California Here I Come

“California, here I come, right back where I started from…”

Ah, California.  Nashville may be home now, but California was home first.  I was born and raised in California, living there until I was 16 years old.  No, I didn’t go to the beach every day.  No, I’m not super tan.  No, I’m not a “valley girl” and no, I definitely didn’t meet any movie stars.  To be honest, I haven’t been to most of the tourist sites that people are excited to see when they go to California so when my plans recently changed for my trip in September, I decided to plan some more time to explore and be a bit of a tourist in my original home state.  So, here’s what I’m planning and the budget I’ve come up with!  Keep in mind that I’m lucky enough to have family I can crash with to save some money – if you don’t have that luxury OR you want to be able to get away from your family at the end of a day, be sure to factor a hotel into your budget.

California Itinerary – September 2019

Day 1: Fly from Nashville to Los Angeles (LAX) – approximately $144 on Southwest at the time of writing and pickup rental car (approximately $400 at the time of writing for a 10 day rental, dropping it off at Ontario International Airport (ONT). Drive to Hollywood and find convenient parking for lunch at In N Out on Sunset Blvd and sightseeing after lunch. Walk from In N Out to TCL Chinese Theater (the “handprints” theater) and Hollywood Walk of Fame. Once I’m done with all of that, I’ll head on my merry way to my friend’s wedding rehearsal.

Budgeting – one way flight Nashville to LAX approximately $144 on Southwest at the time of writing, rental car approximately $400 tax inclusive for a 10 day rental, $20 for parking in Hollywood, and $10 for lunch. The flight will obviously be paid for in advance, so day 1 expenses will total about $430. 

Budgeting Tip – the rental car cost I’m working with is from the rental car company directly.  It’s always worth it to check and see if you get any rental car discounts through your employer.  If you’re a Costco member, rumor has it they have some good rental car deals as well.  Shop around and find what works for you!

Day 2: No plans, as I have a wedding to attend.


Day 3: Disneyland with my cousin!

Budgeting – $25 for parking, $355 for a 3 day park hopper ticket, and $100 for food/souvenirs.  Day 2 expenses should be about $480.Day 4: Disneyland with my cousin!


Budgeting – $25 for parking, $100 for food/souvenirs.  Day 3 expenses should be about $125.Day 5: Santa Monica Pier & Venice Beach.  My plan currently is to park up by the pier and then walk to Venice Beach.  Yes, it’s a couple of miles away from the Pier but a little walking never hurt anyone (especially when they have an entire day to kill), and walking will be less stressful than trying to find more parking. Plus, walking is a good way to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of a destination.

Budgeting – $15 for parking, $50 for food/souvenirs.  Day 4 expenses should be about $65.


Day 6: Sleep in.  Relax.  Blog about my trip thus far.

Budgeting – $0. I currently plan on this day being a day that I don’t leave my cousin’s house, so no expenses required.

**Day 7: Disneyland again, but solo, until about 7pm when I pick up my parents from the airport.  Once I pick up my parents, it’s off to my grandparents for the rest of my trip

Budgeting – $25 for parking at Disneyland, $50 for food. Day 7 expenses should be about $75.

Day 8: Hang out with family…though I’ll probably go to my favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch.

Budgeting – $20 for lunch.

Day 9: 100% devoted to family as family will be gathering for a family birthday.

Day 10: Fly home, Ontario (ONT) to Nashville.

Budgeting – one way flight Ontario to Nashville is about $212 on Southwest at time of writing, $50 budgeted for lunch and dinner since we’ll be eating in airports.  The flight will obviously be paid for in advance, so day 10 expenses should be about $50.

Other budgeted items for the trip – $250 for gas.

Total anticipated trip budget – $1,861.

**Day 7 is subject to change – we’re still trying to figure out logistics of if I’m picking my parents up when they land and we continue on or if they’re getting a hotel and I’m staying with my cousin an extra night.  If we go the latter route, then day 7 will be another relax day for me with no Disneyland, thus adjusting my budget a bit, as I would only need a 2 day park hopper.

Some people might look at that anticipated budget and freak out, especially since that’s considering free accommodations with family . Trust me, it freaks me out a little too, but I also know that I’ve over-budgeted in some cases.  It’s always better to plan for more and spend less than the other way around.  Now excuse me while I go dig the quarters out of my couch, put them into my piggy bank, and start saving.

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