Groupon is a website where you can purchase gift certificates for restaurants, beauty salons, hotels, consumer items, museums, special events, etc. You can choose either the number of certificates or their monetary value when purchasing them, and the certificates are generally good for six months and require advance reservations with the service provider.

When you buy a Groupon you end up paying considerably less for whatever it is you are buying the certificate for, than if you were to go directly to the service provider without a Groupon. For example, I recently paid 39 Euros for a day-long course with a professional make-up artist but if I had contacted her directly to book the same course, I would have paid 125 Euros.

The best thing about Groupon is that the daily e-mails are filled with names and descriptions of and website addresses for local restaurants, tourist attractions and activities, and services that I might never have heard of otherwise.  Who knew that you could pay to tag along with a pack of donkeys as they go for a walk through Austria’s wine region, or that you could take a helicopter ride around Vienna? I see it as a less expensive way to try new things while we are here.

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