Budget

Below are the best Bay Area spots to unroll a blanket, unpack a basket and dine outdoors.

Welcome to the City by the Bay, a peninsula of steep and rolling hills. San Francisco is no stranger to open space and waterfront activities, which is why picnicking is a popular pastime. Choose from countless parks, fields, and beaches. Each provides a unique ambiance – with a view! Below are the best Bay Area spots to unroll a blanket, unpack a basket and dine outdoors.

Mission Dolores Park

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Flickr photo via Mik Scheper

It’s so much more than a grassy hill. This park has one of the best views of the San Francisco skyline. Set up camp under a palm tree and enjoy. As one of the city’s favorite parks, Mission Dolores fills up quick with nothing but good vibes.

I’ll admit, I like things that are cheap. I’m a twenty-something who is easily entertained, loves the outdoors and is perfectly content with little thrills. I am also a budget traveler. I look for cheap flights, am a sucker for articles listing the least expensive cities to visit that year (hey, like this one!) and always have an ear to the ground for a good dive bar.

To practice what I preach, I booked a (cheap) flight to Boise, Idaho a few weeks back to attend a Tour de Fat with the boyfriend for his birthday. I had never been to Boise, and wasn’t sure what to expect. Little did I know that when I got off the plane (and was blasted by 100 degree heat) I would fall in love with this little city. Here’s a few Boise attractions that will help you fall a little (or a lot) in love as well.

The Hills Have Ears 

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Flickr photo via Tyler Garcia

The day we landed in Boise, there was a concert at the Idaho Botanical Garden. The locals we were staying with told us that some Boiseans listen to the concerts for free by climbing up into the foothills. Always up for a challenge, we wandered out to the foothills to do just that. And it was amazing. After hiking for 20 minutes or so, we planted ourselves onto nature’s chairs and let the music wash over us. Sure, we couldn’t see the band, or purchase $10 beers, but the sound quality was great, and it was so peaceful. A memorable, inexpensive evening for the books.

Paddle Boating

boise attractions

 

Flickr photo via Andy Melton

All girls know that paddle boating is romantic. Sitting close to your boyfriend/girlfriend/crush/etc. while slowly paddling on a lake or pond is the easiest way to pretend you’re Ariel in the Little Mermaid and your crab friend is serenading you with “go on and kiss the girl.” Except it’s more like you’re surrounded by ducks and are playing duck, duck, goose over and over in your head. But I digress. Located right off the GreenBelt in Julia Davis Park, I highly encourage you to grab your travel buddy and take a spin on the paddle boats – 30 minutes of bliss will only cost you $8.

SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Lessons

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Every time I see someone paddling away while standing I get a little jealous. How are you doing that? I always ponder to myself. Well, careful and gracefully, they’d probably tell me. While a little more on the expensive side ($37 for a 1.5 hour lesson) SUP lessons sponsored by the Idaho River Sports are worth the extra cash. Located near downtown, Idaho River Sports supplies the boards, paddles, lifejacket (per request) and excellent instruction. Be warned, you may get a little wet if balance isn’t your strongest asset. But don’t worry, Quinn’s pond is clean, warm and refreshing on a hot day.

Potato skin dropped. 

Have you been to Idaho? What are some of your favorite Boise attractions?

 

London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, steeped in history and bustling with energy. There are so many reasons to visit London, that it would be senseless to list them all here, but it is important to mention that there are a lot of things you can do in London that are inexpensive! Though you can easily spend paycheck after paycheck in this beautiful city, if you’re on a smaller budget, there are still a lot of things to see and do. We’ve made a list of things to do in London for the thriftier tourist to take on.

things to do in london

Flickr photo via Luc Mercelis

Go to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre is world famous as Shakespeare’s stomping grounds, and Shakespearean plays are still held there every year. In the summer, the Globe is packed with people trying to soak up some culture and entertainment while on holiday and you may find regular priced tickets to be reasonably priced, though not conducive to a shoe string budget. Knowing this, the Globe offer £5 ($8) standing tickets for some of their more popular screenings, making a trip to the Globe reasonable for almost any traveler.

Relive Jurassic Park at the Natural History Museum

You want to see some dinosaurs? They’ve got ‘em! You want to see some pretty amazing animal and plant specimens that will take you back to the days of Darwin’s explorations? Well you can here! The Natural History Museum is incredibly well curated and it even allows for the opportunity to watch researchers and scientists do their thing. It’s a perfect place to go alone, or to go with your family if you happen to be traveling with children. The best part? It’s free!

Wander and Wonder in Portobello Road

You might remember the Bedknobs and Broomsticks song of yesteryears gone by when you think of Portobello Road, but come Sunday mornings and early afternoons this place is pumping with people, vendors, stalls and treats all for purchase or exploration. It’s completely free to wander down the market and see what there is on sale and to also people watch some of the local color. You may find you’ve spent an entire morning watching folks buying old fashioned pocket watches and fresh fruit! Bring some money with you for lunch as the food stalls you’ll encounter along your trip, or the small pubs you can stop in along the way will fill your hungry belly after a few hours of exploring.

Laugh Until Your Sides Hurt in the Theatre Royal Stratford East

A beautiful and historically influential theatre, the Theatre Royal Stratford East has some impressive options for you as a patron. Comedy Mondays are the ticket here for budget travelers as entrance is completely free! The bar here too is quite a nice way to spend an evening over a few drinks and some delicious Caribbean food, while enjoying free live music and people watching before taking in a show.

What are some other inexpensive things to do in London?

 

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Deciding to travel is hard enough in itself. There are a lot of people who dream of big trips and adventures, but never actually make their dreams come true. It is daunting to budget a trip and find all of the right places to see and stay, not to mention, finding an affordable flight across the sea! Follow the tips below to make finding a cheap flight easier.

  1. Look at Kayak.com first:

Kayak.com is a great site to use when first perusing for flights. Not only do they compile the best deals, but they also have a part of the website that has a graph comparing the cheapest dates to fly in a certain month. For example, when I was booking one of my flights abroad, there was a 80 dollar difference between the Monday I was planning to fly out and the next day. I decided to wait just one more day before flying out to save some money. Their search engine also allows you to click + or – 3, so that the site will look within a week date range to find the cheapest flight.

  1. Buy directly from the airline site:

Even though Kayak is a great reference site, it is best to purchase your tickets from the actual airline site. A good thing to know is that a lot of larger airlines have smaller airlines within their umbrella, or are called different things when they fly abroad. For example, United owns Lufthansa which is the national carrier for Germany and the largest in Europe. Don’t get confused if you go to the United site and it offers you a Luftansa ticket. Buying tickets from the actual site provides a little more security in your booking and often times is a little cheaper. It also allows you to see multiple times that the flight is offered and if price varies depending on when it takes off.

cheap flightsFlickr photo via Doug

  1. Be willing to fly at weird times:

The most inexpensive flights are the ones that other people aren’t willing to take, but because you are flying abroad, your hours and timing will be all thrown off regardless of what time you fly. The ideal time to fly varies for each person, but I would suggest an overnight flight. Sometimes these are cheaper, and they also save you time because you can sleep on the plane.

  1. Make the most of layovers:

Layovers can actually be a blessing! Flights with long layovers are usually less expensive because usually people have places to be. However, you can turn a layover into a short mini visit of a city if it is long enough. On my way to Barcelona, the cheapest flight had a 7 hour layover in Copenhagen. During my time there, I took the train into the city center and explored for the day before flying again.

Don’t let the overwhelming idea of planning a trip keep you from seeing the world! With the pointers above, you can find an inexpensive flight easier, although it is best to invest some time in researching before finally clicking and reserving.

Do you have any tips for finding cheap flights?

 

 

 

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Taking a meaningful vacation doesn’t always have to break the bank. Especially when it comes to overseas destinations. While you will still have to find your own transportation, there are a few options for finding free lodging accommodations that suit a variety of needs, and let’s face it, that’s almost like traveling for free! If you want to really immerse yourself in another place or culture, and not just be a tourist, then these sites are a great place to start.

traveling for free

 

Flickr photo via Lucas

Couchsurfing. Download the app, or visit the social networking website to find a free place to stay in any county in the world. Find a host by viewing their profile, and live and feel like a local in their home during your stay.

Servas. The purpose of Servas is to help build world peace, goodwill and understanding by providing opportunities for personal contacts among people of different cultures, backgrounds and nationalities. They believe hospitality and cultural interaction are the essential tools for achieving conditions for people to live in peace and unity. This option is great for those who are seeking something beyond just being a tourist.

WWOOF. stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Hosts set up travelers to work on their farm for about 4-6 hours a day in exchange for room and board. Don’t worry if you’ve never milked a cow, a wide variety of tasks are usually available from gardening to cleaning to wine and cheese making.

BeWelcome. is a hospitality exchange program similar to Couchsurfing. Often times hosts on BeWelcome provide more than just a place to stay for you or your family; they act as a tour guide, and sometimes provide meals and transportation.

Home Exchange. is a global community of smart, like-minded travelers, based on trust, goodwill and mutual respect. The site allows users to swap homes with other users. Simply create a listing for your home, send and receive inquiries, then set up a home swap with the user you choose.

Do you have any good tips for traveling for free?

Beautiful Copenhagen is situated on the coast of Denmark’s islands Zealand and Amager. What used to be a small fishing village is now the most populated city in Denmark. The streets are filled with colorful buildings, the air is crisp, and the people are extremely nice. The city is easy to navigate on foot or bike, and there are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops to stop and enjoy yourself while exploring. Copenhagen is the perfect destination for an inexpensive and relaxing vacation. Here are three great things to do in Copenhagen without paying a dime!

1. Nyhavn Canal:

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark

Flickr photo via Genji Arakaki

Built in the 17th century, Nyhavn is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Along this beautiful canal there are restaurants, ice cream shops and usually some sort of street performer creating music for all to enjoy. The water is lined with beautiful colorful buildings and is the perfect place to sit on the edge of the canal and people watch.

2. The Little Mermaid Sculpture:

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Flickr photo via Joaquín Martínez

The Little Mermaid Sculpture is known as Copenhagen’s number one attraction — and it’s free! The sculpture was sculpted by Edvard Eriksen for Carl Jacobson, the son of the founder of Carlsberg. The story goes that Jacobson became obsessed with the Ballet of the little mermaid and wanted to celebrate it through art. The bronze sculpture sits on a rock in the Langelinie Promenade. It is an easy 30 minute walk from the main train station along the beautiful waterside and through some small parks with flowering trees.

3. Christiania:

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Flickr photo via Arnaud DG

For a little bit of a different taste of Copenhagen, walk through the “free town” of Christiania. This part of Copenhagen has been a big source of controversy for the country ever since squatters took over an abandoned military area in 1971. Walk through Christiania to see some huge graffiti murals and some interesting people. There is a “green light” district where photos are not allowed and some restaurants and live music.

Copenhagen is the perfect place to visit this summer. The beautiful location of the city makes for a relaxing adventure.

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