Discount sites like LivingSocial, Groupon and Gilt have become a popular way to travel on a dime - or, in these cases, a penny! The discounts offered by these sites are really unbelievable. In some cases, you can save up to seventy percent.
If you browse the deals during ski season, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that the sites offer more than just exotic beach getaways. In fact, many resorts and hotels in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and in New England and Canada have been teaming up with the discount sites.
If you're fastidious about checking the sites, you can find deals on lodging, lift tickets and even restaurants. However, it's easy to be swept away by a great deal, so it's important to do your research before buying. Here's how to use discount sites to score a ski trip that will feel like you paid the full price.
You can find trips under Living Social's "Escapes" section, Groupon's "Getaways," and Eversave's "Travel."
It won't hurt to keep an eye out on Google Offers, too. Also, Gilt's travel section, JetSetter, offers discounts on hotels that tend to be more luxurious than its' competitors sites. Although you might end up spending a bit more with JetSetters, its flexibility and convenience is nice - you can choose your dates right when you book the hotel.
Consider Signing Up to Get Email Notifications
Most discount sites send out a daily (or weekly) newsletter with information on the latest and greatest deals. It can be a good way to keep track of deals, but keep in mind that the sites tend to overload your inbox with e-mails that will slowly start to pile up. However, most sites allow you to customize what you receive e-mails about, and you can always unsubscribe.
Don't Limit Yourself to Hotel Deals
You can often find lift ticket deals on LivingSocial and Groupon, too. Groupon's "Deal of the Day" and LivingSocial's "Adventures" offers sometimes include lift tickets and ski rentals. I've even see all-inclusive trips on LivingSocial, where the trip includes lodging, lift tickets and even transportation.
If you've found yourself a great deal on a hotel but still need life tickets, check out Liftopia and GetSkiTickets for lift ticket discounts. When you purchase tickets in advance with Liftopia or GetSkiTickets, you can save a lot of money at select ski resorts.
Believe it or not, you can even save on food. If you check out the local LivingSocial (just click "more cities" on the sidebar, or search for a city) or Groupon (simply change the city with the drop-down menu on the top of the page) of the town you plan to visit, you can find deals and discounts on bars and restaurants in the area, too.
Check the Availability
Before you book on a site like Groupon or LivingSocial, be sure to check the dates that the trip is available. Usually, you can only travel during a limited window of time, and you want to make sure your purchase can actually be used during ski season. You can usually find the dates in the fine print.
ReallyRead the Fine Print
Don't just scan the fine print to see when you can travel. Make sure you take note of any blackout days or extra fees, such as cleaning fees or resort fees. Also, some hotels will charge extra if you plan to stay on the weekend, so it's important to do your reading so there aren't any unwelcome surprises upon your arrival. Some hotels may have a minimum age requirement, so keep an eye out for that too.
Beware of Dates & Deadlines!
In the case of LivingSocial, you usually activate or book your trip after you make the purchase - it's not automatic. In most cases, there's a deadline for booking, and if you don't meet the deadline, your voucher will expire and your money will go to waste, so make sure you book the trip on time. Similarly, Groupon has "Book By" and "Travel By" dates you'll need to be mindful of.
Another thing to keep in mind is that discount sites usually aren't as flexible as hotels or travel agencies, for example. If you need to cancel your trip, most discount sites have a 30-day policy.
As when booking any type of ski vacation, don't just pounce on the first great deal you see. While trips on LivingSocial or Groupon can save you a hefty chunk of money - in some cases, over 50 percent off - usually, you're paying for a hotel room or condo only. You still have to factor in airfare, lift tickets and food - which can add up quickly.
So, before snagging a deal on a discount site, check out the websites of the ski resorts you're interested in visiting. Usually, ski resorts offer specials deals that include lodging and lift tickets, and sometimes even air fare and dining vouchers. Make your comparisons before you make your purchase.