I’m 25 & This Is How Much I Spent On My Trip To Los Angeles

Welcome to Travel Diaries, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 25-year-old product development manager goes to Los Angeles Beautycon to see Megan Thee Stallion. 
For questions, feedback, or if you're interested in tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip email us at traveldiary@refinery29.com.
Age: 25
Occupation: Product Development Manager
Salary: $99,000, plus an annual performance bonus of 12% of salary
Travel Companion: Best friend, B
Hometown: New York, New York
Trip Location: Los Angeles, California
Trip Length: 3 days, 2 nights
Annual # Of Vacation Days: 19 personal days and 7 company holidays
Companion’s # of Vacation Days: N/A - she’s in graduate school
Costs: I flew nonstop from JFK to LAX with JetBlue. On my returning nonstop flight back to JFK, I flew with Alaska Airlines. 
Total: $435
Costs: Hotel Figueroa in Downtown LA. No cost – it was comped.
Miscellaneous pre-vacation spending 
The main reason why I decided to visit LA this particular weekend was to attend a party hosted by a friend I met over NYE in Bali. I bought a general admission ticket during the early bird sale ($26.50). 
I wanted a pair of versatile, comfortable shoes to get me through my time in LA and decided to splurge on some new Nike Air Force 1 ‘07 sneakers ($90). 
A few weeks before traveling, I learned that Meg thee Stallion would be making an appearance at Beautycon LA. My best friend and I each bought a Sunday general admission ticket ($50). 
Total: $166.50

Day One 

4:00 a.m. – I sleep through my alarm (Why did I stay up so late last night?) and scramble to throw my last-minute essentials into my suitcase before my Uber arrives. My flight departs in one hour from JFK, which I calculate to be at least 40 mins away by car, so the pressure is on. I hardly ever travel from JFK since LGA is much closer to my apartment, but I couldn’t pass up the deals to LAX. 
5:00 a.m. – My Uber driver drives fast like a bat out of hell, for which I am grateful. I arrive at JFK with 25 minutes until my flight departs. Thanks to my TSA precheck status, I zip through security and to my gate. I find my seat, text my mom, adjust my neck pillow and eye mask, and knock out for the majority of the flight. $59.03
8:30 a.m. – I land at LAX feeling groggy and hungry as hell. I look even worse than I feel! I stop by a coffee counter near the baggage claim to refuel with an iced coffee and a croissant ($6.45). I aimlessly kill time in the claim area as I wait for my bestie to find me. I finally spot her and we hop in a Lyft to take us to our hotel in downtown LA ($28.74). Our driver is friendly and even offers a recommendation on where to find good Mexican food during our stay. $35.19
9:30 a.m. – Our hotel, Hotel Figueroa, is centrally located in downtown LA near the Convention Center and Staples Center. I am hyped that we’re staying so close to Beautycon that we can walk from our hotel. Upon arrival, the hotel front desk manager offers us a tour of the property after we check-in. We learn that the hotel once was a YWCA in the 1920s and ‘30s, offering a safe place for single women and their children to stay. In paying homage to the building’s past, the hotel’s lobby area is lined with art commissioned by female artists. My best friend and I plot on which pieces will be the backdrops for our photoshoot later. The hotel offers complimentary continental breakfast so we sit down for a bite and some coffee before plotting out our next move. 
11:30 a.m. – We’re feeling full and refreshed and decide to head out for some shopping. We take a complimentary ride in the hotel’s Tesla to our first stop: MedMen. You could say we’re weed enthusiasts, so it’s only right that we begin our LA weekend with some fresh California cannabis. MedMen is recommended to us by a friend and by the hotel’s concierge, though we’re warned that the prices are higher compared to other retailers. This is my best friend’s first time in a recreational dispensary, so we spend a good amount of time just browsing and deciding on what to buy. We decide on 3.5g of a sweet-smelling Sativa (stoner’s brain so can’t recall the strain) and some RAW papers. Since my best friend owes me from accidentally breaking my cartridge on our last trip together in Cartagena, she foots the bill.
12:30 p.m. – We decide to walk off breakfast in the Fashion District, but mostly because I want to visit one of my favorite online stores’ brick and mortar stores. We walk the entire length of Santee Alley and I am extremely disappointed by the quality of the merchandise that I find. Most of the stores sell knockoff designer goods, makeup, wholesale jewelry and toys, and skimpy polyester clubwear like you’d find on Fashion Nova. Everyone told me that the shopping there would be dismal but DAMN! My best friend, who is a makeup artist, picks up some essentials for her kit and some earrings for back home. I buy nothing. 
1:30 p.m. – We walk a bit further through downtown and end up at another dispensary: Wonderland LA. The prices are much more reasonable here and telling by the long line that forms behind us, this place is popular among locals. This dispensary was also recommended to us by a friend. We decide on an assortment of products and ball the fuck out. I leave with two bags full of fruit gummies, three cartridges (two for a friend back home), and two packs of pre-rolled Sativa joints. The taxes on legalized cannabis in LA are insane! $184.00
3:30 p.m. – It’s time for lunch! We take our Lyft driver’s suggestion and go to El Cholo for happy hour. We both order margaritas, chips, and tacos. Solid food, but not as good as I expected. My best friend covers the taxi rides to the restaurant and then to our hotel. $26.64
6:30 p.m. – We settle into our rooms and nap before our friends meet us for drinks at the hotel. Our hotel has a cute poolside bar called Rick’s. We order drinks and sit by the fireplace on Rick’s rooftop. I am trying to become a more sophisticated drinker so I order a Sidecar. The bartender shows his surprise at my drink of choice. I have a $100 food & beverage credit during my stay so I charge the drinks to the room and save $60. Thanks to my Amex Gold Card, I receive a special $100 credit for any of the hotel amenities when I book and stay at a property part of the Amex Hotel Collection, so it’s well worth every penny.
8:30 p.m. – One of our friends is a bouncer at Arts District Brewery so we head there to meet up with him and for the promises of free drinks. One of our friends covers the taxi charge. The space is really cool – there’s a large bar area, arcade games, and lots of people are flowing in when we arrive. By now, our taco lunch has worn off so we order a bunch of snacks: chicken tenders, fries, wings, and quesadillas to hold us over for the night. I pay for the chicken tenders, fries, and quesadillas. Our friend offers us some beers on the house. $25
11:00 p.m. – My best friend is pressed for us to check out a club downtown promising reggae night and covers our Uber ride there. Upon entering the “club” (loose term), I’m turned off by the crowd and the filthiness (we literally saw roaches, ew). After the failed club attempt, I pay for our Uber from downtown to Hollywood to meet some friends at a hookah lounge called Truth. Our friends are there celebrating a birthday, which we obviously crash, but everyone is nice about it. The lounge apparently has a two-item minimum purchase requirement, but I sneak out without buying anything. $14.01
12:30 a.m. – An old flame who recently moved to LA for work offers to pick me up so we can have a nightcap. He drives us to his apartment in Westwood and I spend the night there. 
Daily Total: $343.87

Day Two

7:00 a.m. – I wake up early so that my old flame can get ready for work. I am still wearing my makeup (full face with lashes, I might add!), heels, and dress from last night. We say our goodbyes and I run into a CVS Pharmacy nearby for a bottle of water and makeup remover wipes ($3.76). I call an UberX to take me directly to my hotel ($18.92). I cannot be seen in broad daylight like this! $22.68
10:30 a.m. – I go back to sleep once I arrive at my hotel room, where my best friend is out cold. A couple of hours later, we both awaken and discover we’ve missed the complimentary breakfast in the lobby. We lazily order room service from bed and have the bill charged to the remaining credit on the room. We save $60. 
1:00 p.m. – It’s a beautiful Saturday! Now I see why so many people love the weather in LA. One of my best friends from college invites me to brunch and to see the Louis Vuitton X exhibit on Rodeo Drive. My best friend decides she wants to hike by the Hollywood sign. I call us an UberX to drop her off first at Runyon Canyon and then take me to Rodeo. Our driver is super sweet and even lets us pull over to the side of the road so I can take pics with the LA skyline and Hollywood sign backdrops. $35.93 
3:30 p.m. – The Louis Vuitton X exhibit was fabulous and free! It’s really a hypebeast/Instagram addict’s dream. Every room just makes you want to take a million pictures and post them endlessly on your feed. I loved it and am extremely proud of my willpower not to buy something from the gift shop. I do have self control!
5:00 p.m. – After, my friend takes us to the famous Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles spot in La Brea. I order the Obama special (waffle and three wings) and my friend and I split sides of candied yams, mac & cheese, and collard greens. The food was not entirely worth the hype but now I can say I’m hip! ($34.00). I order us an UberX to take us back to my hotel ($12.64). $46.64 
7:00 p.m. – Tonight is the night of my friend’s party, which also happens to be an all-white yacht party. What is it with black people and all-white parties?! My best friend and I take our time getting ready. She picks up the cost of the ride from downtown LA to the marina in Long Beach. Once we arrive at the marina, we meet up with several of my friends. Thankfully, they arrived early and are waiting at the front of the GA line. We skip the line and are among the first on the ship. 
9:00 p.m. – The yacht finally leaves the dock and the party gets started. It’s an overall fun time and I am pleased to be reunited with old friends. I can’t exactly understand LA natives' taste in music – either the music being played is like a decade old or I’ve never heard it before. I order a couple of rounds of drinks for myself and a snack from the bar before the party ends. $38
12:00 a.m. – The six of us are famished by now. We decide to have a late-night meal at The Original Pantry Cafe, which is thankfully open 24-hours and located a block away from our hotel. My best friend’s homegirl foots the bill for the UberXL and forgets to request the money from each of us. The portion sizes at the restaurant are huge and hearty. I order a stack of pancakes and a side of turkey sausage. We can see our food being prepared in front of us and we’re quickly served. I want nothing more than a bed by the time we finish and sort the bill. $16
Daily Total: $159.25

Day Three

9:30 a.m. – Today is our last day in LA, so we wake up early to take full advantage of our Sunday. We shower, get dressed and pack up our suitcases to check out. We both leave a cash tip for the housekeeping staff. We check out of the room and ask the hotel to store our bags until we return for LAX. $5
12:00 p.m. – We hop in the hotel’s complimentary Tesla for a short ride to the Omni Hotel, where we have bottomless brunch inside the hotel’s Grand Cafe. We decided on this brunch spot because: a) bottomless mimosas b) good reviews and c) they serve crab legs for brunch. Name a better duo than Champagne and snow crab legs?! I’ll wait. We feast on several plates of brunch goodies. We’re pretty tipsy by the end of our brunch experience. $65
2:30 p.m. – We’re off to Beautycon LA to see Meg thee Stallion! I call us a Lyft to drop us off at the Convention Center. We grab our wristbands and thankfully can walk right into the pavilion without waiting in a line. Beautycon is amazing – there are so many recognizable brands on display. Everyone looks beautiful. We’re way too far in the back to appreciate Meg’s talk but I snap a video from the monitor of her. She’s perfect! $5.90
4:00 p.m. – We do a few loops around the Beautycon floor. In the process, I spot some of my favorite brands and decide on a few purchases from The Mane Choice ($10), L.A. Girl ($26), The Lip Bar ($31.80). I end up scoring a bunch of free samples and even a full one-pound jat of Coconut Curling Creme from Cantu Beauty. I have zero regrets! $67.80
6:15 p.m. – We walk back to Hotel Figueroa and drop off our Beautycon goodies. We decide on another dispensary trip for some souvenirs to take back home because can you ever really have enough weed?! I call us an UberX for Wonderland LA ($8.07). We both pick up a few extra products. I settle on another pack of gummies and 5g of a Sativa strain called “Turpentine.” ($40). $48.07
7:45 p.m. – One of our friends invites us over to chill before our flights home. I call us an UberX to her apartment in Korea Town ($9.77). Upon arriving, we decide we need supplies. The three of us walk to a nearby corner store for chasers and rolling papers. I buy a can of Red Bull and some Cheetos snacks for the flight ($5.25). I order a small pizza and wings from a nearby pizza shop and enjoy my food from my friend’s couch ($14.00). We smoke the last of our MedMen weed. $29.02 
8:30 p.m. – We notice the time and realize we probably should have called a car 30 minutes earlier. I order us an UberX back to the hotel ($8.08) – where we scramble to get changed, pack our Beautycon goodies and assorted weed products, and get to LAX in time for our 11:00 p.m. departures. My best friend offers to pay for the ride to the airport since I paid for the majority of the rides today. $8.08
10:30 p.m. – Our estimated ride time goes from 30 minutes to an actual time of 47 minutes for us to reach our terminals in LAX. My best friend and I both take off running in opposite directions to catch our flights. I pay to check my bag and luckily drop it off before my flight’s cutoff time. The security lines in my terminal are empty of travelers but still fully staffed. I make it through security and onto my gate in record time. $30
10:50 p.m. – While in line to buy some drinks and makeup remover wipes, I receive a text from my best friend saying she missed her flight. I know she’s devastated! I mentally prepare for the red eye, board, and prepare to sleep the bulk of the flight home. $11.07
Daily Total: $269.94

Day Four

8:00 a.m. – Back in NYC! I land at JFK and pick up my bag from the baggage claim. It’s Monday morning and I have to go straight to work. I find an empty and mostly clean bathroom to freshen up in. I wash my face, brush my teeth, and change from my baggy sweats into a more work-appropriate outfit. Directly outside of the bathroom is a full-service Dunkin Donuts. I order my regular: medium iced coffee with almond milk and an egg & cheese croissant. $10.59
8:30 a.m. – I internally weigh the pros and cons of traveling to work by subway, taxi, or Uber. I decide I don’t want to wait through the subway ride nor spend $100 for an Uber so I choose a yellow taxi cab – a flat rate and shortest ride. $65 
10:00 a.m. – I arrive at my office after sitting through an hour of traffic between Queens and Lower Manhattan. Luckily I have no meetings this morning so I can sneak to my desk undetected. 
Daily Total: $75.59
How did you prepare for this trip?
I prepared for this trip by asking my friends and coworkers from LA for recommendations on where to eat and play. Once in LA, I asked my hotel concierge for small requests on where to eat around the hotel.
Did you use credit card points/miles to pay for parts of this trip? If so, please explain further: No.
If flight, when did you book? Do you think you got a good deal? I purchased my flights (separate one-way tickets) a month before departure. I was happy with the price I paid for nonstop flights at my preferred times.
Do you have credit card debt as a result of booking this vacation? 
None. I paid for most of my expenses in cash and the rest on my American Express card, which is due in full every month. 
Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
I wish I’d avoided walking through Santee Alley in the Fashion District. Everything was cheap and of poor quality. Instead, I wish I’d spent more time researching vintage and thrift stores as I’ve heard LA boasts some of the best low-cost thrift shopping around! 
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
My biggest piece of advice: Give yourself plenty of time for drop-off at LAX. I didn’t realize there’s only one main ramp for cars to enter the airport, which causes a ton of traffic no matter the time of day. If you’re catching a red eye flight back to the East Coast, I recommend departing for the airport at least three hours before your flight. Not only is there a ton of traffic outside the airport but nighttime lines within LAX for check-in and baggage drop can be pretty disrespectful too. 
Would you stay at your hotel again?
I would definitely stay at the Hotel Figueroa again. The rooms are nicely decorated, the service is incredible, the pool bar/restaurant is super chic, and the hotel is centrally located. 
Where were you located in the specific city and would you recommend staying in that part of town?
I stayed in downtown LA. I would recommend that first-timers stay in this area as there are many attractions nearby (Grammy Museum, Staples Center, etc.) and taxis are pretty affordable to other popular areas like Hollywood. 
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
I wish I’d not fallen into a weed coma and missed my chance to visit The Broad. During our trip, the museum was featuring an incredible exhibit on Jean-Michel Basquiat and I was able to secure timed entry tickets but ultimately slept through the hour. 
Travel Diaries is meant to reflect individual women's experiences and does not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Travel Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

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