Category Archives: culture

5 Money Saving Tips when traveling in San Francisco

My boyfriend, Cameron, and I recently visited San Francisco and found some really cool cost effective things to do in the area. We both had one bucket item each that we wanted to cross off of our list and the rest I planned using my Lonely Planet San Francisco Pocket Guidebook, Yelp for restaurants, and Pinterest for cool local finds.

I believe that research is the most important step on getting the most bang for your buck. Finding the hidden gems that will make your trip unique and memorable especially on tight time constraints. Another thing I can’t forget to mention is to be sure and leave your trip open for change. If you walk by a cool book shop or restaurant and end up spending hours there – fantastic! These finds are yours and are part of exploring a city to it’s full degree.  So let’s start our money saving tips shall we?

  1. Guidebooks. I’m a big fan of paperback. Call me an old lady, but there is something about grabbing a book out of my purse and circling/crossing things off my lists. Let’s face it- your phone may die at one point because you’ve been taking all those amazing photos! Grab your map in your guidebook and voila- saved! Mark up your book, highlight the shit out of it. Make it yours. As you travel, make notes in it on items you loved and items you hated. I’m not a huge souvenir person, but this guidebook will serve as one for you. We found a list of museums and were able to hit up two art museums which offered dual entry for the price of one! This cost us $12.00 each for 4 hours of entertainent. Keep it on the bookshelf marked up with all the notes that make it yours. The more coffee stains on the pages the better. Collect them and reference them at dinner parties or simply as good reminders of places you have enjoyed visiting.
  2. Yelp. Yes, I am the girl who makes there friends wait before we pick a place to eat because I’m furiously researching who had the best eggs benedict in the area. I have found Yelp to save me time and time again while traveling. It may be a little extra work  (and patience from your friends), but you are going to get the ability to have that local choice without knowing a soul in the city. Check out the pictures- look at the online menu WITH prices. Does this fit in your budget?  Once you nail out your spot- call in advance for reservations. Because we called in advance at one location we found out there was a 45 minute wait that would cause us to miss our reservations for a show later that evening. I was able to hop on yelp while in the Uber, find a nearby place that was cool, had good reviews, and less of a wait time which allowed us to do all the things we had hoped to do on that epic night. In our case we only had one night so… research my friends – research!
  3. Transportation. The Bart/Muni/Uber are your friend. In a big city with shitty drivers that end up making you yourself a shitty driver, public transport is truly your best option. Don’t even get me started on the prices for parking – good laaawwd help us all! Depending on your time constraints, choosing which mode of transport to use in different scenarios will be your trickiest part. Map out your day, see which areas are nearby each other, than plan your day around those parts of town. For example on day 1 we did Museums – Golden Gate Park is massive and is a wonderful place to get lost in. Then we headed to Legion of Honor Museum which is a clear shot using the buses (Muni). We ended that side of the city by hitting up Lands End and the Sutro Baths to see the sunset over the ocean. By this time it was late, so we used an Uber to get back to our hotel which was located in between Union Square and JapanTown. Breaking down those costs for you – $2.00 each to ride the muni (show them your ticket when you re-board the bus) and then $6.00 to get from Lands End to our hotel (we use the ride share option on Uber – we are 100% cool splitting the costs with someone else!). That my friends is a total of $10.00 total for you and someone else to get across town when parking generally runs $20-30.00. Nighttime I generally always Uber or use the Bart – safest mode of transportation and the quickest, but during the day I can not stress the beauty of paying $2.00 to ride around the city. I’ve done this several times and it’s been so cool to just hop on and off while you see neat things you have never visited before. Of course the best mode of transportation is your feet. WALKING! Something about setting out and exploring with only a end destination in mind is super exciting. The second day we walked to Japan Town for breakfast, then headed to St. Mary’s Cathedral to see the epic architecture and modern art, walked to nearby City Hall and went to every level and stood in awe of the grandness of such a huge and beautiful building as well as watched the twenty or so couples getting married at the same time. A sight to behold! We then headed over to Union Square, checked out “minted” a find that I found on Pinterest for local best shops in the area – check it out! Walked to Chinatown and found ourselves pretty zonked from all the walking. Insert Uber here — Uber took us to Pier 39 ($5.85 ride) which lead us to bikes for rent which leads me to my next tip.
  4. Bucket List items: Bucket list items are not always jumping out of an airplane and spending half your months salary on doing so. If you do a little research you can find cool things to do in the area that might fit your budget better! If traveling with a partner or friend – each of you chose one item you MUST do. By doing this you both will leave your trip feeling accomplished regardless of what roadblocks (it can definintly happen!) you may face. For myself It was riding a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the cheapest things you can do are items that use your body for activity. For example, hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. Whenever I travel I research the area for local State or National Parks so I can get one nature day- try this out! We were both able to rent a bike for $8.00 an hour each and get across the bridge from Pier 39 in 2 hours total. That is $16.00 each for 2 hours of one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever done. Please please do this if in the area – see the city in a whole new perspective and even get to enjoy some time in Sausalito. Cameron’s bucket list item was having noodles from Chinatown in a “To Go” container. 🙂 Cam had never done this and he has always wanted to get that little To Go container like they show in the movies. Simple- but so fantastic when you are in a huge Chinatown in a bustling city! Cam’s bucket list was $4.99 and worth every penny. Big or small- think outside the box! What’s on your bucket list for your next trip?
  5. Hotel/AirBnB: We stayed at The Hotel Majestic which is the oldest hotel in San Francisco and loaded with history. I was shocked when I read that it would only cost us $100.00 to stay at a cool ass hotel with a fireplace and suite! One of the biggest items here that I need to mention is traveling during the off season. We traveled in February and this cut the cost by about $60-$90.00. We also decided to only go for one evening which by researching in advance we already knew the things we really wanted to do, kept us busy and efficiently allowed us to do a ton of items within just 48 hours. I personally use hotels.com for hotel points, but I also suggest expedia and Airbnb. Both are fantastic!

If you can’t get yourself to do Public transportation, I highly suggest researching cheap areas around your hotel to park. I did a little research and found out that our hotel actually had the cheapest parking and it included Valet – heeeyyyy! If you left your car in the garage and still did public transportation in the city you will be saving yourself a lot of extra parking garage fees that can add up quick. I did find that the State Parks had free parking and Golden Gate Park had free parking alongside the roads inside the park. It’s one of the most visited placed in the city though and weekends do get very busy and hard to find parking spots- so be aware to leave yourself plenty of time for finding a spot!

I hope that these suggestions help guide you in your next adventure to the Bay and help you cut some costs in your pocket book. The more you save the more adventures you can do in the future! Happy traveling my friends.

wine and chocolate

My dad is an adventurer.

He is the man who hikes every weekend. Who creates the “hiking club” at a low income school where most of the kids have never even been to the mountains. He loves nature. He knows nature. When we hike together, he questions things. What is this plant? Where does this go? Let’s try going on this road, maybe we will find something that no one has seen before! He seeks out adventure and lures those who are with him along. That passion he has…rolled right on over to his little girl, me.

Hiking. Something that I did as a kid with my dad.  Something that I took up again, right when things started getting bad in my marriage. When I hike I feel God. I see God. I am the most alone I could be, yet feel full and satisfied and not in need of anything or anyone.

My dad is a role model to me in how you can chose to live life. He chooses adventure and knowledge. He chooses to know more and see more and understand himself more through nature. I can see God shining through him most when he is up in the mountains on a dirt path with trees surrounding him and his dog, Buttercup by his side. A true sight to behold!

Today my dad and I adventured to some wine trails in the county side outside of the suburban town that we live in instead of a usual hike. We had wine. We had chocolate. We even met a real cheetah! We drank and we drank some more. We talked about life. About travel. About our relationships. As I grow up and know him more, I see how much I really am like him. It’s interesting how your family seems to understand or get you most. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even have to explain things to him, he just GETS IT. Its nice to be known and understood. I hope I find a guy like my dad someday. Who loves nature and God. Who loves adventure. Who loves me.

Five wineries and a unknown amount of glasses of wine later he took me out to dinner and then back to my home where my Lincoln was waiting.  Lincoln got his daily walk…and master got a tummy ache that she inflicted upon herself with the large amounts of alcohol and chocolate she consumed prior.  Lesson learned.

pop-ups.

Patagonia, Kuai, D.C, New Zealand, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland…

These places have been rushing around my head like pop up windows. I just can’t seem to stop thinking about travel. About this world. How much is out there..how much I have yet to see.

My life seems so meaningless sometimes when I know some people just drop it all and and take the jump. Do the adventure. Seek the life and journey of a lifetime. I feel it in me like a volcano slowly getting ready to erupt. It starts with just some magma…the idea of it…and it starts to just rush out the  top of that mountain like no tomorrow. So what do I do with this? How do I cure my travel bug…as well as work full-time, take care of my home, and my dog?

A little back story…here I am in a suburban town that hopes to be something great someday. I live in one of the only historic neighborhoods that this town has to offer. We have large streets, old grown in trees, houses that are a hundred years old, and neighbors who watch people from their windows walk by while they paint a portrait of God knows what with God knows how many bloody cats surrounding them. I have an elderly couple to the right of me who are snowbirds and leave every other weekend to go on trips with their large white RV.  To the left of me is a little latina lady who attends church daily and has a very serious relationship with her cat who sadly sits outside of the front door more often than not.

Then there is me, nestled in between. A 26…no wait…27 year old girl who fell in love with this neighborhood 2 years ago and can’t believe that she now gets to live in what she likes to call a “cottage” of her very own. In the back of my mind where the cob webs are and I’m never very good at reaching towards or finding are my inner desires. This house was one of them. It is my safety. My abode. My home. I live with my yellow golden doodle, Lincoln who is the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. He takes care of me and I take care of him…it really is the best kind of relationship you can ask for.  I also live with my dear coworker and friend who has been such a blessing in my life these past 7 months. I  had no idea I would face the mountain i had to face this last year…it just doesn’t seem like any of it happened. Almost as If I viewed from afar…watching it all happen. Watching it unfold from someone else’s eyes.

January 2013: At the end of my rope. Faced reality. Realized my then marriage needed some serious help.

March 2013: He lead me on…didn’t get help…I had to kick him out for my own safety.

June 2013: No change…faced the hardest decision of my life…filed for that damn bloody divorce.

December 2013: F.I.N.A.L.

What a year right? 27 and already divorced. Fabulous! As I look back I can’t help but think how this was truly one of my hardest years, but also one of the very best years of my life. I finally took charge of my life. I owned the chaos. I said..NO…not anymore. This has to stop. He has to change or I am out! This just can’t continue like this or I will end up in a horrible place mentally.

2013 represented, freedom. Freedom from my personal fears of being alone in this world. I tackled 2013 and decided that I would never live my life like that again. I will live my life with passion and adventure. I am owning who I am. I am figuring this thing out. I am working on myself with a therapist. I am working on my faith. I am working on being a better family member and friend. I am owning that I have one life here on Earth…and dammit I’m going to make the best of it.

Self discovery. With pain and not being comfortable causes questioning and discovery. What do I want? Who am I? What is out there past my suburban neighborhood with the big trees and large streets? There is more. I know there is more…and I’m going to find out.