California is a popular travel spot for those from all walks of life. Relaxing beach visits, celebrity-themed Hollywood vacations and trips to the desert or mountains are all incentives to visit one of the largest states in the U.S.
It’s often viewed as an expensive place to travel, but because there are so many different options for exploration, California can actually be very affordable.
Whether you’re looking for great deals on airfare, places to stay, food or fun attractions, these tips will help you stick to your budget while having an incredible trip to the West Coast.
Because California is so large, it’s not hard to find good deals on airfare. There are so many different vacation destinations within the state and, in turn, there are plenty of airports to choose from.
In the Los Angeles area alone, travellers can fly into LAX, Santa Ana’s John Wayne or the Long Beach, Ontario or Burbank airports. San Diego is also only a couple hours away. Similarly, the Bay Area has the massive San Francisco International Airport, but it also has smaller options in Oakland and San Jose.
With so many options, you can find deals by shopping around. Check every possible combination, varying both the airports and airlines, until you find one that works for your budget. If you find one that is cheaper than expected, use the money you saved for a different part of the trip.
With a reputation for endless summer weather and plenty of exciting attractions, travellers flock to this popular destination—something that hotel owners are well aware of. Similarly, AirBnB prices are on the rise as it becomes more and more popular as an accommodation alternative to a hotel.
Instead, get a better bang for your buck. You can find deals on California vacation rentals, allowing you to enhance your trip with a little luxury. Rather than one room, you’ll have an entire property to yourself—where you can cook, relax and have fun when you’re not out on the town.
These rentals are especially good for large groups, as they save you from having to spend entirely too much on multiple hotel rooms.
Eating on vacation is always a major source of spending. If you’re staying somewhere that has a kitchen, consider making some of your meals rather than eating out. That way, you’ll save some money and enjoy time spend cooking together. You can also get things like yogurt, fruit and muffins at the grocery store to have DIY breakfast—whether you have access to a kitchen or not.
Chances are you won’t want to cook all of your meals though; eating at hip or unique restaurants while on vacation is part of the overall experience. Rather than tending toward popular, expensive restaurants, use the Internet to locate some stellar holes-in-the-wall. Seek out places that locals enjoy to get the full California experience.
If you simply must try some of the more trendy restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco or surrounding areas, use websites like Groupon or Travelzoo to find deals that will cut down your costs.
Depending on what types of activities you’re looking for, you can find ways to save money on your travels.
California has some great scenery, which is often cheap (or even free) to experience. Spend your days at the beach, exploring tide pools, collecting shells and watching surfers. Aside from possible parking fees, this is a completely free activity. You can also visit plenty of state and regional parks for hiking or travel to the centrally located Yosemite National Park.
Museums are also a great choice, and cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco often have special days with free admission. Plan your trip around Museum Day Live! or L.A.’s annual Museum Free-For-All Day, or find a schedule that lists which museums offer free days each month.
If you’re looking to do more expensive activities like Disneyland or celebrity home tours in L.A., consider buying multi-day tickets or asking for a group discount.