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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Live and Learn: Los Angeles


It’s been a while since I’ve done a live and learn post. I like to think I’m getting closer to being a super-efficient traveler. While I packed even less this time and only didn’t wear one thing I packed (two if you count a Halloween costume), I still found that I learned quite a bit of stuff on my trip. Some is universal, some is specific to the Los Angeles/Anaheim area, but all may be helpful to you. It just proves, there’s always something to learn, no matter how experienced you are. This is true in life and in travel.

The least amount of clothes we've ever packed - almost perfect!

Everything takes longer than you think it will
This is especially true in the LA area. If you want to go anywhere around the city or to/from a nearby city (like Anaheim to Hollywood), give yourself a good two hours to get there. It may not take as long, but chances are there will be some sort of hold-up, like an accident, and you’ll be glad you left early. It took us 30 minutes to drive 2 miles in the city. We probably should have just walked.

Horrible picture of the Disney Symphony building
Don’t take a city tour at night
If I had known what sorts of cool stuff our tour guide was taking us to see, I would have opted to take a day tour of the city rather than the Los Angeles by Night one we went on. It was very cool – especially since we were the only ones on it – and the tour guide was amazingly knowledgeable, but it’s terrible trying to take pictures in the dark even when you aren’t in a moving coach. Read about mytour here.

I love these shoes, but they are a poor substitute for flip flops
It’s never a dumb idea to pack flip flops
So, I would think after a billion trips I would have learned by now that flip flops are always a good idea. Knowing that I was going to be spending 75% of my time in theme parks, I figured there was no point in packing these, but I was wrong. My feet hurt so badly one evening when we got back to our room that I took my walking shoes off and tried to put on a pair of walking flats I had in my bag. My feet had swollen so much they were more painful than the trainers. I planned to go downstairs to the gift shop for a pair of flip flops when I realized that I had packed a pair of foldable flats. They are great, because they aren’t structured, so they can feel like walking barefoot, but without getting the bottom of your feet icky. I wore those downstairs to buy a pair of flip flops.

This was just the line to get through security!
Get to the parks at least an hour before they open
We didn’t take our own advice and showed up right before opening on a Monday at California Adventure. The weather was unseasonably warm and the lines were longer than I’d ever seen them. Even the lady who checked my bag at the gate said it was like summer crowds and crazy. We ended up standing in two different lines to try to beat the odds, but still didn’t make it into the park until 30 minutes after it opened. Even if you’re visiting Disney during the week on the off-season, get there way before you think you need to. If there’s no line, you can always go grab a coffee at La Brea Bakery (or similar).

At least I didn't have to buy shorts, too!
Always bring a warm weather Halloween costume
I realize this is an odd problem for anyone to have. When we go to Disney, we often do it during the Fall and Halloweentime. We buy tickets to go the Halloween party and bring costumes to get into the spirit. As I said, it was crazy warm in Southern California when we went at the end of September. I had brought a sailor costume that had pants and long sleeves (and was polyester). I realized the days before the party that even at night, the temperature was not going to be cool enough for me to not die of heat stroke in my costume. We hit up Target, but their selection was miserable, so we ended up going to a local shop that had sports gear and I shelled out money for an Angels t-shirt and ball cap. It was unimaginative and used money I could have spent on something else, but at least I can re-wear it. It would have been smarter for me to have brought an outfit that was good for summer weather and a pair of tights to wear in case it was actually cold. Now I know!

There are more things I learned in my 11 days in the Anaheim/Los Angeles area, but we’ll save that for the next post. What useful things have you learned on your last trips that could help others when they travel?
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