Traveling cross-country to visit a friend for two weeks in the city of San Francisco sounds expensive right? Not exactly, this was one of my first big trips I had taken, and I knew if I wanted to continue down this path I needed to be conservative, but still experience all San Francisco had to offer. Although I had this in mind you never want to go on vacation with the mindset that you can only spend a set amount, and then get in a money crunch and be worried more about the money than having fun. Life is about having a good time and making the most out of every situation! Sometimes you just have to let go and let the good times roll.
Although most things cost money, San Francisco is full of things to do for free or close to free! Before you go just plan on the things that you want to do the most from top to bottom. This will guide you to getting the things done first that interest you most, so that if they do have a cost attached to them you are able to have a good time and not be worried about the money.
First things first, I had to get a flight, but I never pay full price for anything. I looked on Google Flights, Skyscanner, and JetRadar, to see what deals I could find. They had prices for around $450 out of Nashville, TN and for around $700 out of Huntsville, AL. I got on craigslist and ended up finding a flight voucher for an anytime flight, from a guy that got it at work, but was not going to be able to use it before it expired. I bought that flight voucher for $200 and booked my flight out of Huntsville with him standing in front of me so I knew everything was legit. This voucher even allowed me to change the time of my flight if I decided to fly out later than expected or if I decided San Francisco was just too nice, and I wanted to stay longer, which ended up happening.
I got to San Francisco and I started exploring immediately. I walked down Haight St, which I would not advise walking down at night, but has hip restaurants and shops for enjoyment during the day. Then I took an Uber downtown and walked around for a little while until my friend got off of work. I was staying with him at his apartment, which cut down on cost tremendously for lodging. I paid about $150 to stay at his apartment. Yes, the landlord even charges the guest at the apartment, where a closet size apartment is $1,300 a month with a shared bathroom, but it was comfortable for me, and saved me about $1,500 – $2,000 of lodging costs so it all worked out.
Throughout the next 2 weeks that I was in San Francisco I went to the Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, Golden Gate Bridge, Lands End, Painted Ladies (Alamo Square Park), Lombard Street, Alcatraz (Blue Angels Show), Chinatown, University of San Francisco, Downtown SF, Food Trucks, AT&T Park, and Oakland Coliseum. Out of all of these different places I visited, only 2 of them actually had a cost attached to them. Saying that, I still spent money at some of these places such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Downtown SF, and Lands End. Over the next 10 days I will be telling you about my many adventures through the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Picture was taken by a friend of mine: @aaroncbowman