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Wednesday, December 7th 2016

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YYC." - Chris Myden



2013
24
January
Calgary to Costa Rica | Getting The Best Deal On Packages


Guides >> Central America >> Costa Rica >> Packages from Calgary to Costa Rica

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On Flight & Hotel Packages From Calgary (YYC) to Costa Rica

Ydeals logo There are thousands of travel sites out there, all wanting you to believe they have unique or special prices on vacation packages to Costa Rica. They don't.

They use marketing noise to hide the fact that there are really only two sources of unique prices on holiday packages to Costa Rica.

This guide will remove the noise and show you what those sources are, so you can stop wasting so much time when searching for the best trip deal.

What are the unique sources of prices on flight/hotel packages from Calgary to Costa Rica ?

Unique Source #1 - The Canadian Tour Operators

There are currently only two Canadian Tour Operators that offer getaway packages from Calgary to Costa Rica, and they are: Air Canada Vacations and WestJet Vacations.

Where should I look to get the best holiday package deal?

Well, you could just search the Air Canada Vacations and WestJet Vacations own websites individually, since there are only two of them.

But of course there are *many* Canadian-based travel sites and brands that sell Air Canada Vacations and WestJet Vacations packages. This is the noise.

You may already be familiar with some of the sites & brands that spend the most on travel industry advertising, such as:

RedTag iTravel2000 Flight Network Sell Off Vacations Tripcentral
Flight Centre Signature Vacations Sears Travel Escapes Marlin Travel

This is by no means a complete list of all the Canadian-based travel sites. The only important thing you need to know as someone searching for the best package deal from Calgary to Costa Rica is that they are all retrieving their prices from the same source, and all trying to sell you the exact same packages at the exact same prices.

One site or brand can't offer a lower price than their competition, and they can't legally change the package prices themselves anyways.

In other words, it is a huge waste of your valuable time to check any more than one of the travel sites for Canadians. A large number of Albertans out there have been fooled into thinking they are comparison shopping, since no travel site or brand will ever admit that their prices are identical to their competition.

What about my local travel agency or independent travel agent here in Calgary?

If it's through a travel agency in Canada, or a Canadian travel agent, you can think of them as being identical to the travel site options I just mentioned above. They're accessing the exact same prices, and from the same sources as the sites above, and trying to sell you the exact same packages, so they can't offer a price that's any different than any other site or brand.

When should I book to get the best price on Costa Rican packages?

This is never an easy question to answer, as packaged holiday prices are not 100% predictable. The tour operators start by setting their price at a level they think will fill the maximum number of seats, based on the demand they expect to see. If they experience less demand than they expected, they may decide to lower them. If they experience more demand than they expected, they may raise them. Unfortunately, a lot of factors that influence demand can be unpredictable.

How long a person can wait it out in hopes of a better price is a personal decision. The Canadian Tour Operators are generally more apt than other sources to offer a discount on their package prices with under 4 weeks to go before departure. But there's never a guarantee that they will.

What about last minute deals on Costa Rican holiday trips?

Canadian Tour Operators do occasionally make last minute price cuts on their package prices from Calgary to Costa Rica, although they are not as common as discounts to warm Caribbean destinations down south that you often see.

What's a decent price on a package with flight and hotel to Costa Rica?

From Calgary, packages to Costa Rica from Canadian Tour Operators tend to bottom out at around $1200 per person, after taxes. This is just a general guideline though, based on average demand periods of the year. And of course it can vary wildly, depending on the quality of the hotel involved in the package.

Package prices are highly affected by demand. So anytime you can think of a reason that there might be higher demand than usual for travel to Costa Rica (such as dates when many people in Calgary have holiday time) you can expect prices to react accordingly.

Also keep in mind that Tour Operator packages from Canada have fixed lengths. From Calgary to Costa Rica, the most common package lengths are 7 nights and 14 nights.

What about packages with non-stop (direct) flights to Costa Rica?

From Calgary, neither Air Canada Vacations or WestJet Vacations currently offers packages with non-stop (direct) flights to Costa Rica. The flights usually have layovers in Toronto in each direction.

Where can I land in Costa Rica?

Tour Operators in Canada offer packages that fly into into either San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR), Costa Rica. San Jose airport is in central Costa Rica, while Liberia is in NW Costa Rica. You can find packages to hotels in the surrounding areas of these two locations.

What about 'all inclusive' packages to Costa Rica?

The Canadian Tour Operators do offer packages to certain hotels in Costa Rica that are 'all inclusive' (which are exactly the same as flight & hotel packages, but with meals and drinks included in the price). You may want to read the guide How To Get The Best All Inclusive Deals From Calgary To Costa Rica.

Unique Source #2 - The Flight & Hotel Combiners

The Flight & Hotel Combiners are sites that simply mash together the latest flight prices from the major airlines with the latest hotel prices in Costa Rica to create a package. They tend to be U.S. based brands (but generate packages that originate from Canada).

Where should I look to get the best deal?

This is the noise. The flight price component of the package from the major airlines is identical for every site that offers these types of packages. There may be a slight differences in their source of hotel prices, but for the most part they're all grabbing the latest hotel prices from similar sources, at similar prices.

The result is that Flight & Hotel combination sellers usually all have very identical package prices to each other, and people tend to waste a lot of time thinking they are comparing prices from unique sources against one other, when they're not.

Here are the Flight & Hotel Aggregators that spend the most on travel advertising. You have likely heard of at least one of them...

Expedia Travelocity Book It Orbitz Hotwire


How can I compare the Flight & Hotel Combiners against the Canadian Tour Operators?

When comparing vacation packages, you always want to keep as many variables the same as possible. For example, just remember that the Flight & Hotel Combiners are using the cheapest price they find from the major airlines when generating their package prices. This can sometimes mean that the default flight involved is a terribly long one, with multiple layovers.

For a fair comparison, you would also want to make sure the hotel quality is similar (or ideally, the same hotel) when comparing packages. And of course, similar dates and total number of nights, as these factors can affect pricing.

When should I book my trip to get the best price from the Flight & Hotel Combiners?

Just try to remember that at the end of the day, the packages offered by the Flight & Hotel Combiners are made up of two basic components:

1) The latest flight prices from the major airlines. The major airlines don't tend to offer great last minute prices, so waiting until the last minute can backfire. I find the major airlines tend to usually offer their most decent prices around 8 weeks before departure.

2) The latest hotel prices. It's more common to see hotels offer discounts at the last minute, but then you have to weigh that against the fact that the flight price component from the major airlines can rise as the date nears, meaning the package price could go up.

So as a whole I'd probably consider the flight price component as being the limiting factor, and that I'd be comfortable watching prices from the Flight & Hotel Combiners up to about 8 weeks before departure. Then again, everyone has a different tolerance for risk.

What about non-stop (direct) packages to Costa Rica?

At the moment, there aren't any major airlines that offer non-stop (direct) flights from Calgary to either of Costa Rica's two major airports, which are San Jose (SJO) and Liberia (LIR). So, as a result, there aren't any packages from the Flight & Hotel Combiners that will be non-stop (direct) either.

What about booking a Costa Rican flight & hotel separately? Is that cheaper or more expensive than a package?

People often want to know if booking a package to Costa Rica is better or worse than booking your flight and hotel separately. The answer is, well, that there is no correct answer. Either one can be cheaper or more expensive for any given situation, at any given moment. All you can do is try both and compare.

I'd suggest starting with finding the cheapest non-torturous flight from Calgary to Costa Rica that you can. You may want to read the guide: How To Get The Best Deal On Flights From Calgary To Costa Rica.

Then find the cheapest hotel rates you can for your dates and desired hotel rating. Remember that packages are almost always listed as 'per person' (usually based on 2 people in a room), so you'll need to do some simple math for an accurate comparison.

The easiest thing to do is usually just to take the package price that you see on the typical Flight & Hotel Combiner sites and multiply it by 2. Jot down this number.

Now take the total cost of the flights you found (2 of them) and add it to the total cost of the hotel (across all nights) that you found on your own. Compare it to the number you jotted down above.

Remember that for a fair comparison you should always keep as many variables the same as possible, including the flight quality (number of layovers, layover length), the number of nights, and the hotel involved.

Congratulations, you have essentially become your own Flight & Hotel Combiner, accomplishing something not all that different from what the large travel sites are doing.


What about cheap packages to Costa Rica from U.S. airports within driving distance of Calgary?

If you've ever read my guide about flying out of U.S. Airports within driving distance of Calgary, you may know that I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a package from a U.S. airport to Costa Rica that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than a similar package from Calgary.

How much cheaper it needs to be depends on which U.S. airport you're departing from. Below, I'll list how much cheaper I feel it should be from each U.S. airport, to be worth the drive from Calgary.

Packages from U.S. cities are typically similar to what were discussed under 'Unique Source #2 - Flight & Hotel Combiners'. They are packages that involve combining the latest flight prices from the major airlines with the latest hotel prices.

From Kalispell (FCA) or Great Falls (GTF), Montana

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a package from Kalispell or Great Falls to Costa Rica that's at least $475 to $500 less per person than from Calgary.

Considering flight prices from Kalispell or Great Falls to Costa Rica on the major airlines are not usually any cheaper than they are from Calgary, this is not likely to happen, and rarely ever worth the drive.


I think I've found a great deal on a packaged vacation to Costa Rica!

Excellent! Please share it with your fellow Calgary travel lovers, they will certainly appreciate it! You can post it in the YYC Deals Facebook group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive), where thousands of people from Calgary are crowd-sourcing the best deals, and sharing great travel advice.

Or if you prefer, you can always give me a shout through the YYC Deals contact form or on Twitter @YYCdeals or through Google Plus. Great deal finds on travel are always appreciated.


Why should I trust this Calgary guide to Costa Rican travel?

Chris Myden Ydeals The info in this guide is based on my observations of the Canadian travel industry over the years, including all the thousands of vacation reseller websites out there, and where all the different players get their prices from and how they interact with each other.

The goal is to remove the noise of travel marketing, so people can stop wasting so much valuable time searching the same prices over and over.

But, as social proof of it's accuracy, feel free to join the YYC Deals Facebook Group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive) and publicly disagree with any of it, or make a comment below. Critiques are always welcome!


I think I have some info that could help improve the Costa Rican vacation package guide!

Great! Please post your info in the Facebook group above, or contact me directly. Suggestions for improvement are always appreciated. Let me know if you see something that seems inaccurate or outdated.

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