Open jaw is a term usually reserved for flying. Jim did an excellent job explaining the concept in depth here, but basically it means you fly into one city to begin a trip, then travel for awhile, and fly home from the city you end up in. This way you don’t have to back track and waste valuable time.

On a recent overnight I experienced a similar type of phenomenon on a much smaller scale while exploring the city of San Francisco on foot and by bicycle.


I originally planned to do a looped city hike starting from my hotel, then hitting a variety of sites including the Painted Ladies, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc. According to Google Maps, it was going to be about thirteen and a half miles, or four and a half hours long. I had a little more than six hours to complete the journey, which I thought would be plenty of time because I’m a fast walker.

But there was so much to see and do along the way that soon I had already burned through nearly half of my time, but only a quarter of my distance.

Luckily, at this point I had just reached the entrance to Golden Gate Park — at Stanyan and Haight — and saw a stand for bicycle rentals.


I knew a bike would speed things up, but I didn’t want to have to waste time and miss out on seeing new things by back tracking on the same path to return the bike. Luckily after talking to the concessionaire, I discovered that Parkwide had multiple locations across the city, and that I could drop my bike off at any of them for a ten dollar fee.

I decided to try it out, and it worked fabulously.

I covered some sprawling distances through the park, across the city’s Richmond district, and up a large Presidio hill to the Golden Gate Bridge. I contemplated crossing the bridge, to check out the national recreation area on the opposite side, but due to time constraints decided to continue on my original loop.


I followed a waterfront path form the Golden Gate Bridge through Crissy Field to the Marina district. I ended up at Fort Mason, where I dropped off my rental having completed an additional seven and a half miles.

Screenshot 2015-11-05 23.19.24

Afterwards, I returned to my hotel from Fort Mason, via Fisherman’s Wharf and Lombard Street. No wasted time backtracking and seeing the same things. It was awesome, and totally efficient.

I arrived back at my hotel with 30 minutes to spare, got ready, and then worked the flight back to JFK, New York.

— Laura Rowley


Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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