Where will we go next? The Loire Valley in France! We have never been there before so we are really looking forward to it. The last 3 years we have planned trips to Ireland in March for 20-30 students on study abroad programs over spring break. This year, a colleague is taking students to Ireland and Greg and I are doing our own thing! We can’t wait! While we are there, our daughter and son-in-law will fly in from Copenhagen and meet us for this chateau and wine centric trip. We leave in 2 weeks. We are really excited!
So what kinds of Travel Planning Services are we implementing for our upcoming trip? I’ve been reading guidebooks on the Loire and making decisions on things we need to book before we leave. I’ve also been thinking about activities we can decide on once we get there, based on how we feel on any given day. It will be a quick trip to the Loire. We only have 9 days so we want to get the most from our time, while taking advantage of a chance to relax before the craziness of our last few months in Texas set in.
Travel Planning to France means Getting a Flight
Our first step was to book a flight. We have really only traveled business class across the pond one time, a long time ago. It was wonderful – but a bit of a fluke. I am normally a very budget minded person, knowing that the more I save on a trip, the more I can spend on the next one. This year, we found ourselves with a lot of frequent flyer miles on American Airlines and we decided to splurge and fly business class to Paris. I’m super excited about this! I know I can’t get used to it but I’m delighted to get to enjoy this luxury one more time. So I booked these flights on miles back in the summertime, knowing that the availability of flights using air miles becomes quite limited the closer you get to departure. You can book trips 330 days out, so getting an early start gives you the best chance of being able to use your miles. For us, using Advantage miles, you also have to be wary of a leg on British Airways, a partner with American. If you book the BA flight across the Atlantic, they will tack on hundreds of dollars in fees, negating the benefit of using the miles! So I unchecked that box on the American Airlines website when I was trying to find flights that would not charge a bunch in fees for what should be very inexpensive flights! We ended up paying $261 for 2 round trip business class tickets (and we spent a lot of miles – but this was the out of pocket cost for our tickets to France).
Trip Planning to France means Finding Transportation
Next – a rent car. I really like to use Kayak.com to check prices from multiple vendors with one search. It helps that we will be picking up and dropping off the car at the same location. We rented a car for 8 days. It’s a small car but big enough for 4 people and our bags and it is standard shift. Rental is through easyCar.com and total cost is $126. Now, we have to be careful not to get a parking or traffic ticket – because if that happens you pay the rental company for processing the paperwork and then you pay a hefty fine on top of that. No tickets, please! I am saying this from experience.....
Travel Planning to France means Finding Accommodations
We booked an apartment in Beaumont-en-Véron near Chinon (a great wine producing area) through AirBnB. I love using AirBnB; it makes us feel like locals when we have our own accommodations with a kitchen and a patio. We can feel like we live there, if only for a week. We are staying in a troglodyte house, a cave house, with a large garden, renovated for 4 people. Total cost for 7 nights: $921, or $131.57 per night for all 4 of us.
So far we’ve spent about $1300 for our flights, rent car and accommodations. Not bad! Next time I’ll tell you more about what we are actually planning to do while we are in France. Don’t worry – Greg is great about posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook so we’ll take you along with us as we travel to the Loire Valley in just a few weeks!
Remember, if you or someone you know would like help planning your own trip to France, Italy, Ireland or the rest of Europe, I would love to talk with you! You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you make your travel dreams come true!