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How to Use Local Deals to Save Money on Your Next Vacation

Published
By Louis Ramirez, dealnews senior feature writer

Thanks to the Internet, vacationers can find travel deals any time of the year. And now with the sudden influx of local deal sites like Groupon, travelers can score even more deals while on vacation.

In fact, Groupon's success has triggered so many copycat deal sites that even tech giants like Facebook and Google have shown interest in the local deal market. Just this week Facebook announced it would expand its Deals platform and begin rewarding users who check in at local merchants via Facebook Places. Like FourSquare, which offers deals based on check-ins, each Facebook check-in will unlock a special for that particular merchant.

That's great news for travelers because this means no matter where you're going, chances are you'll be able to score a deal in that city. Our best strategy is to start checking for deals at your destination as soon as you book your trip. (Conveniently, you can sign up for deal alerts by location right here on dealnews). Here's a run-down of how you can take advantage of these sites on your next vacation, and what you can expect from each site:

Groupon
Available in: 500+ markets in 44 countries
Pros: Groupon created the market; it offers multiple daily deals in numerous cities, a healthy mix of food/recreational/apparel deals, both online and over-the-phone customer support, national and international deals.
Cons: Often deals are recycled throughout the week, you can't always combine existing coupons with Groupons (as many people found out with this FTD Groupon), on certain occasions, better restaurant deals can be purchased via Restaurant.com gift certificates.

LivingSocial
Available in: 142+ markets in North America, Oceania, and Europe
Pros: It offers multiple daily deals in numerous citiesm, a healthy mix of food/recreational/apparel deals, both online and over-the-phone customer support, national and international deals, "family deals" section and "LivingSocial Escapes" (the latter of which offers vacation packages), no pre-purchase requirements (deals are valid if only one person buys them).
Cons: Popular deals (like LivingSocial's Amazon deal) can bring the LivingSocial website to a halt and/or cause activation delays, and in certain circumstance, better restaurant deals can be purchased via Restaurant.com gift certificates.

Blackboard Eats
Available in: Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco
Pros: Deals are only $1 (optional yearly subscription is also available), excellent range of bar and restaurant deals, occasionally offers national deals, online customer support, deals are chosen by food industry experts/writers, no pre-purchase requirements (deals are valid if only one person buys them).
Cons: Discounts sometimes carry a maximum dollar-off limit, often deals require the purchase of an appetizer or entree, in certain circumstance, better restaurant deals can be purchased via Restaurant.com gift certificates, no phone-based customer support.

Lifebooker Loot
Available in: Los Angeles and New York City
Pros: Great selection of spa, salon, fitness and diet/nutrition counseling deals, both online and over-the-phone customer support, book and manage your spa/salon appointments directly from the Lifebooker website, get credits for writing/rating select deals, no pre-purchase requirements (deals are valid if only one person buys them).
Cons: Deals offered in New York City and Los Angeles only.

Gilt City
Available in: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco
Pros: Great variety of "luxury deals" (wine tastings, sushi-making classes, concerts, etc.) at trendy restaurants, bars, and salons, both online and over-the-phone customer support, no pre-purchase requirements (deals are valid if only one person buys them).
Cons: Hot deals can sell out in the blink of an eye (such as this $200 gift certificate to Gramercy Tavern), in certain circumstances, better restaurant deals can be purchased via Restaurant.com gift certificates.

Our Strategy for Vacations and Staycations:
Ultimately, the deal sites you check should match the type of deals you're looking for. For instance, families might benefit more from deals on LivingSocial versus those found on Gilt City. Likewise, if you're looking to be pampered throughout your vacation, Lifebooker Loot is a must.

Regardless of which sites you check, be sure to always read the fine print before pulling the trigger on a deal. Things to look out for include: requirements (is the deal open to new and existing customers), expiration dates (usually the expiration date is highlighted with a countdown clock informing you of how many hours you have before the deal expires), voucher activation dates (when can you begin using your deal), and voucher expiration dates (when will your voucher expire).

As for the type of savings you'll find, below we gathered a few of this week's local deals for New York City:

Combined, that's a savings of at least $91 for a full day's worth of events, which is more than enough savings to get you thinking of your next vacation.



An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter — @LouisRamirez. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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3 comments
NY_Foodie
This list is so long now. What about NYC specific sites like http://www.nookout.com (hyperlocal) or scoutmob or the aggregators (yipit, dealmap) ec?
frampton
Where is Seize the Deal, too? They have around 50 midsize cities, including some coming soon. Or Try It Local, which partners with local chambers of commerce? Many local newspapers, including the one I work for, also offer daily deals.
frampton
Hello -- why not discuss the caveats of a http://restaurant.com deal? Frankly, the limitations of the certificates -- that you must, for instance, have a minimum $35 tab to use a $25 certificate means that dining for two at many modest price restaurants means my wife and I have to buy much too much food.

I find an honest $10 for $20 at restaurants through Groupon is a better deal all around.
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