indulging · travel

Frugal in San Francisco Part 3

Frugal in San Francisco Part 3A family of four vacationing in a great city like San Francisco, California can be expensive.  Once you add up the costs involved with getting there, feeding your family, doing fun activities, and staying in a hotel, your travel budget can be shot. That’s why a home exchange is so easy on your wallet.  There’s no lodging costs involved when you trade houses with someone. By doing a home exchange and driving to our vacation spot, we saved lots of money on lodging and transportation.

Frugal in San Francisco Part 3

The added bonus was the house we stayed in had a garage so we had a parking spot in the city which was also crucial to keeping our costs down.  We didn’t have to pay to park our car for the week and we also didn’t have to worry about moving it every 2 hours!

Frugal in San Francisco Part 3:
Transportation and Lodging

Here’s what we did not have to pay for…
We did not have to pay for a hotel room.  Because we had a home exchange, our lodging costs for the week were zero.  We also ate most of our meals at home which saved us lots of money.

We did not have to pay for airline tickets.  We considered flying but after looking at the cost of airline tickets for four people vs. driving, and not having to get a rental car, we came out way ahead on our expenses. Yes, we had to pay for gas but we saved a lot of money by driving in the end.  We also saw some beautiful scenery in Southern Oregon….

Frugal in San Francisco Part 3

And near Mt. Shasta, California….

Frugal in San Francisco Part 3

Here’s where we’ll splurge on, on our next trip to San Francisco…
We’ll definitely be taking the cable car next time.  It is expensive ($6 per trip) but for the quintessential San Francisco experience, we have to do it.  This trip we wanted to ride it when we got too tired walking home one afternoon.  We waited for a while in line to take it it home but it was too crowded for us to get on.  Next time, we’ll also look into getting the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Muni Passport which allows you to use unlimited public transportation (including the cable car!) throughout the city for several days.  The other option is the CityPass for San Francisco, which includes cable car rides as well as entrance to several museums in the area.  These passes are generally worth purchasing if you plan not drive while staying in a large city and want to hit several big museums.

Frugal Travel San Francisco

By keeping our lodging and transportation costs down we can vacation again sooner rather than later.  Picking where to splurge and where to save are good ways to live frugally with style in everyday life and while you vacation as well.

Do you have travel plans coming up?  How do you splurge on vacation?  How do you save?

Related Posts:
Find my vacation meal planner here and what we ate all week is here.
Frugal in San Francisco Part 1
Frugal in San Francisco Part 2
Our first home exchange is here

You can sign-up for InterVac Home Exchange service by clicking the image below. Type in the name “TETREAULT” at checkout and receive $5.00 off your membership. InterVac is short for International Vacation but you can do exchanges within your own country as well. This is the website we’ve used for all 7 and soon to be 8 of our home exchanges. If you’d like me to speak to your group or organization about home swapping, frugal living with style or blogging, please check here.

Intervac Home Exchange

Go Gingham Affiliate link

3 thoughts on “Frugal in San Francisco Part 3

  1. Eating at least one picnic meal a day helps save a lot of money and you don’t need a kitchen. Pop into a neighborhood grocery store and grab an on the go meal. This is especially fun in foreign countries! We usually bring our own set of silverware on every trip, wrapped in a cloth napkin.

    We also stay in a lot of youth hostels, although we’re hardly youths. Many hostels have family rooms which you can lock and do not share with other people. Husbands and wives can sleep together – we definitely do not go for single sex dorm hostels any more – and there is usually room for at least two children. Often linens are provided and shared kitchen space is also available. We usually check out hostel reviews to make sure there aren’t any “hostile” reviews (sorry, couldn’t help myself) because hostels definitely range in quality. Hostels are a great way to mingle with people from around the world!

    My last tip is to drink tap water. I am not sure why Americans are so afraid to drink water in other countries. I have traveled in about 40 foreign countries, and I think I have only HAD to drink bottled water in a few. We bring our Nalgene bottles and fill them in the morning before going out. Of course, read up on the places you’re visiting to be sure there aren’t warnings about unsafe water supplies, but unless that’s the case, you’ll save lots of money drinking from the taps and save the environment, too (in foreign countries ask for tap water in restaurants or they’ll likely give you bottled without asking).


  2. Great tips, Erin! You’re right about the water. That is definitely a money saver. We haven’t found any hostile hostels in our travels either. Yes, I had to get in on that! Thank you.


  3. About 6 years ago, I needed some time with just my son (I spend so much time with my daughters). So the two of us planned a trip to San Francisco. You’re right, it is a bit expensive in the city. To keep our costs down, we used travel points with a motel chain, for our lodgings. We did have to stay in a rather, how should I put it, colorful part of town (it was the civic center area, just outside of SOMA –south of market street). We were a bit apprehensive walking about late at night, but it all turned out well.
    For meals, we found the least expensive options in Little Saigon, Chinatown (at a bakery there, we found meat buns that were quite tasty, we picked up a couple and ate them in our motel room), and at the many taquerias near the Mission district (we still proclaim those burritos we had to be the very best burritos we’ve ever tasted).
    We flew into SFO, but out of OAK, and took BART to and from the airports, with not problems. We used every type of public transportation within the city, street car, cable car, and city bus, as well as walked a great deal. The downtown San Francisco are is not all that large, and we found we could walk a great deal of it.
    The most interesting sites we saw were in Chinatown, but off the main touristy street. When you get into the residential part of that district its quite interesting to watch the locals move about their everyday life.
    You have me intrigued about house exchanges. I’ll have to investigate more.


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