When it comes to planning a holiday, there are plenty of things that need to be taken into consideration, like food, accommodation and activities. And what is it that dictates all of these? Money. How much you budget for a trip can determine whether you’re living it up in five-star hotels, or making the most of free attractions and cheap street eats.
Take Los Angeles, for example. The home of Hollywood can very easily become one super expensive place to visit. So if you’re wondering how to plan a holiday to Los Angeles, or stuck on how much spending money for Los Angeles you need, it’s time to relax. We’ve done the maths and filled out the spreadsheets to come up with the ultimate guide to splashing (or saving) your cash.
If You’re in LA for 1 Day
When you’ve only got 24 hours to spend in the City of Angels, you’re probably not looking to go through all of your hard-earned holiday cash in one go. Instead, why not adopt a more frugal mindset and take advantage of some of the cheap things to do in Los Angeles. We promise you’ll still have an awesome time.
Food is one of those non-negotiables; no matter who you are or how much money you have, everyone’s has to eat. For a little taste of LA that won’t send you broke, head to one of the city’s food halls. Here you’ll find a smorgasbord of cheap and cheerful options, with everything from tacos to fried chicken and burgers. Some favourites are the Grand Central Market (a downtown LA institution) or the Original Farmers Market (an open-air marketplace). Los Angeles also happens to be one of the original birthplaces of the food truck craze. This meals on wheels fad has been booming since 2008, and the line-up of trucks cruising LA’s streets promise bargain bites covering everything from Korean-Mexican-barbecue tacos (thank you, Kogi BBQ), katsu sandos, bagels with lox, and handmade pastas.
COST: Around $10 – $15 AUD per meal.
With just one day to explore LA, there’s no point wasting it by spending it somewhere like Universal Studios. After all, you want to see as much of the city as possible, right? That’s where the hop-on hop-off buses come in. Sure they’re pretty touristy, but they’re also highly informative, fun and will get you to all the city hotspots. A day cruising around on one of those double-deckers will have you ticking off Hollywood, downtown LA, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and so much more.
COST: Prices start from $60 AUD per person for an all routes ticket..
If you were trying to think of how to save money in Los Angeles, this is your best chance. After all, why splurge on accommodation when you’re only staying such a short time? The Hollywood district has some inexpensive hotel, motel and hostel options that won’t cost an arm and a leg, and the central location means you’re still in the midst of all the big city action.
COST: Prices start from $150 AUD per night for a basic hotel room or $50 AUD per night for a hostel dorm.
If You’re in LA for a Long Weekend
Only visiting LA for two to three days? Then you’re going to want to make the most of it. This is the perfect amount of time to stopover if you’re looking to throw (some of) the holiday budget out the window and live like an A-lister. From shopping sprees on Rodeo Drive to staying in penthouse suites, finding ways to spend money in La La Land is the easiest thing you’ll ever do.
Foodies, rejoice! If you’ve got a craving for lobster, caviar and truffles, now’s your opportunity to start ticking those dream meals off the wish list. LA is home to plenty of Michelin-star restaurants and celebrity chef-run eateries, but if we had to name a couple of top-notch options, Urasawa, Providence and Maude (run by Australian Curtis Stone) are a cut above the rest.
COST: Prices vary between restaurants, but may start from $120 AUD per person, per meal.
Want to take to the skies on a private helicopter joy flight over the Hollywood sign? What about hiring a personal stylist to guide you through Beverly Hills’ most exclusive boutiques? In LA, if you can dream it up, chances are you can make it happen too – for the right price, of course. Just remember, some of the best things in life are free, like a night of stargazing at Griffith Observatory. It’s one of the most romantic things to do in Los Angeles on a budget – and there’s absolutely no need to flash the credit card.
COST: Whatever you’re willing to pay.
We’ve only got two words when it comes to deciding on where you want to stay for an extravagant LA long weekend: Beverly Hills. Palatial, opulent and over-the-top ornate, the hotels here reflect what the VIP guests and Hollywood celebs want from their accommodation – total luxury. You’ll find personalised service, rooftop infinity pools and Italian marble bathrooms among other five-star amenities. Go on, live like an Oscar-winner for a weekend.
COST: Prices start from $500 AUD per night.
If You’re in LA for One Week
Wow, seven days in LA will allow you to tick off the majority of the city’s must-visit sites, plus so much more. The only thing to be wary of is spending too much money – the last thing you want to do is come home having wracked up a holiday debt. It’s all about balance here, so just how much spending money for Los Angeles from Australia do you need for a week? Read on and find out…
Eating out for a week in LA can get expensive if you allow it. While we’re not against treating yourself to a fancy dinner (hello, Nobu!), you’ve got to throw in a couple of cheap meals to ensure you stick to your holiday budget. A trip to Whole Foods for breakfast items, snacks and even a few lunches will set you up nicely, leaving you with plenty of cash to spend on a few delicious dinners. Oh, and no trip to LA is complete without a cheap burger from In-N-Out!
COST: Allow for $50 – $100 AUD per day, per person.
Disneyland, Runyon Canyon Park, Griffith Observatory, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) – with a week in LA you could just about squeeze all of these awesome attractions onto your itinerary. The only catch? It’s gonna cost you. If spending a day at Disneyland is on your bucket list though, be prepared to part with a serious amount of cash (those Mickey ears don’t come cheap). Just don’t forget about all the incredible free things to do in Los Angeles too, including strolling along the Hollywood Walk of Fame or visiting the Getty Centre. More of those activities means more leftover cash to spend on souvenirs!
COST: From $1,000 – $1,500 AUD, depending on what attractions you visit.
It’s unsurprisingly easy to blow your budget when staying in LA for a week. Your best bet at keeping the finances in check is to find a mid-range hotel or serviced apartment in an area you’ll likely spend a lot of time in. That way, you won’t fork out extra for transport, and you can cook some of your own meals rather than eating out. Venice Beach or Santa Monica are home to some of the best places to stay in Los Angeles on a budget, and are still close enough to many of the city’s top attractions.
COST: Prices start from $800 AUD per week for a basic serviced apartment in Venice Beach.
Ready to explore the City of Angels? Be on your way to Hollywood by booking cheap flights to Los Angeles with Webjet. Plus, combine your flight booking with your Los Angeles accommodation in a holiday package to have even more spending money in your pocket for when you land!