/How-To: Trip Planning – True Budget
Flights Hotels Budget

How-To: Trip Planning – True Budget

Now that we have picked our flights, and we have a rough idea on where we stand, it’s time to do our true budget.

Welcome to Part 3 of Trip Planning. In this article we will explain our third step into planning our next vacation. We have already selected our destination, and have chosen 2 similarly priced flights to Paris, France. It’s now time to pin point which flight is more beneficial for our needs and with a better value.

Once we have made a decision on what flight we choose, we will choose our hotel and decide if a rental car will be required for our next adventure.

Flights Comparison

Out of the 2 flights we selected, there are still multiple options we need to consider. Baggage, meals, seat selection, etc. All these can come with at an extra cost, so it is good to compare and contrast and to see which one is a better deal. Thankfully, the 2 flights we chose both operate a non-stop route, so our flight length is identical. There are other things to consider like; time, aircraft, comfort, etc.

I like to break things down as much as possible before making a purchase. Let’s start by comparing our flights.

Air France

  • Departure Time From LAX: 3:30PM, Arrival at CDG 11:15AM (Next Day)
  • Return Time From CDG: 10:20AM, Arrival at LAX 1:05PM (Same Day)
  • Aircraft: Airbus A380-800 For Departure and Return
  • Meals: Included in Price
  • Baggage: $60 Per bag, per flight.
  • Seat Selection: Available for Purchase, $28
  • Total Price with (1) Baggage: $1271.26, Total Price without Baggage: $1151.26


  • Departure Time From LAX: 7:00PM, Arrival at CDG 2:25PM (Next Day)
  • Return Time From CDG: 2:30PM, Arrival at LAX 7:00PM (Same Day)
  • Aircraft: 787 Dreamliner for Departure and Return
  • Meals: Not Included, Available for Purchase or Upgrade to LowFare+
  • Baggage: Not Included or upgrade fare to LowFare+
  • Seat Selection: Not included, Available for purchase or upgrade fare to LowFare+
  • Total Price for LowFare+: $1219.60, Total Price for LowFare $859.60

Now we’ll break down each individual line and see what is more beneficial for our situation.

Departure/Arrival Time and Return

  • Air France time schedule benefits us at an early arrival on Friday morning in Paris. But it also means taking at least a half day off on departure day and has an early time slot return.
  • Norwegian time schedule has a later arrival but there is no need to call off work on our departure day, we also benefit from a later return.
  • Total time Spent in Paris Assuming No Delays
    • Air France = 4 days, 23 Hours
    • Norwegian = 5 Days, 0 Hours
  • As you can see, there is no major difference in time spent at our destination.


  • Air France A380-800
  • Norwegian 787
  • Both of these aircraft are outstanding and unless you are avgeek it would not make a difference.

Meals, Baggage and Seats

  • If you can make your 5 day trip on hand luggage, Norwegian is the best choice.
    Buy a small snack/meal prior to the flight to save even more money. Seat selection is up to your discretion, they rarely separate grouped tickets but it is not guaranteed.
  • Even then, if you need 1 checked luggage you can always pay the additional fee of $35 per flight, $70 Round trip. For a total of $929.60. Still much cheaper than Air France!

Verdict – We have chosen Norwegian as our best option with 1 baggage allowance. It has favorable time schedule and it is cheaper than our second option. Remember to purchase additional baggage online as it is much cheaper than at the airport.

  • Our True Flight Budget is $929.60


Now that we have selected our flight, our remaining rough budget is $870.40. With this amount we should be able to book our stay in a 3-Star hotel and decide if we need a rental car. Let’s quickly go into our trusty search engine, Skyscanner

Our Check-In Date is one day after our departure. Our Check Out date is the same as our departure.

Option #1: Near train station, No need for Rental Car. Centrally Located
                         Avalon Hotel Paris Gare du Nord – $345.18

Option #2: Outskirts of Paris, Rental Car Needed.
                        A.R.T HOTEL PARIS EST – $251.45
                        Rental Car Mini – $119

Already at $370 and we have not added fuel, parking and insurance cost. Unless you are driving out of Paris this option is too expensive and not worth it.

Verdict – We have chosen Option #1 Avalon Hotel Paris Gare du Nord as our accommodation. It is centrally located and within blocks of the train station that we can take directly from the Airport.

  • Our True Hotel Budget is $345.18

We would need to add transportation costs from CDG to Gare Du Nord $10 per ticket, we would need a total of 4 tickets. Totaling $40

We now have $525.22 remaining from our rough budget. We will utilize this in our next part of this series for our itinerary and miscellaneous expenses. Up until this point, we have flights to Paris, Hotel and transportation for $1274.78

Stay tuned for the next article, we’re we will go over our itinerary, miscellaneous expenses and complete our budget.