Taking a trip to the Bay Area is a wonderful way to relax, experience culture, and enjoy spectacular weather. Of course, the Bay Area isn’t known for its affordability. The following will explore a few things you can do to help ensure your trip to the Bay Area isn’t too expensive, while still ensuring that you get to enjoy your vacation. Many of these tips apply to any travel destination that is known for being expensive.
All trip planning should include a budget. You probably will want to outline the expected cost and be saving up for the trip well in advance. When the time comes to pack your bags and head out, make sure that you take the total amount you’ve saved for the trip and divide it by the number of days you’ll be there. This will give you a sense of how much you can spend on a given day without risking going over your total budget for the trip. Of course, some days, you’ll underspend, and you can redirect that money to events or venues on other days, but it’s good to have an average daily expense in mind.
It’s also a good idea to track your expenses while you’re traveling. This can not only help you stay on top of your budget, but it can help you develop a stronger understanding of the cost of travel when you’re planning future trips.
One of the fastest ways to watch your travel savings decline is by eating out for every meal. Of course, for many people, restaurants are part of the travel experience. It’s completely okay to eat out when the urge strikes, but you can save a ton of money if you book accommodations with a kitchen. Being able to brew your own coffee (bring a to-go mug with you) and fry up your own breakfast can quickly cut down the cost of your trip. Airbnb and Homeaway both provide access to these types of accommodations. Some hostels also offer kitchen access to their customers.
In the Bay Area, as with many other metropolitan areas, parking space is scarce and, therefore, expensive. You might want to look into lots just outside the city center next to trains or other transit options or parking pass options. For instance, one Oakland city parking provider allows people to purchase weekend passes, hotel passes, day passes, or monthly passes. Depending on the length of your stay, you can end up saving quite a bit if you plan ahead in regards to parking.
Another great way to save when it comes to eating on your trip is to bring drinks and snacks along with you. Have a water bottle and to-go coffee mug filled before you leave your accommodations, and keep hearty snacks like nuts in your bag. This will keep you from spending on snacks as you go about your day (and can also save you lots of time you would have spent waiting in lines). Far too often, things that are normally inexpensive are marked up in touristy areas. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying $11 for a bottle of water and a small sandwich that didn’t even really fill you up.
Many locations offer deals when you purchase a joint admission card. Sometimes you can get into several venues for the price of one. Often the bigger tourist destinations will come together to offer these deals. Of course, be wary of accepting tourism cards from random people or stalls. It’s always best to read official websites for a list of approved areas where you can buy cards or travel passes. From time to time, tourists have been caught paying for something that won’t actually get them into anything.
If you’re traveling with a group and plan on enjoying some nights on the town, you might want to purchase a few drinks from the liquor store and enjoy them at your accommodations before you head out for the night. Alcoholic beverages, in particular, tend to be expensive in the Bay Area. It might be important to note that nights of heavy drinking can easily become evenings where your budget is decimated, as people are not known for making wise decisions while intoxicated. You might want to take a certain amount of cash out and keep it in your wallet, telling yourself that you won’t use any cards that evening. This can help your intoxicated self stay within your daily limit in your budget.
If there are shows or games you want to attend, you can often get a much better price if you book tickets in advance. Take the time to research what’s happening in the area months before your trip and see if anything catches your eye. Snag those tickets early.
During the winter holidays and the summer, you’ll find that everything is more expensive; tickets, accommodations, transportation, and the like can all be jacked up during busy travel seasons. If you are able to make your dates flexible, look for months where travel is less common and book during those times. If you’re unsure when the down-season is, simply spend a little time on Trip Advisor or Expedia, looking at hotel prices for different dates. You’ll quickly recognize a pattern. As a bonus, you’ll probably find that there are shorter lineups and fewer crowds at the locations you visit, which can make for better photographs and smoother vacations.
One of the biggest ways people overspend on trips is by buying things that they could simply buy at home. It’s easy to get caught up in the wonder of: but the shoes came from San Francisco, and forget that you can easily order those exact shoes from that exact location online. Avoid standard shopping altogether and use the extra time to see more sights.
The above information should help you save money on your trip to the Bay Area. Of course, many of these tips can be recycled and applied to other vacations in the future as well. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a wonderful holiday.