Europe, France, Travel

Trip Planning: France and Italy Part 3

In the last few weeks since the last posting, I’ve booked two hotels and one little flight!

First, is the hotel in Paris; Since I’ll be in Paris by myself, I decided to stay in a safer area and booked the room for two people just in case my friend can make it to Paris. I looked around on several websites, and I decided to go with Best Western Le Patio Saint Antoine. It’s very close to Nation station, I already have Best Western membership so I get my points, and I also wanted to be not too far from la Seine. Price wasn’t too bad, around $230 for two nights. More information about the hotel can be found here –> TripAdvisor’s review on Best Western Le Patio Saint Antoine

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The second hotel is Hotel Wilson in Nice. For four nights, we paid € 276, which is about $380 CAD. Gosh, I hate seeing Euro going up !! Anyhow, it’s less than $50 per person per night so we thought it was a good deal. It’s not too far from the train station, and it’s only a few minutes walk from Promenade des Anglais. We always stayed at hostels last year except in Salzburg, but this year it seems like hostels cost as much as hotels, so we are trying to find hotels with good deals. Nonetheless, we both love the atmosphere of hostels so we are thinking of finding a hostel for Florence, maybe. For more information on Hotel Wilson –> TripAdvisor’s review on Hotel Wilson

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The last purchase of last week is my flight from Paris to Nice. I’m leaving from Paris’ Orly airport in the early afternoon, and will arrive at Nice airport. My friend will be arriving from Budapest to Nice around the same time, so we can probably cab together for about 15 minutes. This flight was with Air France.

 

I’m so excited to see our plan slowly coming together! Gosh, I just can’t wait until summer time and get out of Vancouver for two and a half weeks!!

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Europe, France, Italy, Travel

Trip Planning: France and Italy Part 2

I’ve booked my flight tickets!!

..well, actually three days ago. I’ve been busy at work and outside of work so finally I get to write this posting. Anywho, As I always do, I’ve been researching like crazy and keeping track of the price trend. I had two options for my flights:
1. Round trip from Vancouver to Paris
2. Two separate trips, Vancouver to Paris and Milan to Vancouver

First I only thought of option 1 since Paris/London/Frankfurt are the cheaper options to fly to Europe from Vancouver. And for the past few weeks, prices were around $1200~$1300 for the round trip. And the option 2 was also around $1300~$1400. I know the trip is not happening for another four months, and for my last trip last year I only got the tickets about eight weeks before the trip. Nonetheless that was during low season (January-February) and I was flying from and to United States (from New York to Prague, from Paris to Seattle). So when I was searching for my ticket for this year’s trip I decided to go on the hunt earlier since July is very high season. Also I already got my vacation approved, so there was nothing that’d stop me from getting my tickets.

I was tracking the price trend for the past few weeks on various websites – Momondo, Bookingbuddy, StudentUniverse, and I also asked for a quote from Flight centre.

  • Momondo: Very user friendly UX, searches different European websites which tend to offer lower prices for tickets in Europe. But one downfall is that since they search up on European websites, some of those websites offer the price in Euros, or British Pounds. Therefore depending on the exchange rate the price might differ from what you saw on Momondo.
  • Bookingbuddy: It also combines many website searches into one. The usual websites are Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, CheapOair, etc. Shows you the correct US/CAD price.
  • StudentUniverse: Great website for students or people under 26. I found out about this website the year before last year when I was researching for my tickets to Europe and since I was a student I was looking to see if I can get some perks of being a student. It feels like it’s either hit or miss for StudentUniverse, because most of the times the prices offered are little more expensive than what you can find elsewhere; but if you are lucky (like I was the year before last year AND this year) you can find some great prices. However, I’m not sure if they changed the policy or not, you need to prove that you are a student by sending them a screen capture of your logged in page on your college website.
  • Flight centre: This one, also is a hit or miss. They got me an amazing price for my flights from/to Hong Kong for my exchange. Everywhere I searched I only could find $1900 and above, but they were able to find it for $1300. I was flabbergasted and have been going back constantly for quotes for all my trips, but since then I was always able to find better price than them. And when they say they’ll ‘beat the lowest price’, they mean it by a dollar and $20 credit for your next booking with them. But quite honestly, I was able to find prices that are much lower than what they offered and I didn’t want to bother going through them for $21 in savings. And some consultants are just not too nice 😦

As I was keeping track of the price trend, there was one day last week when I could get the option 2 flights, with KLM, for under $1300 on StudentUniverse (This definitely was another hit by StudentUniverse). That day the option 1 flights were also around $1300 but for option 1 I had to get another flight from Milan to Paris. So when I found that price on StudentUniverse, I just got my credit card and purchased it. It only stops once in Amsterdam, and I’ve heard that their airport is one of the best in Europe so I wouldn’t mind kicking around at the airport for a couple of hours. And the greatest thing is, when I checked the prices yesterday, the exact same tickets now – same airline, same time, same stops – are now over $2000! (I usually keep checking prices even after I purchase my tickets to see if I was smart or not). I’m usually good with purchasing the ticket at the right time, but since I paid $500 for what used to be $350 on my flights to Austin next month, I was determined to not make that mistake again.

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So… that’s my two pennies on booking tickets online. I guess it’s going to have to be a nickel from now since Bank of Canada has gotten rid of pennies! hahahaha 😛

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