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Thursday, December 8th 2016

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



2013
26
February
Calgary to San Diego | Getting A Deal On Vacation Packages


Guides >> North America >> California >> Vacation Packages from Calgary to San Diego

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On Vacation Packages From Calgary to San Diego

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

They use marketing noise to hide the fact that there are really only two sources of unique prices on vacation packages to San Diego.

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 deal.

What are the unique sources of prices on flight and hotel packages to San Diego from Calgary ?

Unique Source #1 - The Canadian Tour Operators

There are currently only one Canadian Tour Operator that offers vacation packages to San Diego from Calgary, and that is: WestJet Vacations.

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

Well, you could just search WestJet Vacations own website individually, since there are the only Canadian tour operator offering vacation packages to San Diego from Calgary.

But of course there are *many* Canadian-based travel sites and brands that sell WestJet Vacations packages and will search them for you as well. 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 vacation package deal to San Diego from Calgary 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 vacation 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 travelers from Alberta 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 Calgary travel agency or independent travel agent here in Alberta?

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 sites I just listed 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 my trip to get the best price on San Diego packages?

This is never an easy question to answer, as packaged holiday prices are not 100% predictable. The Canadian 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. To some destinations, the Canadian Tour Operators are more apt than other sources to offer a discount on their vacation package prices with under 4 weeks to go before departure. But to destinations within North America, like San Diego, they are less likely to do so.

What about last minute deals on San Diego holiday trips?

Canadian Tour Operators do occasionally make great last minute price cuts to certain destinations, but I find that with destinations inside North America, such as San Diego, they are far less likely to do so.

What's a decent price on a flight and hotel package to San Diego?

From Calgary, one week vacation packages to San Diego from the Canadian Tour Operators tend to bottom out at around $650-$750 per person, after taxes. And $450-$550 for a 3-4 night getaway. 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.

Travel 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 San Diego (such as dates when many people in Calgary have holiday time) you can expect prices to react accordingly.

What about vacation packages with direct flights to San Diego?

From Calgary, WestJet Vacations offers travel packages with direct flights to San Diego.

The flight time from Calgary to San Diego is 3 hours each way. The distance between Calgary and San Diego is 2046 km (1279 miles). The time difference between Calgary and San Diego is 1 hour. San Diego is 1 hour behind Calgary.

What about all-inclusive vacation packages to San Diego from Calgary?

An all inclusive package is exactly the same as a regular flight and hotel package, only with all of your meals and drinks at the hotel included in the price. San Diego does not have this type of hotel, so all inclusive packages to San Diego do not exist.

In fact, all inclusive packages really only exist outside of North America, with most of the all inclusive hotels located in very warm destinations with sandy beaches.

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 San Diego to create a vacation package. They tend to mostly be U.S. based brands offering vacation packages departing from Canada.

Where should I look to get the best San Diego vacation deal?

This is the noise. The flight price sources that the Flight & Hotel Combiners use to generate their vacation package prices are virtually identical. 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.

Travellers from Calgary tend to waste a lot of time needlessly comparing vacation offerings since these Flight & Hotel Combiners have predominantly identical travel package prices.

Here are the Flight & Hotel Combiners that spend the most on advertising, you have likely heard of at least one of them...

Expedia Travelocity Book It Orbitz Hotwire


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

Try to remember that at the end of the day, the vacation packages offered by the Flight & Hotel Combiners are simply made up of two components:

1) The latest Calgary - San Diego 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 California 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 on the whole I'd probably consider the flight price component as being the limiting factor, and suggest that I'd be comfortable watching prices from the Flight & Hotel Combiners up to about 8 weeks before departure. But everyone has a different tolerance for risk.

One strategy can be to look for dates that involve cheaper flight prices to San Diego (SAN), and then use those same dates when looking for a vacation package. You may want to read the guide: Calgary to San Diego | How To Get The Best Flight Deals.

What about booking a San Diego flight & hotel separately? Is that cheaper or more expensive than a vacation package?

Holiday travellers often want to know if booking a flight and hotel package to San Diego is better or worse than booking flight and hotel separately.

To beat the travel package prices generated by the Flight & Hotel Combiner sites, you would need to find a hotel price that is better than the source of hotel prices used by the Flight & Hotel combiner sites when generating their package prices.

Is this possible? Yes. But is it likely? Probably not. Hotel prices for the most part have been squeezed down to the point where all the travel brands and search engines out there have fairly identical hotel prices.

But if you do want to give it a shot, I'd suggest starting with finding the cheapest flight to San Diego that you can. You may want to read the guide mentioned in the paragraph above to do so.

Remember that for a fair comparison of a pre-packaged deal vs. building your own, you should always keep as many variables the same as possible, including the flight quality (number of stopovers, layover time), the number of nights for your trip, and either the exact same hotel, or one of similar quality. A few quick searches on TripAdvisor can tell you if the accommodations are comparable.

I would also suggest that when searching for accommodations in San Diego to build your own travel package, you don't use the same site that contains the packages you're comparing against. The total cost has a very good chance of ending up being extremely similar.

An important thing to remember is that there are can be some wonderful hotels and places to stay that aren't 'linked up' with the major travel search engines. As a result, a search for San Diego vacation packages using well known travel sites will not return packages that contain these accommodations.

TripAdvisor is a great place to look for places to stay in San Diego that you won't find bundled with vacation packages from the Flight & Hotel Combiners. You need to look for them manually. Do a Google search for tripadvisor san diego hotels. Click on the first result.

On the TripAdvisor page for San Diego hotels, using the menu at the top, I like to look under 'B&B and Inns' and 'Specialty Lodging'. These two categories are where you are most likely to find amazing places to stay for a great price that are sometimes not found as a bundled package through travel search engines.

Once you've found a few places that you really like, take the accommodation names and start copying/pasting them into Google. This will lead you to their personal website, where you can contact the owner (usually via e-mail or an inquiry form) to make your booking or ask about availability and rates. I usually just copy/paste the same e-mail to the various places I'm interested in.

Tip: If you click on 'See which rooms travelers prefer' on the TripAdvisor listing for the hotel (it's right under the rating bar graphs) you can often find out which rooms are the best, and inquire about their availability when contacting the owner.

Another great site for finding places to stay in San Diego can be AirBNB. These are often accommodations where you're renting a room inside a local's own house or apartment. Be sure to look for places with a lot of reviews, and understand exactly what you're getting.

What about vacation packages from the Flight & Hotel Combiners with direct flights to San Diego ?

There are currently 2 major airlines that offer direct flights to San Diego from Calgary: American Airlines and WestJet.

Note however, that American Airlines sells airfares with direct flights to San Diego, but the flights are actually operated by WestJet. This is called codesharing, and is just one of the many things that airlines love to do to confuse travelers. A codeshared flight can sometimes be priced differently by each airline involved, even though it's the exact same flight!

From the Flight & Hotel Combiners, look for travel packages involving one of these airlines if you're looking for packages that have direct flights to San Diego.


What about budget-priced holiday packages to San Diego 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 vacation package from a U.S. airport to San Diego that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than a similar package from Calgary.

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

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

Considering that you can usually get a flight from Calgary for around $400 roundtrip after taxes, the flight from Kalispell or Great Falls would need to be practically free for the price of a vacation package to fall far enough to warrant the drive. In all likelihood, it's rarely ever going to be worth it.


I think I've found a great deal on a vacation package to San Diego!

Excellent! Please share it with your fellow Calgary travel lovers, they will appreciate it and thank you for it! You can post it in the YYC Deals Facebook group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive), where thousands of travel deal enthusiasts 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 are always appreciated.


Why should I trust this Calgary guide to San Diego travel?

Chris Myden Ydeals The info in this guide is based on my observations of the travel industry over the years, including all the thousands of 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 vacationers 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 San Diego vacation package guide!

Great! Please post your info in the Calgary 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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