Friends often ask me to plan their European vacations, and more specifically, their vacations in Paris. Why me? Being a native of Paris I have the inside scoop as to cheap hotels, how to get special hotel deals, and other cheap vacation tips. I can also tell you about travel weather and other useful information.
The first step consists of determining who exactly is coming on this trip, your destination, the length of the trip, and when you plan on going. Don’t forget the most important consideration- your budget. Believe me, a European tour with two-year-old toddlers is not the same as a honeymoon or even a vacation in London with just your life partner. Traveling with a baby may be easier than traveling with a bored teenager. There are ways to get their cooperation, however. Young people of all ages, including my 70 years old parents who enjoy “roughing it”, plan very economical European tours living in youth hotels.
The time of year makes a great deal of difference as well. Summer and mid-winter are the peak travel seasons, but those who are looking for resort deals along the Mediterranean shores or for ski resorts in the Alps might consider late spring or early autumn. Here retirees have a distinct advantage in planning for travel in Europe or any kind of travel for that matter since they can be more flexible.
Talking about time and dates, one of the easiest ways to save money is simply to fly out and return in the middle of the week. Airlines are getting crafty though, and “week-end” can mean Thursday to Monday! That leaves Tuesday and Wednesday as mid-week days. Still, if you do fly out on one of those days, it can save you a couple of hundred dollars.
Alright, so you’ve decided on your budget, the number of people at your party, the length of stay, and when you want to go. Here are a couple of scenarios.
First, let’s take a family of four – Mother, Father, 12-year-old, and 5-year-old. This is their first time so they don’t want to be too adventurous, yet they do want to have fun. The safe part of their trip is London since they speak English. The adventure is in Paris where most people speak French. So our family decides to spend a week in London, and a week in Paris during their children’s Spring Vacation which occurs in April, since that’s outside the peak travel time.
Another scenario could be two retired couples who decide to travel to Europe together. They’ve been there before and know their way around a bit. This group decides to fly to Paris, stay for a couple of days to see the sights and look up old friends, and then take a fast train down to the Mediterranean coast. There they’ll stay in Montpelier for a short visit before taking a cruise to the Greek Islands. Whether they opt for a luxury cruise or not, they will have a wonderful time at a very economical rate.
So you see, planning a European vacation is almost as much of a challenge as the vacation itself!
Veronique Merlin is the owner of VP-Travel
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