Today, I choose happiness.
Why? As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, today is my birthday!
I’ll raise the happy up to excited for the next reason: a four-day San Francisco visit with my best friend starting Saturday! Traveling! Me, on a plane once again (it’s only been two years, but it feels like so much longer)! New sights, new scents, a whole different coast and city to explore.
These past several months, I have just been so restless. I long to wander strange streets and stick my feet in the Pacific Ocean- no matter how cold it is 🙂
Traveling is my passion. It’s certainly something I did a lot more of in my old life, pre-marriage-school-and-apartment. You know what you usually need a lot of to travel? Money. And boy, do we not have a lot of it at the moment. I thought it would be fun to head out to California with a mission: find as many free activities and sites as possible- and if I find free food, even better! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always traveled on a very tight budget, but European settings don’t exactly lend themselves to frugality. San Francisco, however, has an incredible variety of free events, activities and attractions! Yippee!
Some things to keep in mind if you’re in a new place and looking to save money:
- Happy hours at some bars still serve some pretty good food with the purchase of a cheap drink. Stuff like chips and salsa, sushi, quesadillas, and crudité.
- Never pay full price at a museum when you can take advantage of their free nights. For many institutions in San Francisco, that night is the first Tuesday of every month (I’ll be there the second Tuesday. Oh, well). Speaking of museums, did you know that ‘suggested donations’ are just that, suggested? At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, when you say “two, please”, just hand over however much money you can afford. Really!
- Farmer’s markets, fairs, and festivals, all of which are abundant in SF, almost always have free samples of their offerings. Walking around from booth to booth and grazing on local or specialty foods just might constitute a light lunch!
- There are all sorts of quirky, offbeat (and often free) spots to track down in every city, and Atlas Obscura is a fantastic resource to find them all.
- Carrying around a couple of pieces of fruit, some nuts, or an energy bar are good ways to fight off hunger when you’re out and about with no affordable options in sight.
- Depending on how long you plan on staying in one city, day or week passes for public transportation will typically save you money over paying for an individual ride.
- Student discounts! You can bet I’ll be pulling out my college ID card if I go anywhere that offers student discounts. There’s also AAA, if you have a car. You’d be surprised at the places that offer discounts with a AAA membership.
- Good old Google: I found so many free activities by typing in “San Francisco free things to do”, many via this gold mine of a website: Fun Cheap SF: Free & Cheap Events & Things to Do in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One of my favorite things to do (anywhere, really, not just in a new place), is wander around, turning spontaneously down new streets and taking pictures of anything and everything. The ultimate free activity 🙂
Do you have any recommended ways to save money while traveling? What’s your favorite spot in the San Francisco Bay Area? Any long-awaited trips in your future?
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite out-the-plane-window shots (and this is why I always request a window seat):
‘Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.‘ –“Anne of Green Gables”, L.M. Montgomery