My 5 Ways to Save in Paris
For as long as I could remember I’d always wanted to visit Paris. Although, like so many others, finances often got in the way. When I lived on the west coast and was a fresh-faced still in college 20 something, I experienced the harsh realities of the 2008 “Great Recession”. The opportunity to study aboard was an option if I took out loans to do so, but seeing how so many others fell during the recession I took a hard pass on any extra’s in life. When I did have the money to vacation it was done with cash I had saved. That time I went to Costa Rica was done with mostly cash and one travel credit card I paid off as soon as I could.
The United States has over 325 million people and only 36 percent of Americans have passports according to the State Department. This is probably for a multitude of reasons but I think for some people, people like me, it’s monetary. Until I was 26 or 27 (I really can’t remember) the only country outside the US I had been to was Canada. I held off my dream of backpacking Europe or living aboard in my 20’s simply because of money. I already had student loan debt and the last thing I wanted to do was amass anything extra.
Now, that’s the way I did things which means there are plenty of people out there that created opportunities for themselves and didn’t end up under a mountain of debt. Those people, I wish I knew them back then…haha. I’m precluding this post with this story because I am hoping these 5 ways to save may help you rethink travel. Travel doesn’t mean you have to rent a car every place that go. Or pay an arm and a leg to be on an overpacked tour bus. Or eat out for every meal every day. Just rethink even the smallest of things and you may find that you can save a little more and be a lot more at ease.
Walk everywhere. Or as much as you can. It’s free to look like a total tourist in one of the most visited cities in the world. It’s FREE! Who wants to spend their time on a crowded bus with more selfie-sticks and berets than a boulangerie has croissants? Not me and not you. Enjoy the uniform Haussmannian architecture, the 17th-century leaning buildings, and the many many beautiful bustling markets. Slow down and take it all in.
The metro is a wonderfully efficient way to get around. If the locals use it every day then as a tourist we can too. Study the metro before-hand and use the Paris Metro Offline App.
Tip: Mind your belongings. Be smart and keep an eye on your things including your phone when you enter the metro. Put your phone away and zip your bags.
Plan one major thing a day. The Effiel Tower, The Louvre Museum, and Sacré Coeur are just not a good idea for a Wednesday itinerary. Really, just don’t do this. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to see all three things during your visit pick one. People may say the Effiel Tower isn’t worth it and I get it, but if your dream is to see it, make that your one big thing for the day and do it.
Tip: A great view of the city that includes the Effiel Tower can be seen from the Arc de Triumph. Skip the lines to get you up there faster and the view is exceptional!
If you have the option to cook during your visit it’s a wonderful way to have a new experience in another country and culture. If you don’t you can still grab snacks in the form of local meats, cheeses, a nice bottle of wine or sparkling something. Wandering around a neighborhood marché will give you a unique visitors perspective.
France is an incredible culinary delight and grocery shopping is a wonderful way to learn about the culture. Gather yourself a picnic and sit in the Luxemburg Garden. Enjoy your delectables while you people watch. Or hang out on the Seine River. It may not seem like much of a savings but it’s more about doing slower simple things. Slowing down may seem hard in a place as stimulating as Paris, but it’s actually not. Force yourself to and you will be justly rewarded. Appreciate the local culture by slowing down and taking it all in.
Skip the lines! If frequent travel is what you do then this is something you already know. For those that don’t, I have two pieces of information for you. First, invest in skip the line tickets at major attractions. It is worth it. You don’t want to be the person that stands in line at the catacombs all day only to be told, “sorry rain check…come back tomorrow”, it’s worth the sanity you will have in the end.
Second, and this is the most important, please know that no matter what tickets you buy, skip the lines or not, there will still be lines. In 2018 some attractions like the Effiel Tower officially have two security checkpoints. One is managed at a federal level. Think of an airport security check. The other is inside after you’ve purchased your tickets and before you head up the famous structure. It is not worth it to get upset because security measurements are put in place. You are not going to change this by having an outburst in line, so learn the rules and respect them. Your trip will go much smoother. Plus making a dramatic anger filled scene will surely end poorly. Just relax.
Hopefully, these tips help you save on money, time, and sanity. Most important get out there and travel!