The Secrets of Planning a Trip to Paris with Kristina Long
1. It was VERY overwhelming at the very beginning, but I think there are some ways to try to make it not so overwhelming that helped me 🙂 I will say that because Paris was such a large city with so many options (& I had NO idea where anything was)…this process listed below took me about a month. (I did a similar thing with a trip to Washington DC…so overwhelming)
2. Decide where you are going and when…what cities and for how long. This might be determined by your flight, cost, how much time you have, wish lists, etc.
3. Research that city…a LOT (especially Paris). Collect info…what are the things to go see, what are the tips for those things. Read books (travel books like Rick Steves). Listen to podcasts (Join us in France). Look online (my favorite is Trip Advisor), there, you can search past posts about specific places and feel free to ask specific questions about things. Join Facebook groups that you might find and be referred to. Think about how you will collect this info…I chose a spiral binder. I just wrote everything in there.
4. During this process, talk to your travel companions about your research (maybe a couple of people do research) and start thinking about which things you are interested in seeing.
5. Then with the things you are interested in, you put all the info into a spreadsheet with relevant headers. I also did additional research on official websites for their specific info to add to this spreadsheet. For Paris, I chose hours, days closed on, cost to visit, best time to visit, visiting notes/tips, metro line, etc. (I attached my spreadsheet).
6. Once you have collected research and made a spreadsheet, I started to make an itinerary. I had a big map of the city and I started to think about places to visit that were close together, when things were closed, when is the best time to go visit things, what things needed a timed ticket, etc. All of your research will help you formulate a plan…this is actually a pretty fun part of the planning!
7. This is just a tentative itinerary because it will likely change…a lot :). Go over this with family and post it places to get input from people who have been to that city (trip advisor, facebook groups, even family friends).
8. I will say that while it was overwhelming, I really enjoyed researching the Paris part of our trip. After about a month “on Paris”, my husband said “you must move onto to something else…Paris is only one part of our trip!” LOL
9. Lastly, all of this planning WILL pay off. For example, during our trip…I had a great itinerary of our limited time in Paris to enjoy all the favorite things! We were scheduled to fly out of Barcelona at 12:30pm on Sunday and after spending 11 hours in the airport, we ended up not being able to catch a flight out until 8am the next day. Basically, my perfect plan (which started on Sunday afternoon, of course) was no more. So, since I had done so much research, we were able to literally hit the ground running with a new plan once we arrived in Paris. Sure, we missed some things…but since I felt like I knew Paris already, we were able to wing it, and quite successfully! It was actually kinda spontaneous and fun.
10. I would also like to share that with any trip we go on…throughout all the planning, I pray that God would go before us every step of the way. Let Him guide us before and during the trip…and give us patience when things go wrong..because they will 🙂
11. I also shared a few things with my family before the trip…
-Try to speak the language. Say hello, please and thank you in the language and SMILE!
-Be respectful of customs and how they do/don’t do things. Things will be different than at home and don’t complain about it.
-This has been a huge trip to plan, be grace-filled, thankful and flexible. Not everything will go as planned.
-There will be times when we won’t know where we are going, won’t know where we are going to eat, won’t know the language..and that’s okay…it’s part of travelling in a foreign country 🙂