Los Angeles

About the Travel Guide – Los Angeles is my hometown and this guide is for the foreign or domestic traveller who want to ditch the car and navigate this giant city by bus or train.

Getting Around Los Angeles

Los Angeles Metro Rail

The Los Angeles Metro Rail is an urban rail transportation system serving Los Angeles County, California. It consists of six lines, including two rapid transit subway lines (the Red and Purple lines) and four light rail lines (the Blue, Green, Gold and Expo lines) serving 93 stations. It connects with the Metro Busway bus rapid transit system (the Orange Line and Silver Line) and also with the Metrolink commuter rail system.

By the way LA Metro Buses are free except the trains

Metrolink is a commuter rail system in Southern California consisting of seven lines and 62 stations operating on 534 miles (859 km) of rail network. The system operates in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties, as well as to Oceanside in San Diego County. It connects with the Los Angeles County Metro Rail and Metro Busway system, the San Diego Coaster commuter rail and Sprinter light rail services, and with Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and Sunset Limited intercity rail services.

As a good example of effective affordable travel, I spend $ 25 per week commuting around LA to meet my clients and to show people around with my LA Tour Company. 

Metrolink allows me to visit relatives all the way out in Riverside within an hour versus 2 hours on a bus. Metrolink on weekends is $10 all days and gets you to all the fun beach towns like San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, and Oceanside.


How to travel safe & not get sick when riding trains, subways, and buses

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a press conference on April 24 that the coronavirus can live on public transit’s plastic and steel surfaces for 72 hours.

Several public transportation agencies across the country are now taking steps to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus and subdue public fears of catching it.

Here are important tips recommended by health experts interviewed by Business Insider :

  • Don’t touch your phone while you’re taking public transportation.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it the moment you leave the bus, train, or subway.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • If someone is coughing or sneezing, try to move away from them.
  • Wash your hands the moment you have access to soap and water.

What you need to know about Airbnb in Los Angeles

I’ve been an Airbnb user the last 8 years now ( Airbnb began in 2008). I have had some wonderful experiences using the service: the Philadelphia Asian couple who made and shared dinner with me, the cool dudes in Culver City, California who I enjoyed playing Xbox video games every night, the San Clemente retired couple who shared pizza and Games of Thrones highlights with me, the young woman in Oakland who let me walk her dogs in exchange for free nights, and countless other wonderful experiences where I got to meet locals and learn aspects of life that I might not have otherwise.

With over six million listings, Airbnb is one of the biggest booking sites out there. In the first quarter of 2019, it booked 91 million room nights. By comparison, Expedia booked 80.8 million.

What is challenging about using Airbnb is the finding the best location within your budget range. For out of work millennials and young international visiting LA for the first time, the lowest price range you can find close to Hollywood or downtown LA would be in the $25-35 a night range. And expect to stay in a more hostel like atmosphere. Most Airbnb Hosts ( particularly the Russians ) tend to cram 6-8 people in a tiny room normally reserved for 4 people.

Experience-wise, I have had my share of fun stays and horror Airbnb hosts and conditions. The few horror Airbnb stories I can share:

  • I book a USC Airbnb apartment arriving to a terribly filthy kitchen and even worst a nasty bathroom. It’s so bad that not even cockroaches would live there. I made my host clean up and reported the property to Airbnb.
  • I used to stay at a wonderful Thai town Airbnb house last year until it became the house of horrors. Guests complain of overcrowding and constant fights between the regulars and the guests. Imagine packing 16 men & women in a 3-bedroom, 2 bathroom house normally reserved for 4-6 adults. Nightly stays are between $ 20-25 so cheap rates would normally attract the riff-raff or unsavory characters coming from the South and the mid-West.

How to avoid booking a bad host & accommodation :

  • I would recommend increase your budget with a minimum of $35-$50 for shared rooms. And $75 for your own private room.
  • Be sure to read up on the Airbnb Host reviews profile. Superhost are a good choice and pick them if you are lucky to find a spot.

As a responsible traveller, I have found Airbnb to be the main cause of overtourism. As Nomad Matt explains . ” Airbnb has created a lot of new accommodation for travelers, which in turn contributes to higher tourism numbers.3 On the one hand, that’s good: cheaper accommodation = more tourists = more revenue. But, when unregulated and combined with the issues highlighted above, increased tourism kills the very places we love. It becomes a vicious cycle: more tourists = more money = more properties on Airbnb = fewer local residents.

New York City

  • About the New York City Travel Guide
  • Arriving and leaving New York City
  • Where to stay in New York City
  • Our favorite restaurants in New York City
  • Things to do in New York City
  • How to Get Around  ( Transportation )
  • Prices and Expenses

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Where to stay in NYC :

My recommendations for budget hostels in NYC
Chelsea International Hostel
Vanderbilt YMCA
American Dream Hostel

How to get around New York City :

Free Things to do in New York City :

  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Stroll or jog in Central Park
  • Do a yoga class in Bryant Park
  • Ride the Staten Island Ferry ( it’s free )
  • Pay your respects at 911 Memorial
  • Tour the Brooklyn Brewery
  • Visit the Grand Central Terminal
  • Check out the free galleries in Chelsea
  • Visit NYC museums for free ( some are free on certain days )

The best way to see the best attractions in NYC

San Diego

  • About the San Diego Travel Guide
  • Arriving and leaving San Diego
  • Where to stay in San Diego
  • Our favorite restaurants in San Diego
  • Things to do in San Diego
  • How to Get Around  ( Transportation )
  • Prices and Expenses

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Where to stay in San Diego :

My favorite hostels in San San Diego

Adventure Travel Hostel ( Little Italy )
Point Loma Hostel
Banana Bungalo

How to get around San Diego :

  • San Diego Trolley
  • San Diego Coaster
  • North County Sprinter
  • Hop on Hop Off

Free Things to do in San Diego :

  • Visit San Diego beaches ( there are over 30 of them )
  • Hang out with the sea lions in La Jolla
  • Stroll around the historic Gaslamp Quarter
  • Take the best sunset shots from Ocean Beach Pier
  • Hike Cowles Mountain ( approx 1,600 feet above sea level )
  • Stroll around historic Old Town State Historic Park
  • Go for a picnic, BBQ, or stroll around Seaport Village
  • Meditate to commanding views at the top of Mt. Soledad, La Jolla
  • Go for a hike on Mission Trails Regional Park or Torrey State Park Preserve. San Diego is known as a popular hikers’ destination.

The best way to see the best attractions in San Diego, California

San Diego currently only has a CityPass for the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park in Escondido ( a good 1 hour drive from downtown San Diego ). More details to follow.

San Francisco

  • About the San Francisco Travel Guide
  • Arriving and leaving San Francisco
  • Where to stay in San Francisco
  • Our favorite restaurants in San Francisco
  • Things to do in San Francisco
  • How to Get Around  ( Transportation )
  • Prices and Expenses

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Where to stay in SF :

My favorite hostels in San Francisco
Adelaide Hostel ( near Union Square )
Green Tortoise ( North Beach )
Music City Hotel ( Nob Hill )
Fort Mason Hostel International ( near Pier 39)

How to get around San Francisco :

  • BART ( Bay Area Rapid Transport ) – Gets you to UC Berkeley, Oakland, Mission District, Market St, East Bay, and SF Int’l Airport
  • San Francisco MUNI is the public transit system for the city and county of San Francisco, California.
  • Caltrain – Gets you to Silicone Valley, Stanford University, San Jose Diridon Station ( which connects to Santa Cruz ). Caltrain has the cleanest & fastest trains. No wifi though. One way to SJ is $ 10.00
  • Golden Gate Transit – I take this bus from downtown SF to get Sonoma Wine Country, Muir Woods, & Marin County. The bus goes over to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Free Things to do in San Francisco :

  • Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge ( it’s 1.7 miles long )
  • Stroll the Golden Gate Park
  • Hike the Twin Peaks
  • Check out the Cable Cars
  • Visit Chinatown
  • Walk the crookedest street in the world ( Lombard St. )
  • Hang out with the sea lions at Pier 39
  • Visit the chocolate factory at Ghirardelli Square
  • Do some fun Instagramming at Clarion Alley in the Mission District
Save Money with a CIty Pass

The best way to see the best attractions in the City by the Bay.

San Francisco packs a lot into its compact 49 square miles. CityPASS is kind of like that, too – we’ve hand-picked the city’s best attractions, including the world-famous cable cars, and packed them into a perfect pocket-sized ticket book for your visit. CityPASS is valid for 9 days starting with the first day of use, giving you plenty of time to see the best of San Francisco, and take the best memories home with you.

Travel Medical Insurance

What is travel insurance ?
When traveling outside of your home country it’s important to buy international travelers medical insurance to cover yourself against accidents or illness. Even if you have private medical insurance at home the chances are this will not cover you when traveling abroad, or if it does cover you that coverage will be very limited.

What your are looking for is a “Travel Medical Insurance Plan“. Many policies are simply “trip cancellation” policies which only cover the cost of your trip if for some reason you can’t go. Travel Medical plans incorporate some components of trip coverage with additional coverage for certain illnesses. Make sure you review the terms of each policy to make sure it covers what you want insurance for (review the benefits and exclusions).

Are you visiting from a foreign country ? Then it would make sense to buy travel insurance. If you and your family members are planning to visit the United States, then everyone should have travel medical insurance to cover for their unforeseen emergency medical conditions. In the US the cost of medical expenses is high and it is good to buy travel medical insurance though you are traveling for a short visit .

I have been searching for the best travel insurance for both domestic and foreign travellers and here are my suggestions.

Visitors Coverage
Visitors Coverage has both fixed and comprehensive coverage plans. Starting at $ 65 per person.Again prices depend if you have preexisting medical conditions.

This insurance company based out of Texas has good customer reviews from several customers.

Global Health Insurance
For foreign visitors planning short visits to the USA

Allianz Travel Insurance 
Got this recommendation from the travel  blogger Social Girl. Fees are affordable. $400 per year would get you ample coverage. Jen recommends the Annual Executive Plan.

You can read more about the different types of travel insurance on this Quora link.