By: Mindy Wu
Traveling can be quite expensive for a college student, but with the right planning, even your wildest travel dreams can come true. Planning for my first trip to Los Angeles, California began when the news of KCON LA 2017 was announced back in April 2017. KCON is a korean convention and concert that happens once per year every summer in New York and Los Angeles, where I’ve only been attending KCON NY at the time. Luckily, I was working full time at the time and was finally able to fulfill one of the items on my bucket list. KCON is an event I enjoy going to because they bring together k-pop idols, k-beauty vendors, korean food, korean entertainment, korean games, and other experiences all in one place and it’s just a culture I enjoy in general. Here’s a list of KCON’s current sponsors to get the idea of what the convention is all about:
So.. my first travel experience was flown solo, but I met up with my friends from California when I reached Los Angeles and San Francisco. I couldn’t find anyone from New York who was interested in attending KCON with me in LA, but that didn’t stop my plans to experience my dream event in my dream city. I planned for all the things I needed to bring, the destinations I wanted to visit, transportation to get around, the place I wanted to stay at, and my schedules for each day. I experienced so many new things when it came to planning for the domestic trip and I really enjoyed every single detail of it.
When I first arrived in California, I landed in Santa Ana because I wanted to make a quick errand to Irvine Spectrum to visit Honey & Butter and The Hello Kitty Cafe. At the time, I really adored the cute macarons that Honey & Butter made and I was even first in line for the macaron characters that day! I also found it a more convenient to get one way plane tickets so I could land and take off in different places to make it easier to visit my destinations. After arriving in Los Angeles, I checked into my first airbnb and explored Downtown LA, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, and Chinatown with an old friend of mine and we ate hot pot at Boiling Point. I specifically chose my airbnb because it was close to the convention and concert center and I loved the scenery of the space.
The following day, was the KCON convention day 1 of 3 days and I woke up really early to wait on line at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the event to start. While waiting on line, I met two sisters who were also travelers from Pennsylvania — just 2 states away from where I lived and we became friends. So, I enjoyed the convention experience together along with the sisters and my airbnb host who I convinced to try out the event. The best part that happened during the convention was when I won another free concert ticket from a gaming booth and 6 engagement passes from Asiana Airlines. Every year, I always wait at the Asiana Airline booth in hopes to win the raffle for a trip to Korea and the experience of going on the concert stage to receive the award. Overall, I enjoyed the KCON LA convention the most out of all of my experiences in KCON NY since 2015 because they just have a lot more to offer. Here are some of the merchandise I won and got for free from KCON LA 2017:
The KCON concert experience at the Staples Center was also one of the best concerts that I’ve experienced. Even with a P5 concert ticket, I can still see the artist and stage pretty clearly as compared to the Prudential Center in KCON NY/NJ. I also feel like KCON LA always has more and better artists perform on their stage than KCON NY and I hope that they would improve KCON NY more over time because it’s been lacking in the recent years. I can’t believe we made Heize cry during her performance, but we wanted to show that we appreciated her as an artist. Here are the K-POP artists I saw during KCON LA 2017:
After the 3 day convention and 2 day concert night of KCON LA 2017 ended, I planned for a trip to San Francisco/San Jose for a day to visit some of my old friends. However, my flight was delayed that afternoon because of the solar eclipse that was happening at the time, so I arrived to my destination a little late. To my surprise, I was not prepared for the San Francisco weather and I didn’t expect California to be cold! I visited some of the places I had on my list and ate some good food by the fisherman’s wharf. For dinner, I had my first IN-N-OUT burger with animal fries and I wish I could have them again because they were just so much better than the ones I’ve had in NY.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first travel experience to California and I hope to plan my next one to Korea, Japan, and California in the summer of 2019. Thanks to this experience, I now feel more comfortable and independent in planning my own trips to places far away and I hope to bring more people with me next time!