A lot of people have reached out to me asking how I find deals and how we’re able to travel as much as we do. I’m going to start posting how I found the deal and how much the trip is costing us for each trip we plan. It can take a lot of planning and work but travel is a priority for us so I am willing to do it! All I ask is that if you end up using one of my tips for saving or credit card bonuses, please use the links I provide in my blogs to sign up for those services – some of them will give us a little referral bonus and a welcome bonus to you for using our link and since we post all of our travel tips for free, that really helps us out. Thanks!
I’m going to try to post 2 times for each of our trips, one post on how I found the deal and how we’re paying for the trip and one about the trip itself after the fact, what we did, where we ate, what we recommend if you go, etc. This one will go into detail on how I found these deals – if you aren’t really trying to learn how I find travel deals, you may just want to wait for the “experience” post.
3 days may seem really quick for a trip to Paris but the nonstop flights mean we won’t be spending much more time traveling than we do driving home to Texas for a weekend – and we do that all the time. The bonus here is obviously that we get to be in Paris eating croissants at the end of the travel time and that you can pack a lot in to 3 days in Paris while keeping accommodation and food costs low.
Paris can be really expensive, but it can also be really affordable – the key is finding a good deal on airfare.
Here’s a summary of the total cost and the rewards I used to help pay for this trip, I’ll go into detail on all of this below:
Total cost for the trip, including food and activities: $1,408
From Acorns: $339
From Ebates: $65
From Ibotta: $82
From Dosh: $11
From Capital One Venture Card Rewards: $259
From Capital One 360 Vacation Fund: $703
Total Out of Pocket Cost for a 3 day weekend in Paris for 2: $703
Last year on New Year’s Day I found a United sale with roundtrip tickets to Paris for $450 and I bought them with my friends Dasha and Mary for a Mother’s Day Girls’ Trip to Paris. We had an amazing time, stayed in an amazing Airbnb, ate at really great restaurants, even 2 with Michelin stars, saw all of the highlights – and it was honestly not any more expensive than going most places in the U.S. for a girls’ trip. We had such an amazing time that we’ve been on the lookout for flights to repeat the trip again this year.
I use Google Flights to check fares – when you put your cities in, just click in the Departure date box and a calendar will come up showing you the cheapest price available across all airlines on each day, here’s a screenshot taken April 4th for flights from Denver to Paris:
It was on one of these flight checks that I realized that Norwegian Air was beginning nonstop service from Denver to Paris in April, amazing! They only fly 2 days per week so you have to move your trip around to work with that, but for the prices they are offering in April, it’s worth it! As you can see there is still a flight available for $397 roundtrip on April 16th. The thing is, sometimes Google Flights isn’t the best indicator on every day and I’m not sure why this is. For example, we’re going to Paris April 13-16 and we paid $475 roundtrip per person and flights are still available at those prices on Norwegian’s site, but if you look at those dates on Google Flights, it says the cheapest flight is $1,184. I saw that Norwegian had cheap flights leaving on the 16th on Google so I went to Norwegian’s website and looked at their fare calendar and that’s how I found our tickets for $475 (we were willing to pay a little more to go over a weekend and not use PTO days rather than the $397 flight available during the week). Total spent on 2 round-trip nonstop flights to Paris: $950
The Place to Stay
In Europe, I almost always choose Airbnb over hotels. It’s just how I prefer to explore European cities and I talk a lot more about that in my blog post about how we choose where to stay.
For this trip I was looking for a very walkable location, it’s a quick trip and I don’t want to spend time dealing with transportation. When I do a short trip to Europe I find it best to not really switch time zones, which means sleeping in and staying out really late. This makes the time there and the transition back so much easier – so for this trip I want to stay in an area with a great nightlife. Finally, for this trip most of the places we are tentatively planning to visit (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, Luxembourg Gardens), are easily reached from St. Germain. The bonus is that we’ve been to Paris several times and most of our favorite restaurants are in this neighborhood and, let’s be honest, I’m mostly interested in the food while in Paris!
This is a last minute trip so Airbnb options are limited – it’s always best to plan ahead when using Airbnb because once an apartment is booked it’s gone from the inventory options for your dates. Added complication and bonus for this trip: we’re traveling with another couple. This is great because we can split the cost of the apartment but also eliminates all studios as an option since we need 2 bedrooms and studios are generally the most affordable options. I did manage to find a great one though, with all taxes and cleaning fees we’re paying $94 per couple per night, definitely not my best deal found on a Paris trip but still really affordable for such an ideal location. Total spent on 2 nights accommodations in St. Germain: $188
We’ll need transportation to & from the airport and we’ll take the Metro to Montmartre while we’re there, I’m budgeting $70 for this since we’ll able to split both airport Uber rides with our travel buddies. Total Transportation: $70
Food & Activities: I’m planning on $50 per person per day. This is a realistic budget for us as we’ll most likely spend about $6 each on coffee and a croissant for breakfast, $6 each on a baguette sandwich for lunch, $10 each on entry to whatever place we are visiting that day, and have $28 each left for a good dinner with a glass of wine. I know we’ll stick to it because we use cash for everything while traveling in Europe – so we have no choice! Total for Food & Activities: $200
How we’re paying for it
Getting a good deal is only half the battle, you still have to have the money set aside to pay for it, no matter how good of a deal you found. Again, if you decide to use any of these services based on my tips, please use the referral link I provide by clicking on the links below, it really helps us out with a referral bonus and you’ll get a welcome bonus as well!
I’ll write a longer blog about each of these services in a separate blog but since I don’t have that posted yet, here is a brief overview:
Acorns: Links to your accounts and rounds every purchase up to the next dollar and invests the change for you. A really painless way to build up some savings!
Ebates: They send you a rebate for purchases you make online from places like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Gap, Groupon, Expedia, Overstock…so many online stores. All you have to do is click the link on their site to activate the rebate and they send you a check, sometimes up to 10% of your purchase.
Ibotta: Like Ebates but for groceries and things you buy in stores, they also have rebates for some shopping apps as well. They feature different products and all you have to do is add the offer then take a picture of your receipt and the UPC code of the product after you purchase.
Dosh: Links to your cards and paypal and gives you a rebate for certain stores, this one is great because you don’t have to remember to do anything, it’s automatic. It just so happens that I don’t buy as much from the participating stores and restaurants so my amount from this one is lower.
Capital One Venture Credit Cards: My favorite credit card because you get 2 points per dollar spent on anything, not restricted to certain categories, and you can find your own good deals on travel and then just erase what you actually spent from your credit card bill.
Capital One 360 Savings Accounts: They let you have up to 30 different savings accounts for free and I take full advantage of that – I have so many specific savings accounts! They also pay more interest than pretty much anyone else, currently they are paying 1% in interest on savings accounts. I do auto-draft each month to our accounts and I don’t do huge amounts. Right now I am putting $20/month towards a girls trip, $150/month to family vacations, $20/month to birthday trips, and $10/month to a fund for a big trip for our 10 year anniversary. A total of $200 per month but when I combine it with rewards and deal hunting, we’re able to do a lot with it – it really adds up!
Total Out of Pocket Cost for a 3 day weekend in Paris: $703