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The Broke Traveler’s Guide: How to Do Paris for a Week for Less than $1,000 (and that includes airfare!)

If you’ve been dying to see Paris, but keep putting it off because you’re broke, I’ve got good news for you. It is totally possible to enjoy a full week in Paris for under $1,000, and that includes airfare. Seriously! It can be done! Don’t put off your dreams due to a tight budget. If you hit the jackpot and make big money later, you can always go back and do the luxury tour thing, but don’t cheat yourself into believing it won’t be worthwhile on a tight budget. (Click for full-size image)

Blue Tidal Wave - Paris for under $1000

Let’s Break it Down

  • Airfare – Sign up for travel alerts and deals with every online discount travel site you can find. Be willing to buy your tickets far in advance for the best rates. If you are flexible about the timing of your trip you can score a round trip ticket for under $600.
  • Accommodations – This is where you’re going to save. There is absolutely no reason to pay for a hotel when traveling to Paris. Check out couchsurfing.com and all of the other websites that list hosts eager to have travelers stay with them (for free!). If the idea scares you, relax. Choose someone whose profile shows lots of positive feedback from other travelers and you’ll be safe. If you’re a woman, you might be most comfortable choosing a woman or couple to stay with.
  • Food – You have just over $57 a day for food and sights. You will have to decide how to divide that up, but there are ways to see the sights for next to nothing (more on that in a minute) and food is key to the Paris experience. Consider allotting $37 for food each day and $20 for sights. Ask locals where to eat and you can get fantastic food cheaply. Grab a croissant and a latte for around $5 for breakfast (if you avoid the tourist cafes). Get a baguette and some cheap fillers to make your own meals on the go sometimes. If you do these two things, you will be able to afford several very nice meals during your stay.
  • Sightseeing – Walk as much as possible in order to save your money for the sights themselves. Spend a chunk of your sightseeing budget on a museum pass, which grants admission to over 60 attractions and can be purchased at different prices depending on how many days the pass lasts. You can also see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and take a boat tour on the Seine for under $20 each.

Plan meticulously, and you can afford to see as much as you can pack into the week, plus enjoy a wide range of delicious meals and snacks. Two big money savers are spending as little as possible on transportation, choosing to walk as much as possible, and not falling prey to tourist marketing. Photos are free souvenirs, and they’ll be the ones you end up valuing the most, anyway. If you stay under budget on any given day, carry over the remainder to the next day’s budget. This will allow you a few splurges. Do it right, and you’ll feel like you traveled opulently, despite your budget constraints.


photo credit: Anirudh Koul

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