Why All Parents Should Use Groupon When They Travel

Groupon can't guarantee that my toddler will enjoy a ninja-themed indoor park or an interactive aquarium. But it can guarantee that we try all of these activities without going over our travel budget.

Mother showing children vacation destination on smartphone
Photo: Getty / MoMo Productions.

When I was in my 20s, I lived in New York City and was constantly broke. I had graduated from a top university with a degree in journalism which, I admit, is not a high-earning career—especially when you graduate straight into a recession as many of us did. But I lucked out thanks to the many e-commerce discount sites that began popping up around 2008. When Groupon launched that year, I quickly signed up for the site's local deals.

But as my life moved on and I moved out of the city, scouring sites for good discounts on local restaurants, spas, and activities was no longer something I regularly did. To be honest, I simply forgot this was an option in my early 30s when I was ramping up my career while also getting married and building a home with my husband. Then we had a baby and moved cross-country mid-pandemic. To save us money while also exploring our new state, I quickly rediscovered the joy and ease of Groupon.

Travel with Kids is Fun… or Is It?

Traveling with my toddler throughout the state of Colorado has been quite an adventure. Due to the continued pandemic, we've taken great care to primarily explore outdoors—and it has led to a lot of fun and sometimes challenging times.

One of the things I struggle with as a parent is finding just the right thing to do when we travel. I know that my kid wants and needs to be entertained, but what do we do with him? Going to a new place has sometimes required hours of research only to end up with me still not being sure what we should pick.

And then there is the cost, of course. Although my toddler is usually free when we go places, full-price tickets for two adults can still eat into our budget. Plus, he's not going to stay little forever. Eventually, my husband and I will have to factor in the additional costs (especially flights) of traveling with our son, something we very much want to do. As he grows, museum visits, mini-golf trips, and meals at restaurants will start adding up.

Then there is the additional worry of, what if we spend all this money trying to have 'fun' as a family and my kid hates it? Although I can't guarantee that he will like everything we do on our travels, I can ensure that we don't stress about money spent and wasted. This is where Groupon comes in.

Saving Money with the "Group" in Groupon

Recently, my husband and I saved $30 on an escape room ticket during a much-delayed anniversary date. Another time, I saved $29 on a haircut after a year and a half of letting my hair grow out during the pandemic. We've also saved money in the past on couples massages, an overnight stay in a fancy resort, tickets to a local dinosaur exhibit, and so much more.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I went a little overboard with my renewed excitement for Groupon and bought quite a few things we can all enjoy as a family (and a few that my husband and I can enjoy on solo dates). The site not only has all of the regular deals; it also often has extra deals—whether daily trends or occasional specials like the ones I took advantage of on Black Friday.

For my most recent purchases, I focused on exploring local deals. As a result, I saved my family $12 on mini-golfing, $7 on ice skating, and $14 on a couples painting class. But I am most of all excited to see what other deals I can find as we make 2022 travel plans.

Should we do an overnight stay at an inn near Rocky Mountains National Park and save $46? Do we want to save $75 per night if we do a long weekend getaway in a mountain lodge? If our family in Arizona decides to get together this year, can we save $60 a night by staying at a resort (with no resort fee!) that has a gorgeous pool for our kiddo to splay around in? The world suddenly seems full of possibilities.

Saving money while having fun has become a focus for my family, as I know it has for many of my friends. But, as much as I'd like to, we can't ignore that the pandemic has been brutal on families. Some of us have lost or quit jobs. Some of us have had mental health struggles. Some of us have gone a little crazy being stuck indoors for almost two years with those we love most. Some of us have gotten COVID recently (hi, me!) and would like to take advantage of their young kids' natural immunity while the vaccine for kids under 5 is still on hold (also me!).

Most of all, I want to be able to enjoy traveling—even on short day trips—without worrying that everyone will have a miserable time and we would have spent all this money for nothing.

I know that Groupon can't guarantee that my toddler will enjoy going to a hockey game, playing in a ninja-themed indoor park, exploring a kid-friendly science museum, or checking out an interactive aquarium. But it can guarantee that we try all of these activities without spending too much.

As a friend with older children recently told me, traveling with kids can be amazing and torturous all at the same time. Even the activities we plan and know they love don't always work out, as she recently learned during a sledding disaster. But I'm hoping that we can explore more by using Groupon and saving money. Perhaps that way, we'll collect fewer of the torturous memories and a few more of the amazing ones.

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