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Group deals are always popping into my life. My mom gives me print-outs of Groupon deals for Christmas each year without fail (she puts the coupons in boxes and wraps them). And when I’m not opening Groupons from “Santa,” I see group deals shared aplenty in my Facebook feed, or forwarded to my inbox from friends, family and, well, people I barely know.

I’m heading to Paris for vacation this week. So I caved to social pressure and checked out the Groupon Paris page to see if any boulangerie bargains or cut-rate city tours could be found. I stumbled upon this deal, a half-price cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin:

paris groupon

Not bad. This Groupon offered a scenic canal cruise, which normally would have cost 18 euros, for just 9 euros per person. But there was one problem: You may have noticed that the Groupon was published in French. I desperately combed this page for a mini American or British flag and found nothing. The solution, I found, was to copy and paste all text into Google Translate (http://translate.google.com/). Or learn to speak fluent French.

Now, this was where things got tricky. The booking process was in French as well. And the bit where I had to enter my address didn’t give the option to specify a country. Here’s what it looked like:

booking paris groupon

I tried to type in my U.S. address along with my credit card information, but my order was rejected; I assume this happened because the system, by default, deemed that I live in France. I took a second stab at the purchase, but paid with PayPal instead of a credit card. It worked, probably because PayPal already has my home address in its system. I paid $25.29 for two cruise tickets; this was the final price according to PayPal’s exchange rate, which was a slightly more expensive conversion rate than the current interbank rate as seen on XE.com ($24.55).

It’s clear that Groupon’s international pages are designed for local customers. Still, with a PayPal account and a little translation, it’s possible to grab some good discounts in faraway destinations. The same goes for Living Social, which, like Groupon, has a wide selection of international deals that are published in local languages. Given that these sites often run promotions for restaurants, excursions, transportation and other goodies that would be useful during a trip, it’s worth signing up to receive local deals e-mails for the destination you’re visiting next. (Other group deals sites, including BuyWithMe, dealfind and DealOn, offer lots of bargains across the U.S. but have a limited international reach.)

Have you used a local group deal site when traveling?

— written by Caroline Costello

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5 Responses to “Cashing In on Local Group Deals Abroad”

  1. SeaMarmot says:

    This is a really clever idea. I’m going to have to use it for an upcoming trip to Madrid!

  2. J Hager says:

    I used an Italian Ferry company for an overnight transfer to Sicily from Naples. At the time the ferry did have some english translations but the schedule was only in Italian. I spoke by phone with a British travel company affiliated with the ferry company and was able to determine the correct ferry schedule, but they were not able to tell me where the ferry departed from (the exact pier) so we hoped for the best. Our ferry from Sorrento to Naples just happen to drop us off directly next to the ferry to Sicily and we managed to board just in time for departure. Needless to say, I don’t recall anyone speaking English on the ferry but it was a true cultural experience that we thoroughly enjoyed.

  3. lee says:

    J Hager, great to hear about the ferry to Sicily. I have thought about that for my next trip.
    I know where the port is and believe the ferry sails at 6 and arrive the next morning in Palermo. was that the one you took?

  4. great tip, thanks! i might try this using google chrome and see if it can translate the page for me on the fly :)

  5. Khai says:

    I also thought of this idea of using Groupon but I keep getting my purchase rejected also. Do you know if when you use paypal, do they charge you international transaction fee?

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