shit, so a 15-20% tip is expected if you were happy with them. Even if they come to your table when you have food in your mouth and ask you: “Is everything tasting alright?” Mhhhmmmm yeah. Can’t you see I’m eating it?

12. Credit cards on cards on cards
You can use major credit cards such as Master, Visa, and American Express at 90% of restaurants and stores. That’s also why eight in ten Americans are in debt.

13. You don’t pay for what you see
Also, don’t fall for the price tags at clothing or furniture stores for example. Those sneaky bastards don’t include the taxes you have to pay. So don’t fight your cashier if your bill shows 10% more when you’re checking out.

14. 2 a.m. is your curfew
One of the ways to lose a lot of money in L.A. is going out. Drinks are up to $20 in some places, a bottle of beer between $6 and $10, and the cover for certain Hollywood clubs can be up to $25 or more (that’s if you’re a guy. Girls, dress your best, and please find yourself a promoter on Hollywood and make him get you in a club for free at his table with drinks, ok!). Now here’s some sad news for some of you: L.A. clubs and bars have their last call of alcohol at 1.30 or 1.45 and they’re kicking you out by that time as well because they have to close at 2 a.m. No joke! To find an after party, find a promoter.

15. No drinking in public!
By the way, you are not allowed to drink in public – that includes being on the street – duh! Always have your alcohol packed up in a bag and especially don’t walk or drive around with open containers. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

16. L.A. can be superficial
Uhm, guys, this is where the most beautiful people in the world hang out. So if you want something from someone (that includes getting into a club), dress to the point where people think you’re a celebrity. If you prefer it casual, just don’t try to get into Hollywood clubs with your flip flops, shorts, and baseball caps.

 

If you want more info about L.A., check out my audio guide here.

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