Last year I was lucky enough to spend a month in the wonderful US of A with my best friend Amber. It was undoubtedly the most incredible experience of my life, and we soon discovered we were the queens of freebies! We worked together at her parents café and our friendship soon blossomed though a mutual obsession with the States and everything that comes with it; the food, the sunshine, the buzz of the cities and of course – the beer (not so much for Amber though, so the 2-for-1 happy hour deals were a dream for me!)
Before the trip I was in complete panic that I wouldn’t have enough money to enjoy myself whilst over there; I had tried to cut down on going out (emphasis on tried) and took my own lunches to work instead of keeping the local McDonald’s in business as I normally would. We hadn’t booked any accommodation, but knew that our first stop was to stay with Amber’s friend in New York for a few days. We then flew over to California, travelling up and down the West Coast, and with a sneaky trip inland to Las Vegas. Both of us had spent some time in the states before, either through Camp America, study abroad or just general holidays, and made a lot of contacts along the way.
I was really apprehensive about asking people we knew if they had room for us to stay – I couldn’t help thinking we would be sounding cheeky? But I honestly couldn’t have been more wrong. Believe it or not, the world is actually full of beautifully kind people who are more than happy to help you on your travels. It was the most surreal thing for me to see people going to so much effort and offering to put us up, in some cases with friends who hadn’t met us yet. Where this is obviously amazing as we got free accommodation, we were also able to benefit from local knowledge of bars, restaurants, attractions and even the best routes to take to our next destination.
We had a particularly amazing time in Los Angeles when we were offered a space to stay with Amber’s friend friend’s friend (if you still follow…). They were two of the nicest guys you could meet, and stayed in a really funky Spanish style apartment in Culver City, LA. They were really in to making music and took us out with a group of their friends to an unreal club night Space Yacht that serves free pizza for everyone – FREE PIZZA!
While in LA, we also decided we wanted to hire a car to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, but it was looking too expensive with the likes of enterprise and Alamo, until we were then recommended to a UK based Rental Company Trip Wheels . The company offers really good deals for young people, and we ended up only paying about £120 to rent a car for 9 days – no word of a lie! With gas being so cheap it was the most worthwhile investment of our trip. Both of us had never driven over there before, or even driven an automatic, but thankfully it ended up being the easiest thing to do and felt like driving a go-cart most of the time!
Now, on to the thing you’ll really want to hear about – how I did Las Vegas in a night for $7. First off, we didn’t even know if we had enough time to go visit Sin City, and when budgeting before the trip we had decided it might be too expensive this time around. HOWEVER, as you may have gathered, we ended up spending so little money in LA and New York, and so decided ‘why not!?’ The morning we were setting off from LA, we woke early and searched online for a last minute hotel, and we found one! We came across the Circus Circus hotel for $14 ($7 each) for one night. Now, it may not be the most modern hotel, but when on arrival you get bumped up to a massive room with 2 king size beds, en-suite and an amazing view of the strip for the same price, you’re not going to say no, right? We had also done some research on where to go and decided on Chateau Nightclub, which is underneath the Eiffel Tower on the Strip. What we hadn’t realised was that if you’re a female inVegas, basically everything is free.
Sorry to any guys reading this, I don’t make the rules! But seriously, literally everything is free in clubs for females. We walked in expecting to pay about £80 entry, only to find we didn’t have to pay anything and would be given 3 free drinks tokens each. We were in total shock and felt like the luckiest girls alive, but the night got even better, which we couldn’t believe was possible. While making complete fools of ourselves dancing to Fetty Wap, we were approached by a club security guard who asked us to come with him. Now, being Glasgow girls, we immediately thought our night was over and we were being chucked out for being drunken riots – not this time! He took us over to a booth where a group of men and women were drinking bottles of Ciroc, Patron and Moet, and told them we would be joining them. U N B E L I A V A B L E. We didn’t buy a single drink the entire night, with bottles upon bottles of the most expensive drinks you could buy were hustled over to our table. And to top off this whole evening, the people whose booth we joined (who we learned were real estate agents from Texas who had just closed a multi-million dollar deal) paid for our taxi home!
Even just writing all of that, it still feels like it was a dream. I could go on and on about the free boat ride we manged to wrangle in Newport, or the free gig we got invited to while out a hike in the Hollywood Hills…but I would be here for a lifetime. Maybe I’ll leave that for another time?