Budget-Friendly California Vacations

While HubPages readers may know me as YourTouristGuide, family and friends often refer to me as TheCouponQueen. I admit it: I get a kick out of saving money! And, now that frugality is “the new black," I'm totally in style. Awesome!

So, get comfy, maybe grab a beverage and please allow me to share some of my favorite tips for saving money on your California vacation. I may need more than one hubpage for this!

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The Basics

Almost everyone's budget is tight these days, and learning how to save money on travel could very well be the difference between going and not going on vacation this year. Everyone needs to take a break from life's routines now and again, so looking for ways to minimize and stretch your travel budget is certainly a better alternative than foregoing a vacation altogether. While my tips for saving money on California vacations are specific to travel to and within the Golden State, many of them are also applicable for saving money at any other travel destination.

Probably the single most important “savvy traveler” money-saving tip is quite simple: Plan Ahead. Just a little planning can often save a huge amount of money!

Decide the amount you can comfortably spend and research the destination(s) you have in mind with a keen eye out for how the timing of your travel might affect pricing or discounts offered on the accommodations, restaurants or activities that appeal to you.

Looking at multiple California destinations can also work in your budget’s favor. While some of the most popular tourist destinations tend to be outlandishly expensive, more "off the beaten path" locales can be significantly less expensive. I’m a big fan of the Gold Country region’s activity offerings – not to mention the Gold Country wineries offerings – and you can often find bargains on beds and bottles there!

A Couple of Quick Examples

For example, a “foodie” who wants to enjoy San Francisco’s many and varied culinary delights might want to schedule their trip to take advantage of the city’s “Dine About Town” promotion periods, when several outstanding Bay Area restaurants offer three-course lunches and dinners for reduced, fixed prices. In 2009, the eighth year for the promotion, there were two savings periods – January 15-31 and June 1-15 – and the January dates are the same for 2010. (It hasn't been announced yet if the June promotional dates will be reprised. Similar promotions are held in other California cities, and you can read about them in this California Restaurant Weeks article.

And, here's another example: No trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to Balboa Park. In addition to being home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, it also features over 85 performing arts/international culture organizations, plus 15 museums, several restaurants, a golf course, hiking and biking trails and truly incredible gardens. You could stop by a market for picnic foods and spend an entirely (I can almost guarantee) enjoyable day here for very little money just taking in the beautiful landscaping, the unique architecture and the outstanding San Diego weather.

If you can time your San Diego vacation for February, however, you’ll want to pick up a free “Museum Month” pass at any San Diego County Macy's store, which allows half-off admission for you and three guests at 39 participating museums in San Diego County. How cool is that? There’s also a “Passport to Balboa” money-saving admission available any time, a great deal for people who especially enjoy museums. Also, the Timken Museum is always free and has some extraordinary pieces, including a rare painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.)

Enjoy San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park for little or no money!

Many people enjoy taking a break from budgeting while on vacation, and that’s a choice, of course. If the consequence of that choice is to skip traveling completely, however, that just seems to be too high a price to pay (so to speak). More often than not, you can cut some overhead without forsaking enjoyment, so why not?

And, what should you do with all the savings? More traveling, of course!

Comments 1 comment

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sandiegoseoexpert 4 years ago

fiesta island is pretty nice and free too

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