It has been fantastic the last couple of weeks and while my allergies are killing me, I’m excited that the weather is warming up. We’re heading over to California in June and we’re excited because it’ll be our first time there and we’re going to sort of travel (I’ll explain in a bit) with our friends. It’s going to have a work component to it for me, so I’ll be bringing either my netbook or laptop to take care of business.

The idea came up in February when a friend mentioned he was heading to Los Angeles for a conference. After talking a bit we realize it would be great to join them. I’ve been meaning to meet up with some collegues and friends in California and splitting some travel costs would be great. Planning ahead can help you avoid hidden costs of traveling.

They live in Virginia and we’re in North Carolina so our plan is to meet up in California and do some sight seeing together and then break up to explore the town.

In case you missed my New York trip a couple of years ago, here are some lessons I learned that make vacations a lot more fun.

  • Have a budget for your vacation. I learned with that trip, that budgets are your friends. Staying on budget means you’ll have a guilt free trip and no credit card bill to haunt you when you get back.
  • Have a day to go back to your favorite spots. If you know you’re going back the next day, then you can cut down on impulse buys.
  • Ask around for lodging. Using the internet last year, we got a room for $200 in Staten Island, 35 minutes away from the Ferry. This time, we stayed at an apartment in Brooklyn (our own floor) for $65 a night, one block from the subway.
  • Look for local spots to eat. You can get some incredible food for a good price if you look for hole in the wall spots.

Planning the Itinerary

We’re still planning the itinerary, but we like to keep it open for some spur of the moment things. I wanted to ask if anyone knows if Los Angeles has a decent bus system. Is it better to go ahead and rent a car? I wouldn’t mind using the public transportation system if it’s pretty efficient. We used it when we went to New York and DC and it allowed us to relax while someone else drives around in traffic.

If we go ahead and rent a car, we’ll probably go and use Priceline again to find a deal. Last trip we managed to pay around $120 to rent a car for a week. I use their bid feature quite a bit and have found some awesome deals.

Priceline’s bid option for hotels is something that we use to find some steals. I tend to look for the 4 or 5 star and start off by bidding low. I got a wonderful deal on our hotel at Orlando for $30/night plus tax and it was in a convenient location to everything.

Eating Out Without Going Broke

We tend to have our breakfast at the hotel and buy some snacks. We prefer rooms with a fridge or kitchenette so we can reduce some of our food expenses. We love going out to restaurant for lunch and maybe catching a local spot for dinner. At some point, I really want to try out In-N-Out Burger and if all the hype is true.

Your Take

What about you? Are you planning a vacation soon? Any tips on places to visit in L.A.?