I knew I had a good friend in Angela, when I texted her at 11:15pm asking if she wanted to go to China, but that she only had until midnight to decide… and instead of thinking I was crazy, she said she was totally in! (Okay, I knew years ago that she was a good friend, but c’mon, this was the icing on the cake.)
We had both looked at Groupon deals in the past and wondered whether or not they could be trusted — the prices on some of these getaways are concerningly cheap. I figured we would never know if we didn’t try and most of the online reviews were good, so we gave it a shot!
Now, I can really only speak for the China tour, but I am super excited to share all the pros and cons and just the overall experience we had traveling on a Groupon tour.
About the Deal
I guess I should first explain the details of the tour we chose. Our tour was the 10 day China tour from Rewards Travel China, hosted on Groupon. We bought it as an all-inclusive tour — it covered flights, hotels, several of our meals, major transportation, and many of our excursions. When you purchase a groupon getaway, it gives you several date options, as well as the airport you want to leave from, with different prices for each option. This is where people from bigger cities get lucky — if your home airport is in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, etc., you are more likely to have it as an option. Little ole Lambert in St. Louis is hardly ever listed and this tour was no exception. We opted to purchase a tour leaving from Denver and decided to drive out for our flight on January 7th.
Like I said, the tour was considered all inclusive and did cover most things, but there were a few things we had to cover on our own. We had to get a visa to go to China — there was an option to add this into the package, but we opted to do it ourselves. We had to get ourselves to Denver and we had to cover some of our dinners while we there. We also decided to add a few of the optional excursions. The all-in total after I added up every single thing, came in at a just under $1,300. Now I don’t know about you, but I was pretty impressed with this for 10 days of international travel. (If you aren’t impressed, please shoot me an email. I clearly need your budget hacks in my life. ;))
The Verdict on Groupon Getaways
I know this is what everyone wants to know: Do I think you should try it? And would I do it again? Overall, my answer is YES. It was a success + I will definitely look into going to other destinations in the future! That being said, for as much as we loved it, I will not travel exclusively on Groupon getaways from here on out: I think it takes a certain kind of trip and a certain type of traveler for it to be successful!
Traveling on Groupon is for you if…
You don’t want to plan your trip
For China, this was a big one. I don’t know the first thing about planning a trip to China. I obviously know the big attractions, like the Great Wall, but I don’t know which hotels are in safe areas or the best way to get from city to city. Purchasing the Groupon tour took care of all of that for me!
You are overall a fairly optimistic and flexible traveler
In order to travel in general, you need to be a pretty optimistic person that’s willing to go with the flow, but that is especially the case for Groupon travel. Some of the excursions booked on the tour won’t really be your cup of tea, but anything can be fun (or at the very least tolerable) if you have the right mindset! You have to be open-minded to trying new things, eating different foods, and seeing places you maybe wouldn’t have put on your itinerary.
You want to see the highlights of a certain place on a budget
Far and away, the biggest reason to travel with Groupon is the wide selection of destinations to visit for an unbeatable price! We got to see the major highlights of China and experience/learn about the culture, all for a price that two 20-somethings could afford. So, yeah, I’m calling that a WIN.
Traveling on Groupon isn’t for you if…
You want control of your itinerary
If you are going to visit a family member or you have a list of specific things that you want to check out in a certain destination, I don’t think an all-inclusive tour would be best for you. There were some free days built into our time in China, but most of the trip was very structured. This is the reason why I won’t be taking tours to all the places on my bucket list: If I feel comfortable planning and booking a trip on my own, the control I gain is worth the extra hassle (and expense) of planning it out exactly how I want it to be.
You have set dates that you need to travel within
Like I mentioned earlier, Groupon gives you a set of dates to choose from when purchasing a tour. So, if you are only able to travel within specific dates, Groupon might not be the best option for you. We were able to make it work with Angela’s class schedule, so I am not saying that it’s impossible to get a date that works, I’m just saying you might be pressing your luck! The great thing about Rewards Travel China, specifically, is that they have great customer service, respond to emails quickly, and are willing to help however they can to get you on a tour with dates that work for you!
You typically don’t like traveling in groups
If you have tried traveling in groups before and didn’t love it, then Groupon tours might not be your best option. I have done several group trips (shoutout to my Peru, people!!) and I love them, so I was excited for the group aspect, but I have friends at home, who I know wouldn’t prefer traveling this way. Either way is totally fine, it really just comes down to knowing your personality type + knowing what you are comfortable with while traveling!
Speaking of tour groups
This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our amazing tour group. I don’t know if we lucked out or if Groupon getaways just attract super cool people, but having a tour group as good as ours was definitely part of the reason we had so much fun in China! Angela and I are both pretty (okay, extremely) extroverted, so having 21 new people from all over the western hemisphere to hang out with for 10 days was a really big plus. Not to mention the fact that if you didn’t know what to do for dinner or on free days, there was always a group of at least 3 or 4 people to tag along with. By the end of the trip, we were all good friends: cheersing on the bus with Chinese beer and hanging out every night!
So there ya have it. Everything I have to say about traveling with Groupon after our first experience. Now I’m curious… Have you ever traveled on a Groupon getaway? Do you want to try it in the future? Let me know in the comments!!