If you’re going to San Francisco…

San Francisco is notoriously known for being an expensive place to live. So it should come as no surprise that it is also an expensive place to travel. This was at the top of my mind when my friend suddenly suggested we take a trip to San Francisco for a fall vacation. Needing to be budget friendly, and not really knowing anything about SF, the places to eat or see (other than the Golden Gate Bridge), we set out to do some extensive research on what to see and do in San Francisco!

My travel buddy this time around is my roommate from first year university. A random pairing that ended up being a much closer friendship than I’d anticipated. We’re both in our late 20s, avid travelers, and combined have been to many other parts of the world. We often travel in a larger group with several other friends, but this would be my first solo trip with her. I find that one of the important aspects of an enjoyable trip is finding someone who has the same interests, who shares in the planning process, and balances you out as a person. This allows you to try things you might not have otherwise done yourself, but still keeps you within your comfort zone.

So, without further ado, the breakdown:

  • Travelers – Kim & Hannah
  • Age – in our late 20s
  • Destination – San Francisco, California
  • Timing – November 5th to 11th
  • Budget – $1500
  • Type of Traveler – comfortable living, museum seeker, outdoor hiker, foodie

First and foremost, we needed to look for flights and accommodations. I often peruse flight deal sites like yyzdeals.com, so I saw some discounts from WestJet mid-September.  However, Hannah and I were waiting to have our time off approved, and so we missed out on the $300 roundtrip flight deal – an amazing deal for the west coast. It looks like all the tickets were snapped up within 2 days, and are really for those who are already fully committed to their travel. Almost as hot as the Toronto housing market.

If we were going to pay full price for the flights, a key requirement of ours was having no layovers. A coworker of mine has a horror story during a layover to San Francisco, where she was stuck on the tarmac for 3 hours while the plane was fueled, de-fueled and then re-fueled again in Chicago. She got into SF much later than expected, and nearly missed her business meeting. Suffice it to say, no layovers.

2.5 weeks later, our days were cleared by our managers, and we were finally ready to book. I’ve noticed flight tickets are often cheaper on Tuesdays. I’m not sure whether this is targeted towards last minute business travelers, but that’s what happened in this case too. Another tip is to remove your browsing history, and clear your cookies/cache so that the airline doesn’t increase the price of flights due to  your previous searches. Unfortunately, the flights were almost double the price of the WestJet deal and cost us a sweet $595 in total. This took a nice chunk out of our travel budget leaving us with $905 remaining. The timing of our flights were exactly what we were looking for though, which may not have happened with the WestJet deal. We would be leaving 8am Toronto time and land in San Francisco at 10:20PST, perfect for a full day of adventure. It’s good to remember the 3 hour time difference between the east and the west coast when booking your flight. With the confirmation sent to email, we were set and ready to go!

Trips never feel real to me until the flights are booked. You can plan the whole journey, but until the first payment isn’t made, it can still feel like a dream. How about you? When do your trips become reality?

Personal photo – KW

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