How to Make Sure You're Getting a Deal With Groupon Getaway


If you've ever explored different ways to save on travel, you've probably stumbled on Groupon Getaways. Like traditional Groupon deals, Groupon Getaways promise huge discounts on hotels and hotel-and-airfare packages if purchased within a limited time frame. (See also: 6 Best Vacation Deal Websites)

It's easy to see their allure. Groupon Travel recently advertised a one-week Italy vacation with airfare for $999 per person. It featured round-trip flights to Naples from major cities like Chicago and New York, and six or seven nights at a hotel in the ancient town of Paestum, south of Naples.

That sounds like a good deal, but is it? Let's explore this Groupon travel package and others to find out.

Deconstructing a Groupon Getaway

Before we can decide if this is a good deal, it helps to know what exactly was included. Here's what the Groupon travel website offered with the package.

Flights and transportation

  • Round-trip airfare from New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), or Chicago (ORD)

  • Manual shift economy car rental for duration of trip


  • A stay of six or seven nights at Hotel Ariston in Paestum

For $99 extra per person, you could also score free breakfast at your hotel daily, along with a Bufala cheese tasting.

Read further and you'd see this package came from a company called Great Value Vacations. And while your vacation isn't guided, the company went through the trouble of creating a sample itinerary with suggestions of cities and sights to see — stops in Rome to see Piazza Navona and Trevi Fountain, for example, along with tips on seeing the buried city of Pompeii and the unparalleled beauty of Capri and Anacapri. Of course, you'd have to pay out of pocket to see all those sights, just as you would if you'd booked your airfare and hotel yourself.

In the ad's fine print it said that the Groupon was limited to one per person, yet the price was based on two people sharing a room and there was a $500 fee to travel solo.

Another detail to note: The fine print said that "additional fees apply to select departure dates." And while there were a ton of departure dates available, they weren't flexible at all. Worse, only two of the departure dates and cities offered came with the advertised price tag of $999. To fly out of Chicago in July, for example, costs $1,724 per person instead of $999. Out of New York in September on select dates? That would set you back $1,249.

So much for that.

Out of curiosity, I checked for a similar trip on Expedia using random dates this summer and fall. While I didn't find any hotel packages that included a stay in Paestum, here's what I did find: Airfare, hotel, and rental car packages from Chicago to Naples started at $759 for a week in September. Similar packages from Boston to Rome in October started at about $525.

Plugging in a bunch of different dates and cities, I found dozens of similar packages for less than $1,000 — and sometimes a lot less. Best of all, these packages allow you to pick your dates and your hotel instead of locking you in.

So, while $999 per person for a week in Italy with a hotel and rental car seemed like a good deal, it may not be that great after all. (See also: 11 Ways to Save Money on Travel)

How to evaluate Groupon Getaways

The Italy package is just one example of a sour "deal," but there are many, many more. There are also plenty of travel packages that are a good deal.

For example, Groupon Getaways recently offered a $599 all-inclusive trip to Negril, Jamaica from certain cities. If you departed from Atlanta on June 1, you would have paid $599 for round-trip airfare and an all-inclusive stay at the Riu Negril.

I checked outside of Groupon, and similar flights started at $570 per person on discount airline Spirit. That was for the flight alone. It would cost another $200 a night to stay at the all-inclusive Hotel Riu Negril. Obviously, this was an awesome deal if you lived near Atlanta or could get there cheaply. (See also: How to Save Up a Big Travel Budget)

So, how can you sort the good deals from the bad? Consider these tips.

1. Price out Groupon packages to see how much you'll save

The best way to save money with Groupon Getaways is to price out each trip and its components individually. With the Italy itinerary mentioned above, there were scads more affordable options with a lot more flexibility. But, you may not have known that if you didn't do some digging to see how much everything costs.

The same can be true when you are getting a good deal. As with the Riu Negril package mentioned above, pricing the components out individually can accurately depict your savings. But you won't know how much you'll save if you never check.

2. Avoid packages with excessive fine print or blackout dates

The big problem with Groupon Getaways is all the fine print. Some only offer the packages on certain dates and from certain airports. Others have so many exclusions it's hard to keep track, or they add a surcharge if you travel alone. Make sure to read all the details so you know what you're getting into.

3. Factor in the costs of getting to a specific airport

If you're considering a Groupon Getaway that includes airfare, make sure to add in the costs of getting to a big city airport. Most of the packages only offer departures from major airline hubs like New York, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles. If you live in Boise, Idaho, you'll need to get to one of those airports first. Unfortunately, that costs money, too.

4. Just because it's "on sale" doesn't mean it's a good deal

While this last tip is broader, it's probably the most important. Just because something says it's a deal doesn't mean it will save you money. The Italy vacation referenced above said it had a $1,599 retail value and saved you 38 percent, but it likely wouldn't have. At the end of the day, it's important to do your research and decide for yourself. A little bit of digging can ensure any decision you make is an informed one.

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