Nothing is more tempting than a travel deal.
And nothing is easier than having a third-party website filter destination suggestions right to your inbox.
Whether I am looking to just leave town for the weekend, or am planning my big overseas trip for the year, I find that Groupon has a surprisingly broad selection of options at my disposal.
Like any normal human being, I was skeptical at first. I preferred to browse and didn’t book anything for a long time.
The first time I used it was to book a little inn near South Lake Tahoe. It was adorable, off-season and in my budget. It was a success.
But those larger vacation options always intrigued me. They made booking a trip look so easy.
Typically, I enjoy researching and planning a trip. I’m good at it. I love a good binder full of reservation confirmations and tourist information. Leslie Knope style.
Last year however, I waited too long to have a vacation. That made planning a much needed vacation feel more like a chore.
We’d been toying with the idea of visiting Costa Rica for years, but never managed to make it happen. There seemed to always be options on Groupon, so it was the first place I checked when we decided to make it happen once and for all.
Here’s what I learned:
Read the Fine Print
There’s a lot that’s included in these travel deals, but there are definitely vital things that are missing. Things that could significantly impact the price of the overall trip, such as meals, excursions, park entry fees, transfers, etc. Make sure to take a close look at the fine print to see just how much you will be expected to pay on top of the base price, because no trip is fully all-inclusive.
Do Your Research
While I’d like to believe that Groupon would sever ties with any travel agency, tour group or hotel that didn’t deliver to its customers as promised, it is always a good idea to double check. Dive deep into the details of the Groupon you’d like to purchase and figure out who figure out more information about the hotel or tour company that you’d be working with. I prefer to vet through TripAdvisor, but a simple Google search should suffice. For our Costa Rica vacation we found a couple of very strong reviews that gave us the peace of mind we needed to go ahead with our purchase.
In my experience, you need to purchase your deal before you can coordinate any of the travel arrangements with the travel company you are using. Make sure you email or call them relatively soon after you purchased your deal so that you can secure the travel dates and make any additional travel arrangements, in our case, we needed to know exactly what time of day we needed to arrive and book our flights (which were separate than the deal itself) accordingly. The travel company we worked with was called Eco Terra and they were wonderful to work with. They replied quickly to our emails, made updates to our itinerary as we upgraded certain pieces of the travel package and were always eager to answer our questions, regardless of how silly they were.
Dates of Travel
Before you go on your trip, plot out the dates you are traveling on a calendar (physical or digital) and make sure you’ve accounted for everything correctly. We learned our lesson the hard way. The night before we were scheduled to leave we realized we actually had one might night in Costa Rica than we had accounted for hotel wise. Obviously, changing our flight wasn’t an option – it would be way too expensive – so we embraced our goof and looked for a fun, extravagant hotel to end our stay in the country. It totally worked out, but was quite the embarrassing revelation.
Overall, I highly recommend trying out Groupon if you need a getaway. It’s a good way to get a structured, activity filled trip without doing all the leg work. I definitely will be using Groupon for our future getaways.