Groupon Getaways & Living Social Escapes: Scam or Good Deal?

When people first find out that we use Groupon Getaways and Living Social Escapes for vacations, they often ask, “Did it work? Was it really a good deal? Was it just a scam?” We worried too that it was a scam, especially since our first trip was a Groupon Getaway to New Zealand and Fiji and required us to get to Los Angeles before starting the tour package. In the end, it all worked perfectly.

We have taken several trips through Groupon Getaways and Living Social Escapes, and while they can be a good deal, they are not always the best deal. There are also some differences to consider when booking a Groupon Getaway or Living Social Escape. See why Groupon and Living Social are two of our favorite travel apps to save money and how to avoid any problems with using them.

Are These Travel Deals a Scam or Good Deal?

When you first look at the deals, some of them seem to be too good to be true. Others seem like they may not be that great of a deal. Both can be true. Sometimes the deals are great, but sometimes you are better off doing your own thing. We have not found any of them to be a scam so far. Below you will find some things to consider (preferably before buying), LivingSocial Escapes & Groupon travel reviews of the trips we have done through these sites, and a couple of times we found it was better to skip these deals.

Sunken ship in the Bahamas. Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
Sunken ship in the Bahamas

Things to Consider Before Buying Groupon Getaways or Living Social Escapes

When booking through one of these sites, there are a few things to consider that may be different from other trips you have planned.

1. Before you buy, find out how many people the deal covers. Some deals cover one person (usually packages with flights and tour packages), some cover two people (such as cruises), and some cover the number of people who fit in the room. Just make sure you know before you buy.

2. Solo traveler? Make sure you are willing to pay more to travel alone or willing to stay with someone you don’t know. You can also convince a friend to go with you. Check the details to see if the price is based on single- or double-occupancy. If it is, having your own room will cost more (the amount should be stated within the deal). You can ask to share with another single traveler to still get the cheaper price if you want to go that route.

3. Make sure you know the cancellation policies. Some of the deals do not have much leniency, especially if you are used to flexibility in rescheduling or cancelling flights. Once you pay, you may not be able to get your money back if you are not able to go.

4. When planning your own trip, you can book and pay as you go. You can book and pay for flights now and then wait and pay for hotels a month or two later. You don’t need to pay for food or many attractions until you actually arrive at the destination. With these deals, you pay for most of that up front (depending on what they include). That can be good or bad depending on your financial situation.

5. If it includes airfare, check out how much it will cost you to get to a starting city. They do not usually fly from any airport you choose; instead, you have to get to one of a few cities and then they will take over from there.

6. Know what you like in terms of flexibility of a trip. If you want someone else to plan it for you, they have trips like that. If you want to plan it yourself, choose every detail, have a set list of things you want to do/see, or like to be able to change plans, this may not be the best route for you.

Black sand beach near Kaikoura in New Zealand. Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
A black sand beach in New Zealand

Groupon Getaways and Living Social Escapes Reviews

New Zealand & Fiji

Our first Groupon Getaway was to New Zealand and Fiji through Pacific Holidays. It included our flights from Los Angeles, so we had to book our own flights to Los Angeles from Orlando. We actually flew to Las Vegas, spent a couple of days there, rented a car, drove to Los Angeles, and spent a couple of days there too. Once we got to New Zealand, it included a rental car from JUCY (best company we’ve ever used) for all six days we were there and vouchers for five nights in a chain of hotels.

We jumped in the car and explored both the North and South Islands. We called ahead to the hotel nearest to where we planned to be, stopped in, slept a few hours, left the voucher where they told us to leave it, and got back on the road. In Fiji, we had our transportation to the resort on a private island, our breakfast, a free excursion, and an oceanview room.

Edge of the lake in Queenstown, New Zealand. Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
Queenstown, New Zealand

Pros: This “tour” allowed us a ton of freedom. We did not have to stay with a group, and we could make our own plans for each day. We met others who booked the same trip, but they stayed mostly in Auckland. That made us pretty glad that we were able to take off and see so much on our own. Some family members used to live in Fiji, so they gave us ideas of what to see and do there, and we were able to do it without being stuck with a set tour. The price of the tour was less than the flights alone were at the time.

Deserted island in Fiji . Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
Deserted island in Fiji

Cons: The only con on this trip was that our resort in Fiji was too nice. The price included breakfast, but not lunch and dinner. It was a private island, so you could not just catch a taxi or walk to a nearby restaurant. Lunch and dinner at the resort were expensive for what we would usually pay for a meal, so we split meals or enjoyed meals in town when we were already going to leave the island anyways. Overall, it’s not really a complaint, but you may want to make sure you know what your food options are before booking.

Secluded beach in the Bahamas. Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
Snorkeling the blue hole in the Bahamas

Bahamas

After our first success, we found a cheap cruise to the Bahamas on Living Social Escapes. It was on the Bahamas Celebration, and we got exactly what we paid for on this one. We went with a group, and we happened to book the same weekend as many sororities and fraternities from a local university. One of the students was too drunk to find his passport in his back pocket. It did not get better from there.

Pros: It was a cheap way to get to the Bahamas and spend the weekend away. The cost was $200 for both of us, including our meals on the ship. We booked our own excursion off the ship for the day and had a great day on the island. The service on the ship was good, and the ship was clean. They also have an option to use this ship to sail to the Bahamas, stay in a hotel for a few days, and then sail home.

Cons: If you have cruised on any of the nicer or bigger lines, prepare to be disappointed. The food and ship are not as nice, and you may be traveling with a wilder group than expected. We enjoyed the time, but we could tell others on the ship were not happy.

Cherry blossoms at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
Summer Palace in Beijing, China

China

Our third trip was another Groupon Getaway. This time we went to China for 11 days. This trip started out of New York City, so we booked a few days there as well. It included flights to and within China, all hotels, some meals, and daily tours. We stopped in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. We ended up using the daily tours to get where we wanted to go and then splitting off from there. Instead of visiting the crowded section of the Great Wall, we paid a taxi driver to take us out to a section that was not as busy with tourists.

Summer Palace view in Beijing, China. Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
Summer Palace in Beijing, China

Pros: Because every day included a tour (with some optional excursions), there was not much to plan. However, splitting off from the group allowed us to see more of what we wanted to see. The price of the entire trip with everything included was less than just the price of the flights.

Cons: Service on this trip was not ideal except for our tour guide in Shanghai. If you stay with the tour group, you fight to get the same picture as everyone else and miss out on seeing things. We left the group pretty quickly in the Forbidden City, and we moved much faster without them. This allowed us to see much more of the complex than the rest of the group. If you have a set list of things you want to see in these cities, factor in more to pay for transportation within the cities.

The Great Wall outside of Beijing, China. Find out if LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways are good deals or a scam in our Living Social & Groupon travel reviews.
The Great Wall

Not Always the Best Deal for Travel

While these trips ended up being good deals for the price, that does not mean that all Groupon Getaways or Living Social Escapes are the best deal you will find. We did a couple of weeks in Peru with a private flight over the Nazca lines for almost $500 less than the shorter Groupon and Living Social travel deals we found online. We still saw everything the tours did plus more and included all of our meals and snacks in our total.

When we started looking at ways to do an African safari, we checked both sites. We found some good options, but we wanted to see some specific parks including Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. We also wanted to spend time with friends in Nairobi at the end of the trip. None of the Groupon Getaways or Living Social Escapes met our needs. Instead, we booked our own trip, saw everything we wanted to see, and spent time with our friends. We paid more on this one, but we stayed for three weeks instead of one and would not change a thing.

Bottom line: Take time to research the destinations and the deal before you buy, but do not be afraid to book through Groupon Getaways or Living Social Escapes. Just make sure you read the fine print before you buy!

You can always check out the current deals on Groupon or Living Social. If you are looking for other travel apps to help you plan your next vacation, check out our top travel apps to make planning easier and save money and our favorite way to save money on flights, Next Vacay.

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13 Comments

    1. We used a Groupon to explore Costa Rica with a company called EcoTerra Costa Rica. I could not have asked for a better trip!

      1. Awesome! I’ve looked at some of the Costa Rica trips in the past. I may need to check again for next year.

    1. Thank you for the excellent break down! I have often wondered about what was really like to use one of these options for traveling.

      1. It really isn’t a bad option for traveling depending on your style of travel and if the dates work for your schedule.

    1. I’ve always thought about doing one of these Groupon Getaways, but the dates almost always never work when I’m off (teacher life). Sounds like you had a lot of fun on yours, especially Fiji!

      1. I know the feeling from teacher life. That’s actually why New Zealand and Fiji worked out for Groupon Getaways – it was during their off season. It is a lot harder to make it work with specific days off like that, but it is possible. Some of them are for hotels only, and that makes it easier to find deals.

    1. Some great advice here. I agree it’s important to read the fine print and check all the details before taking a deal from one of these groups and to make sure you know exactly what’s included, so as not to be disappointed.

      1. Thank you! Definitely a good idea to read the small print before buying, especially with how much some of the trips cost.

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