I’m going to share some “tricks of the trade”. When you book that vacation to one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, France –specifically Provence and Paris, there are many things professionals think of that you don’t consider. So, to get the most out of that “trip of a lifetime” to one of those “must see” places, see below for special tips from Bliss Travels. They could save you more than $1,000, not to mention give you peace of mind.
FIVE FINANCIAL THINGS TO CONSIDER
Remember the added costs.Look at what’s included and not included.
Sometimes people decide to book their own trips -sort of a la carte — so that they can do exactly what they want and also “get a better deal”. Sometimes, people use search engines or decide to book through someone –whether it’s a huge clearinghouse or a small boutique company. No matter what you decide don’t forget to include (or ask if THEY include):
1. Train tickets to Provence (from Paris or elsewhere). (The best train deals are found in French on French websites and in France itself. You won’t find them on sites here.)
2. Transfers to get you to the Paris train station and back -whether you want a private car, will take a cab or prefer to navigate the subway. (Time, stress, and money are all considerations)
3. A last night in a Paris hotel. Special tip: Most trains from Provence into Paris do not arrive in time for you to take your flight home to the US the same day. Many large internet travel sellers don’t tell you this. After you book, you find you’ll need train tickets, extra hotel nights, transfers….So the “deal” wasn’t all that great once you discovered the “extras”.
4. Ground transportation while in Provence. There are no trains in the Luberon, and almost none in the Cote du Rhone. Anyway, the most beautiful villages, sought after vineyards, and stunning coast line are not (for the most part) on the direct train route. Cars are very expensive. Roads are unmarked (except highways) AND it can cost more than 150 dollars to fill a tank of gas in a large rental car. Major roads have very expensive tolls –really. It’s not uncommon to pay 20 euros/30 dollars for a toll. Figure this as you budget or compare travel packages.
5. While most people do remember they have food costs, they often forget they are dealing with an exchange rate –so multiply your budget by 1.4 (or so) to get the amount of dollars you will really need so that you don’t go over your budget. If you’re buying a package, make sure to find out what meals are included, and what type of meal (is it a sandwich and a bottle of water or is it a 3 course meal with wines and coffee…)? Whether you do it yourself or book an all inclusive trip, it’s a nice balance to have one “big meal” –the traditional 3 courses with wine, and then shop the markets for that “other” meal. Not only does it “balance the budget”, it’s a great way to try the local fare and enjoy the bounty that is Provence!
There are more tips, and I’m happy to answer questions too (firstname.lastname@example.org) , but this should get you thinking realistically about your trip costs and better able to compare “apples to apples” as the saying goes.
FOUR VACATION TIPS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR ENJOYMENT
1. Make sure you situate yourself in a convenient place, one, hopefully, that’s beautiful, centrally located, but also authentic and not a “tourist trap”. Go for the lesser publicized places.
2. Pack light. Rooms are small. Cars are small. Travel is easier –especially train travel –if you can just wheel a little case through the station instead of wrestling with tons of things you don’t need. Hint: pack a folding travel bag like a Longchamps bag in your case. That way, if you do buy things to take home it’s no trouble.
3. Don’t move around too much. If you are taking a typical 8-9 night trip –your first night is on the plane. Your last night is in Paris (or elsewhere) so that you are there in time to get that (typically) morning flight home. That gives you 6-7 nights. Stay in 1-2 places. One for 4-5 nights, the other for 2 nights. It gives you variety without hassle. And, it cuts down on endless day trips -which, if you’re doing it yourself, can be very tiring.
4. Consider booking at least part of your trip (the part not in a large city) with a (boutique –not tour bus size) all inclusive company so you don’t have to navigate roads, take tons of time figuring out what to do and where to go, and so you can just relax and have somebody there to help you make the most of your vacation time! (It also gives you the added budgetary advantage of knowing exactly what your costs are –as long as you’ve done your homework above.)
BUT if you do book with someone– make sure you will not be herded around with a big group, that you are not staying so far away from things like a village or town center that you are held captive by the groups’ schedule, and that you find someone who will listen to your specific interests and ideas when planning. Find someone that will allow you to have a flexible schedule, and as much independent time as you want.
And, most of all, Bon Voyage! We wish you a Blissful vacation!