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How much money do I need to travel to Los Angeles?

21st March 2020

Planning a party in the USA? Chances are, if you're flying from Australia, you'll end up landing in Los Angeles. Home to celebrities, Hollywood, epic beaches and incredible cuisine, LA is worthy of your attention; whether it’s a quick stopover on the way to your next destination, or a holiday in itself. 

LA is home to the rich and famous (and the wannabe rich and famous), so it's no surprise that it isn't the cheapest of holiday destinations. This doesn't mean you can't travel on a budget, though, with plenty of options for every traveller. 

Navigating your holiday budget can be hard, so the team at Travel Money Oz have put together a nifty travel budget calculator that does all the hard work for you. The budget planner combines Numbeo data with the latest exchange rates to give you the most up to date idea of how much USD cash you'll be splashing in LA. 

Before we dive into the calculator though, let's have a squiz at what you should be including in your daily travel budget. 

What goes into a budget for Los Angeles?


Los Angeles is spread out, so you can't rely on your boots to get you around the whole city. Instead, consider the following transport options:

Car hire: One of the most accessible modes of transport so you can explore at your own pace without the restrictions of timetables and tours. Rental cars are pretty cheap in LA, allowing you to pick up a car for around 40 AUD per day. It is worth noting that parking can be a hassle, as parks can be tricky to find and expensive. There are a few apps like BestParking or ParkMe that can assist with finding parking spots downtown. If you are opting to hire a car, consider budgeting around 5AUD per hour for parking to be on the safe side. Also, LA traffic is notoriously busy, so batten down the hatches and try to avoid road rage in busy streets - you're on holiday after all!
Ride-sharing: Apps like Uber and Lyft are very popular as they are often much cheaper than taxis. Consider using the shared/pool option to save even more cash if you aren't in a rush.
Taxis: Another option if you're in a rush, however, taxis can be difficult to flag down, and the costs can add up when stuck in traffic.
Public transport: This is by far the cheapest option, with tickets costing 1.75 USD each way. The metro includes buses and trains that service the majority of the city, however, if you're going further afar your route may not be serviced (or you could be spending a few hours trying to get there). If you're frequenting public transport, consider loading a TAP card that can be used on all buses and trains. A day pass is 7USD, and a 7-day pass is 25USD.There is an 8USD bus that goes from LAX airport to downtown LA and Hollywood as well.
Bike Hire: The perfect option for exploring smaller areas and suburbs. You can hire a bike for 7USD per day, which covers unlimited trips under 30minutes. 


Los Angeles is notorious for having expensive accommodation. Throughout the city, you'll find the usual suspects: hotels, motels, hostels and Airbnb. If you are on a budget, Airbnb is a fantastic option, and it will often allow you to stay in nicer neighbourhoods for a fraction of the cost. It's also worth noting that all accommodation options, including hostels, will inflate significantly during peak seasons.

Depending on your travel style, the following are reasonable estimates when it comes to budgeting your nightly accommodation costs:

Hostel bunk - between 50 and 60 AUD per night
Budget hotel - between 150 and 250 AUD per night
Apartments - between 200 and 300 AUD per night
Luxury hotels - 350+ AUD per night

When booking accommodation, make sure you consider where you want to visit in LA. It's enormous, so you can save on transport costs by booking a room close to the attractions you wish to visit. Better yet, aim for somewhere close to public transport. 


LA is blessed with cuisine from all over the world. Whether you're after a classic American burger or fried chicken, fresh tacos, slurp-worthy ramen, vegan delights or the latest food-craze, you'll find it in LA. 

There are food options for all travel styles. Budget travellers can shop at any of the supermarkets, frequent classic American fast-food restaurants like In-N-Out or indulge in some epic street food and food trucks. It is not hard to fill your stomach and satisfy your cravings for under 15 AUD. 

If you're after the finer things in life, there is no shortage of restaurants to tantalise your tastebuds. Dining out can be expensive, so expect to pay anywhere between 15 and 300 AUD for a meal depending on what you order and where you're eating. 

Regardless of your budget, we highly recommend trying some Mexican food, indulging in a burger or two and visiting both the Grand Central Market in Downtown LA and the Santa Monica Farmers market to get an authentic glimpse into how the locals live. 


While there are plenty of tourist attractions to fill up your time spent in LA, there are plenty of local hangouts and events that are much cheaper and allow you to gain an insight into the life of a local. 

Organised tours, attractions and theme parks will vary in cost; however, they can eat into your travel funds, so be sure to plan accordingly to avoid getting caught out last minute. With this in mind, here are our top activity recommendations when visiting LA:

  • Go to the beach, whether it be the famous Venice Beach, gorgeous Santa Monica, iconic Point Dume or popular surf spot, Malibu. 
  • Visit any of the museums, many of which are free
  • Stargaze at the Griffith Observatory (bonus points if you do it before sunset)
  • Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and get a picture with your favourite celebrity's star.
  • Spend some time at the Huntington Library, which is beautifully designed and home to Chinese and Japanese gardens, as well as priceless literature.
  • If you're most at home when surrounded by books, take a step further and visit The Last Bookstore, where all books are $1.
  • Shop til you drop! There are plenty of shopping options for all budgets and styles, you just have to know where to look.
  • Chase some adrenaline highs at Universal Studios, Disneyland, Six Flags, Knotts Berry Farm or any of the theme parks within a few hours of the city.
  • People watch at a restaurant or bar overlooking the bustling streets
  • Go celebrity spotting, either in known hot-spots or on a tour.
  • Take a hike up Runyon Canyon for epic views of the city and a classic picture with the Hollywood sign
  • If hiking is your idea of a good time, it's also worth checking out the Eaton Canyon Falls and Silver Lake Stairs.
  • Live out your NASA dreams at the California Science Centre where the Endeavour space shuttle is permanently housed.
  • Bike or walk along Santa Monica Boulevard and the Venice canals. 

LA is known for having good weather all year round, so be sure to step out and soak up the sunshine. 

Pre-travel expenses

Aussie's are required to get an ESTA (American Visa) when visiting the USA. It's 14USD and lasts two years. ESTA requirements have recently become stricter, so it's worth double-checking you are eligible before booking flights and giving yourself plenty of time for the visa to be approved. 

If you are concerned about your health or any vaccinations, it's also worth consulting with a healthcare professional before you leave. 

Finally, we recommend all travellers invest in a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Insurance for the USA is generally more expensive due to the high cost of healthcare in the States; however, the cost of insurance is worth it for the peace of mind, and potential savings you may have should anything unexpected happen overseas. 

How much does a trip to Los Angeles cost?

Step 1

Enter your destination (Los Angeles)
Let us know how long you'll be away
Choose your currency. In this case, it will either be AUD or USD.
Grab your dreams and a cardigan! You've officially started your holiday budget and are off to a party in the USA.

Step 2

Are you planning on eating out for every meal or grabbing a few snacks and ingredients to cook from the supermarket? Here you need to estimate how much you plan to spend on food. Remember to put yourself in a holiday mindset - you're probably gonna opt for an In-N-Out burger over some mixed nuts from the supermarket. 

Step 3

In this section, estimate how much you plan on shopping while in LA. Are you going to spend your days amongst the rich and famous on Rodeo Drive, bargain hunting on Venice drive or are you keen to spend your money elsewhere? While things are generally cheaper in the US, don't forget to take the AUD/USD exchange rate into account!

Step 4

This is for all of your transport outside of flights. Depending on where you're staying and your travel style, it's likely to be public transport, taxis, car hire or rideshares like Uber or Lyft. 

Step 5

The hard work is done! Here you'll find a simple layout of your planned expenses in both Australian and US dollars. From here you can either go back and edit, or start saving for your holiday!

It's important to note here that this only accounts for your most basic expenses. You'll need to add in travel insurance and other daily expenses. It's also worth having a bit of wiggle room in the kitty for unexpected costs, like getting a bit too tap-happy on Rodeo drive or last-minute tickets to an awards show. 

LA Budget Examples

Here are some examples of what the bones of your travel budget would look like. Please note all of these examples are based on seven nights of accommodation and are quoted in Aussie dollars. Prices will, of course, vary with seasonality and availability. 

Couples trip

This couple plan on spending a week living like the rich and famous. No expense is spared when it comes to shopping, cuisine and accommodation. 


$807 per person

Sydney to LA return with Virgin 



One bedroom suite on Venice Beach. 


$350 per day

This couple plans on eating out for every meal. Whether it is the latest 5-star restaurant or a local taco truck, they have plenty of cash to work with. 


$400 per day

LA is their oyster. A few day trips here and there, with plenty of time spent shopping and sipping a cool drink, watching the world go by. 

Total for couple 


No expense spared for an unforgettable week in LA. 


Family getaway

Mum, Dad and the two kids are attempting to squeeze everything LA has to offer into one week! The kids have their eyes on a theme park or two - I hope the parents are ready!



Sydney to LA return with Virgin 



Modern two-bedroom apartment with kitchen in Hollywood.


$150 per day

A few dinners out at fast-food chains and food trucks, otherwise breakfast is cooked in the apartment and the fam fills up on supermarket snacks and sandwiches. 


$300 per day

Theme park tickets aren’t cheap, but the smiles on the kids (and dads) face is worth it. The fam will also do a few classic tours as well as explore the city on foot.  



The kids won’t stop raving about their epic holiday to LA. Coolest parents ever. 


Solo traveller

This lucky vagabond is keen to see how much they can do in LA on a budget. Shopping isn’t on their mind, instead, they are focused on eating some incredible food and taking in the sights and sounds the LA has to offer.  



Sydney to LA return with Virgin 



Hostel bunk in Hollywood with breakfast included. 


$30 per day

Visit the supermarket for snacks and ingredients to cook food in the hostel, while also treating yourself to a meal or two out and about. Hamburgers are very cheap after all!


$50 per day

You’d be surprised how many free and low-cost things there are to do in LA! This traveller won’t have trouble filling their days. 



That’s a bargain in anyone’s books. 


Last-minute tips

  • LA is very spread out and doesn't really have a 'centre'. As a result, it can take a while to get from one side of the city to the other, especially in traffic. Give yourself plenty of time to get around.
  • Hollywood, especially the walk of fame, isn't all glitz and glamour. It is often crowded and is a hotspot for tourists and tourist scams. That person dressed as Optimus Prime will definitely charge you for taking a picture with them.
  • If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, grab a Go Los Angeles Card for discounts to top museums, tours and attractions.
  • On a budget? Join a free walking tour.
  • LA is pretty card friendly, so you won't have issues using your Travel Money Oz Currency Pass when paying for things. Just make sure you have some notes on hand for street vendors and tips.
  • Speaking of tips, 15-20% of the bill is pretty standard.
  • If you hang out in spots like Beverly Hills and Hollywood, you are likely to see more celebrities; however, you're also likely to spend a lot more money.
  • If paying by card, make sure you choose to pay in the local currency (USD) to avoid paying extra fees.
  • Research your 'per day' budget and include the things you want to do. Once you know the costs, you have a savings goal to work towards.
  • Take advantage of Travel Money Ozs Best Price Guarantee. If you find a better price from a competitor, we will beat it*.
  • Hostels are a great way to save cash and meet like-minded travellers.
  • Check out reviews if you think something is too good to be true. Chances are it might be.
  • Don't forget to factor in pre-travel costs like travel insurance, immunisations and visas.
  • Sign up for Rate Alerts. We'll let you know when the AUD is doing well against the USD, so you can purchase and maximise your travel money.

Flight costs are based on a search from and are indicative costs only for travel dates 4 - 11 August 2020. Prices were sourced on March 12 2020^. Accommodation costs are based on an average per night price for budget, moderate or luxury hotels, as indicated in the table. ~Food based on the average cost of 1 coffee, 1 fast food meal and 1restaurant meal per person, per day. COST COMPARISON TABLE: All costs are based on estimated approximate costs from major metropolitan cities. "From" costs indicate costs that start from the indicated price and may be higher than shown. Average prices indicate a typical estimated cost you would pay for the indicated item. Prices may vary from time to time, and in parts of LA. This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.