How to Find the Best Local Discounts for a Trip

By Dealnews on 5 September 2011 (Updated 6 June 2013) 1 comment
Photo: Groupon

If you're planning a vacation, you've probably already found yourself a great deal on airfare and accommodations. But what about those exhilarating city-specific activities and scrumptious must-eats that make vacationing all the more memorable? With the birth of local deal sites, you can now unearth savings in other areas of your trip.

Several months ago, we laid out the pros and cons to using various local deal sites to discount activities while traveling. Now, we revisit some of those tips, and bring you some advice about strategy, directly from the source.

Plan Ahead With Groupon, Living Social, and the Like

Many people are familiar with the fantastic discounts that local deal sites like Groupon offer, but many neglect to use them while traveling. Usually, the idea comes too late. And according to Julie Anne Mossler at Groupon, a traveler looking to score a local deal should be on the lookout at least a month in advance, to get an idea for the types of deals that are available. (Plus, you just want a greater variety to choose from.)

But it doesn't stop at just domestic locations. Groupon expanded internationally in May of last year and now spouts out daily deals in 43 countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey. Company representatives say that domestic deal hunting for travel purposes has been a growing trend, and international travelers will likely follow suit. (See also: 40 Most Useful Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune)

Both Groupon and Living Social claim to provide non-touristy deals perfect for travelers and city-regulars alike, meaning local staffs scour and filter through to pick the best deals within each city. (Dealnews has a review of these local deal sites for specific travel purposes.) Be wary, though, of just using these websites. Tried and true forums like Yelp and regional websites and magazines are good cross-checking sources for travelers wanting to ensure they're seeing the right sights, buying offers in neighborhoods that are relevant to their trip, or getting, for instance, the best cupcake in town as an end-of-day reward.

While Mossler notes the appeal to having a deal site for even the more exotic locales, such as Hong Kong, the caveat is that the site is usually in the native language of the country. In cases like these, making use of Google Translate may come in handy. Groupon Getaways also provides sidebars with complementary deals — hence a getaway in Bangkok would be coupled with, for example, a good deal on tickets to the city's popular local theater.

Finding Offers on the Go

For those already on vacation, Groupon Now! is a real-time alternative that also alleviates the uncertainty of trying to place a deal in your itinerary before you leave. Though it's only available in 25 cities, the mobile app is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry and provides deals straight to your phone based on your current location.

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Such was the case for Yasmin Ali, who recently visited New York City and used the application to see if there was a nearby deal to satiate her sweet tooth after dinner. "We came across a great crepe place," she said. "It turned out to be great food and a great deal."

Think Before You Buy

Being vigilant, however, is key. Midwest native and successful Groupon traveler Meha Ahmad reminds travelers to read the fine print. "I would recommend, before purchasing a deal, to call the company or business ahead of time to double check the fine print and availability of the deal," she says. "You want to make sure your deal is usable for the time that you'll be in the city."

Since deals get booked fast, it's always a good precautionary measure to call before or as you buy. And with attentive and careful planning, you can end up with an excellent addition to your trip. Ahmad got lucky when planning for a trip to Vegas by finding the perfect activity and scheduling a slot in the nick of time for her very last day.

"Activities like zip lining and ATV riding in the desert sounded amazing, but were a bit out of our price range," she says. "As luck would have it, there was a Groupon for the exact ATV tour I was hoping for! We got 50% off the original price, and were able to pay for four people what we would have paid for two."

Pretty sweet deal, don't you think?

Planning for an upcoming trip? Check out the dealnews local deals section to scour for discounts on food, drink, and activities.

This post is by Dealnews.

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scoutmaster 134

This summer my family & I took a trip thru several states. i planned the route, noted what cities we would be going thru and then went to the web. 1st site i visited was Restaurant.com where i picked up several $25. gift certificates under $5 each (some were only $2 each!!!) Next Budget travel for articles on cities we were going thru to save on rooms, eatting etc... Then Backpacker for the same, plus great tips for traveling light. Entertainment.com books for cities you want to stay for awhile can really save. By useing some of these websites, i only spent a little over $500.00 total (gas, food, lodging, entertainment, etc..) for a 8 day trip.