On our Teddycan blog, we’ve written a lot about how to save on airfare and hotels. The tricky part to budgeting a trip (especially an international one), is avoiding all of the hidden expenses you run into once you get there. Living in Paris and being virtually poor has allowed me to become, how do you say…creative? in how I manage my finances. Learn from my mistakes and you won’t have to substitute your meals for vending machine kinder bars.
Scope out admission free museum days
Paris has a mind-boggling number of incredible art museums and historical attractions. Trying to see them all can become expensive very fast. However, if you plan accordingly, you can save a lot by hitting up the museums on admission-free days.
In Paris, the 1st Sunday of the month marks free admission to the following museums:
Skip the restaurant, and head to the park instead
Dining out in Paris is very chic, very delicious, and…very expensive. Instead of spending 20-30 euros on lunch and dinner every day, designate special nights for your fancy outings. On your “budget-friendly” afternoons, do it like a true Parisian and grab a sandwich at a local boulangerie, and find a nice spot on the luscious lawns of Champ de Mars.
Avoid tourist traps
For a more authentic experience, spend time exploring the lesser advertised areas of Paris. Food and shopping is much more affordable in these areas of town, and you’ll feel truly immersed in the magic that is Paris. I suggest spending some time at Canal Saint Martin: a trendy, non-touristy neighborhood that has some of the best restaurants in the city.
Be weary of high ATM transaction fees
While american credit cards are accepted at most places in France, be aware of ATM withdrawal frees as well as forigen usage fees. Though you don’t want to be running around with huge amounts of cash in your pockets, it might be useful to order euros from your bank before you leave.
Buy a metro pass booklet
I cannot stress this enough. Although the singular tickets for the metro seem inexpensive, (1.80 euro each) it adds up very quickly. It’s only good for one way, and the chances of you getting off at the wrong stop or having to switch trains is very likely as a tourist. Instead, purchase a week pass. I promise, it is worth it.
For the love of Bonaparte, do not order bottled or sparkling water
Your strategic lovely pastel scarf and high school french isn’t fooling anyone. The french are welcoming, but they are also very smart. When ordering at a restaurant, ask politely for “une carafe d’eu.” Their tap water is free and safe to drink. Unless you feel like shelling out an extra 4 euro for a Pellegrino, that’s your best bet.
Drink your coffee at the bar
It seems unusual, but sitting at the bar costs less than taking up a table. So if you’re merely stopping in for a coffee, sitting at the bar will be half the price. Also, you can take that as an opportunity to use some free-wifi, as we are saving money, remember?
All in all, Paris is a goregous city with plenty of opportunities. These opportunities range from being completely free to very pricy. By all means, let yourself have some fun with a couple chic nights out. However, you can really make the most of your trip (and your budget) by taking advantage of these free attractions.