Living in the City of St. Augustine often feels like a vacation. But sometimes we need a vacation from our vacation. This year, my husband and I traveled to Paris, France on a budget and had an amazing experience. We believe it is important to date your spouse so we did not bring our kids on this trip. Every night was a date night, which was amazing, but we are already dreaming of going back with our two kids in tow. Here is how we traveled to France on an affordable budget along with some tips on how you can do the same.
Booking Our Flight
The key to keeping a trip affordable is to book affordable travel to your destination. Nowadays, there are many ways you can find great deals. I followed a site called Scotts Cheap Flights (https://scottscheapflights.com/) and received emails from them regarding deals on international flights. This is where I discovered flights out of Miami to Paris were less than $500 at the time. My husband and I made a quick and wild decision. Within the hour we had tickets to Europe for February the following year.
Tip: Being flexible with your travel dates and/or your destination with open you up to better opportunities for a more affordable trip. Put those vacation days to good use and book a trip during off-season—you may be able to afford to take two big trips for the price of one!
After I booked our flight, I dove deep into researching our destination. I tried to figure out what the pros and cons were of the different areas of Paris so I could narrow down where we might want to stay. Paris is divided up into arrondissements so that is the primary way in which I search. Other destinations may be best researched by east or west sides, by neighborhood, village, or by island like Hawaii.
My favorite places to find insight are travel blogs. Travel blog writers tend to give you an insiders perspective and honest opinions on your destinations.
Tip: Determine what is most important to you during your trip—for example, seeing the most well-known sites, experiencing the destination like a local, having a focus on local art or cuisine, etc. By doing this, you can spend your time wisely researching your destination which will allow you to spend your money in the places you want instead of over-spending.
Finding and Securing our Accommodations
Once I researched Paris in depth and decided what was important for me and my husband during our visit, I began searching for the place that would become our home away from home. Since we really wanted to experience Paris like a local, we turned to Airbnb.com and found a place in the artsy bohemian 18th Arrondissement. Our apartment had a small balcony and kitchen; was located a block away from the metro and an amazing patisserie; and could sleep up to five people.
Tip: Traveling with other people and splitting costs on accommodations is an easy way to keep your travels affordable. We were fortunate enough to have an amazing couple go on the adventure to Paris with us, which helped make our trip affordable and fun. In addition, if your accommodation allows you access to a kitchen and/or is located near a local market, you can use that to your advantage and save some money on food.
Making Both Firm and Flexible Plans
The next step to making our trip to France unforgettable was to plan how we were going to spend our time there. We knew where we were staying and we had a wish list of things to do but we needed plans. Some places require you to buy tickets, make reservations, or are only open certain days. If we did not make some plans then our week abroad would’ve been gone in a flash without us doing the things we wanted. We also would have wasted money wandering around. Who knows when we will get to go back?! We made a dinner reservation for the night of Valentine’s Day (which was incredible) and then we lumped the things on our wish list into groups varying on location in the city.
By grouping the activities we wanted to do by areas, we were able to commute to one area in the city each day. From there, we would get the most out of our day without wasting time and money on metro tickets. We ended up conquering everything we wanted to without any stress. We even had time to spare so we rented a car for a day and ventured to the Normandy coast.
Tip: Make plans but keep them flexible. By doing so, it will allow you to be in the moment during your vacation and truly enjoy it. You will avoid stressing and wasting time trying to figure out what to do next (in a country where you may not speak the language). Also, you never know what the weather will do so flexibility is key.
Extra Tip: Try and learn basic words in the language that is spoken at your destination. If you put forth an effort and show respect then most of the time you will be treated with kindness. We had a wonderful experience in France.
Next, we dreamed of Paris until the day it was time to pack and board the plane.
*If you want to follow any of my family’s adventures be sure to check out @everwanderingevans on Instagram.