Trip Budgets

Accommodation Costs

Paris accommodations are on the expensive side. But you will be able to find comfortable and well-located lodgings for around $200 per night or possibly less. If you splurge and pay more for a balcony room, balance this out by gathering together your own breakfast of croissants and cheese, coffee and oranges, and enjoy breakfast in peace while sitting on that balcony. Then the extra 30 euros you spent on your superior room will be balanced by what you save eating your breakfasts while still wearing your slippers.

Planes & Trains Costs

Transportation costs of European travel are a main source of the “sticker shock.” The good news is that once you cross the Atlantic and arrive, you will be spending the same, or possibly less, than you would if you were traveling in the United States.

A reasonable transportation cost estimate for this trip would be around $1000 each for airfare flying from the US or Canada, and around $200 from Great Britain or continental Europe. This cost can be reduced, or possibly even eliminated, by using airline points.

Transportation & Museum Passes

You will know in advance of your trip what your transportation and entry fees will cost. In Paris, the Paris Museum Pass will save you money and also keep you out of the long entry lines! And you won’t need to think twice about visiting another museum or monument even when you are shot of time. The same is true in Florence with the Firenze Card. You will find the details of what passes to purchase on the trip page for each destination.

Daily Expense Account

Next come your per diem costs—your daily budget for meals, and everything else. To calculate these costs, use the philosophy of balancing splurges with economizing. Anticipate an average per diem cost of around $200 a day for two.

This daily allowance will work out well, and give you many fine options throughout your trip. Balance splurges with economies that are also fun, like shopping at the market and having a picnic. And do plan to purchase some “treasures” to take home. 

Estimated Total Trip Budget

The grand total, then, for your great 5-day trip to Paris is around $3950, or $1975 each. All this can be adjusted up and down, of course, according to your preferences, and depending on whether you use airline points or decide to extend your trip (extending your trip to 7 days will add around $400 each).


Estimated Trip Budget
Airfare  For 2 $2,000
Accommodations  For 5 nights $1,000
Per Diem  For 5 nights $  750
Travel Day Expenses   $ 200
 TOTAL: $3,950
 EACH: $1,975

How to Balance the Budget

If your budget gets skewed by a day of spending either too little or too much, rebalance it later by arranging meals that are priced in the opposite direction. Counterbalance splurges with economies. Even these economies will actually add to the overall fun and enjoyment of your trip. Conversely, counterbalance economies with splurges. All of this will work together to make your trip even more memorable, and certainly more affordable.

Your selection of accommodations in Paris may be a bit of a splurge, as you settle into a well-located spot near Notre Dame. 

Economize by eating royally at lunch, when prices are lower, and less expensively at dinner. And, since you are in France, where there are almost no bad wines, save money by ordering the “house wine” by the “pichet” (pitcher). And as you walk home in the evening, pick up wine by the bottle at the market at shockingly modest sums.

How to Build a Trip Account

As you set your intention to make this trip to Paris, shift your thinking to make travel a priority. Begin to gather together the money for your trip by turn each buying decision into a question.

  • Would I rather own the latest model car or go to Paris?
  • Do I really want my daily Starbucks? Or would I rather wait to splurge on café au lait, sitting outdoors in a French café?
  • How much do I really want or need to eat lunch out every day? Or could I pack my lunch twice a week, and bank my savings to dine at the restaurant on the Eiffel Tower?
  • Would I rather buy more of the “same old” clothes from catalogs or the Mall? Or would I relish the experience of doing my fashion shopping this year at an outdoor market in Paris or at a boutique or a vintage shop in the Marais?
  • Could I make a monthly stop by the Dollar Store to stock up on gift bags, Ziplocs, birthday cards, and hand soaps and add to my trip account the $3–$4 I save per item?
  • Are there any subscriptions I could live without, or that I didn’t even remember having?

These first few savings alone can add up to more than the $4,000 you will need for your trip, with enough left over to buy many treasures to bring home. Here are some estimates showing how these potential savings could add up.


 $ Saved

Per Year

Keep my car another year



Cut back catalog & Mall shopping



Skip Starbucks



Pack lunch twice a week



Monthly stop at Dollar Store



Cancel 2 monthly subscriptions