How I Took a Trip to Paris for Under $500


I recently took a trip to Paris for under $500 dollars. Considering that the average week-long trip to Europe costs around $2,000 per person I was really happy to cut costs by about 75%. I'm going to share what I did to stay WAY budget friendly for this specific trip as will as share more tips in general for how I save money for traveling. 

Cross reference multiple third party booking sites in addition to airline websites themselves. And as your searching, clear your history! Otherwise, sites use cookies to track the flights your interested in and boost prices. This is how I found my $175 flight from LAX to CDG on Norwegian Air. 

Flexible Dates
You will save so much on airfare if you don't have a particular date for travel in mind.This worked for me because I was willing to travel mid week and was fine with missing a few classes. Many booking sites (like Student Universe) have a calendar feature where you view the cheapest days of the month to travel specific to your destination. 

Extra Airline Purchases
Do not do any of the add-on purchases. Most discount airlines make up for their cheap prices in charging for meals, drinks, checking luggage, and reserving a seat. Make peace with getting a middle seat, bring a meal and snacks on the plane, and pack  a carry on instead of checking a bag. 

Travel Alone
Obviously the less people, the lower the cost. But another perk of traveling alone is how streamlined the process with transportation can be. For example, its easy to take a bag on the metro by yourself, whereas with a big group and lots of luggage you have to book a car service. 

I spent no money on accommodations because I stayed with my best friend who was studying abroad! Staying with local family or friends is always best since it's completely free, but if that isn't an option, hostels or Airbnbs will always be cheaper than hotels.

Bring Your Own Food
I am such a foodie and think there is so much value in having a great dining experience. BUT, not every meal has to be out to still properly experience the city. Your first stop should be at a grocery store to buy the basics- cereal, milk, coffee, snacks. If you have all of your breakfasts and some lunches and dinners in, you will save so. much. money.

Walk around. Window Shop. Take pictures.
This is kind of self explanatory, but making memories is free. You don't need to spend money on expensive tours, souvenirs, etc to have a GREAT time.

Student Discounts
It never hurts to ask if museums, tours, and even restaurants. You'd be surprised how many places in the US and abroad want to help students out. For example, I really wanted to visit Musée de l'Orangerie and all I had to do was provide my ID to get a heavily discounted museum pass. 

The little ways you can save money while traveling are so important and can add up big time, but obviously your biggest cost is typically going to be airfare. I feel like most people just settle for international flights costing $1,000+, which is so not the case! If you are willing to be flexible and do some serious sleuthing, a little persistence will save you tons of money. Keeping in mind that I traveled during one of the most affordable times of the year( midweek in April) and was staying for free with a friend, this goes to show that traveling to Europe under $500 can be done! As my friend and personal finance guru Natalie says, being financially transparent can only help yourself and others! Below is my exact spending for the trip: 

In total I spent: 
$175 Flight to Paris 
$200 Flight to LAX 
$47 Five-day Metro Pass 
$8 Museum Pass 
$65 Food and Groceries 

Total: $495 

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  1. Oh my gosh! What a good deal! Norwegian is how I was able to go to Paris too!

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