I have recently returned from a fun 10 day girls trip to Prague and Budapest, which I booked for the first time through Groupon*. A little less than a year ago, one of my friends found a round trip to Prague and Budapest for $750 on Groupon. Eager to travel together again, my friends and I each purchased this trip.
When you buy a “Groupon” trip what you are really buying is a coupon for a tour with a tour company. You turn in your coupon with the tour company and they book/organize your trip. All issues, planning goes through them. The trip we booked (for $750) covered airfare and our hotels only. There was an option through the travel company to book day tours. My friends and I are not big fans of group tours so we opted out of that. We got all our reservations and vouchers through the travel company, and other than the group bus ride from Budapest to Prague, we were completely independent to explore each city.
This was my first time doing a Groupon trip, and though I was excited about the seemly cheap travel, I was apprehensive about the actual trip and how it would work. Below is my list of pros and cons to Groupon trips (which can be applied to other discount sites like Groupon).
- This was a cheap trip! $750 for airfare and hotels! I don’t think I have ever booked a round trip flight to Europe for less than $600. As the saying goes: Nothing in life is free. This was also true for this trip. Though it was cheap there were a few catches that I will go into further details in the “con” section…
- The travel group really took care of us! My friends and I traveled into NYC a day before our flights to Budapest. Per my luck with March travels, a massive snow storm (Toby) came in the day we were supposed to leave- our flights got canceled. Luckily the travel company was aware of this and called us the day before and got us on a flight that night- totally avoiding the storm!
- We stayed in hotels! I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel in Europe! It was great- private rooms with private baths.
- The only planning I had to do was what we did in each country. The travel company arranged everything else. This meant little planing on my side.
- I am typically 100% loyal to American Airlines (I have there card and everything). This means I might pay a little more for plane tickets, but the perks I get from the airline are worth it. With this Groupon trip, my flights were not with American Airlines, or any of their affiliates… This means I lost out on gaining miles, and none of the terminals I was in were American Airline hubs, so no Admirals Club for me 😦
- Our hotels were very nice, but their locations were not ideal. We were about 1+ miles from the city centers. This did make us very good a navigating the metro systems though. However, this meant it was difficult for me to get to locations for sunrise/golden hour photos. I also missed the community feel of hostels.
- The 8 hour bus ride from Budapest to Prague. The bus really wasn’t bad, but it did mean we missed out on an entire day of exploring. I was able to find cheap buses that ran over night from Budapest to Prague, meaning you didn’t waste an entire day on transport. However since the transportation was pre-arranged with the travel company, we were stuck with a day time trip to Prague.
- I couldn’t extend my trip… after booking everything, my friend and I kept saying we wish we could have extended. However, since the Groupon was only for 10 days (including transport) we were stuck.
Will I book another Groupon Trip, or one like it?
Honestly, probably not. Since the trip was pre-arranged through a travel company it was one of the easiest one I have ever done. However, I actually like to plan my trips- including arranging transportation, and housing. This process helps me to get excited about my upcoming trip. Having it figured out by someone else meant that I forgot about the trip until a month before and only started to plan then. Some of the fun was diminished. Also I really didn’t like cheating on my airline. It felt wrong, and I missed my perks.
However, if you hate planning trips and aren’t loyal to just one airline (which probably isn’t a bad thing) then definitely book a Groupon trip! See the world!
*This is pertinent to Groupon trips only. I have book Groupon activities and had a blast! They are often an awesome discount, for amazing activities!
*I was not sponsored by Groupon to write this post. This is true thoughts and feelings on this type of travel.
I hope this has helped you to plan an upcoming trips. If you have any questions or comments let me know! I would love to hear from you!
Teresa, the Type A Trekker