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Monday, June 19, 2017

Our Travel Expenses | Paris + London


Being able to travel is a privilege.  Point blank. Period.

Travel can be expensive, requires time off, and many different arrangements may have to be made (in our case, who to care for the kids while we were away).  Nonetheless, I think getting out and seeing the world, even if it's just traveling to different areas within your own state and country, is very important.  One of the things I hope to do as the girls grow older is to take them to different places they've learned about in world history/geography.  There's just something about seeing and experiencing the places you've heard or read about.  I pray that God continues to bless us and give us the opportunity to travel more as a couple and with our children.

But, let's be clear, international travel can be costly.  Our recent trip to Paris, and day trip to London, were rather expensive, in my opinion, and that's with us hardly scatching the surface of all the things we could have done while there.  However, we started the planning process a year in advance, saved on costs where we could, splurged a little where we thought it was necessary and used extra funds, like income from the blog and Mario's training business, etc. to help pay for the trip.  Our goal is to do a big trip like this every five years with smaller less expensive trips at least once every year (w/ the kids).  Our next big trip will be for our ten year anniversary.  We're already talking about where to go; a two week stint in Africa with the girls!  Again, what's really needed to make a big, expensive trip work is planning, and planning early.

So, let's dig into the costs for a trip to Paris for two.  I split the costs into two to show the things we had to have in order to go on this trip and things that were nice to have and do that we could have eliminated to further save on costs.

Must-Haves

  • Round-trip Flight - $2,316.22 (PIA)
    • How We Saved -- Not choosing the direct, non-stop flight option.
  • Airbnb Rental (4 nights) - $349 (PIA)
    • How We Saved -- We stayed in Asnieres Sur Seine which is on the outskirts of Paris.  This allowed us to have an entire apartment to ourselves but not break the bank like we would've if we'd stayed in the heart of Paris in a hotel.
  • Metro Tickets - $39.36
    • How We Saved -- No rental car.
  • Food - $299.96
  • Airport Parking - $84
  • Transportation upon arrival and departure - $140 ($80 was PIA)
    • I felt it was important to take a taxi (arrival) and shuttle service (departure) when we first got into Paris and when we were leaving Paris to catch our flights.  In hindsight, we could have saved on costs here.
  • International Transaction Fees - $12.51
    • We had 21 transactions fees that totaled the amount above. We likely could have saved on fees if we had used our cards less and pulled a lump sum from an ATM each day.  We chose the safer, convenient route instead.
      Total Must-Haves Cost -- $3,241.05


Nice-to-Haves
  • Skip the Line Eiffel Tower Tour, Louvre Museum tickets & Seine River Cruise - $192.36 (PIA)
  • London Full Day Tour via Eurostar - $435.72 (PIA)
    • Cost of train tickets, hop on/off bus pass & Thames River Cruise.
  • On-Hand Cash (Euros) - $200
  • Anniversary Photo Shoot w/ Local Photographer - $300 ($100 was PIA)
    • This was most definitely a luxury item. But, this was also our milestone anniversary trip and I wanted to commemorate it in a special way.
  • Souvenirs - $132.92
      Total Nice-to-Haves Cost -- $1261.00

Overall Trip Cost: $4,502.05



Next to each item, if it was paid for prior to our arrival, there is (PIA) listed for Paid-in-Advance.  This totaled $3,473.30.  Our spending budget for when we arrived was $1000 and we were pretty close to staying within that budget with a spend of $1,028.75 for all other items, including the remaining balance for the photo shoot, transaction fees and airport parking.  Sadly, we overspent on our overall trip budget by $502.05.  See budget snapshot below:


I have a spreadsheet that has trips planned out from now through 2019.  Paris was our first international trip.  From this trip, I learned that I need to break down the budget further and include a bit more detail as to where the money will be going.  There were things I didn't think much about and therefore didn't truly plan for, like transaction fees and airport parking.  I also didn't think through food.  Spending $300 in a week for two is excessive, in my opinion so we could have cut costs there with better planning.  All-in-all, I think we did well and I felt that this was a doable trip for us without feeling like we were totally breaking the bank.  We're working, middle-class people, so yes, this is a big spend for us but it was incredibly worth it, eye-opening and one of the most memorable experiences of our lives.

Can anyone travel? Of course! But, where you go, what you do, eat, how you get around, and what you spend your money on will all be huge factors.  Sit down, create a budget and plan it out, years in advance if you have to, based on your income and available time off, and go from there.  You may even have to hustle a bit like we did to fit some of those "nice-to-haves" in!  If you have the means to go on at least one big trip every few years then I encourage you to go for it! 

Life is fleeting, and you truly only live once.
Be Strategic,
xoxo, Nicole
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3 comments

  1. We traveled to Paris several years ago, and we were able to do it for a much more reasonable cost than many people think. We stayed in a small hotel in the 11th arrondissement, which was really close to a train stop - so we had easy public transportation. We also booked it though EuropeanDestinations dot com which has a lot of great deals. I loved it, and would love to go back some day!

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  2. You really got a bang for your buck though! You could be a travel agent lol! I really think that savings on the room and board was the BEST! I would be embarrassed to share what we spent on our anni trip...probably could've saved a lot but we're not quite as adventurous as you guys (airbnb) lol! Great post, pinning it for later!

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  3. 4 nights lodging for $300 something is truly amazing. Truly, when you consider it is just a little bit more than your photo shoot was, which was another great deal. You guys did really good. I'm like Natasha. Not quite ventured into the AirBNB thing, but I think at some point we really need to. The cost of airfare. Ugh. It is what it is. I'm glad you made it work and had a good time. It really shows travel is possible if you prioritize and plan.

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