I am not a travel expert. In fact, I joked that taking the red-eye home alone from California made me an experienced traveler. You should know that I was saying this to my cousin who has done multiple trips to Europe and Asia (for upwards of four months at a time). I do have experience with domestic travel, however, this was the first time I planned a trip without my parents. They did foot the air and hotel bills, thank you parents and Southwest mileage.
Last semester I had a building desire to visit the west coast, specifically California, partly for “grass is greener” reasons and partly because I hadn’t been there in years and felt I would appreciate the lifestyle. I probably could elaborate on these reasons one day. In addition, I enjoyed my experience exploring NYC last summer so I wanted to see what its counterpart had to offer. Once I recruited my cousins to join, we (or at least I) had so much fun bookmarking restaurants and workout studios to try. We went into the trip with a “wellness” mindset and planned accordingly. I say wellness loosely because we didn’t stay at spas or health-focused resorts ($$$ but I would love to go one day).
I’ve pinpointed a few tactics we used in planning this healthyish/wellness vacation and thought they might be useful to share.
Aside from me having celiac disease and sensitivities/preferences to certain foods, my cousin has some dietary restrictions as well. I’m accustomed to looking at menus ahead of time to see if there are GF options but, because we didn’t know the area, this required more planning. I know all too well that when you Google “gluten-free restaurants” many of the top options are either chains and/or dumpy places that offer sub-par GF pizza. We wanted good quality restaurants with fresh options.
When searching for restaurants I Googled one or more of the following:
“Farm to table”
I also put Instagram to good use and stalked some of my favorite accounts (and hashtags) in the area to see where they’ve eaten before. Don’t dismiss Instagram as another addicting social media, it can serve a real purpose ;)
Lastly, the first night we arrived in LA we went to Whole Foods and stocked up on snacks for the hotel room because, snacks.
This was ALL Well + Good and The Chalkboard Mag. Both sites put together “healthy city guides” with tons of workout studios, salons and spas. We made a list of our favorite spots and signed up for classes the night before, when we decided our plans for the next day. For example, we knew we wanted to go to Venice Beach and Santa Monica so that day we took a Megaformer class at The Studio (MDR). I also tried to find studios that were in semi-popular areas, meaning there would be juice bars, cafes and shopping within walking distance so we didn’t have to keep driving everywhere. Also, most studios offer a discount for first-time students so you can save some money off the full price.
Other ways to find unique fitness classes:
Fitness magazines (Self, Shape, Women’s Health)
ClassPass (just browse their options in the area)
Speaking of ClassPass, I seriously thought about renewing my membership for this week (and I think that would be a good idea for future trips) but there was a fee because I cancelled it after NYC…and I forgot until midway through the trip.
Things I Might Do Differently
-I’d be interested in exploring Airbnb for future trips, which might come as a shock to anyone who knows me and hotels (we go together like PB&J). However, I think it might be nice to have a kitchen as an option for meals. Eating out, although delicious, is very expensive.
-We did rent a car but had some last-minute issues and ended up with a huge mini-van. Note to self: call ahead of time to make sure a small car is actually on the lot. Oh, and did you know that you can rent a car if you are under 25? I know, now there’s nothing to look forward to since I already turned 21. It was only a $10 daily fee from Enterprise. (We used über during our time without a car…what was life before über?)
-Book direct flights. Me + non-direct flights = a mess waiting to happen.
Hopefully I can put these tips to use again in the near future. Other states in the west coast are calling my name. Anyone want to join?