For as forward-thinking a region as the Bay Area is, public transportation hasn’t quite caught up to the speed of progress (or even other major metropolitan areas). But don’t let that get in the way of exploring all the peninsula has to offer. With a few creative maneuvers, getting from Point A in Nob Hill to Point B in Mountain View to Point C in Oakland or beyond is a piece of cake… or a loaf of sourdough bread, in this case.
Beyond the carpool lane
Carpool lanes are a California classic way to cruise through traffic just a little quicker, provided you have another passenger in your car. But if you don’t have a roommate, significant other, or friendly neighbor to serve as your necessary other passenger, there’s still a way to take advantage of the transit perk and help out the Bay Area environment by keeping a few extra cars off the road while you’re at it: carpool match programs. Several sites and services, including 511.org and Scoop, offer personalized carpool matches to help commuters connect with people nearby going in the same direction. And hey, you’ll probably make a new friend or two in the process.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Other web-based platforms and apps can speed things up commute-wise, too. In an area that’s targeted for not exactly streamlining ways to maneuver across different forms of transportation, apps like Moovit and other trip planners cut down on milling-around time and other time-consuming frustrations. Of course, in the center of the innovation universe, it’s only a matter of time until another app revolutionizes the Bay Area. And until then, there’s always Elon Musk’s hyperloop, high-speed rail plans to hold everyone over.
Fun fact: there’s no need to try to trick fellow Muni passengers into thinking a four-legged companion is an emotional support animal when it’s not. During off-peak hours, pets are allowed on Muni buses. There are limitations to the rule, of course. Only official service animals are welcome during the peak-hours of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, for example, and only one pet is allowed per Muni vehicle. Dogs must be on a leash and muzzled and in their person’s lap or under their seat. Other animals must stay in a closed container like a carrier. And even dogs don’t get a free ride: pet fares cost the same as people fares. This hack isn’t as helpful for riders without furry family members, but for those who are pet parents, it could potentially be a game-changer.
It’s not particularly high tech, but taking the BART train in the opposite direction a stop or two from the destination, then crossing the platform and finding a less crowded train car in which it’s a little easier to breathe—a move otherwise known as “upstreaming”—can make a trip slightly more comfortable, even if not much time is saved. With nearly half a million people commuting in and out of San Francisco daily, the added room might be worth the effort.
Since 2009, companies with 20 or more employees nationwide with a location in San Francisco, or 50 or more employees throughout the Bay Area, have been required to comply with the San Francisco Commuter Benefits Ordinance or the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Ordinance, respectively, rewarding passengers in the form of monthly pre-tax deductions for transportation expenses, a monthly subsidy for transit expenses, or employer-provided transit. It’s not exactly a hack, but it is one more way to make navigating the Bay Area a more positive experience overall.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.