Oh Paree! The city of lights, love and every girl’s dream. The first time my husband and I visited Paris together was magical and romantic. We did all the touristy stuff and spent an entire day in the champagne region with another couple, which was a blast. But our favorite memories are when we just strolled the streets of Paris without an agenda. We would peruse through the outdoor markets picking fresh ingredients and wine from different vendors and sitting at a park bench or on the grounds of the Champ de Mars, with the Eiffel Tower as our companion, having our little own French picnic. We felt like locals on those days and we vowed to be back some day. Well, that some day came sooner than expected, which is why I want to share with you how I scored tickets to Paris for $422! Crazy, right? The prices were so low, we decided to take the kids with us this time, which will be late this Summer.
Let me start by saying that I am subscribed to a gazillion travel sites. I have a slight obsession with not just travel, but finding the best deals in travel and reading tips on travel. That being said, the number one tool, and your new best friend is Google Flights. To find the best prices using this tool requires having flexible dates though.
Here’s how it works; first, enter your departure city and the city of your destination. Then, enter random dates around the time you want to travel and click on the little calendar icon in the dates field. When the calendar appears you can click on the right arrow to look at each month and it will show you how much flights are on each day. Here’s the tricky part, the prices change depending on the amount of travel days you entered. So, if you know how many days you can travel, lets say its 8 days, enter any date of departure and the return date should be 8 days after. If you are more flexible on the number of days you can travel, then you would just have to play around with the number of travel days. See below for an example of what it looks like. I explain it more below.
How crazy low are these prices? As you can see, as an example, I entered random dates in September for a total of 8 travel days, you can input any dates and just scroll through the months. The calendar reflects what the price is departing on that date and returning 8 days later. Once you find the dates that best suit you and your budget, Google will tell you which airline to book through. So yes, you have the peace of mind that you are actually booking directly with the airline and not some random 3rd party site that doesn’t guarantee your ticket. Our tickets were purchased directly with Air France departing from Charlotte, NC. By booking directly with the airline it is easier to pick our seats and even our meals ahead of time!TIP: On Air France you can purchase 1st class meals on economy seats. More on… Click To Tweet
You can purchase the 1st class meals up to 90 days prior to your flight and you have to act quick because they only have a limited amount.
Another way to use Google Flights is to click on the map to the right side of the calendar. This is a great feature if you are flexible on your destination but have specific travel dates. The map will indicate how much is it to travel to practically any city in the world during those dates entered. If the price is not on the map, just click on the red dot and the prices will show on the left side of the screen.
Isn’t this just so cool? I’ve spent countless hours playing around with this. Now, I do have to say that prices change daily and sometimes only last a few hours. When I booked our tickets to Paris, the prices were literally only lasting 2 hours at a time. However, it seems like prices to many European destinations have been stably low for the past month or so, but who knows how long they will last. Also, if you’re brave enough, it has been reported that United Airlines have significantly dropped their prices amid the seemly weekly scandals. However, I looked into it and their prices actually seem to be higher at the moment, but it could depend on which site is reporting it or if they are having a good week or a bad one.
A subscription I do recommend too is Scott’s Cheap Flights. While I had already known about Google Flights, the reason why I even found out about the cheap tickets to Paris was because of this newsletter alert. Traveling to Europe was not on our radar at all but when I saw their email, we had to jump on it. His team will email you whenever there is a crazy cheap deal and explains how to book it using Google Flights or Momondo.com.
Momondo is a travel site that searches not just other major travel sites and airlines, but also all the little ones that no one knows about. I don’t always recommend using Momondo to book because some of those little websites that have the ‘crazy low prices’ don’t guarantee your ticket and you won’t know that until its too late. The way it works is that you will purchase your ticket through that particular site and then they purchase the ticket through the airline, but more likely than not that ‘super low price’ will disappear by the time that site goes to purchase it. Its a big risk and it happens a lot and they make it extremely difficult to refund your money, so they issue a credit and then you end up paying way more for your ticket. However, if that low price is advertised by a major airline or website that you trust, you can definitely go ahead and book. It is still a good site to search on.
I’m only subscribed to the Scott’s Cheap Flights free newsletter alert, which I get daily or every other day, so I get to see some amazing deals. They have a premium subscription with 3 different types of payment plans, which could definitely be worth it if you’re an avid traveler. I’ve found that the free subscription has been enough for me particularly since we’re not constantly traveling. I’ve also noticed that many online magazines like Conde Nast Traveler, and even non-travel ones that are major publications, use Scott’s Cheap Flights to report on flight deals.
Other tips to consider:
Open a credit card with a points system. Some airline credit cards may or may not have restrictions when it comes to booking with their points. Our favorite is American Express because they have their own travel site that books directly with the airlines and hotels. We charge absolutely everything on our Amex cards (both on one account). The points can rack up pretty quickly as long as you pay it off each month. We were able to use our points for all 4 of our flights to Paris this summer, so they’ve been practically free!
For a place to stay, I recommend AirBnb. Coincidentally, the first time we had ever heard of AirBnb was from the couple we hung out with during our Champagne Region Tour on our last trip to Paris. They were on their honeymoon from Australia and booked a fabulous apartment in the St. Germain area. Our first time using AirBnb was during a trip to Charleston, SC and we booked a house on the water. For our trip to Paris this summer, we booked an amazing two bedroom apartment in the 2nd Arrondissement for just $185/night, right around the corner from the Louvre, Notre Dame and Jardins de Tuileries, so you could say we will be staying at a prime location for much less than the cost of a tiny hotel room. And for a family of 4 a tiny hotel room won’t cut it. If you haven’t used Airbnb, here’s a $40 off offer on your first stay!
Paris is a very expensive city and dining out 3 times a day can really take a toll on your wallet, so renting an apartment can take a bit of the load off if you go to the nearest market and stock up on breakfast items and dining in a couple of nights. This actually gets me excited because I see this as an opportunity to learn and be creative in the kitchen. I can just see myself asking shop owners at the market for their favorite recipes and hopefully recreating them.
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you book a trip abroad using my tips, please let me know! I love hearing these types of stories.
Do you have any tips on traveling on a budget? Please share!
This post is NOT sponsored by Google Flights, Scott’s Cheap Flights, Air France, Amex or AirBnb. These are all tips from my own experience that I wanted to share.