How we Turned an Enticing Travel Deal into a Cheaper and Better Vacation

That's easy.. we wanted to recreate Justin Beibers video for "I'll Show you", if that doesn't inspire you I don't know what will.

Jussstt Kidding! It was on our list way before Beibs got to it.

Seriously now.. It was January 1st and Corey is browsing his daily Groupon deals when he came across a deal to Iceland:

photo via 

$799 Vacation with Air per person (Let's call it Option A):

  • Roundtrip airfare to Reykjavik from Boston or NY.
  • 3 Night stay in hotel + breakfast
  • Northern Lights tour
  • Select travel dates in Spring 2016. This is the tail end of time you can see the Northern Lights.

So that seemed dandy but we had to get to Boston or NY - that's another $300 flight (separate itinerary so if one is late, the other is non forgiving). Now our trip is at $1,100 with the Groupon. So let's see if we can beat $1,100 for Flight, Hotel, and breakfast. 

What's next? How do you know you're getting a deal, so we kept digging! If the package is this cheap, there has to be some airline flying from Boston direct to Iceland.. So there it was - WOW Air flies Boston to Reykjavik for $300 RT . We used to find this deal.  WHAT?! Is that real, an international flight for $300 RT?  Well sure it's real but we'll call it the Spirit of International flights where your carry on (7kg+) will cost an additional $38, checked bag $48... eeshh. So this turns into a $376 flight if you pack tight. Let's not forget that we still have to get to Boston - ADD $300.

So if we don't get the Groupon and purchase our own tickets the round trip will cost $676. Risk - you're buying two separate airline tickets and if either is delayed, you're at a loss (unless you purchase $50 insurance?). Let's not forget hotel. 

Let's say $676 out of $799 is the flight, we're left with $123 per person to cover 3 nights hotel. We found nice hotels for around $85/night and if we're breaking things down per person, I think we're pretty close to $123.

Blue Lagoon

Option B

  • $676 RT flight, risky separate airline tickets
  • $123 for hotel
  • Car rental $125 per person

Option B - $925, round trip flight from Home (CHI or MSP) with hotel and car. We're already on the right track to beating the Groupon. Remember with Groupon our trip costs $1,100 and we're at $925 by purchasing separate flights and booking our own hotel. Groupon didn't include a car rental so we're still under Groupon's budget with the car. 

Let's do better.

A little background, as you may have read on our 2015 Recap we did some considerable traveling. Corey is an avid Delta flyer and I myself decided to earn myself a status. We calculated this down to the point and I earned by Silver Medallion status after our Volunteer trip to Ghana! Now bring on those upgrades!! So we had to see what Delta had to offer. Well what do you know, Delta offered flights Chi (or MSP) to Reykjavik for $660. That's along the lines of our separate flights less the risks. Since we are loyal Delta flyers, we have free check & carry on baggage as well as upgrade options. So clearly the better choice is Delta! We also extended the trip to 5 nights. 

Oh and guess how many days we're taking off for a 5 night vacation + travel time? THREE! For Corey only two. How you ask? Leaving Friday May 27th (after work) and returning Thursday June 1st, we get a Memorial Day Holiday in there + 2 weekend days so that's a free extension on your trip! 

Option C - Let's recap 

  • $660 RT on Delta
  • 5 nights in hotel @ $85/nt = $213. Original Groupon plan was 3 nights.
  • Did you notice that with flight and hotel we're still WAY below our original $1,100 3 night Groupon stay?
  • Car rental - because you gotta explore. $125 per person.
  • 5,800 Delta Qualifying miles to maintain our Medallion statuses, possible upgrades, free checked and carry on bags.
  • Total $998 per person.

Bam! We have extended our trip all for under what the Groupon cost:

Recap of ways we beat that deal:

  • 3 nights to 5 nights
  • One continuous flight from our home (MSP & CHI). Delta flies direct to Reykjavik so we don't have any layovers.
  • Hotel stay for 5 nights instead of 3
  • Car rental for 5 days

Lessons Learned:

  • Don't trust a "DEAL"
  • Always do your research: deal may fly out of a city that you're not close to, include the cost to get to that city.
  • Research hotels, hostels, and AirBnB for alternative stay options.
  • How will you get around? Public transit or car rental? Include possible costs.
  • Travel over weekends and holidays to avoid taking too many vacation days (Holidays could cause increased rates).
  • Consider entry costs to parks, museums, etc. Iceland - Blue Lagoon entry ranges $40-$170 depending on spa package.

We hope you learned something about finding a travel deal by using an already existing deal. Now go out there and find your dream vacation!

Have you seen other deals that we should question? 

Photos not mine.. soon!