Planning a trip can be a difficult process. And when you’re talking about an expensive European city like Paris, it’s even more difficult. Here are some tips that my boyfriend and I found useful for the pre-planning stages of our recent trip. Maybe they’ll help you as well!
Plane tickets are ridiculously expensive-just accept that from the start. We cut down on cost by going to Paris in January. This certainly kept the price down and also led to a quieter city with fewer tourists competing with us at the sites. To book our flights, we used www.kayak.com to look at prices at various airlines on various days. Once we had a good idea of which days had cheaper prices and which airlines were less expensive, we went to the individual airline websites and priced out our trips.
We settled on Icelandair, as this was by far the cheapest option. This meant that we changed planes in Reykjavik, Iceland and made the overall trip a bit longer. For us, this was worth it, but if you’d prefer to spend less overall time travelling, you may want to look only a nonstop flights.
Reading guidebooks about Paris hotels scared me-I was convinced every hotel in Paris would have teeny tiny rooms with terrible bathrooms. But what we found was that with a little bit of work we could get a decent sized hotel room in a great area for not too much money. We ended up booking through www.hotels.com. Why this site? We liked that we could see the name of the hotel before we booked it, which allowed us to do some additional research. Once we found a hotel that had a good price and good reviews, we also looked up the hotel on TripAdvisor. There, we found additional reviews and also could see where the hotel ranked among other Paris hotels. This helped us choose a hotel that had both a good price and good reviews.
So how did we do? Really well. We ended up at a fabulous hotel in the Grands Boulevards area of Paris, with a Metro stop outside the door. And we got it for a steal–$420 for four nights. We knew that was good, but it wasn’t until we got to the hotel that we realized how good it was. The hotel actually costs 265 Euros a night. So pretty much we got 50% off-not bad at all.
Just a couple of other things to think about before you go. We ended up changing some money at the airport in Boston, and when we needed more in Paris. Once there we used an ATM. Check with your bank to see if they allow you to use a certain bank with no fee. For example, if you have a Bank of America checking account, you should be able to withdraw money from BNP Paribas with no ATM fee (you just pay a currency change fee of 1-3%). Just make sure you tell your bank that you’ll be travelling–and make sure you have a 4 digit PIN!
Lastly, think about how you’ll get from the airport to wherever you are staying. Since you’ll likely be flying into Charles de Gaulle, just know that it’s a bit outside of the city. There are a couple of options including the RER (basically the commuter train), a few buses (we took the RoissyBus), or of course a taxi. Once you know where you’ll be staying it’s relatively easy to find a way that will be convenient for you.
This is a guest blog post by Miriam Sznycer-Taub who will be sharing more tips about her Paris trip in upcoming posts. Got questions? Connect with Helen’s Travel Corner on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/helenstravelcorner!