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Travel & Lodging

Your stay in San Francisco may be brief or extended depending on the extent of your treatment. Regardless of the duration, you should make sure that all your home needs are being taken care of. If your stay here in San Francisco is to be extended there are some important things to consider before you leave your home:

  • Make arrangements for the care of siblings, allow flexibility in your arrangements in the event your child stay is extended longer than anticipated.
  • Arrange for house-sitting or other means to handle routine yard work, mail collection, or pet care. 
  • Setup a system for timely bill payment (bring a check book or consider online banking). 
  • You may find that there is not a local branch of your home banking institution. Please check with your bank to explore your banking options if you are here for an extended period of time. If it is necessary for you to open a separate bank account you will need two forms of personal ID.

Pack practically:

  • You child may need to be moved to a new room during the hospital stay. This will require transferring all your belongings to the new rooms. We find that wheeled luggage can be very useful.
  • Make sure you check the forecast for San Francisco winters prior to your stay. Winters can be cold and rainy, and our summers are chilly. Comfortable layered clothing and jackets are useful anytime of year. 
  • Bring comfortable clothes for wearing in your room such as slip-on shoes, pajamas, and bathrobe. 
  • Remember to save space in your luggage for anything which can help support you emotionally (see "Preparing Your Child and Yourself Emotionally" for suggestions).

Off Campus Lodging

It is the responsibility of the family to provide for their own lodging. UCSF cannot pay for lodging expenses, but some insurance plans will reimburse patients for their travel and lodging expenses. A pediatric surgery social worker is available to serve as a resource for housing needs. She can be reached by calling our office at 415-476-2538 and asking for a social services referral.

For families in need of low cost lodging, accommodations may be available at the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House or the Ronald McDonald House of SF. However, space is very limited, and their rooms are usually reserved first for families with seriously ill children. You may discuss with one of our social workers to see if this option is available for your family.

If your child's treatment requires an extended stay and above options are not available, the UCSF website has compiled a list of short term lodging options which can assist you in planning your travel to San Francisco. Please ask our office staff if you have any questions about these arrangements.

Transportation Options While in San Francisco

Having a Car

There are definite pros and cons to having a car while in San Francisco. The main drawbacks are the high cost of parking and the often congested and confusing San Francisco streets. On the other hand, having a car helps the caregiver access food and supplies more easily and may be more comforting to have in getting to the hospital for appointments.


Street parking is often hard to find in San Francisco, and it often requires more walking than is recommended for patients. Parking at UCSF Medical Center is at a premium. For current parking rates visit UCSF Public Parking.

Choosing Not to Have a Car

It is possible to come to San Francisco and not use a car during your stay. San Francisco has an extensive public transit system and several taxi services. Additionally, there are free UCSF shuttles that go from UCSF to Mt. Zion Hospital and Mission Bay. For those on bed rest/ limited mobility, the shuttle is wheelchair accessible. A wheelchair may be available on loan to you for use with follow up appointments at the hospital and other limited transporting.

Car Sharing Options

If you only want to use a car for an hour here or there for errands, you might want to look into car share options such as Zip Car, City Car Share. Both companies have cars available in locations all around San Francisco including near UCSF (Zipcar and City Car Share has cars available directly in the UCSF parking garage).

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