How I Enjoyed BottleRock for Exactly $536.07

I just had the greatest weekend, ever. I went up to Napa for BottleRock, and spent three days in wine country enjoying the best drinks and music! I would have gladly traded $1,000+ for the experience (not while buying a house, but otherwise, yes!), but I scraped it together for less than $550. Here’s how!

Flight: $46.40

I’ve shared my favorite flight hacks before, but this time I had a perfect storm. I started following flights on Hopper, Google, and Skiplagged the moment I heard the lineup, back in January. After 3 months of waiting, Google saved the day. I got a notification for cheap flights to SFO and back.

I booked United Airlines for $146.40, round trip. Not too shabby, but made a thousand times better thanks to a $100 credit they issued for not having wifi on my last flight. Aww yiss!

Accommodations: $67.35

Ok, this won’t work for everyone, but I lucked out and found a guest bedroom to crash in. I went to school in Berkeley and had friends that stayed in the area after graduation. One unreasonably awesome friend just recently bought his first home as well, and very kindly allowed me to stay the weekend – something he did here in Los Angeles a few months ago.

If not for this luck, I would have booked an Airbnb for $40 a night. He just saved me $160, so I bought him a lightsaber as a thank you (silly inside joke). I’ll include it here for totality. I also took him out for breakfast two of the days I stayed, as another way of saying thank you.

Transportation: $148.37

How funny is it that my bus ticket to and from BottleRock was the second most expensive item? They set up a bus to go directly from San Francisco into Napa and back, each day, for just under $45 per day ($134.87 for all three days, to be exact).

To get to the bus pickup, I took the train from my friend’s house to Civic Center each day. At $2.25 per ride, this was just $13.50 for the weekend!

My other options included renting a car, and either looking for tight parking each day or paying $37.92-$50.00 per day to park at the event. Oh boy.

Considering the cost of a rental and my hatred for driving, the buses were the best choice.

Tickets: $215.94

This was almost another magical stroke of holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-it luck, as I knew one of the performers who graciously offered to grab me an artists’ pass when I first heard about the festival back in January.

I say almost because, as any woman can attest, you rarely can count on a man to offer you something without expecting a little something in return… and I’m not talking about the Wookie toy I got him as a thank you (included in the cost listed, but I’ll either keep, return, or regift that one).

So I flew up to the Bay, and the night before the festival, the ball dropped (too cheeky?) the news came. These tickets definitely had strings attached. Perfect case for fuck-you-money – I spent the morning of the festival aggressively Craigslisting tickets, and found a *legit* 3-day pass for $200!

Thank goodness for that fuck-you money, partially because I already bought my plane and bus tickets, and had already hauled ass up to SF, but also because I lost my mind over the line-up (Foo Fighters AND Silversun Pickups AND The Staves AND The Shelters AND…).

Food & Drink: $73.95

I couldn’t go up to Napa and not try the culinary and alcoholic treats. I’m no saint. I did give myself a budget, though. Every day I told myself I could spend $30, and did my best to stick with it. To help prepare, since the event runs from noon to 10pm each day, I packed plenty of snacks. Homemade granola (which security unfortunately found and trashed), fruit snacks, a refillable water bottle, and PB&J sandwiches definitely kept me in check throughout the day. Then at night, I’d binge on (up to) $30 of food and wine.

I also found Coors was sponsoring recycling at the event – something I hadn’t heard before. They handed out reusable bags and offered a $5 voucher for every full bag of recyclables, and I would set these bags down during concerts. People did the rest of the work for me, happy to have an easy way to toss their cans and cups without missing any of the show. Boom – easy money for doing nothing.

And let’s be real, most of that cash went towards wine.


So there you have it! All in all, the weekend cost me $536.07 on the dot, and I got to experience all of the music, food, and wine that my heart desired. 10/10 would do again, and already have next year’s BottleRock on my calendar. Now I just have to hope Dave Grohl will be there again, too!

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