Travel on the Cheap: Paris

I just booked a trip to Paris for $612, including the roundtrip international flight and accommodations for a week.

Yes. You heard me right: $612 for a week in Paris, and I could’ve done it even cheaper if I’d booked a little earlier and done carry-on only for the overseas flight (more on that in a sec).

Do you like my new hat? - Paris, France
Fun times on my last trip to Paris – do you like my hat? 🙂

So how did I do it? Here’s a list of my tips and tricks for accomplishing the feat:

  • I’m going to Paris in autumn instead of during the super-high peak seasons of spring or summer. More specifically, I booked this trip for right after Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving strategy served a couple purposes. First, not many Americans travel overseas around Thanksgiving. In fact, expats living overseas are usually trying to come to the US this time of year. That makes carriers more willing to sell tickets at low prices

    Premier Airways had flights out of Newark, NJ for $247 a few weeks ago. WOW and IcelandAir had flights out of the Washington DC area for around $320-$360). The only catch on some of these low-cost carriers is that you may have to pay a lot for a checked bag. But if you can do carry-on only (I’ll be doing a blog post about packing light for Europe), these low-cost carriers are a viable option.

    NOTE: My husband has to check a suitcase for his computer equipment, so we booked Delta out of Newark (EWR) using our Delta Skymiles credit card, which gives us 1 free checked bag each. Not only do we earn double miles for the flight (since it’s a Delta flight and we paid with our Skymiles Amex), but the price was still fantastic: only $375 total with taxes!

    The other facet of my Thanksgiving strategy is that the hubby and I would already be traveling to visit family, which put us very close to several major airports. We’ll be using my in-laws’ place as “base camp” and taking off to Paris from there, without having to miss out on family time and all that yummy turkey.

cropped-eiffel-tower-at-night
The Eiffel Tower is even more beautiful in person than in the movies.
  • Instead of staying at a hotel, my hubby and I are staying at an Airbnb. For 7 days/6 nights, our total (IN PARIS, FRANCE) came to $238. Total. For the entire trip. 

    FYI, for all you solo travelers out there: there were Airbnbs for 1 guest only that were even cheaper than this and in great areas (with great reviews).

Some people are hesitant to use Airbnb, but my husband and I have had a lot of wonderful experiences with it in Europe. I’m just sure to do my research: reading reviews, investigating the area where the Airbnb is located – there’s never a guarantee, but there’s not with hotels, either. I’ve had some pretty rough stays in hotels and very comfy ones in Airbnbs.

The key to a great Airbnb stay: be flexible and open-minded, but also watchful/careful. It’s all about balance!

  • We’re not staying in super touristy part of Paris. Instead, we opted to stay in Gentilly, which is in the southern-most part of the 13th. This will require us to use the RER and Metro to travel into the city, but we’d be using these anyway no matter where we stayed, and navigating the public transit system in Paris is easy once you get the hang of it – the cheapest, best way to see Paris, just like the locals do it!

 

Is there anywhere in Europe you’ve been aching to visit but think it’s not in your budget? Comment below, and I’ll see if I can give you a few more tips on getting (and staying) there on the cheap!

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Travel on the Cheap: Paris

  1. I used to live in Forli, Itay. Trying to get there this year. Right now – March – has traditionally been the best time to travel… but I am married with two ‘tweens now. Need at least flight for 3 (hubby may not go) to Bologna or near Treviso from RDU. Or from DTW.

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    1. Thanks for the question, Jess! Your best bet is to use frequent flyer miles to get to the New York area and then fly out of there for the overseas flight. I’m finding flights out of NY (JFK and LGA) or NJ (EWR) for cheap….roundtrip tickets are in the $300s to $400s range. You’ll have to fly into Milan or Rome for that price and then take a train to Bologna. If you would rather skip the train, flying into Bologna from NY or NJ isn’t that much more expensive (in the $500s).

      If you fly out of Detroit (DTW), however, it looks like you’ll be paying anywhere from $800 to $1200 per ticket. Using miles to get to the East Coast would save you a lot on three tickets! If you don’t have frequent flyer miles, consider getting the United MileagePlus credit card thru Chase or the Delta SkyMiles card thru Amex.

      **FYI, Delta Amex is doing a special deal right now where you can earn up to 75,000 bonus miles, and they have amazing benefits — use this link for more info and to sign up, deal is good thru May 1: http://refer.amex.us/CHRISE187f?XLINK=MYCP

      For accommodations, they have some nice Airbnb homes in Bologna for 3+ people anywhere from $20 to $40 per night, depending on how much you want to spend. If you’ve never used Airbnb here’s a link to sign up: https://www.airbnb.com/c/kimberlye1243?currency=USD

      I would be happy to share my Airbnb experiences with you. Just let me know if you have more questions about that!

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  2. Thank you! Will pursue the flight info. We have accommodations among family-like friends but thanks. Great info on NYC flights. We usually get lots of inexpensive deals from RDU to NY. Might be doable. It’s a steal in comparison to flying from NC to Italy. Prices are insane!

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  3. You’re welcome! Check various dates on those flights out of the NY/NJ area! Google flights will let you use a calendar view to see prices across didn’t outbound and return dates! Good luck!

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