As I mentioned in a previous post, last year we went on a massive road trip from Boston to LA.
Before any of that could start we had to actually get ourselves over 18,000 km from Perth, Western Australia to Boston, Massachusetts which is almost as close to the other side of the world as you can get! (according to AntipodesMap.com the other side of the world is somewhere close to Bermuda, and in terms of longitude we would need to go past Maine to really start coming back around, but you get the point)
Deciding to make a stopover
There are options to fly west from Perth doing an 11 hour then a 13 hour flight stopping over in Dubai or Doha.. but because at the end of the trip we would be flying home from LA, we decided to travel east to take advantage of return flight pricing to LA and then just tack on one internal flight to Boston.
This left us with a commute consisting of a 4 hour flight to Sydney, 14 hour flight to LAX, then a nearly 6 hour flight to Boston. When we first started planning I was thinking it wouldn’t be too bad to just do it, get it all done in one go.. but then I had flashbacks to the last time we went to LA and our flight had people on it who were travelling on to NYC. I remember thinking those poor poor people! There is no way I would have wanted to get on another plane after over 20 hours of travel already.
There is also the issue of clearing immigration and as LAX would be our first port of call into the country we didn’t want to risk being held up in customs with only 1hr 30 mins to run to a connecting flight at a domestic terminal.
Therefore the decision was made that we would arrive in LAX and clear immigrations, stay one night and take the flight to Boston the next day. This would give us 26 hours between flights (6am to 8am) and the chance to shower, eat and walk around before the final leg. I had a quick look at areas to stay but with limited time and an early morning flight we decided to stay right near the airport and take advantage of the free shuttle buses.
As I mentioned in my post Where to Stay in LA, I have really enjoyed staying in Hollywood but with LA traffic it doesn’t make sense to do this for one night.
Our day at LAX/Santa Monica
Our flight landed nice and early at 6am and it took us til about 8am to be cleared through the airport (confirming my suspicions that we would struggle to make a connecting flight). We had left a cold and wintery Australia and arrived in a warm sunny California so the first thing I did at the airport was change into a pair of shorts. I also stuffed my big carry on backpack into my suitcase and took out my smaller day pack.
We took the shuttle to the hotel (Sheraton Gateway) and as expected couldn’t check in that early but we dropped our suitcases off and got a coffee at the in-hotel Starbucks.
The area around LAX is full of hotels and car rental places and so there is not actually much to do. There are a few food places and convenience stores but if you are there for a day you really need to go out to a neighbouring area. We had thought about going down to Redondo Beach but weren’t sure if there would be enough to fill a day so instead decided that we would take an Uber to Santa Monica.
We were dropped off near the Third Street Promenade and it was so nice just to feel warm! The promenade gave us enough shops to look through but there was nothing too exciting and it was a bit empty on a Thursday morning. I did buy a travel shampoo bar from Lush and a face mask from Sephora to help me feel more like a normal human being.
We then went to the Santa Monica Place shopping centre and had lunch at The Curious Palate. We were so hungry we ordered a massive burger each.. it was so good and definitely not something we would have got on an airplane!
Then we walked down to Tongva Park and along the boardwalk to Santa Monica Pier. We had been to the pier before, so we didn’t walk all the way to the end but it was fun to see it again and reminisce about the last time we were there.
We then took the ocean front walk and were going to make our way to Venice Beach but the jetlag was starting to take over and our hotel room was ready so we took an Uber back from somewhere near Ocean Park.
I was sooo desperate for a sleep but we just had to push through to get our body clocks to reset. We sat by the pool at our hotel and then ate dinner at the bar. It was nice to relax and eat a good meal, although it did sort of feel like we hadn’t officially “started” the holiday yet.
We finally let ourselves go to sleep once it was reasonably late enough and overall had a decent rest. We did have a really noisy family staying next door who woke me up at one point as they were practically screaming through the walls (the adults, not the kids!). I am not confrontational at all but I actually went out in my pjs and asked them to please keep it down as I had an early flight. Of course the one time I purposely have a stop over to get a good sleep is when I get noisy neighbours! They quietened down enough to let me fall back asleep but then woke me again at 3am leaving for their own early flight. We had to be up at 4:30am ourselves so it wasn’t the end of the world I just found it so inconsiderate and a bit of bad luck on my part.
Once we checked out we took the hotel shuttle to the airport which was really easy and had breakfast at the airport before our flight. We felt somewhat refreshed and excited to be on our way!
While I wasn’t sure if a short stopover would be worth it, it was really lovely to spend a day in Santa Monica and ‘defrost’ before going onto Boston. We had been to LA before so there was less pressure to sight-see and we just enjoyed our day. I think if it was a new city we had never been to before we may have felt more rushed or felt like it wasn’t enough time. The Boston flight took up most of the following day but because we had got some sleep and were able to freshen up we really enjoyed our first night in Boston rather than being a dehydrated, jet-lagged mess. I will definitely consider short stop-overs in the future if I need to break up a long trip, or need to arrive in my destination ready to go.
Have you ever done a short stopover or stayed near an airport?