Your 1-Week Trip to France for Under $1200
European vacations are definitely a luxury, but they’re not as expensive as people make them out be be. And the best part is that the more you save on each trip, the more money you have to put other places – whether it be bills or another vacation! So if you’ve ever wanted to eat pain au chocolat on the Champs-Elysees while gazing at the lights of the Eiffel Tower, then you can make that easier by following budget-saving tips.
So let me break it down for you, because visiting France isn’t and doesn’t have to be super expensive.
* I chose France since it’s a popular tourist destination, but this really works for a lot of different European countries!
This guide includes:
- Round-trip flights from the US to Paris
- Hostel (shared) accommodation
- Tourist activities (museums, etc)
- Transportation fees
This guide does not include:
- Passport and visa fees
- Travel insurance
- Souvenir money
- Upgrades (single room accommodation, escorted day trips, etc)
As you read this guide, please note that it’s for budgets and overestimates certain prices (because it’s always good to overestimate rather than underestimate). However it also doesn’t cut everything down so you should still be able to make the most out of your trip.
If you read my guide to saving money, you’ll learn about how to save on flights and get a good deal. Just now, I went to Google Flights and looked at the round-trip prices, including baggage, from 5 different cities in America to Paris. The flights chosen were within the next two months though prices are very similar for several months onward. The total prices were $340 (DC), $330 (NYC), $411 (LA), $777 (St. Louis), and $555 (Dallas). The average flight is then $483, which sounds like a fair price for what I’ve seen. If you see anything cheaper, definitely grab it; otherwise, prices are often around $400-500 and I wouldn’t recommend going north of that.
Accommodation can actually be really cheap. I always book through Booking.com, which makes finding hotels super easy. For this guide, I selected cheap rooms in Paris for the next few months, and they averaged $26/night. These hotels are shared rooms but are in the city of Paris.
Even Cheaper Option: If you don’t mind staying with strangers, you can try Couchsurfing. You will stay in a stranger’s home for free, which cuts down costs and is also great for socialising. There are also exchanges where you can work short-term for free accommodation, but I wouldn’t recommend this for a vacation since you’d be working.
Meals can be pretty tricky since it really depends on where you go, and unlike certain countries, street food in Paris definitely isn’t on par with dining in a restaurant. Let’s say you treat yo self and get $20 meals twice a day, and then maybe a $10 breakfast or dessert. That comes to $50/day or $350 for a week. I usually eat in France for around $10/meal or I just make my own food, but it’s France. Let’s be liberal so you can get the most out of your trip.
Insider Tip: You can tip 1 or 2 euros but a tip is not expected in France, so don’t add any tip to your bill. This is a huge money-saver for us Americans!
Let’s talk tourist attractions! Many of Paris’s attractions have an entrance fee except on specific days, and it can get quite pricey. The average is about 5-15€/attraction, so let’s set an average of 10€. Let’s take that average and say you do one one paid attraction per day – that amounts to 70€, or roughly $80. That’s probably on the pricey side but for the sake of this guide, it’s fair.
Plan ahead: Many museums have a free day, so be sure to visit their websites and plan accordingly.
Paris’s metro system is awesome and you can get around easily and with a flat fee, but it depends on what you want to do. I’d recommend getting a Navigo pass as it’s a much better value than the Paris Visite card. It’s 35€ to get a metro and bus pass for the entire week, but the week starts on Monday*, so 35€ can go to 70€ quickly – this would also include zones 1-5, which covers areas outside of Paris, including Charles de Gaul airport. I also don’t believe you can purchase a Navigo pass at CDG, so that’s an extra 10€ to get to Paris. You can see how this can differ dramatically depending on what you want to do, not to mention that a day trip to Versailles is very different in cost from a day trip to Bordeaux.
(* The perfect case would be that you get in on Sunday, pay 10€ to get to your accommodation, and then pay use the 35€ Navigo pass Monday – Sunday, returning to the airport on Sunday or Monday.)
Let’s go with the $80 to be on the safe side, and add $20 just in case. You can probably get around for less than $100, especially if you start using your Navigo pass on a Monday, but let’s say $100 just to be cautious.
Adding everything up, the total comes to as follows:
To be quite frank, there are a tonne of ways to make this trip cheaper and you can go under $1000 a lot of times. This guide allows for nice meals, quite a bit of paid sightseeing, and quite a bit for transportation, which make for a great trip. However, they can also be cut down in cost with planning.
As always, you are welcome to contact me with questions about how to budget your trip. I really hope this post has given you good insight into how to visit one of the world most popular destinations on a budget.Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2019 in Ramblings & Advice