the pros and cons of booking a trip with travelzoo

In July, I came across an incredible deal on a site called Travelzoo—I can’t remember the specifics anymore, but it was something like $599 for airfare, hotel, and car rental for 5 nights in Italy. It popped up on my Facebook feed, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I sprinted down the stairs to show my husband, and we looked at each other wide-eyed and knew we could not pass up such a good deal.

We were all ready to book; however, as you may know, I had just been in Italy in May, and though I love Italy, I also liked the idea of going somewhere new. The hubs and I had talked not long before about our love for Barcelona and our desire to go back to Spain, so I searched “Spain” on Travelzoo to see what would come up, and I stumbled upon a deal for the Canary Islands and Lisbon. $799 per person for 7 nights in a hotel plus airfare. Did it seem too good to be true? A little. Did we book anyway? Hell yes.

So that is how we came to spend the week of Thanksgiving galavanting around Gran Canaria and Lisbon. Here are the pros and cons of booking the trip with TravelZoo:

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Think of this as the Sahara desert, except you can see civilization and water (it's not just a mirage!)
Think of this as the Sahara desert, except you can see civilization and water (it’s not just a mirage!) Maspalomas Sand Dunes, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Territory of Spain

 

 

 

Pro: Extremely good bang for our buck.

To put this in perspective: Airfare to Italy alone cost me $800 when I went in May, so the fact that international airfare and hotel were bundled together for the same price was unfathomable.

The pros and and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Pro: It was seriously inexpensive!
Agaete Beach: About 1 km from the main beach you can find tidal pools that are filled with seat water – seriously fun to swim in!

 

Con: Our “discount” tickets meant that our checked luggage was ridiculously expensive.

So, I checked the TAP Portugal website for information on luggage, and all I found were their parameters for carryon luggage (smaller than usual and up to 8 kg in weight). We figured the fee for checked baggage would be somewhere in the $20-$30 range like it would be with other airlines; however, we got an unpleasant surprise when we checked in and they told us our checked bag was going to cost us $90! Thank God we only had one checked bag for both of us! I do wish the fine print on the trip would have warned us that we had discount tickets and thus that the baggage fee would be higher; we would have packed two smaller bags instead of sharing a larger one.

Pro: The trip took us to places we ordinarily might not have considered visiting.

I will admit it took a little convincing on my part to get the hubs on board. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Let’s go to the Canary Islands and Lisbon!

Him: But why? What’s there? I don’t know anything about the Canary Islands or Lisbon!

Me: Me either! That’s the fun of it! We’d be going somewhere completely new and unknown!

Did I win this argument? Not to sound cocky, but of course I did. It’s not the first time I’ve had to convince my husband that a particular trip would be awesome.

Gran Canaria was beautiful. We loved exploring all the little towns. We loved hiking Roque Nublo. We had some seriously good food. (But more on that later.)

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Con: We couldn't alter how many days we spent in each place. 
From São Jorge Castle (or St. George’s Castle), you can see all of Lisbon from above. Unfortunately, it was rainy/foggy when we were up there, but in my opinion, it’s still a beautiful sight.

And Lisbon…Lisbon was amazing. I really miss it, actually, and really want to go back. Which leads me to…

 

Con: We couldn’t alter how many days we spent in each place.

We were kind of held hostage to the booking agency’s schedule. If we had planned the trip ourselves, we might have spent one less day in Gran Canaria and one more day in Lisbon. Gran Canaria was great and I’m glad that we went, but it’s sort of like Europe’s Florida: It’s where the Brits and the Germans go for sun and fun on the beaches. Lisbon had so much character. I could have walked around that town for ages. (But again…more on that later! ;))

Considering everything, would we book again using Travelzoo?

Yes, I think we would. It was a really inexpensive and fun trip for us.

I’ll admit, you get what you pay for. The hotels we stayed in weren’t anything special, but they were clean, which is all I really need (no bed bugs, please; I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I never want to do it again). We don’t spend a lot of time in our hotel rooms anyway; we’re out on the town all day long and only really need a clean place to sleep and shower. Plus, we’re all about having epic adventures on a budget! Even with the steep checked baggage fee and the car we rented for Gran Canaria, plus our tickets to and from Boston (since that was the trip’s departure city), the trip itself was really inexpensive. I’ll give you a little breakdown of what we spent:

Trip x 2 at $799 pp, including airfare and hotel: $1,598 (+ $180 for checked bag)

Car Rental for 4 days, plus insurance: $120

Tickets to and from Boston x 2 at $91 pp: $182

Travel insurance x 2: $157

Excursions with We Hate Tourism Lisbon for 2: $239.74

Total: $2,476.74

Again, to put this in perspective, when we flew in and out of Paris in 2015, JUST AIRFARE cost $2,738.88. We got all of that for less than just the price of airfare—isn’t that nuts?!

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Cons: Not enough time in Portugal!
Lighthouse situated at Cabo da Roca, Portugal, the westernmost point of Europe. Early explorers truly thought it was the end of the earth.

 

The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Cons: Not enough time in Portugal!
Cliffside in Cabo da Roca, Portugal. Stunning view. Photos don’t even come close to doing it justice.
The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo | Cons: Not enough time in Portugal!
They call it “female mouse beach”; it’s one of the premier places to surf in Portugal. We were there on a less-breezy-than-usual day and still the waves were wicked!

Of course, this doesn’t take food and souvenier-buying into consideration. Admittedly, we ate very well during our weeklong sojourn, so we spent a little more on food than we ordinarily might have, but even still, it was 100% worth it. We got to have an awesome adventure, and we didn’t break the bank. I’d say that’s a win-win!

Have you booked a trip using Travelzoo or a similar site? What was your experience? Was it worth it? Did you regret it? What would you change about the trip? Tell me! I want to know!

Pin for Later:

PIN FOR LATER | The pros and cons of booking a trip with TravelZoo

Know Before You Go: The Pros and Cons of Booking a Trip with Travelzoo

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