Using Group Buying Sites to Plan a Frugal Vacation

by Nicki on August 6, 2012

in Saving Money


Each summer, we like to take a little time off for a family vacation. We’ve never been able to take an extravagant one, but we always have plenty of fun. We plan ahead, set aside some money (no credit card vacations for us) and have some fun within our means. It feels wonderful to enjoy what you can afford and with some careful planning and scouting for deals – you can do just that, even on a tight budget!

This year, we’ve been having a great time planning our vacation using Group Buying Sites (Groupon, Living Social, Deal Chicken, etc.).

Not familiar with them? These sites basically offer you one or more amazing deals each day, usually at least 50% off. For instance, a green’s fee at a golf course: regularly $50 – you pay $25. The only real “catch” is that the promotional value generally expires within a certain time frame of 6 months to one year. The paid value does not expire.

So here’s what we’ve been doing:

We chose a place to go

Seems pretty basic, but you have to start somewhere. If you buy deals for all over the place then there really isn’t any rhyme or reason to what you’re doing. We’re going camping and visiting family on the coast of Maine so that’s where we’re focusing our attention.

We subscribed to deals for that area

On these sites, you can subscribe to a certain location and follow a certain type of deals. You may want to follow restaurants and dining, entertainment,  lodging – you get the idea. Once you subscribe, you can have the deals sent to you each day so you don’t have to go searching for them.

We also searched for newspapers and local channels in the area that we will be traveling – often they will have a partnership with a lesser-known or independent group-buying site.  We have found that some of the deals offered by these smaller sites are for places that may not be as well known, but are still awesome!

We had money ready and purchased deals

When a deal comes up, it is usually only available for a limited time or there are only a limited number of them. Once you see one you like – buy it. We have a Vacation envelope where we’re putting our deals and I’m really looking forward to using them!

Here are 3 reasons why I love this:

1. It’s like paying for your vacation a little at a time

Because you’ve pre-paid for your vouchers, you’ll need less cash on hand than you might ordinarily need and you also won’t have to come up with the money all at once – very budget friendly!

2. It’s an inexpensive way to try something new 

There may be something your family has always wanted to do but has been out of your price range then this may make it possible! Surprise your family with something they’ve been dying to do – at a deep discount!

3. It’s a great way to be purposeful with your vacation time and spending

Instead of heading out to a vacation spot with a pocket full of money and no plans, then running out of money before your vaca is up – have a plan! With two or three already-planned trips or events you’ll be well on your way to a fun and budget-friendly vacation!

We love the summer and do our best to enjoy every minute of it. I hope you’re doing the same! Don’t get too busy that you miss out on catching fireflies, roasting marshmallows and sticking your feet into a river, a lake or an ocean!

Why I do what I do ~ After eating some blackberries, Chloe told me that she had a seed in her mouth. I told her it was fine to swallow it. She said, “No, I think I’ll keep it in my mouth and plant it later.”

 {photo by anja_johnson}

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