One of the highlights of my year is my trip to Paris with my football team. We take part in a weekend-long tournament that usually involves a lot of singing, dancing, drinking, playing football and generally having a blast. I suppose this weekend could rightly be compared to Spring break, a hen/stag do, or other such lads/ladies on tour situation. Last year, my Paris trip was the straw before the straw that broke the camel’s back. I somehow managed to spend three or four hundred pounds more than I planned to and it had the most disastrous impact on my financial situation.
1. I shared an Airbnb apartment
I’ve had variations on where I stayed over the last few years but the goal has always been to spend as little as possible on accommodation because I usually only sleep there for a few hours. This year I knew that I wanted to minimise travel and eating out as much as I could so I split a 5 person apartment and paid £32 for the 2 night stay.
2. I tried to Eurostar snap then got the coach when that failed
Our tournament always coincides with Roland Garros (French Open) so getting Eurostar often works out expensive unless you commit to a train fairly early on. Lots of my mates booked their trains as far back as January. I love flexibility so when a friend told me about Eurostar snap and the prospect of a return ticket for £50, I was all over that idea. The only requirements were that one was flexible enough to discover what train they’d be booked on a couple of days before their trip and wait till three weeks before their trip to request a date.
Unfortunately for me, three weeks before our trip, the snap site went down and didn’t come back online until about 10 days before my trip. At this time the inbound date was no longer available and the cheapest outbound ticket was at 5.40am for £59. I booked that one and then a £35 coach ticket with Ouibus back. Although getting the coach is hella inconvenient if you’re time-poor, I don’t regret the decision I made. I felt guilty about dissuading my girlfriend from booking her ticket in January so covered the difference between the promised £50 fare and what we paid. All in all, I spent £116 on travel.
3. I limited eating out to dinner
Food is one of my biggest weaknesses – for both my waistline and my pocket – and I was really determined to keep spending in this area minimal. Staying in the Airbnb apartment with access to a fridge and kitchen meant that I could get some staples from the grocery stores – breakfast and sandwiches to fuel my Saturday – and only dine out with the team on both nights. Food for me only cost £81.46, and that includes spending on coffees, pastry, milk, tea, as well as breakfast on the ferry back.
4. I dialled back the boozing massively
Anyone who’s played for any casual British football team knows that boozing is one of the benefits of playing. These trips typically involve a lot of prosecco and lager on the train up, boozing on arrival and late into the night on Friday, boozing as soon as the matches finish on the Saturday and at dinner and drinks afterwards and post footy boozing on the final day with optional party boozing for those that stay on Sunday night. I travelled early so there was no thought of alcohol so early and I didn’t have a drink till I got to the bar around half 8 on Friday evening. Even then I kept the drinking to 2 beers at 4 euros each and called it a night at half 10 or so.
On Saturday, I stuck to the cheap beer at the pitches (2€, then €1 then totally free because they needed to get rid of them). I skipped alcohol at dinner and at the bar afterwards when we watched the Champions league game. Sunday, I had a couple of beers with the team as soon as we were done playing but skipped alcohol at dinner before we left. I reckon that I spent about €20-25 on alcohol in total.
5. I stayed close to the venue we’d spend the most time at
In the past, we’ve stayed closer to the city centre than the outskirts of Paris where the stadium is located. For some reason, even though this should normally work out cheaper, it usually doesn’t. We’d plan for a taxi from the airport or the train station to our accommodation, walking to registration and then to Le marais for the night out, and a metro to and from the stadium, then taxi/metro on departure. What usually happens is that we take additional taxis to/from the stadium and after a night out because we’re too lazy or too late to get the metro. The apartment this trip was a 10 minute walk from the stadium and we socialised in the vicinity of the stadium on Saturday night. In total, I spent £27.60 on transport.
I’d wanted to keep this trip under £300 if I could and I wound up spending £287.08. It’s a record low for Paris visits and I hope I can maintain this level of spending on subsequent trips.