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Are Groupon Getaways Legit?

Posted by Lindsey Pauley on

If you're like me and visit Groupon.com way too often, eager to spend your money on whatever cool or weird deals or goods that happen to strike your fancy, you've probably seen that Groupon Getaways section and thought:  Woah.  Flights, hotels, and activities for THAT price??  Is that for real?  What's the catch?
Here's what you need to know:
1. Deals Are Based on Double Occupancy
Most of Groupon's Getaway deals expect you to travel with another person, and there will probably be an extra charge if you want to go solo (a few hundred dollars, usually).  So buddy up!  Find a friend who you can stand sharing a hotel room with and take advantage of that deal.
2. You Might Need a Connecting Flight
Check which airports the deal flies out of.  If you need to buy a flight to get to one of their listed airports, make sure to factor that into your trip cost when you're deciding if it's worth it.
3. Price Check
Research the hotels you'd be staying at on the Groupon trip, and A) Make sure they're at least decent, and B) See if your trip would be cheaper if you booked a flight, the same hotels, and activities yourself.  A good friend of mine and I once fell in love with a Groupon Getaway which included a flight to Paris, a rental car, and nights at three AMAZING-looking hotels, for around $1700 per person.  When we looked at how much those hotels cost nightly, however, and realized we could get flights for around $800 each, we realized that we could actually take the same trip on our own for about $1300 per person, when we split the cost together.  Do the math and make sure it's actually a deal!
4. Research the Travel Company
Lots of different travel companies post deals to Groupon Getaways, and some are fantastic, while others are... less so.  First, look for the rating that other buyers have given the deal.  Not all deals will have a rating, especially if it's a new deal, but if available, this is a great first way to gauge whether or not it's worth your money.  Second, find the name of the company offering the deal and run a Google search on them.  A legitimate company will have other reviews out there, perhaps on Tripadvisor, Yelp, Reviews.com, etc.  What are the people who pay full price saying about the trip?  If you see stellar reviews, go ahead and click the Buy button on that deal?  If you see a bunch of reviews complaining about poor communication, bad hotels, budget airline bookings, and more, you can probably do better for your vacation.
5. Off Season?
Check to see if the travel dates offered are the destination country's off-season.  Depending on where you're going, this could mean it's going to rain a lot, or the bar scene might not be super fun and happening.  If these kinds of things don't matter to you, pack a poncho and go anyway!  But it's best to know what you're flying into before you get there, of course.
6. Check Availability
Some trips and tours may only offer a particular date range during which you can travel, and you might have to leave to start a tour in the middle of the week.  If your company isn't especially flexible when it comes to requesting vacation time off, it's best to reach out to the company offering the getaway and find out if your desired dates are available before pulling the trigger on the deal.
7. Oh no!  The Groupon Getaway Deal Expired!!!
Did you spend too long thinking your purchase over, only to return to Groupon Getaways and find out the deal has ended?  I know the heartbreak, believe me.  But don't despair just yet!  Reach out to the company that was offering the deal and ask if they can match the Groupon price for you through their own website.  I did this two years ago when the Costa Rica deal I desperately wanted ended before I'd made up my mind to drop $1,000.  The company was happy to give me the same price, because since they sold me the package directly, Groupon didn't get a cut of the sale.  They got more money and I got my cheap adventure tour of Costa Rica (which was completely amazing, by the way).  We both won!
Long story short: If you've done your research and find mostly good things, that Groupon Getaway deal is definitely worth it.  Go travel!!

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