Tips On Planning A Budget-Family-Vacation to France
France is a dream destination for many families, with its rich culture, stunning scenery, and delicious food. However, the cost of travel and accommodation can often make it seem out of reach for families on a budget. Fortunately, with a little bit of planning and some savvy tips, it's possible to have an amazing family vacation in France without breaking the bank. In this blog, we'll explore some of the best tips for budget family travel to France.
1. Choose your destination wisely
France has no shortage of unique destinations, from the bustling city of Paris to the charming villages of Provence. However, some destinations are more expensive than others, so it's important to choose wisely when planning a budget-friendly family vacation. For example, while Paris may be a must-visit destination, it's also one of the most expensive cities in France. Instead, consider visiting smaller cities like Strasbourg or Nantes, which are just as charming but offer more affordable accommodation and dining options.
2. Travel off-season
Another great way to save money on a family trip to France is to travel off-season. Summer is the peak travel season in France, which means prices for flights, accommodation, and attractions are at their highest. However, traveling in the shoulder season (spring or fall) can offer significant savings, as prices tend to be lower and crowds are smaller. Plus, the weather is still pleasant in many parts of France during the shoulder season, making it a great time to explore the country.
3. Consider alternative accommodation options
When it comes to family travel, traditional hotel rooms can quickly add up, especially if you need multiple rooms to accommodate everyone. Instead, consider alternative accommodation options like vacation rentals, hostels, or camping. Vacation rentals can be an excellent option for families, as they often offer more space and the ability to cook your meals, which can help save on dining costs. Hostels are also a budget-friendly option; many now offer families private rooms. Finally, camping can be a fun and affordable way to experience the beauty of the French countryside.
4. Take advantage of free activities
France is full of extraordinary cultural and historical attractions, many of which come with a hefty admission fee. However, there are also plenty of free activities that can be just as enjoyable. For example, many museums and attractions offer free admission on certain days or hours. Additionally, simply walking around and exploring the streets and parks of a city can be a great way to experience the local culture without spending a dime. Finally, remember to take advantage of free events and festivals often held throughout the year in many cities and towns.
5. Cook your meals
One of the most significant expenses of any family vacation is dining out. However, by cooking your meals, you can significantly reduce this cost. This is easy to do if you're staying in a vacation rental, as most rentals come with a kitchen. Even if you're staying in a hotel, you can still save money by packing a picnic lunch or dinner to enjoy in a park or other outdoor space. And, of course, remember to indulge in some of the amazing local markets and bakeries, where you can find fresh, delicious ingredients for your home-cooked meals.
6. Use public transportation
Renting a car in France can be expensive, especially if you're traveling with a large group. Instead, consider using public transportation to get around. France has an extensive train and bus network that can take you just about anywhere you want to go. Additionally, many cities have excellent public transportation systems, including buses, trams, and metros. Not only is public transportation more affordable than renting a car, but it can also be a fun and convenient way to explore a new city.
7. Choose the right time of the Year
The time of year you choose to travel to France can significantly impact your trip's cost. The peak tourist season in France is from June to August, when prices for everything from flights to hotels to restaurants are at their highest. Plan your trip during the shoulder seasons of spring (April and May) or fall (September and October), when prices are typically lower and crowds are smaller. Not only will you save money on your trip, but you will also have a more authentic experience of French life, as you will be traveling during a less touristy time of year.
8. Keep the little ones on the Les enfant menu
In France, keeping kids on the "menu enfant" or kids menu offers several benefits for families. The menu enfant is usually priced lower than regular menu items, making it a more affordable option for families. This is important because it allows families to enjoy dining out together without breaking the bank. Additionally, the menu enfant offers portion sizes that are appropriate for children, which means less food waste and less temptation for children to overeat. This can help children develop healthy eating habits and avoid obesity or other health problems related to overeating.
Furthermore, the menu enfant often includes various options to choose from, which can help children expand their palate and try new foods. This can help promote a love of food and a willingness to try new things. Finally, the menu enfant is a convenient option for parents, as it offers a quick and easy way to feed their children when dining out. It can also help prevent the stress of trying to find something their children will eat, especially when traveling in an unfamiliar area. Overall, keeping kids on the menu enfant in France can offer a number of benefits for families, including affordability, age-appropriate portion sizes, variety, and convenience. It can help make dining out a more enjoyable and stress-free experience for both parents and children and promote healthy eating habits from a young age
9. Savor the flavor of a French wine without breaking the bank
Tasting French wines is a must-do on your vacation, but it doesn't have to be expensive. You can purchase wine directly from the producer and sample a few vintages without the obligation to buy. Plus, the cost of wine in France is significantly lower than in most other countries. You can find a list of wine estates, cellars, and cooperatives at tourist offices and wine houses in significant towns in wine-producing areas. Supermarkets also offer a wide variety of delicious French wines at a fraction of the cost.
10. Favor the Train
France boasts an extensive and easy-to-navigate train system that offers affordable options for travelers. You can traverse the network without breaking the bank by utilizing rail passes and opting for slower intercity services. However, it's essential to remember that the national rail company SNCF's cheapest tickets, known as Prem's, are non-refundable.
Prem's tickets are the most heavily discounted option and can be purchased online, at ticket windows, and from ticket machines. Look for the "100% Prem's" deal, available from Thursday evening to Monday night, perfect for last-minute weekend travel. Saturday-return Prem's tickets are ideal for those seeking to return on a Saturday, while three-month Prem's tickets can be reserved up to 90 days in advance. It's important to note that Prem's tickets cannot be refunded or changed.
For cheap intercity travel, consider booking Intercits 100% eco tickets, which are available three months in advance up until the day of departure. These tickets offer affordable fares between any stops in any direction on four main lines, including Paris Toulouse, Paris-Bordeaux, Paris-Nantes, and Paris-Strasbourg. A single food can cost between $16.00 and $37.39. While high-speed trains like the TGV are the most expensive option, you can still secure super-discounted tickets by booking well in advance or taking advantage of promotional offers.
In conclusion, planning a budget-friendly family vacation to France is possible with little research and preparation. By setting a budget, traveling in the off-season, considering alternative accommodations, booking in advance, using public transportation, planning your meals, and researching free activities, you can experience the beauty and culture of France without breaking the bank. Bon voyage! Keep reading leisure.com for more inputs and ideas on saving tips on travel, and much more.
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