While we scored a relatively good deal (considering it was peak season to travel) on the flights, the exchange rate kicked our butts $695USD > $821CND. I did my usual routine and once again used www.bing.com/travel, an aggregate search for flights, which lead us to book our flights through Orbitz.
The one thing we found was that booking flights separately was cheaper as airlines sometimes release limited discount seating. Ordering through Orbitz can be a riskier process as your flight won’t be guaranteed until a few hours or a day later which is what happened with Carl’s flight. While my ordered processed through, Carl took multiple tries. We ended up with the same Air Canada direct flight into San Francisco (from San Fran we flew into San Diego), but a different United Airlines flight back to Toronto. If you get lucky, like we did, someone at the help desk at United on the day of would put you on standby on the same flight. This depends if you’re willing to travel independently.
Our flight got in at 11pm so I figured we would save a day’s rate and rent the car the next day by the airport. In hindsight, the rate would’ve been the same since it’s within 24 hours but you save on the crazy parking rate ($40/night by our hotel downtown). The first night we stayed by the airport at Hyatt SFO that I found on Orbitz after doing a comparison on Priceline and Hotwire, my other go-to sites. I also used Orbitz because I gained around $2.50 Orbitz rewards every time I used them.
For the next 3 nights, we stayed at Serrano Hotel in the Union Square area so everything would be walking distance (kinda). We found this hotel through Express deals on Priceline where they’ll indicate that there’s a 3 star hotel for the price of $109/night and you take a chance at what hotel you land on vs. bidding. The first night at the hotel was disappointing, the room was mediocre and the tub was small and clogged. We spoke with the front desk though who was very helpful and upgraded us to a suite, which was much nicer with a large jacuzzi tub.
We rented a car for a day from RelayRides (click here for my review of RelayRides) to go to the places that were outside of the city.