Money Saving Tips for a Family Vacation in California
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Thinking of visiting the glorious beaches, modern urban neighborhoods and vast National Parks in sunny California? There are many ways to save money and still enjoy an amazing family vacation that you will remember for years to come. Here are some top tips to help you save while you travel.
Plan your trip carefully
Spontaneous trips are fun, but they are not easy on your pocket, especially if you are going far. Booking ahead won’t only save you money on flights and accommodation, but also on transfers or airport parking. For these, it often pays to check price comparison websites. For airport parking Looking4Parking can help you find a good deal on valet service or self-parking garages. For flights FareCompare and for accommodation Hotels.com help you spot a cheap price, so you can save on the essentials and have more to spend on fun things.
Booking tickets for attractions can also be cheaper when bought in advance. Universal Studios Hollywood, close to Los Angeles, for example, offers online advance rates, which could save you up to 15$ compared to the price you pay at the front gate and you can save up to an additional 11$ when you go off-peak (check their ticketing website for more details). For those wanting to visit multiple times over the year or during their stay, an annual pass (California Neighbor Pass) is the best choice, as it’s less expensive than two day tickets bought separately. Many other attractions also offer similar pricing tiers, so it’s worth checking the individual websites.
Save on food
There are a few ways to spend less on food while on vacation. One idea is to follow the ‘six blocks’ rule: never eat within six blocks of any major tourist attraction. Heading away from the crowds could help you find a real gem of Californian food: the state is known for its vegetarian scene and mouth-watering food trucks.
You can also choose to have a restaurant meal once every day. If you rent an apartment instead of a hotel room, you’ll be able to make breakfast there before heading out. You might even feel like you get a more genuinely Californian experience by living in a flat. For the rest of your meals, consider easy and light snacks like bread, veggie sticks and dip or prepare some sandwiches. Always keep a re-usable water bottle that you can refill at water fountains, rather than buying a new one every time you’re thirsty (it’ll also help you stay hydrated and avoid a heatstroke!)
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Make use of free entry to attractions
Californian cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have a plethora of things to see and do, so why not enjoy attractions that are absolutely free?
When you are in San Francisco, you won’t want to miss seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, which links the city to Marin County. You can spend a whole day in the wider area known as Presidio of San Francisco that reaches up to the coast, so you have the best views from the Bay Area on the Golden Gate Bridge. You can go hiking along the coast and the beach or take long walks in the large park areas. The historic Fort Point site just underneath the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge offers free entry and an insight into American history.
Los Angeles also spoils you with a broad range of free things to do. You can hike up to Hollywood and take pictures of the iconic sign spelling out the district’s name or walk down Sunset Boulevard looking at your favorite stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Close to the Hollywood Sign you can check out Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, which is a free space and science-themed museum and offers perfect views over the city. In LA’s south side, close to the Memorial Coliseum, you can explore the California Science Center, which features hands-on exhibitions for free – perfect for a family trip.
When in California consider visiting free National Parks, like Death Valley, Mojave or the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. For more information on National Parks, have a look at their official website. For a less adventurous approach, any vacation in California should include a visit to the beach – completely free and a perfect place to get a tan and relax!
There are many ways to make your money go far during a vacation in California. By saving on parking, accommodation, transportation, food and admission fees, you can maybe add one more day to your trip or really treat yourself and your family to a gorgeous dinner on the last day. No matter how you spend your time and money – enjoy California!