Welcome to Travel Diaries, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 35-year-old executive assistant and mother takes some time to herself and visits friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles with a pit-stop at a Monterey goat farm.
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Occupation: Executive Assistant
Travel Companion: Traveling solo and staying with college friends for most of the trip. One friend will be traveling with me for the Monterey/Aptos/Santa Cruz part of the trip.
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Trip Location: San Francisco, California; Monterey, Aptos, and Santa Cruz, CA; Los Angeles, CA
Trip Length: 9 days
Annual # Of Vacation Days: 15 days
Costs: I flew from Chicago’s O’Hare to San Francisco Intl., then Oakland Intl. to the Hollywood Burbank Airport, then from LAX back to Chicago. My SF friend and I also reserved a rental car to drive down to Monterey and the Airbnb on the goat farm. I originally booked my flights to and from Chicago using points. However, due to the Max 8 disaster, my flights were changed from direct to connecting with multiple hours added to the trip time. So I cancelled those flights and booked on another airline. I did use points to book my flight from Oakland to Burbank. $417.60 for flights from Chicago to San Fran, then LA to Chicago. Oakland to Burbank, points.
Cost: I stayed with friends the majority of the trip, so there was no cost (other than where I covered for meals, etc. as a thank you). I stayed in San Francisco for two days, two more days at a goat farm, four days in LA. My share of the Airbnb on the baby goat farm in Monterey/Santa Cruz was $111.51.
Miscellaneous pre-vacation spending
- $83.79 for a pen (My friend in LA just completed her MBA program, so I bought her a special pen from a stationary store in Chicago. A former boss once gave me a fancy pen, and I always think of them as special gifts not everyone thinks of getting.)
- $11.83 for a grown-up connect-the-dots book (I wanted something mindless to do during downtime, and saw someone on Instagram post a really cool looking connect-the-dots book for adults. It’s super calming.)
- $100 for a ticket to Robyn (My friend bought them ahead of time and I Venmo’d my portion. These were floor seats on risers.)
4:00 a.m. (CST) — I wake up with my alarm and for a second forget that I need to catch the 6:30 a.m. flight. I’ve laid everything I need out in the bathroom so I don’t wake up my husband, K. He and our five-year-old son H are spending the week in Wisconsin with my husband’s extended family, and I know he has a long day ahead wrangling H and the four-hour drive north. I drink a Starbucks drink, eat some cottage cheese and blueberries (we have so many because they are in season), then call my Lyft to the airport. $36.19
I arrive at Chicago O'Hare with about an hour and a half before takeoff. My dad was an airline pilot and I'm physically incapable of arriving for a flight any later than that. There are a surprising number of people in security, but the line moves fast and I'm at the gate 30 minutes before boarding starts. They say that our flight is full and ask for volunteers to gate check bags. I used to hate checking my bag, but have gotten more comfortable with it over the years. So I gate check my rolling suitcase. The flight's about 4.5 hours and Alaska Air offers free entertainment, so I watch Gloria Bell and Ready Player One. Loved Gloria Bell, half paid attention to Ready Player One.
9:00 a.m. (PT) — I land at San Francisco International Airport and I text my friend to let her know I am on the way. I packed a granola bar and a banana for the flight, hoping those would tide me over so I don't have to waste money on expensive airport food. I am also saving my next coffee fix for when I meet up with my friend so we can go to Philz. I love Philz coffee and plan to drink it every day I am in SF. I take the Airtrain to the BART station and put enough money on my card to tide me over for the SF portion of the trip. $20
10:00 a.m. — We waited a super long time at the airport platform for a BART train, then were told we needed to go to another platform because they had switched tracks due to maintenance. My stomach is grumbling by the time I get to my friend’s place in the Mission, so we drop my bags and head out for Philz and some food. At Philz we both get small Tesora blends, mine with cream and hers black. (She pays.) Then we head to Arizmendi to load up on baked goods. We get a baguette, chocolate thing, lemon coconut bread pudding, a corn and cherry scone, and a cheese roll. The plan is for us to pick at these all day. $15.50
4:00 p.m. — We’ve literally done nothing all day but eat carbs, drink coffee and tea, and talk. Normally we text every day and talk a lot on the phone, but only get to see each other maybe once a year at most. So it’s really great to just sit and talk for hours. We decide it’s time to head out, so we stop by Barzotto for some fresh pasta. We get the radiatore pasta, spinach salad, and each have a glass of rosé. (My friend pays.) Then we head down Valencia to do some window shopping. We stop at Everlane because I love their stuff online and there isn’t a store in Chicago, but with the pasta in my gut and the crowd in the store, I’m not really feeling it. It feels weird waiting to try on a pair of plain navy pants. So we check out some boutiques on the walk back to my friend’s place.
7:00 p.m. — We get into full pajama pants mode and start the latest season of Queer Eye. My friend has some bottles leftover from her monthly wine subscription box. We drink two – one rose and one white, which may or may not have explained us sobbing throughout the episodes.
11:00 p.m. — I fall asleep around episode five so we call it a night. I pop a melatonin since I don’t always sleep well after drinking.
Daily Total: $71.69
8:00 a.m. — I’m a little foggy from all the wine last night, but don’t feel too bad (thanks I think to the melatonin-induced sleep). I lie on the couch for a little while and have some phone time until I hear my friend get up to use the bathroom. We agree that today will also be a pretty lazy day since we are road tripping tomorrow. She starts making fried eggs, rice, and veggie sausage while I head to Philz and get use both coffees. I also grab a bag of whole bean to take home. $26.13
10:00 a.m. — More hang out and talk time and Queer Eye. My friend loaded up on Trader Joe’s snacks and we graze on those when we’re hungry. We decide to figure out the car situation for our trip down to Monterey and the baby goat farm. My friend finds a startup that will bring the car to your door. The prices are really good (yay, startup money) and we find a promo code on Instagram for free delivery. I book it and pay since I’ll be the one driving and need to provide my driver’s license. The amount that I see charged is higher than what I was quoted, so I text with support to see what’s up. They say there was an error in travel insurance, and refund me the incorrect amount immediately. My friend insists on reimbursing me for half after. $53.49
3:00 p.m. — We take the BART to Temescal Brewing in Oakland to hang out in their beer garden. My friend has two other very close friends, one who lives in Oakland and another who lives in New York, and none of us have been together at the same time. It is just a coincidence that the friend from NYC is also here to visit her sister, who has a three-month-old baby. Even though we aren’t all friends per se, we know so much about each other because of our shared friend, and it’s really great to hang out together. $18.00 for my share of drinks.
6:00 p.m. — Take the BART back to my friend’s place for snacks and leftover veggie stew. We start watching Euphoria and are surprisingly into it. We get through four episodes.
11 p.m. — Take another melatonin and go to bed.
Daily Total: $97.62
8:00 a.m. — Our car is scheduled to be delivered at 9:00 a.m., so we toss a change of clothes in our bags and load up on snacks. I walk to Philz for the coffee fix. $8.91
9:00 a.m. — The car company said they would text when they were on the way and I am nervous that I haven’t seen anything. I decide to download the app and see if there is anything there about our car, and sure enough, messages have been sent through their app messenger but not via text. As soon as I see the previous texts that the car is on the way, I get another one saying the car is outside. This car service is almost too good to be true; a guy parks our car on the street, goes through a quick spiel about gas and pick-up after my trip, then heads on his way. Such a relief not having to get the car back to a rental place or worry about refilling the tank. We pack up the last of our stuff and hit the road. We listen to some Spotify playlists then the latest episode of "The Watch," which we both love. The roads are really twisty for a stretch and the basic model car handles really rough, so both of us are feeling a bit squeamish. We turn off the podcast and just enjoy the quiet for the last leg of the trip.
12:00 p.m. — We don’t have any set plans in Monterey until we can check into the baby goat farm Airbnb after 3:00 p.m. So we park downtown and walk to Alvarado Street Brewery. (My friend pays for parking.) We each get beers, then split a triple mushroom pizza and the burrata salad. My friends pays since I paid for the car.
1:00 p.m. — We stop at Walgreens so I can get sunscreen. I forgot my daytime moisturizer with SPF at home and know I need protection spending any time outside. I also grab a La Croix. ($16.67) We walk down to the waterfront to Fisherman’s Wharf. It is way too touristy and we aren’t feeling it, so we keep walking up to Cannery Row, which is also more touristy than we would like and super crowded even for a Monday. We stop at a wine tasting room and get a white wine and rosé flight to share. The bartender is cute and nice to talk to, and there’s a picture book about dogs on wineries for us to look through. My friend pays for the flight and I pay for a bottle of the one we like the most to take back to the Airbnb. ($30.35) $47.02
5:00 p.m. — We arrive at the Airbnb. I found this one from an article about animal-centric Airbnbs. The farm is built into the hillside in Aptos. The driveway is too steep for us to drive up, so we park on the side of the road and hike up. The owners greet us and immediately get the baby goats. Two were born in early July and another in June. They are the absolute sweetest and silliest creatures. We bottle feed them and talk with our hosts, also checking out the three piglets in the pig pen. They have 27 goats on the farm in addition to the three babies. We can’t see them but hear them up in the hills above the house.
6:00 p.m. — After chatting for a while we head into our room, which is totally adorable and perfectly appointed. We ask our host if they have any recs for dinner in town. Nothing is really sounding good, and I am pretty done with driving on those twisty roads, so we decide to stay in. I FaceTime with my husband and son for a bit, then we break out more TJ snacks and the wine from Monterey, and talk more.
8:00 p.m. — We notice that the goats have left their pen and begun descending down the hill, eating everything in their path. It’s crazy seeing that many goats just go HAM on some lavender and thistle, sitting on the patio furniture and doing what they please. We both walk outside to pet them for a bit, then head back inside and watch Fried Green Tomatoes. It’s a favorite of ours.
10:00 p.m. — Our host messages me to ask if we want fresh bagels and goat milk fromage blanc for breakfast in the morning. Yes, please! She also says they will be milking the goats at 6:00 a.m. if we want to join. We say we will try, though I’m not sure if we will be up that early. Finish the movie, take a melatonin and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $55.93
6:00 a.m. — I actually wake up naturally around 6 a.m. feeling really well rested. My friend is still asleep, so I step outside to see if the hosts are out yet to milk the goats. I don’t see anyone but hang out for a while enjoying the huge redwoods towering overhead and the fog rolling in.
6:45 a.m. — Our host messages to say they had a late start but will be milking the goats in a few minutes. I wake up my friend and we step outside again. Our host tells us more about the farm, grabs a goat from the pen, and shows us how to milk. She asks if I want to try, so I get up in there and do alright! There’s another great goat escape and they all come down the hill and join us. It’s a bit chaotic, but our host is able to finish milking the goats who need it, then grabs the babies again for us to bottle feed, along with the bagels for our breakfast (which are delicious).
10:00 a.m. — We’ve spent the whole morning sitting and chatting with our host. She’s around our age and has had a really interesting career path that led her to goat farming and Airbnb hosting. Also, holding a baby goat is the best stress reliever ever. We could honestly have stayed there all day, but we want to check out one of the neighboring towns before heading back to SF for my flight. Our host recommends checking out Capitola, a cute little beach town 15 minutes away.
11:00 a.m. — We park the car in a lot a short walking distance from the beach ($1) and do some window shopping in the cute shops along the way. The beach is packed with campers and families, so we sit, chat, and do some people watching. We stop by a poke place we found online, but they are closed. Nothing else is piquing our interest, so we just stop in a coffee shop with a nice view. I get a cup of coffee, still pretty full from the bagel and cheese at the farm. ($6) Google told us the drive from Capitola to my friend's place in the Mission would be a little under 2 hours. Kyte is picking up the car from my friend's place at 3:00 p.m. and I’m planning to take the BART from her place to the Oakland Airport for my flight at 6:00 p.m. I can get pretty anxious leading up to a flight, so we both agree to head back so we have some wiggle room. $7
2:00 p.m. — The drive back to SF is pretty smooth, but I’m definitely done driving this economy model car and dealing with California drivers. We stop at a burrito place near my friend’s apartment, but they are closed, so we get back in the car and briefly stop for cookies at Anthony’s Cookies & Ice Cream. I get one of each to bring to my hosts in LA. My nerves are a little frayed from the driving and upcoming flight, so we nix the burrito idea and head back to my friend’s place so I can pack up. $14.25
3:00 p.m. — I meet the person from the car start up who is picking up the car. He is super awkward and reminds me of how weird SF can be sometimes. We didn’t fill up the tank so they will just charge me for the gas later. I eat some more of my friend’s leftover veggie stew then say goodbye.
3:30 p.m. — Head to the BART to take the train to the Oakland airport, adding enough money for the fare. $10
5:30 p.m. — Getting to the airport was super easy on the BART and shuttle, plus the line at security was non-existent, so I am at the gate with plenty of time to spare. I packed some of my friend’s TJ Omega Mix trail mix, so I just fill my water bottle at the gate and plan to snack on those if I’m hungry. My friend is super generous and gifts me with items she’s purchased that didn’t work out or she no longer wants. So I now have Bose noise cancelling headphones that make my flight much more enjoyable.
7:15 p.m. — Land at Burbank and meet my friend at the curb. We have been friends since freshman year of college and it always feels like we pick right up front where we left off no matter how long it’s been since we saw each other. We head back to her house in Highland Park. Her husband has just gotten home from work, so we sit around and chat for a bit.
8:30 p.m. — We walk down to Figueroa and get tacos at HomeState. I get the Potato taco, Piccadilly taco, and a glass of red wine. My friend pays. We sit in their patio area and chat for a couple hours before heading home. Right before we get to their house, a coyote turns the corner and runs right past us! It’s really shocking for all three of us. Animals are a big part of my trip!
10:30 p.m. — My friend and I have some beer from their fridge while catching up more at her house.
12:30 p.m. — My friend’s house has an attached apartment that they rent out through Airbnb. Luckily their recent tenant just moved out, so I have the space all to myself. It’s such a luxury to be in an entire apartment all by myself — something that never happens back at home. I stretch across the empty bed and watch some episodes of Grownish while the melatonin kicks in, then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $31.25
8:00 a.m. — Wake up somewhat early, despite the late (for me) night. I see a text from my neighbor back home. She is moving so I am buying her washer and dryer for $50! Turns out I got my dates wrong and she needs me to move them while I’m still in California. I tell her I will see what I can do and will get back to her. My friend has work today, so I am on my own until the afternoon. She thought she might have time to get coffee before work, but she texts to say she needs to head in early and she’ll see me in the afternoon. I take a shower to wash off the goat farm and airplane funk and get dressed in workout clothes. I love hiking and there's a park nearby with decent-looking trails. I fill up my water bottle and head out the door.
9 a.m. — Grab just a cup of coffee at Civil Coffee. I plan to get breakfast after my hike, and I feel like I’ve had enough sugary carbs on this trip. $3.83
9:30 a.m. — Head out to the park. There isn’t an obvious entrance, so I look at Google Maps to see where I can cross the highway and hook up with a trail. Find a trail and start up the hill, but am getting a bit spooked after the coyote last night and the goat farmer talking about mountain lions. I’m also making sure to hydrate and hop in the shade where I can since it is blazing hot already out here. I call my mom and dad to catch up. My reminder on my phone said that my mom’s birthday is tomorrow, but it’s actually today! I already sent her a card that had arrived so I’m in the clear there. We talk about makeup subscription boxes and how she wants to try one, so I send her a three-month gift card to Birchbox from my phone.
11:00 a.m. — Walk back up Figueroa and stop for breakfast at Kitchen Mouse. The decor is super cute and there’s an adorable shop next door. I am really hungry at this point. I order huevos rancheros and a cold brew. $19.92
12:00 p.m. — It’s super hot outside now, so I plan to stay in for a few hours and enjoy the quiet. The Airbnb has in-unit laundry, so I wash my dirty clothes from the trip, watch a few more episodes of Euphoria, and do some of the next connect-the-dots picture in my book. I also send out feelers for someone who can move and install that washer and dryer for me.
4:00 p.m. — My friend texts to say she will be home within the next 30-45 minutes. I was thinking about going to the cute wine store down the street and ask if she’d like to join. She says she would, so I just hang out more in the Airbnb. Fold the laundry and read some more of I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara, the book about the Golden State Killer. Probably not the best book to read on this trip, but if I only read it during the day, I’m not too scared. I’ve also gotten a lead on a handyman to move the washer and dryer and text more details with him.
5:00 p.m. — My friend gets home and we chat for a little longer. This is really my favorite part of these trips with old friends, hanging out like we would if we happened to live in the same city. We talk about what we want to do that evening, and agree to go to the cute shop next to Kitchen Mouse, get some bottles at the wine store, and grab a bolognese from a nearby market to cook dinner at home.
6:00 p.m. — We stop at Topo, next to Kitchen Mouse. It has tons of cute gifts and home items. I buy a candle for myself (I used to think they were stupid, but really enjoy them now) and a Birds of the World sticker book for my son. ($23.53) Then we head to Highland Park Wine and I buy a couple bottles of sparkling wine, one for tonight and one as a thank you to my friend for hosting. I also grab a bottle of white to bring to my friend’s house tomorrow. ($53.11) Then we head to Cookbook on Figueroa to pick up dinner supplies. We get a tomato, some peaches, lettuce, a loaf of olive bread, prepared bolognese, and some bucatini. My friend pays. $76.64
7:30 p.m. — We arrive home and unpack the groceries and wine. My friend’s husband arrives home from work, so we stand around the kitchen talking about our days. We open the wine and put together a board with the bread, some olives, pickles, and pimento cheese spread. We sit on their front patio that overlooks the neighborhood and chat more. They are both television writers and I love hearing about their days. We head inside because the mosquitos are biting, so I make a salad while my friend cooks the pasta and heats up the bolognese. I text with my neighbor and confirm a time for pick up the next day, also coordinate with the handyman. Phew!
9:00 p.m. — After dinner, we watch a rough cut of the pilot for the show my friend is currently writing on. It’s so cool to see the thing she’s been talking about actually come to life. While we watch, I text with my other friend about meeting up tomorrow. I suggest meeting up early to stand in line at The Broad and mention that I’m usually up by 8:00 a.m., but that idea is met with much laughter and a request to sleep in. I forget that not all of my friends have had their internal clocks ravaged by an early rising child. I say it’s cool for me to have a solo morning and we can just meet up after she’s slept in.
10:30 p.m. — The pilot is really funny and an interesting concept that really seems to be coming together. The three of us talk more about what worked and what didn’t, agreeing that overall it’s working. I’m really excited to see what finally airs since I got to see the initial cut. My friend’s husband goes to bed and the two of us chat for a little more before I head back to the Airbnb.
11:30 p.m. — I’m a little anxious about everything working out with the washer and dryer in the morning. I get PayPal details from the neighbor and set my alarm for 6:45 a.m. (eep) since the pickup is scheduled for 9 a.m. CST and I am two hours behind. Pop a melatonin, watch some more Grownish, then I’m out.
Daily Total: $100.39
6:45 a.m. — I wake up to the alarm, as well as a ton of photos uploaded to my family’s photo stream. My husband has done a great job keeping me updated on their trip. I get a call from the handyman saying he is at the neighbor’s house but she’s not answering. I text her and immediately he calls to say they found each other in the back. I send her payment via PayPal since he showed and looks like it’s good to go.
7:30 a.m. — Head down the road to grab coffee at Go Get 'Em Tiger. I don’t know when I’m going to meet up with my other friend and have a real meal, but nothing I see is really grabbing me. I order a drip coffee to go and a $7 biscuit despite my better judgment. $12.25
8:30 a.m. — I set up at the kitchen table with my computer, coffee, and biscuit. The biscuit is disappointing, but I feel I only have myself to blame. I still eat it so I have something in my stomach to absorb the coffee. I check a few work things that needed to happen while I was out of town, then work on some personal writing. A big part of this trip was to reconnect with old friends and tap into a part of my brain that has been neglected for work and raising my son. The trip feels really successful in that regard. I also hear from the handyman that the move and install of the washer and dryer went off without a hitch, and he sends me photos. I pay him via Zelle. My friend stops by on her way to work to say goodbye. I work a little more and get everything packed up to stay with my other friend. I also receive an email from Go Get Em Tiger with a coupon code for a free coffee, so I feel a little less bad about the expensive biscuit.
12:00 p.m. — My other friend swings by to pick me up. We stop by Go Get 'Em Tiger to redeem my free coffee coupon. I get a cold brew to go. Then we head to Sqirl in Silver Lake for some brunch. The line isn’t too long and we get a table outside, unfortunately with a view of road construction. We split the rainbow brioche toast and sorrel pesto bowl, and my friend gets an iced tea. I pay as a treat since I am staying at her place. Both are so delicious. Definitely the best things I’ve eaten on my trip so far. $42.01
2:00 p.m. — We head to her apartment so I can drop off my stuff and talk about the rest of the day. She needs to buy a present for a birthday party on Saturday, and I want to buy a face roller. We decide to go shopping and hang out the rest of the afternoon/evening.
3:00 p.m. — Stop by House of Intuition, a witchy crystal store, for my face roller. I read the descriptions and decide on clear quartz to promote clarity and purpose. I also grab a beaded bracelet to promote positive energy, because why not? Then we hit up some more boutiques in Silver Lake. $60.23
5:00 p.m. — We decide we are in for the night! We break out the wine. Like with all of my other friends, we talk for hours and snack. We agree on plans for tomorrow. Go to wait in line for The Broad Museum right when it opens, then have lunch at Grand Central Market, then check out Angels Flight and get some sunglasses in the fashion district. It will definitely be my touristy day, but I do that so seldom and she is my “activities friend” so it feels like a good plan.
11:00 p.m. — I’ve fallen asleep during whatever we were watching, so it’s time to make up the couch and go to bed. Forget to take my melatonin. (Thanks, wine!)
Daily Total: $114.49
9:00 a.m. — Wake up and take a shower while my friend makes breakfast and coffee. We want to make it to The Broad at least 30 minutes before they open. The museum takes reservations for the day (which we did not make), but allows some walk-ins. We also want to sign up for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room installation, and have heard you won’t be able to get in if you don’t sign up first thing.
10:15 a.m. — Arrive at the Broad and park in the garage. Our spots are at the halfway point for the line, so we feel okay. And the line is luckily in the shade, so the wait isn’t unbearable. Admission to the museum is free, which is another bonus. $15.00
11:15 a.m. — We finally get inside and rush straight to the Infinity Room reservation line. Get our names in, then head upstairs to the other Kusama installation, since that can also have a pretty long line. Snap some pics for the ‘gram and look at the rest of the museum’s collection. We love a lot of the art there and spend a good amount of time walking the rooms and talking about our favorites. (Mark Tansey and Robert Longo for me.) We head downstairs because our time is coming up for the Infinity Room. Browse the gift shop and I buy a t-shirt. Then it’s our turn for the Infinity Room. You only get 45 seconds in there so my friend and I decided to go in alone. The urge to spend that whole time taking selfies and videos is really strong, but I remind myself to also just be in the space, which is incredibly peaceful and impossible to convey on camera. $10
1:00 p.m. — Drive to Grand Central Market and try in vain to get street parking, but are thwarted by construction and park in the least expensive lot. ($10) We walk through the market to see our options. My friend wants pupusas and I want Filipino fried rice, so we split up to get our food and reconvene at an empty table. ($14.80) Then we walk across the street to check out Angels Flight. It’s a counterbalance trolley that goes up and down this steep hill in downtown. It’s one of those old-school LA things I’ve never done, and it’s short and silly. I pay for both of us to ride up and back. ($4) Then we walk to the Bradbury Building, where Blade Runner was filmed. Absolutely beautiful inside with the wrought iron elevators, wood detail, and glass ceiling. Wait in line at Blue Bottle in the lobby for some coffee, then realize my friend has iced coffee at home and why waste the money. We stop by the fashion district and look at $5 sunglasses. I buy two pairs. ($10) On the way home we pick up some snacks and ingredients to make tacos from my friend’s leftover jerk chicken. She pays. $38.80
5 p.m. — We feel like we’ve earned our couch time today. Open some wine, and start Gaga’s A Star is Born, which my friend has not seen. Decide to just eat snacks and not worry about making dinner since neither of us are super hungry. After the movie, we start Love Island UK. It’s so ridiculous and soapy, we love it.
11 p.m. — Once again, I’ve fallen asleep while watching TV. We get up, do our bedtime routines, and make up the couch. I pop a melatonin and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $63.80
9:00 a.m. — I made plans to meet up with another friend from college at 10 a.m. at a coffee shop a little further west. I just read her pilot draft and was looking forward to talking more about it. Take a Lyft to meet up with my friend ($11.26) and order coffee and avocado toast ($15.06). $26.32
12:00 p.m. — Leave coffee shop after talking for a couple hours. Realize that I somehow booked two flights home tomorrow and get alerts to check in to both. When I get back to my friend’s place, I cancel the earlier flight since we are going to the Robyn concert tonight and I will want all the time I can get tomorrow morning. The price for the ticket will sit as a credit for a year. What can you do? My friend arrives back from running errands while I am talking with K and H. They’ve just gotten home from Wisconsin and look absolutely beat. I miss them and am looking forward to seeing them back home. My friend makes some more avocado toast for us and we split one of the Mexican pastries she bought for her friend’s birthday party that afternoon. (The theme is international soirée.) My friend lies down in her room and I read some more of my book.
4:00 p.m. — We head out to the birthday party at her friend’s apartment, also in Silver Lake. Some people are sitting outside at picnic tables, but we head upstairs to their apartment where there’s a huge spread of food (bahn mi, samosas, tacos, etc.) and drinks. We sit around and chat while sipping a couple drinks. Since we have to drive to the concert in Inglewood, we don’t want to overdo it. We park at a store parking lot across from the venue with easy in and out. My friend pays.
7:00 p.m. — The opener was supposed to start at 7:00, but we hear everything is running 30 minutes late. I get a beer and my friend gets a vodka and Monster energy drink. (She pays.) Get to our seats and they are perfect – we had debated whether we wanted general admission to get our dance on, or wanted seats for the knees and back. Agreed that seats on the floor was the best compromise. Chair danced for the opener, Troye Sivan – I didn’t know him by name but recognized most of his songs. He was adorable. Then Robyn comes on soon after – this is my third time seeing her and I have really felt the progression in her music with every show. I also love Robyn fans. Just the best energy. We stand and dance the whole time. I break off early in her set to grab more drinks – another beer for me and another vodka and energy drink for my friend. $37.00
12:00 a.m. — My friend wants to get something to eat on our way home, so we swing by a taco truck in her neighborhood and grab some tacos and quesadillas. (She pays.) Flop on her couch and watch another Love Island while we eat. I manage to stay awake long enough to make up the couch, do my bedtime routine, and properly fall asleep (i.e. not pass out with my clothes on - yay!).
Daily Total: $63.32
9:00 a.m. — My flight is at noon, so I want to leave for the airport by 10:30 a.m. Wake up, unmake the couch, wash up, and finish getting the last of my stuff in my suitcase. I never expect my friends to pick me up/drop me off at the airport, so my friend just gets up to hang before I call my Lyft to LAX. My friend gives me another gummy for the road.
11:00 a.m. — The traffic around the airport is brutal. Luckily, I factored in enough time that I’m not too stressed as I get out of my Lyft. ($42.46) Grab a coffee and sandwich at Starbucks. ($13.68) Put on my noise cancelling headphones and enjoy some more of my book before boarding my flight. My direct flight to O’Hare is an hour delayed. They are asking for gate check volunteers again, but I feel like I did my duty last time and don’t want to wait for baggage claim back home, so I keep my rolling suitcase. $56.14
1:00 p.m. – Finally board and realize the two seats next to me are a couple with a lap child. The toddler is behaving okay all things considered, but I huddle in my window seat corner and keep the headphones on. I’m not on the parenting clock until I get home! Rewatch some episodes of Fleabag Season 2 that I downloaded on my iPad. I loved this season so much (HOT PRIEST) that it warranted a rewatch. Eat the sandwich I bought from Starbucks halfway through the flight.
6:30 p.m. (CST) – I lose two hours with the time change so it’s dinnertime when I land at O’Hare. I didn’t ask my husband to pick me up from the airport. The pick up area of O’Hare is an absolute nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Walk out to the rideshare area and order a Lyft. It’s only a 10 minute wait and we find each other pretty easily. The minivan is pretty janky and he has an unopened can of PBR in the backseat cupholder. Arrive home just ask K and H are finishing dinner. I usually hate returning from vacation on Sunday evening, but I’m so relaxed and happy from the trip, it doesn’t bother me this time. We sit around and talk about our trips before getting H ready for bed. $31.76
Daily Total: $87.90
How did you prepare for this trip?
Most of my prep was just talking with my friends about planning a few highlights for our time together, but I really didn’t want to over-schedule things. Hanging out was the ultimate goal. I did a lot of research online about Big Little Lies tourism for Monterey, but none of that ended up happening. I found the goat farm just from searching between Monterey and San Fran on Airbnb. For LA, the Forever 35 podcast did a guide to LA that I referenced a lot when I was planning my days there.
Did you use credit card points/miles to pay for parts of this trip?
I have a Southwest Visa with points that I used for the Oakland-Burbank flight. Would have used for the Chicago-San Fran flight if not for the Max 8 delays resulting in my rebooking my flight with another airline.
When did you book your flight? Do you think you got a good deal?
I bought my original tickets using points several months in advance. I bought the replacement tickets plus the Oakland-Burbank ticket about 8 weeks in advance. I didn’t do much price shopping, but I was fine with the final amounts.
What was the best meal or food you ate while you were there?
Tie between the fresh bagels and fromage blanc at the goat farm, and brunch at Sqirl in Silver Lake.
Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
Definitely Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row in Monterey. I never got a handle on Monterey during the pre-trip planning, so we just aimed for the downtown area and walked around. Not the best.
Is there anything about your trip you would do differently in retrospect?
I would have cut out Monterey and focused more on the Santa Cruz area for our overnight trip.
Would you stay at your Airbnb again?
Yes! I encourage everyone to get their goat on at Kinderwoods Farm in Aptos!
Where were you located in the specific city and would you recommend staying in that part of town?
I stayed in the Mission in SF. I know very little about the city, having just stayed wherever my friends live at the time. It looked like any other gentrifying neighborhood in a major city. I really liked Highland Park in LA - would definitely recommend staying there if that’s an option.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time? Would you have come home sooner or stayed longer given the chance?
I felt like every segment of the trip was the perfect length of time. It might have been nice to spend more time with my friend in Highland Park, but with her work schedule, I still felt like we were able to get in a lot of good hangout time. I realized I hadn’t had such a relaxing trip in years-maybe not since my husband and I visited his brother in Portland back in 2016! This is also the longest vacation I have taken in years. I felt refreshed and energized, ready to return home.
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