Last year, I went to South Africa on a Groupon. It was the best vacation I’ve ever taken. But every time I tell people that I bought a Groupon for vacation, people are always shocked. Here’s a breakdown of part of my thought process.
The Groupon as advertised was $3327 for flights to and from South Africa on Emirates with an overnight layover in Dubai, 4 nights of hotels in Cape Town, a half-day tour in Cape Town, 3 days of safari, airfare from Cape Town to Durban to get to the safari, and all necessary ground transportation.
But I bought the Groupon through the Ultimate Rewards mall, which was offering an additional 12 points per dollar back at the time. So by buying this Groupon, I got over 43k Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred 1-to-1 into United miles or Hyatt points. In addition, since Alaska Airlines and Emirates were starting a partnership, I was able to earn about 25k Alaska miles for the Emirates flights. Altogether, I value these points and miles conservatively at $1000, so I felt like I was essentially paying only $2327 for this trip.
Flights to South Africa can easily cost $1500, 3 days of safari might be $600 on the cheaper end, and then a cheap hotel in Cape Town would probably be $200 per person for 4 nights. Already, for relatively inexpensive choices, I’m at the cost that I felt like I was paying for the Groupon. And the hotel that we stayed at was much nicer than a $100-per-night hotel, and the safari was much nicer than a $200-per-day safari, and it would’ve cost an additional couple of hundred for transportation to the game reserve for the safari.
All in all, I felt like it was a bargain deal for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, largely because I was able to earn so many points from this trip. This is one reason why I always take a couple of minutes to check sites like Evreward or Cashbackholic to see if I can get bonus points on any large purchases that I’m considering.