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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Group Buying Power For Travel Savings 8.10.11

Anything that can help you travel more cheaply is a good thing in my opinion. An even better thing is something that can help, virtually, anyone save on trips. It’s rare that I find a website that works for just about everyone and also boasts a 50-90% savings on everything they offer, but I have found just that. It’s likely many of you have already found it, too, but didn’t realize how truly useful it is for traveling. I’m talking about Groupon. It’s seriously my favorite daily deal site and I’ve used it at home and away and saved gobs of money. Today is all about the goodness that is Groupon.

For those of you who don’t know what Groupon is, it’s a pretty simple concept: Each day there is a new deal put up from a local company. They can be a salon, tour company, restaurant, yoga studio, shop or any number of other things. They will offer one rockin’ deal for Groupon customers. The discount is always AT LEAST 50% off. They will have a minimum number that need to be purchased for the deal to be valid, which means if you “buy” and they don’t reach the number they need, then your card won’t be charged for your order. If they do reach their desired number of purchases, then everyone who buys that day will get the awesomely discounted whatever they are offering. Groupon means “group coupon”, so that explains why they need more than just one person to take the deal in order for it to help both you and company offering the deal. Companies get their name out to customers, customers try them out and everyone wins!

I have been posting deals on Facebook that I buy via Groupon, but I haven’t really talked too much about it here. I can attest to the money-saving aspect of Groupon on vacation, because this year we are going to Hawaii and we’ve booked all of our entertainment and some dining by using Groupon Honolulu. We’ve purchased 2 tours (one full-day and one half-day) and snorkeling trip that also features an on-deck BBQ. How much have we saved on just those 3 things? Almost $250. We did think about buying a Go Card for our trip, but we will only be there for 7 days, so we know we’ll be doing other activities that are either free or inexpensive on their own: the Dole Plantation, Honolulu Zoo (which would be ½ off if we had a current zoo membership, the beach and the International Marketplace. I love a GoCard, but if I can’t get the full benefit of it, then I would rather not spend the money on it. What do do with the money I saved? Possibly a few extra lava flows are in my future!

Not only are we saving on activities, but when I receive emails from Groupon that include restaurant discounts, I look at where they are located in relation to my lodging and then purchase accordingly, since going out to eat in Hawaii can be relatively expensive. We have a purchased a few certificates for dinners at nearby restaurants and one for Wahoo Fish Tacos for lunch to mix in with our expected trip to both Chili’s and Hard Rock Café (we have neither, so we do look forward to eating at these when we travel), our lunch at the Dole Plantation and then whatever we choose to make ourselves in our included kitchen. Our trip is going to turn out to be much more affordable than we first expected, with the help of Groupon, which will allow us to save even more for our big trip to Europe next fall.

One of the cool things about Groupon – among many – is that it’s not just for the U.S. Nope, it’s available for the U.S. Canada and 40 other countries around the world including Colombia, Uraguay and Singapore. Pretty much anywhere you go, you can purchase Groupons to save you big time on your trip. If I want to do a bike tour in Mexico or get a manicure in Greece, I can do it, providing those things come up as discounts before I go. So, I’ll be watching Groupon UK and France like a hawk after I come back from Hawaii.

And now Groupon has teamed up with Expedia to bring you fantastic(er) deals on travel! With amazing discounts on luxury hotels and accommodations, you can’t afford NOT to travel well while still on a budget. The rates may not be slashed to 90% off, but they will be great and you’ll drool over their gorgeous photos and long to go everywhere all at once.

So, how do you sign up for Groupon? It’s easy and free! In fact, you can use your Facebook account to sign in if you want. Use either your home location or your next vacation destination as the one you wish to get deals for and then look for them in your email. I get updates for Honolulu, but click through to look at my local area as well, and I can change my preferred destination anytime I want.

Use Groupon all over! Use it to save on date night at home, be a tourist in your own city, get pampered or save on everyday things. That’s right, you can purchase BOGO certificates for bowling, 50% off dinner, discounted massages or facials and even save on oil changes for your car. The possibilities are virtually endless. Today I just saw a deal for $10 for $20 worth of organic produce at a nearby farm.

Do you know what’s even cooler? You can get 3% cash back on all your Groupon purchases by using Ebates, too, to make your savings even larger.  Why NOT save as much as possible on everything you do if you can?

So, soon I will be Hawaii-bound with my carry-on, sunglasses and tons of sunscreen where I might just snorkel in the company of some cute little bottle-nosed dolphins and get to see where Jurassic Park was filmed. Would I get to do that without Groupon? Maybe, but surely not at 60% off! How have you used Groupon to save on your travels or around your hometown? Maybe you haven’t tried it yet. Sign up and tell me what you think!

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