SOLO TRAVEL TIPS: LOS ANGELES
Some would say this doesn't count, but I recently (several months ago) returned from a solo-trip to Los Angeles, California. This post is long overdue, but after reflecting on the trip, I am realizing solo-travel isn't as scary as it sounds and I am more and more open to the idea in the near future.
I am lucky to have friends all over, one of which lives in Los Angeles. The reason I say this trip wouldn't count is because I was able to stay on this friends' couch right in Los Feliz which was a great spot to explore the large city. I took some tips from others prior to my arrival so that I wouldn't be too alarmed by my expectations. But I also used my own judgement to decide whether some things people suggested were absolutely imperative to my experience during the week. I encourage you to do the same as you read this if you plan on visiting the city of angels.
You have no one to rely on. Which also means you have no one to disappoint you. Traveling with others can be stressful if you have different interest and such little time and it feels like you have to sacrifice doing what everyone else wants to do with your interests and risk ruining the mood and experience when you express that you're not interested. Going alone meant if I didn't want to go to In-N-Out, I didn't have to (and I didn't, it's trash). This also speaks to the fact that traveling with others means waiting on folks to get ready, coordinating plans, and too much Venmo math. Being able to avoid that for the entire week was great.
Visit the Hollywood Sign, I went from the Griffith Observatory but rumor has it there are better views in the city. Seeing it from the Observatory gave me the chance to have a substantial hike and there's a few interesting and free exhibits inside.
No one cares that you're alone, so you shouldn't. I'm not going to lie, the weeks prior to this trip I really wondered how I could possibly do some of the things I loved to do -- taking pictures and talking -- alone. The sooner I came to terms that I will be alone the easier it was for me to plan my trip as adventurously as I could imagine. As much as we are always 'alone', spending actual quality time with yourself is so important. There's a huge and satisfying difference between being in my car alone and taking myself to nice restaurants, bars, and museums. I didn't even miss talking to people (I talk a lot) because I had time and comfort being alone with my thoughts and even silence in my head. Bringing this new found solace back home with me has really changed the way my free time has been looking.
Ask people to take your pictures, odds are they are looking for someone to take pictures of them as well, it's a good tit-for-tat moment and you'll never see those people again. I also brought a selfie stick and bluetooth shutter remote that allowed me to set my phone up different places and make it look like someone took them for me.
Be it a solo or group trip, no vacation is complete without a fancy dinner. On my last night, I unknowingly took myself to a hidden hole in the wall restaurant, Bacari, I enjoyed a few sangrias, conversation with the staff, and enough food for two. I'm grateful my phone was dead I got to enjoy my night a little more because of it.
Do whatever you want, whenever you want. No conflicting personalities means you have time to go to all the weird museums, niche restaurants, and thrift stores you want. You can work on your own schedule or end the day as late or as early as you want with no guilt.
Many insist you'll need to rent a car. I was nervous opting out of this option but I'm glad I did. Public transport (metro,bus, electric scooter, uber) was a lot cheaper than I thought it would be and very reliable. Both the metro and bus had low fares and a flat fee ($1.75) for all riders regardless of destination. It also helped that my friend had a car and would take me into the city when she went to school.
Lack of a car definitely meant a LOT of walking, I didn't bring the right shoes for it and my legs paid for it. A lack of a vehicle also meant my days were stretched out a little more but I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable being out too late but I still made sure to be aware of my surroundings knowing I had no one else to hold me accountable.
It's okay to look like a tourist because you are. Do all the corny stuff you have always wanted to do or see in Los Angeles! The many people I met tried to steer me clear of the cliche landmarks but I made sure to visit as many as I could. The Hollywood Sign like I mentioned, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Walk of Fame - it was all exciting for me. I even had breakfast at a restaurant Joe stalked his new love interest in on Netflix's "You".
The Hollywood Walk of fame is basically the LA version of Times Square, filled with people taking pictures and fake Spidermen recruiting folks for pictures, but I saw the stars of some of my favorite entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Jackson and it was very surreal. Across the street you'll see Jimmy Kimmel's studio and a HUGE mall/plaza thing attached to it that has everything you can think of.
With having taken a solo-trip finally, I can cross it off my bucket list and plan for the next few solo-trips. Do some research, start small and closer to home, and rip that bandaid. There's so much of the world we all want to see and for a lot of us, the obstacle of wanting to have someone go with is the only thing stopping us.