What’s the Deal with Groupon Travel?

Thoughts and Discovery

A couple of years ago, Justin and I were scrolling on Groupon and found some really good deals for trips–even international ones. We had used the discount website for purchases and other experiences, but we weren’t quite sure what to expect for travel.

As we searched through the options, a voucher for a trip to Dublin, with hotel and airfare included, stood out. Justin had studied abroad in Dublin the previous summer; so, if the Groupon somehow didn’t work out, we thought we could figure out other accommodations.

After some discussion, we decided to give it a try, and we booked it! I could not wait to get to Ireland!

Our Challenges Faced After Booking

If the customer lives on the East Coast or in a city with a lot if international flights, these Groupons can be a simple way to travel. For us, however, living in Arizona, we find that it can be a bit more complicated planning our trips.

A lot of the time, these vouchers will include airfare out of JFK, Boston, or maybe LAX if we are lucky. So, if we do end up booking one of these Groupon deals, we have to find our own flights from Arizona or see if the travel company offering the voucher is willing to help us reroute (for an extra fee of course).

We usually like to book our own airfare, so that we can explore another destination on our way home. I really like when we stop on the way home, because it gives us a break from flying, and I feel like I have an easier time adjusting to the time changes.

Thoughts on the Experience

Our trip to Dublin turned out great. We were booked with a decent airline without any delays or cancellations. In addition, our accommodations were good, and our hotel was located in the heart of the city. It wasn’t incredibly fancy, but it was nice for the price we paid.

Our particular voucher included flights from JFK, so we decided to explore New York on our way back to the desert. Although NYC was incredibly chilly, we had a blast! We even went to see Wicked on Broadway.

Would We do it Again?

Overall, we were happy with the deal. Since our trip to Dublin, we have traveled to Iceland as well as Thailand through Groupon deals!

I have to stress though that with these kind of vouchers, flexibility is imperative. Any modification in dates or airport can increase the cost of the voucher. This is why researching average expenses is essential.

Also, I believe that it is always important to read the fine print of the deal. Some Groupons may include extra excursions or guided travel, where as others do not.

Groupon has been awesome for some of our adventures, and hopefully we will have new ones to look forward to soon! 🙂

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

When searching for things to do in Iceland, I had heard about this snorkeling experience. The concept sounded completely ridiculous to me. Why would anyone want to swim in the middle of winter? Here in the desert, I won’t even dip my toes in a pool during the summertime unless the water is lukewarm. Not much later though, I somehow found myself returning to the website and booking the experience for our trip this past January.

Why go Snorkeling in January?

According to the information I learned on my Dive.IS tour and its company website, Silfra is a rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates; therefore, one is essentially swimming between two continents at once. Snorkelers and divers come from all over the world to experience this phenomena as well as to get a glimpse of the crystal clear waters.

The Anticipation Beforehand

On the day of our tour, it started snowing. I immediately started feeling full with regret as I looked outside. What was I getting myself into?

As the time of our tour approached, the weather improved, and we had arrived safely to the site. Once we finished our paperwork, the guides assisted us with our dry suits.

Getting Ready

The company states on their site to wear warm base layers for the event. They then provided us with insulated onesies to put on top of our leggings. Afterwards, they helped us situate the actual dry suit and gear. These outfits are difficult to get on!

After a quick safety session, we headed over to the lake. Unfortunately the national park only allows so many people into the water at one time. For this reason, we had to wait to get in. I think this was probably the second worst part of the experience. While the layers kept my body warm, my feet felt cold because my booties were cold standing on the snow. At this point, I was wishing I had worn my second pair of wool socks.

Time to Go!

We waited around fifteen minutes to get in, and our turn to enter the water quickly approached. Upon stepping down the ladder, I couldn’t really feel the water. I just felt somewhat cool around me.

Before this experience, I never wore a dry suit previously and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The situation changed a bit once I fully submerged my face. I started feeling the water on my head and hands. Brrr. Luckily, my dry suit was sized appropriately and everything else remained somewhat warm. I liked that I didn’t have to work too hard to swim, because there was a current and the suit helped me float.

Let’s Swim

I looked between the fissure as I swam through it. The water was incredibly clear, and I couldn’t believe how far down I could see. I even saw a fish, which was a little unexpected.

Unfortunately though, my mask fogged up a bit, and I could only see out of the left side. Justin was on my right, and I’m sure I swam into him a few times. Sorry, babe!

Are We Done Yet?

As soon as we reached the exit point, we got out and walked back to the parking area. My feet felt heavy and my hands were tingling. I couldn’t wait to get that hot chocolate and cookie our guide promised us at the end of the tour!

For me, getting the dry suit off was the absolute worst part of the event. As soon as I could, I bolted into the heated dressing area. Once I got all my layers on, I felt much better. I used some of my heat packs to warm up my hands and feet.

My hair was damp, but I twisted it into a bun underneath my beanie. My hair is very long, so I was nervous that this was going to be a problem for me throughout the day. Thankfully, my mane didn’t cause me any grief, and I really didn’t notice it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think snorkeling Silfra was a good experience. Some travelers that I talked to raved about the event and stated that it was the best part of their trip. While I wouldn’t necessarily rate it as my favorite experience of my trip to Iceland, I am glad that I did it. If I ever go back to Iceland, you won’t see me do it again! 🙂

**Photos taken by our guide on the Dive.is tour**

What’s in my Carry-On?

Over the past few years, I have experimented with various bags and packing strategies. Even though I usually pack my clothes in roller bag for the overhead compartment, I believe that having a good carry-on underneath the seat in front of me is imperative to any trip.

I have found that my Longchamp bag works the best. It’s spacious and easy to carry without being incredibly bulky or heavy. I call it my “Mary Poppins’ Bag.”

Below I have listed my essentials:

  • Passport/Wallet/ID (RFID Protection)
  • My Google Pixel 3 for photos and music (I subscribe to Spotify. I highly recommend!)
  • Headphones (I have the rose gold Beats that are both bluetooth and wired for airplane TVs)
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes (because germs)
  • Over the Counters (Advil, Tums, any necessary medications)
  • Eye Masks (for some added moisturizer after landing)
  • Colgate Wisps to freshen up
  • My Kindle
  • Travel Pillow (tied to the outside of my bag)
  • Travel blanket/pillow Snuggie set
  • Pen (for any forms upon landing)
  • My Coach packable backpack (for any souvenirs or exploring)
  • Waterproof camera (depending on the excursions)
  • My Fossil Smartwatch (usually wearing this 😉 )
  • My Laptop
  • Any cables for electronics in their organizer

What do you like in your carry-on?