Wade and I just got back from a week-long vacation to San Francisco and Sonoma area of California. It was our first time on the West Coast and we were super excited for our adventure that had a mix of city and country time.
The way this trip came about was Wade got laid off from his job and with our original plan of a vacation to the Virgin Islands, we knew we had to rethink it if we were going to be smart about saving money for our future first house. After doing some research on flights from Austin we discovered the miracle that is a direct flight with Southwest. We got a hell of a deal on our flight from Austin to Oakland, just outside of San Francisco. Not only that, but we stayed in two different Airbnbs during our time there to save some additional money because if you’ve ever visited San Francisco area you know that the hotels are crazy expensive! As is most of everything in the city.
Since we wanted to make the most of our time, even though we were trying to save as much money as we could, we researched the restaurants before we would decide to eat there. Wade and I still had some amazing meals in San Francisco, even with our frugality. I wanted to share with you all how we managed to have an awesome time on our vacation to the city of the Golden Gate Bridge while still saving lots of money.
Research your flight options and try to go direct.
The money you save with a direct flight is astounding. If your closest major airport doesn’t have direct light options, I would highly recommend considering checking out the next nearest airports and figuring out if the drive is worth it to save money for a direct flight. Not only that, but Wade and I flew with Southwest so we each got one checked bag for free.
If you’ve never used Airbnb I highly recommend you give it a try. Let me put it this way, Wade and I both are very introverted people who do not like sharing space with complete strangers but we utilize the option of a private room and private bathroom to ourselves in order to make sure the Airbnb is suited to our needs. Read reviews, check out the photos, and feel free to reach out to the host for questions. After this trip, we have used Airbnb three times and I’m going to continue using it.
To stay near San Francisco in an Airbnb and save even more money, I highly recommend looking at Oakland. Wade and I stayed near Alameda Island, which is right across the bay from San Francisco, and we took the BART almost every day to get to the city fast. Feel free to reach out to me directly to get our recommendation of the Airbnb we stayed at in Oakland. Our hosts were wonderful!
Take public transportation
DO NOT rent a car. I repeat, do not rent a car. There are so many public transportation options in San Francisco it is completely unnecessary to rent a car and you will be spending much more money on the rental, gas, and parking than you would using public transportation. Your options are the BART, the buses, the ferry, and even uber. We did 3/4 of those – BART, ferry, and Uber. Taking the BART from Oakland to San Francisco is extremely cheap and fast. The ferry was a wonderful experience and I recommend doing it at least once. It’s more expensive than the BART, but still cheaper than uber. As for uber, use uberPOOL. You get to split your total fare with another person.
Find cheaper (but still great) restaurants.
Do me a favor: filter your restaurant search on Yelp or Google by one $ and at least 4.0 stars. You’re welcome. Now you’re going to get the cheaper restaurants that are still highly rated. Here are some of our favorites from the trip:
Shan Dong (Oakland)
Morning Due Cafe
Have you ever visited San Francisco? Where is your next big trip?