I am the queen of attempting to cancel trips when they are already booked and flights are paid for. The reason is, I get freaked out by the idea I may not be able to do everything that my friends will want to do or I will run out of spending money before the trip ends. Here’s how I made a weekend in San Francisco happen with $500:
- Find an awesome group to travel with. This is something that kind of is trial-and-error because you really don’t know what people will be like while traveling. I’ve found it’s important to talk about trips beforehand and know you all have a common goal of wanting to have a great time without breaking the bank. Also, it’s important to have a group that knows (and is respectful enough) to split things evenly. That goes for cab rides, rounds of drinks, excursions, or other adventures–make sure you are with people pulling their own weight. I had a great time with my friends from high school in San Francisco and we kept everything even with the amount we all spent on Ubers or rounds of drinks.
- Book flights on promos! I once had a flight attendant friend who said the Tuesday three weeks before you fly is the best time to buy flights. I don’t know if that is necessarily true, but I do keep up with checking websites and get e-mails from Southwest whenever they have discounted flights! I just love flying Southwest because you get two free bags, can choose where you sit, and you can get smokin’ deals. My flight round trip to San Francisco was about $160.
- Try staying at a Hostel! I have expert travelers as best friends, and they encourage me to step out of the box when it comes to ways of travel. We stayed at a hostel in downtown San Francisco for about $40 a night. Because there were four of us traveling, we were able to get our own room at the hostel which relieved some of the anxiety I had about staying in a hostel. If you aren’t traveling in a group, I noticed that if you’re in a room with four bunks, they have lockers that you can lock underneath the bunks that will fit a suitcase or a bag checking system at the front desk. That was one of my main concerns knowing that its a dorm-like hotel situation. We had no issues with our bags being stored with the front desk or in our room. Our hostel included breakfast and had a full service kitchen available most of the day, as well. That was very convenient as we were able to save the money on the first meal of the day. The trip was short and we didn’t get to use the kitchen, but it would have been useful if we weren’t doing so many touristy things. As great as it was, it wasn’t the easiest stay either. The hardest thing about staying at a hostel was finding the perfect timing with the closest available shower. We, again, lucked out and had a bathroom right outside our room that was rather large so we could share as if the four of us had just stayed in our own private hotel, but it did pose as a difficulty when we were in a rush getting ready for our friends wedding. But, once the showering was done we were able to share a couple small mirrors and finish our hair and makeup. All in all, it was a great experience. The thing I was most skeptical about ended up being the one thing we didn’t have to worry about at all.
- You don’t have to do it all in one trip. It’s so exciting arriving to a new place and getting into the vacation mode, so I tend to over do it. That wasn’t the case for this trip, though. We took things into our own hands when it came to seeing the city and walked around a ton! We went to North Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Coit Tower to name a few. I definitely wouldn’t recommend the walk from downtown to Coit Tower, but it’s just a short cab ride away. We, also, had lunch at the Boudin Bakery & Cafe to have some of their famous clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. It was really the simple things and the views that made this trip spectacular.
- Ask the locals where to go! As a group of extroverts, it was easy striking up conversations with locals we encountered to get recommendations on where to go and what to do. If anyone knows about affordable nightlife, it’s the bartenders who work and go out in that area. We found some really interesting bars hidden on steep alleyways and met some very fun and interesting people along the way.
Overall, I spent $80 on a hostel, $160 on airfair, and about $60 on Ubers. With all of that I had about $200 in spending money, which was more than enough! Yes, it was a short trip, but there was nothing that I missed out on because of my tight budget.
I love to travel, but I can’t take a five star vacation every time there is an occasion to travel. Hopefully, these tips will enable you all to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank the next time you’re able to get away.
What are your favorite vacation spots? How do you save money while traveling?
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!