My Obsession With Travel Deals Is Good for My Bank Account & My Marriage

The Gray Cottage at Cape Resorts

I'm a firm believer in traveling the world (or staying local) and experiencing new adventures. I just don't believe you have to pay full retail for it. Since the rise of flash sales sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, I've found myself a little obsessed with trying to score a good deal ... or two. Granted, not all sites are created equal -- or are worth your time -- but, man, it's hard not to plan vacations without using a few deals.

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... And, to be honest, it's now the only way I roll.

For the past few years, I've spent hours scrolling through various flash sales months before a vacation in hopes of landing something too sweet to pass up. Thankfully, I've either come across a really great deal at a destination I wanted to visit, or had an offer determine when I go. (It always works itself out.)

One year, my husband and I decided to head to Cape May, New Jersey, as I found a deal on Groupon for a one-night stay for two at The Virgina Cottages along the Jersey Shore. With a 3-month-old in tow at the time (we got the thumbs-up to bring the little dude), I did a few high kicks because the package included breakfast for two, a welcome bottle of wine, and a voucher to the resort's restaurant, all for $89. Our cottage alone -- which was the only one separated from the others -- was almost twice that price per night. (All in all, we ended up saving over $200.)

With the option to purchase the same Groupon deal twice, my family and I were on our way to the start of a fun time away from home. (Score!)

The Gray Cottage at Cape Resorts

Did I mention that our flash sale also included a voucher to the four-star restaurant, The Ebbitt Room, on the property? (Just wanted to reiterate that part.) Yeah, that extra perk practically saved us the cost of a main course (typically over $30), and that was definitely much appreciated.

The Ebbitt Room

Another memorable trip involving flash sales deals was my 30th birthday trip to California last year. Not knowing where to stay in Los Angeles, we decided that Pasadena, California, was a good option. We were able to find a Groupon deal at the time for the Courtyard Marriott Old Pasadena in the "Getaways" portion of the flash sales site that allowed us to save 20 percent off the price of our hotel room per night.

More from The Stir: 9 Tips for Saving Money on Airfare for Your Family

And, since we're talking about LA -- and a five-night/six-day vacation -- yeah, there were no complaints. After all, we were able to keep over $200 in our pockets.

(Note: Certain sites like Groupon.com offer "bucks" or a credit you can use toward other savings. These can come in handy when planning other trips.)

Manhattan-Beach-California

One of the highlights of this trip -- and a huge reason why I'm constantly looking through flash sales sites -- is an amazing restaurant deal on Groupon that was heaven both to my mouth and wallet.

In addition to the lunch and dinners we had around Los Angeles County, my favorite dining experience during my birthday trip was the chef's tasting menu at the Portofino Cucina Italiana restaurant (I hear it has closed since) in downtown LA. Our five-course menu included champagne, beef carpaccio, a medley of fresh seafood, and all the desserts my sweet tooth could handle for $59 ... for two people. Seeing as the original price to enjoy this tasting menu landed around $125 per person, I think this was one of the best birthday gifts a girl could ask for.

(Seriously, if you're able to find a multi-course deal, or a tasting menu option for two, take it!)

Portofino Cucina Italiana chef's tasting menu

I'm currently in the process of planning my fourth wedding anniversary trip to NorCal (northern California). I'm planning on trying out a few of LivingSocial's Restaurant Plus deals that allow you to earn up to 30 percent cash back every time you hit up a restaurant on their list. Seeing as my guy and I are foodies -- and won't be cooking any meals on our journey -- this will likely come in handy. (I'll let you know how it goes.)

More from The Stir: 4 Ways to Save Up for a Great Vacation

You know, now that I think about it, there isn't a trip I take that doesn't involve a flash sales deal. Whether I'm looking for a discounted ticket to a local attraction, a fishing excursion, or an activity in the area, these types of sites are a go-to resource I keep in my traveling arsenal. Plus, both partner with a company that allows a percentage of your purchases to go toward your child's 529 college savings plan. (We'll save that discussion for another day.)

 

Images via The Virginia Cottages; Tanvier Peart

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