Traveling to Europe For the First Time


Over the past few years, Aleks and I have traveled to many tropical places. Mostly because we love the beach but most notably for the all-inclusive perks. For my travel newbies: all-inclusive means that you pay one price for the cost of the flight, resort, food, drinks, and sometimes the airport shuttle to and from the resort. From a budget perspective, we know the cost of our trip upfront. Apple Vacations is our preferred website to book our tropical holidays through. We always like to turn to Expedia and Orbitz to compare hotel and flight packages. Fortunately, last December Aleks allowed me to take over the planning process and pick my long-awaited destination: Paris! For those of you who know me, also know how long I have been fantasizing about this trip. Here is all I have to share regarding the logistics of my first excursion to the other side of the globe. I also added some personal boujie (or boogie) illustrations. 😸

Booking a Flight

For Europe, depending on the country that you're visiting you may be able to find an all-inclusive package for some cities but in most cases, everything is purchased separately. We decided not to go through a travel agency but rather to book everything on our own to save money. The trickiest part was booking our flights as they tend to be more expensive. My favorite website to book flights through is Momondo and I am always suggesting this site to all my family and friends. It tracks flight prices over time if you're just looking in advance. My favorite feature is that I can find low prices on websites I have never used before and they are all legitimate, of course. We paid around $1,500USD round trip to Charles de Gaulle. Hence we went for the last two weeks of December. Our flight was booked with British Airways but flew with their partner brand American Airlines. Either way, we were able to rack up some miles with OneWorld which is always a nice incentive for future trips. 

Hotel or Airbnb?

With two weeks in Paris, we decided to stay in an Airbnb to save money as well as to have a fully furnished flat. Months before we departed we did some research on the neighborhoods and contacted multiple hosts across the site in the 1st-7th arrondissement to inquire about promotions. Luckily, we came across a very kind Argentinian girl who let us stay at her studio for $567USD in the 2nd arrondissement. That is $41USD a night for a total of two weeks! Of course, I am a bargain shopper and hate paying full price so I applied a $40 credit to our bill.  We loved having this option as we had our privacy and truly got acquainted with everything Paris had to offer from the restaurants to all the must-sees. We went shopping at all the local markets and got our fresh croissants daily. With our Airbnb, we had a kitchen to cook in from time to time and two beautiful balconies overlooking the neighborhood. 

If you have not given Airbnb a try yet, do it on your next trip! Here is my gift to you - a $40 credit.

Paris Pass

The best purchase we made for our trip was getting the Paris Pass. This was a definite for us and made it well worth our trip to an expensive city. The Paris Pass granted us complimentary and expedited access to a tremendous amount of museums and monuments such as the Palace of Versailles, Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre, and the Centre de Pompidou using the Paris Museum Pass. The places I mentioned are not even half of what the pass offers. With the passes, I received a thick booklet that I carried with us and used to plan each day. Poor Aleks - I constantly overwhelmed him with a demanding agenda. 

With me, no good deal shall go to waste. The restaurant deals, gifts in France's major department stores, wine tasting with a complimentary bottle, the hop-off-and-on big bus tour, and the Sienne River cruise were activities we took advantage of. Along with unlimited access to all of the places we wanted to go, the metro pass was a big bonus. I mastered the metro transportation system better than Chicago's "el." We got everywhere we needed to get in central and outer Paris.

Now, let's talk numbers... If you purchase directly from The Paris Pass website you're looking at €244 (6 days) plus €133 (an additional 2 days) for a total of €377 (8 days) per adult. With today's rates, that is almost $440 USD for each. Yikes! Again, Aleks and I don't like to pay full price for anything so we bought them on eBay! We got both of our passes for the same amount of days and the same perks for a total of $300 USD. 

Leave me any tips or suggestions for my next euro destination. I am looking forward to sharing more content with you.