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A $4,300 Family Vacation in Paris and Reykjavik

kids louvre

Last fall, my inbox teased me with a remarkable deal. Paris for $410 Roundtrip.



I clicked where the e-mail told me to click for further details. Amazingly, the deal offered lined up with time I had off from work and partially coincided with our boys’ spring break.

The flights were on Icelandair, an airline I’ve flown on a couple prior trips to Europe. As I have twice before, I took advantage of the free stopover option, extending our layover on the way home from a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Within an hour of receiving the e-mail, our family of four was booked for a trip to France and Iceland. After visiting Florida over spring break two of the last three years, embarking on a European vacation would be quite the departure for us.


Pre Flight Preparations


We wanted our boys to be excited about the trip, but also to understand that it wouldn’t be all about them or entirely for them, like a family vacation to Florida tends to be. Amazon Prime had some videos that highlighted our destinations, including a show specific to touring Paris with younger children, and we saw the highlights of Iceland in another.

Our local library had a book about Paris aimed squarely at the grade school crowd. A kind cousin sent the boys a care package that included a Mission Paris book that sent our boys on discovery missions at many of the major attractions throughout the city.

There were practical considerations. We had to apply for passports for the young ones with plenty of time to spare. One of their pictures was rejected for too much smiling of all things. The kid’s eight. He’s happy. Give me a break.

My wife and I also viewed Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris a second time, and borrowed tourist books on both Paris and Iceland from the library, and renewed them to take on the trip.

Our cell phones work worldwide on wifi, so we knew we could keep in touch without much trouble. The AirBNB apartments (get $40 towards your first booking) we rented were equipped with wifi, and the apartment in Paris had a washing machine, so we would be able to pack light.


How We Spent $500 a Day


This is a money blog with a side of travel, so I’ll be reporting on our trip from a perspective that focuses on the cost and value of our various adventures.

We vacation much in the same way that we live our lives. We don’t splurge often and don’t like to waste money, but we target our spending to get the most bang for our buck in the areas that matter to us most. To some people, that will be food, and it’s really easy to splurge on food in Paris and Reykjavik. Others like to pay for comfort and luxury in travel and accommodations.

We like food, but we’re not foodies, and we’re perfectly happy with three-star accommodations. We’re most interested in seeing the sites we want to see, snapping the photos I want to shoot, and making sure the boys get a rich cultural experience.


Kids Catacombs
boys & bones


I’ll break down our choices and costs by category:

  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Food
  • Drink
  • Experiences

That covers just about everything other than gifts we bought for friends and family back home, but I’m not gonna lie — that was just Icelandic beer and booze from the Keflavik duty free shop.


Leifur Nordic Saison Viking Red IPA




European capitals are typically easy to navigate by subway and train. Paris is no exception. We probably hopped on and off the subway 30 times and never waited more than four minutes. The express RER trains come a little less frequently, but zip you across town with fewer stops.

We actually took a taxi to our apartment when we arrived. We were sleep deprived after a red-eye and public transportation from ORLY seemed a bit complicated and would have cost just as much as the fixed cost of 35 Euro to Paris’ 4th arrondissement.


paris bastille canal


The morning of our first full day in Paris, we bought 3-day Visite passes for unlimited public transportation within zones 1-3 (we never left zone 1). We would have bought a 4-day pass, but they don’t offer that flavor. On the fourth day, we bought 1-day passes.

Day five, we bought the 5-zone pass on the RER train to Disneyland Paris and bought one-way tickets back. Day six, we bought one-way tickets to our departing airport, Charles de Gaulle, which, although further from the city than Orly, is an easy single train ride away. For four of us, it still cost just about as much as the taxi from Orly, though.

In Iceland, we rented a car. Gas, like everything else under the midnight sun, is quite expensive at nearly $8 a gallon, but we wanted to drive the Golden Circle and have transportation to and around Reykjavik, so the car was a no-brainer at under $60 a day for two days.




What about airport parking back home while we were away? I planned to park at a shuttle lot near the airport, but when we pulled up, it was full! We phoned a friend who lives reasonably close, and asked if we could park in the driveway. Thank you, friend!

I dropped the family off at the airport, parked at our friend’s house, jogged the 3.1 miles to the light rail transit stop, and joined my family at the airport shortly thereafter. I could have taken an Uber (I did on the reverse trip when we got home), but an impromptu 5k seemed like a good idea at the time.

I snapped this photo of geese walking on water with my phone along the route.



Total Transportation Costs:

  • Iceland Car Rental $113
  • Iceland Gas $50
  • Paris Taxi: $37
  • Paris Public Transport: $198
  • “Parking” = Uber + Light Rail: $13
  • Four Roundtrip Flights: $1,668
  • Total: $2,079




Paris and Reykjavik are known to be a couple of the world’s more expensive cities. A small hotel room in a central location in either city starts at $200 US and goes up from there.

Traveling as a family of four, we were not enthused at the thought of squeezing into a few hundred square feet, listening to our youngest snore (he was getting over a cold), looking for laundromats (or packing 3x as many clothes), and eating every meal out.


Airbnb to the rescue!


Our criteria for an apartment in both locations were specific. Two bedrooms. A kitchen. Within walking distance of the town center. And no more expensive than a hotel.

We were able to find a place in both cities that met all our criteria for about $160 a day, and we had quite a few places to choose from.


Paris Eiffel View
our view from the paris apartment


In Paris, we had a seventh-floor apartment with views of the Eiffel Tower, Parthenon, Notre Dame, and Sacre Couer. Within a block, we had a small grocer, a bakery, and a few small cafes. A few blocks further, we had metro stops and a supermarket. We were on the “Right Bank,” a block north of the River Seine. It was a great location.


Paris Airbnb
the boys’ room


The Icelandic apartment was a quirky setup in the basement of a home about a block away from the large pond known as Lake Tjörnin, and a few blocks south of downtown and the main shopping district along Laugavegur. There was a public swimming pool (these are a big deal in Iceland) within walking distance, but we chose to drive to a couple of better ones that were equipped with waterslides.


Reykjavik Airbnb
bonus points if you spot the boy


If you haven’t tried Airbnb before, I recommend it, and I can save you $40 if you sign up through this link. Be sure to read reviews and understand that you’re usually staying in someone’s place. Expect to see some personal effects, have a half-full pantry, and in Europe at least, there may not be a coffee maker, much to my wife’s chagrin.

Airbnb is a great way to find unique lodgings, like treehouses, houseboats, and Airstreams.


Total Lodging Costs:

  • Paris Airbnb $1,010
  • Iceland Airbnb $321
  • Total: $1,331


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There were no vegetables. My wife wants you all to know how I deprived her and our once-growing children of any vegetables.

I did pick up a salad mix once and bought some frozen cauliflower in Iceland, but compared to our normal diet, vegetables, like us, were on vacation.

As I stated, we’re not exactly foodies, and I’ve got more food aversions than I like to admit. We’ve also got American kids that eat like most American kids, so fine dining was not on our menu.

Our first evening in town, we sat down at an outdoor café where little English was spoken. We ordered the fixed price meal of the day, and a chicken quesadilla for the boys. I’m not sure what we ate — there was an appetizer that was cheese and tomato based, the main course had shrimp and some kind of food in a hollowed out squash, and a dessert that was the yummy love child of crème brulee and bread pudding.

After dinner, we went grocery shopping.


Crazy Horse Paris France
forgot the names. remembered romance.


Breakfast every day consisted of fruit, bread, and cheese. We picked up fresh baguettes daily and packed sandwiches with cheese and three or four kinds of meat (deli ham, prosciutto, salami, chorizo) to go. We generally had our dinners out, but sauteed a couple kinds of fish at home one evening in Paris.

In Iceland, on average, everything costs about double what you would expect to pay. By the time we were settled in our apartment, it was past dinnertime, and we somehow ended up at the mall. A plate of subpar Chinese food was $17 USD and a footlong sub with a drink was over $10 — and that was the daily special.


Chicken Game
“game over”


After looking over a few menus at the mall and downtown, we decided to do some grocery shopping. We somehow spent nearly $100 for two days worth of food. That included a nice big chunk of marinated salmon, more sandwich supplies, gelato, chips, crackers, cheeses, breakfast cereal, and four cans of a Redbull knockoff that was the bargain of the trip at 59 Icelandic króna (about $0.55) or half the price of a diet cola.




There was no coffee. I get nasty looks when I book a place that doesn’t have a machine where you push a button as you roll out of bed and have fresh coffee by the time you wipe the sleep from your eyes. I got nasty looks in two countries.

The French apartment had only instant coffee, and the Icelandic one had a malfunctioning French press (you’d think the French place would have had a French press, am I right?). My wife jerry-rigged a drip system and somehow survived. I get my fix from diet soda, which was not hard to come by in either destination.

There was beer. While on vacation, I crave good beer in the evening as much as she needs her morning java. The Carrefour Market in France was the best source for all our grocery needs, including €0.55  baguettes, and it was a superb beer stop. 33 cl bottles of Chimay and Duvel for ~ €1.50. Six packs of Leffe Triple and Hoegaarden for ~ €5.50 and €4.50. €3.00 to €4.00 bombers of IPA. Six evenings of quality “imports” set us back less than $40 USD.


royale with cheese
happy hour: royale with cheese


In heaven, there is no beer. In Iceland, there is no affordable beer. The first evening, I bought three singles for $13 and decided to save them for our last night. I bought a $29 six pack of an Icelandic Imperial Stout at the duty-free shop, which was actually a nearly 50% discount from the shelf price at Vínbúðin.


Total Food & Drink Costs:

  • Paris Restaurant & Snacks: $146
  • Paris Grocery & Drinks: $124
  • Iceland Restaurant: $25
  • Iceland Grocery & Duty Free Shop: $122
  • Total: $417




Experiences are where it’s at. There are plenty of great travel experiences that don’t cost a thing, but you can’t experience the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower without paying for the right to go up there.

There are probably ways to sneak into Paris’ catacombs, but we took the safe route, paid the price of admission, and waited the two hours in line. The bones had been waiting for us for centuries, so two hours seemed reasonable. That was the longest line by far that we experienced on the trip.


First Communion Notre Dame
notre dame: our son’s first communion


When you’ve got six days to explore a city like Paris with a rich history and a main attraction on every other block, you’ve got to pick and choose your experiences, and try to squeeze in at least a couple each day.


kids louvre
so much to see


Our whirlwind tour included The Louvre, aforementioned Eiffel Tower and Catacombs, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer, Opera Garnier, several other churches and historic buildings, numerous parks, playgrounds, and the happiest playground in Europe: Disneyland Paris and it’s neighbor, Walt Disney Studios.


looking at mona lisa

Our boys (6 & 8) impressed us with their stamina and relative patience. They loved the subway system and probably walked at least five miles a day. We were out of the apartment eight to ten hours a day and they were troopers, even in places that weren’t particularly exciting for them.

It helped that we had the Mission Paris book and the promise that if they earned enough points, we would take them someplace amazing on our last day. A place I referred to as “le church de Saint Mickey (pronounced Mi Kay)” They didn’t get the joke, which made for a wonderful surprise.


Disneyland Paris


Amazingly, four one-day passes to both parks only set us back $196. You couldn’t snag two one-park passes for that in the states.


In Iceland, we had grand plans to drive the Golden Circle which includes a continental divide, a geyser with the killer name Strokkur that spews hot water every five minutes, and a ginormous waterfall called Gullfoss.


Iceland Gullfoss
gullfoss from our 2007 trip


We stepped out at Þingvellir to see the place where the tectonic plates are spreading apart at the same speed our fingernails are growing (true story).


Þingvellir 2017


We stepped into 40 mph winds to be pelted in the face by small hunks of slushy wetness. We sprinted to the crowded visitors center and back to the car a minute later. I snapped one quick photo and recalled how lovely the place was when my wife (fiancee back then) and I visited in June nearly ten years ago.

We were less than halfway to the geyser and waterfall when the road started to look impassible with accumulating slush and blowing snow. I’m no stranger to driving in inclement weather, but when the axles and muffler start to forge a path through the wet packed snow, it’s time to turn around.


Þingvellir 2007


We regrouped, took a few hours stroll through town, made dinner, and hit up a neighborhood swimming pool.

These pools are all the rage in Iceland. You can’t pass high school without being a proficient swimmer, and the geothermal energy keeps these mostly outdoor waterparks cozy warm year round. This was my third two-day stopover in Iceland in fifteen years, and I made my third pilgrimage to Laugardalslaug that first evening.

We found an even better pool at Árbæjarlaug the second evening. The weather became atrocious by the end of our third hour there, but you haven’t lived if you haven’t walked from the sauna to the 42° to 44°  (107.6° to 111.2° F water) hot pot in a full-on blizzard.

Your blood is near boiling, your head and neck are at risk of hypothermia. On average, you’re just right.


Árbæjarlaug on a good day


Total Cost of Experiences & Admissions:

  • Paris Experiences: $428
  • Iceland Experiences: $38
  • Total: $466

The Grand Total


Cost of our European Vacation:

  • Transportation: $2,079
  • Lodging: $1331
  • Food & Drink: $417
  • Experiences: $466
  • Total: $4293


Altogether, this nine-day trip (which was essentially eight days in Europe plus travel time) cost us just under $4,300 or nearly $500 a day.

Extrapolated to a 365-day year, it would cost us $174,105 to live this way year-round, and that’s not accounting for any other fixed expenses. Of course, we wouldn’t choose to travel at this frenzied pace all year long.


How We Would Slow Travel Differently


With an early retirement feeling imminent, I view most vacations not so much as escapes, but as scouting missions. We see how our boys handle different environments and schedules (better than anticipated). We learn what it’s like to live and how much it might cost to be in these far-flung places.

reykjavik sidewalk
i’d rather meander

I find myself thinking about how I would do these trips differently if I had a month or two rather than a week or two. For example, I read with envy the detailed breakdown Justin @ Root of Good gave us for his upcoming European vacation. He’s planning nine weeks, 8 countries, and 14 cities with a budget of $10,000.

What would we do differently if we had 90 days instead of nine?

We would stay further from the city center, perhaps renting for a month at a time at less than half the cost.

We would do one big paid experience every two or three days instead of two or three a day, and would have time before and after to learn more about the museum / historical site / iconic tower.

We’d be more efficient with grocery shopping and meal planning.

We would have reloadable public transport cards and would pay for trips as needed.

Beer drinking would resemble our home pattern of maybe three nights a week and not eight.

Adopting a slow travel mindset, we could probably stay someplace five times as long for about double the cost of a one-week trip. The airfare is a fixed cost. We probably would not spend much more on admissions to attractions. We’d spend more on food and perhaps more on lodging, but certainly less on a per-night basis.


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Have you had an opportunity to slow travel? What’s your biggest travel splurge? Questions about traveling with kids? I’m happy to swap stories in the comments below.

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42 thoughts on “A $4,300 Family Vacation in Paris and Reykjavik”

  1. Pingback: 23 Days in Hawaii: Our Slow Travel Fail - Passive Income M.D.
  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. You lost me at “no coffee.” I will certainly not be visiting a place without coffee!!! 😉

    We’re working on a big trip to the Caribbean this winter. Can’t wait!!!!

    • Yeah, I bought one of those collapsible silicon drip coffee makers as a Mother’s Day Gift. Problem solved!


  4. Tell the better half of PoF, that a cheap pour over, is the gift of coffee addicts that works anywhere. $4 piece of plastic + no2 filters + ground coffee + tea kettle = nirvana. Although my pour over did get a bit damaged while hiking, go figure it did not like me dropping my 30lb pack on it. But it still works. Once it is completely broken I will upgrade to the fold-able camping models I have now seen that cost like $20.

  5. Looks like an incredible vacation, but boy does Iceland sound expensive! You’ve been there 3 times now, what’s the big draw that keeps pulling you back?

    • Good question, Mr. Tako.

      It is a beautiful place, and if you’re going to Europe via Icelandair anyway, it costs nothing to extend your “layover” to up to 7 days.

      I would love to go back for an extended stay sometime, but we’ll definitely want to plan ahead and budget for it appropriately. Summer / early fall would probably be the best times to go. Summer for mild weather (highs in the 50s, usually), fall for the northern lights.


  6. Hi PoF

    I travel more than 200,000 miles/year for my job, and one thing that is really important for me is coffee in the morning. I learned several years ago to BYO. Most places in the world do not have anything that remotely resembles American filter coffee, but they usually have the facility to make hot water (especially in China and other tea-drinking cultures, where you can find 200°F water at rest stops!). I used to bring an Aeropress in addition to an insulated cup and coffee, but lately I have been using a Melitta “Cup o’ Joe” pour over filter because it doesn’t weigh as much. Both solutions are inexpensive (about $20 for an Aeropress; only about $3.00 for the Melitta at my local grocery store). I grind beans at home, but on the road pre-ground coffee beats the pants off of instant. You can maintain domestic bliss for not a lot of money on the next trip.


  7. Interesting post, thank you. Our kids are much older, two are in college now and we spent 9 days in Iceland and Paris in 2015 on our way to other parts of Europe. We rented cars and did AirBnb away from Reykjavik and the flights were during the night so we spent 4 full days and only 3 nights in Iceland. But it was summer.
    I’m writing here to give you a different perspective. We did a 465-day trip around the world in five in 2012 by the time we got back the kids were 18, 15 and 13. Buying a grand total of 246 plane tickets for more than 400,000 miles, traveling 25,000 miles on the ground, and sleeping in 123 hotels and AirBnbs over 30 countries we managed to spend about $280 per day. But that was fast pace travel. Breaking down the costs for my trip I argued in February 2013 that a family of 4 (with two small kids) could easily do a year round the world trip on $50,000. Since then the dollar is between 20 and 40% stronger and the gas much cheaper( the gallon of gas in Australia was above $8!). It would take much less now. Moving from outpatient to inpatient, I make twice the money I was making before our trip, so if I would plan for something like that now my only concern would be that I would never run out of money and I would never come back 🙂

    • That’s amazing, Mihai!

      Essentially a $100,000 a year budget for a full-time traveling family of five. I think you’re right that it could be done for even less today, especially with two kids who are younger, like ours. Thanks for the link! I’m excited to read more detail about your many adventures.


  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip report and the financial breakdown. I also loved your thoughts on slow travel. My husband and I don’t do well with a breakneck, cram as much in as possible pace. Once he semi-retires we’d like to experiment with some slow travel too.

    • I look forward to slowing down. I tend to stay very busy on vacation because there’s so much to do and so little time. Given a lot more time, I think I could slow the pace.


  9. This is great information. I think after our family trip to Puerto Rico, my wife and me might plan a solo trip to Paris, but it’s just a thought at this point. We will check out how our travel hacking is doing, and consider other destinations such as other parts of the Caribbean or Central America.

    • Cool! My wife and I spent a week driving around Puerto Rico about 16 months ago. Hopped a prop plane to Vieques. Good times!

  10. Thanks for a terrific post. What strikes me even more than the way you held costs on the big items like lodging was the way you seemed to hold the line on the “misc” category.

    I think that is what often causes my travel expenses to balloon.

    • Thanks, Jason! Lodging, food, and drink can easily double or triple the cost of a trip compared to how we approached it.

      Some people want to splurge when they’re on vacation — maybe that is the point of vacation for some — an escape from the daily routine. I’m pretty happy with our day-to-day, so it doesn’t change all that much when we’re away from home.


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  12. Awesome trip! Nice to see you managed to fit in a 5k before indulging.

    I’ve heard a few stories about the beer prices in Iceland. Paying $13 for a beer wouldn’t work out well for me. But I certainly could live with cheap baguettes and Belgian brews 🙂

    • Well, Iceland does have a homebrew store — maybe you could befriend a fellow homebrewer!

      I didn’t realize I had done a 5k until after we got back and I mapped it out. Everything looks so much closer on a map than in real life. 🙂


  13. Ha ha, I was reading this thinking “hmmm, I’d do this, and I’d do that and I’d end up spending just a bit more to stay 2-3x as long” 🙂 But you did a very solid job at squeezing in a lot of fun and valuable experiences for you and the family on a fairly modest budget (considering the high COL in the places you visited).

    Then at the end I see you linked to my 9 week trip in Europe. 🙂

    I love airbnb, love the transit. Love the grocery shopping (often better food, relaxed dinners at your airbnb maybe on the patio/balcony). Let the kids wake up and have some breakfast while the adults snooze (or “snooze” 😉 ) then head out about 10 am for some sightseeing. If you’re worn out by mid-afternoon, head back to the apartment and relax before dinner. I find a day on public transit and exploring the city will wear anyone out, especially young kids.

    • I also have to add that I’m impressed with your food budget. $46/day. We’re aiming for $40/day for the five of us (and we probably eat a bit more than you judging by my belly lol) but it’s definitely in the ballpark of what you actually spent. And we’ll be in one place for a week at a time for about 6 out of 9 weeks. So I’m thinking we might even undershoot the $40/day.

      So far, our food budget is the most criticized component of my $10,000 travel budget. I mean I get it – if you’re not used to slow travel and spending a week in one place, it’s easy to assume we’ll HAVE to go out to eat in tourist areas 3x per day. No way I could eat at tourist restaurants in the center of town for every meal on $40/day for 5 people.

      But I can buy a pound or two of meat, some veggies, a nice piece of bread or some rice/pasta and make a basic but delicious lunch or dinner and it won’t cost more than $10-20 for all that. Breakfasts are so trivial – yogurt, fruit, and pastries. Eggs if we want to get fancy.

      Heck, I don’t even like to eat out every meal. By the third day of dining out for every meal I’m usually ready to eat the lettuce straight off the head just to get something green in me. 🙂

      • I couldn’t help but think along the same lines while we were there — we could stretch this out timewise without adding much to the overall cost.

        We would have spent a little more on transportation, but nothing extra on flights. There wouldn’t have been much more in the way of paid attractions — we would have spread them out. We would have spent a bit more on food, but we buy food when we’re home, too, so that’s practically a wash.

        Minimize our standing stateside costs, figure out how to do location-independent schooling, lose the job, and we could be as nomadic as we wanna be.

        It was great to see your trip planning post come up in the midst of our vacation. A trip like that is exactly what I have in mind for our future.


        • I’ve come around on the grocery spending too – we’re spending about the same overseas as at home and we’ve gotta eat whichever continent we’re on.

          I have found that there’s a sweet spot at a week and at a month for staying in one place. You get weekly or monthly discounts at airbnb. Transit passes are often much cheaper for a week than daily or for 3-4 day passes, and even cheaper if you can buy a month-long pass (I think in Prague, Czech a month pass costs about what 2.5 three day passes cost). And if you’re in one place for at least a week, you’ll likely be able to visit tourist attractions off peak when they are less busy and/or cheaper or free.

  14. Looks like you guys had a wonderful time! Great job on the budget, you came in at almost exactly the same daily rate as we have on past trips <14 days. You guys crushed the food budget. Should make for some amazing memories for the kids.

    • Is that right? I can’t say I’ve really added it up in the past, but I didn’t do anything differently than we normally do.

      The point of this trip wasn’t to see how little we could spend. It was just me and my family taking an amazing trip while remaining somewhat value-conscious.


  15. No vegetables, I would die, literally! As my wife and I would love to see Scotland, Ireland, and Portugal some day, I’m going to have to do plenty of food research before going.

    Neither of us drink beer. She does enjoy coffee. I enjoy tea.

    What a great write-up. Glad your boys did well. That certainly gives you hope for your future, slow travel experiences.

    cd :O)

    • At least we can agree on cheese…. I think? Maybe not?

      You’re right on about the future plans… everything we’ve seen and done since we started contemplating retiring early has confirmed or moved up that plan.


      • Sadly, I can’t do dairy either. My family does, I don’t. No meat, no cheese, no dairy, no fish. Fish will actually kill me, I carry an Epi-pen. The rest of the stuff “just causes” erosion in my throat. Yeah, I’m a mess. I can eat eggs, though. Veggie omelettes and burritos could be a staple while traveling. :O)

  16. Sounds like a good time was had by all (sans the coffee part. You deserved those dirty looks. That is a cardinal sin).

    I need to go back to Paris. I’ve been there once when I was 3, and have zero memories of that trip. I was there again with my sister nearly 8 years ago. Time to go back with my husband and child in tow. Iceland is on my bucket list, but those prices are ugh. You’ve got me thinking though. Maybe we should plan to cross off a pricey place like that while we’re still making the big bucks.

    • Visiting Paris twice is 2 more visits than most people will ever get. There are so many other places to see!

      As far as the most expensive places — you could do it now while still working, or you could wait until you’ve been retired awhile. If you’ve had a decent sequence of returns the first 5 to 10 years, you should be able to afford a significant bump in your travel budget at that point.


  17. Ahhh, absolutely beautiful. I love the little clever things you did to save some moolah. 🙂 I’m not a fan of France myself, but I do love French food. There’s nothing like a fresh baguette and cheese for breakfast. Mmmmm.

  18. We had a similar experience last summer. I definitely recommend Airbnb. It was very affordable and more spacious than a hotel, especially in Europe. Great pictures!

    • Thanks, Jamie! I thoroughly enjoy photography. All my “souvenirs” these days are photos.

      AirBNB is the way to go, especially when you’re traveling with kids.


  19. Super long post…did you write this while on vacation? You should be taking some time off!

    Nice summary and good tips. Iceland is high on my travel list and one we will likely do in the next few years!

    • Long flight = long blog post 🙂

      Iceland is a loooong ways from the west coast, but Wow air will take you there.


  20. This brought back memories – I also flew Iceland Air to Paris a few years ago as part of my MBA program. I will say that I loved the price but hated the planes – what did you & your family think of them? I’ve been setting aside money for a big trip to Europe with the kids in a few years once this mortgage is paid off, so it’s good to see that your boys enjoyed themselves. Now I’m getting antsy to get back to Europe!

    • No kidding? The planes and flight attendants were great, I thought.

      Ten years ago, they handed out free meals and wine to the grownups. That doesn’t happen anymore, but they did have goodies for the kids, including food, games, and headphones.

      Also, we had Children’s tylenol on a “carry-on” bag that was apparently too big to carry on. Our younger son had a rip-roaring fever and the flight attendant hooked us up with some paracetamol, which we were able to break in half and give to our son twice on the way over. Fortunately, that was the tail end of that virus!

      I watched all of Fargo Season 2 (loved it) on the in-flight entertainment, read a book, and wrote the first draft of this blog post all on the flights. I have zero complaints.


  21. Europe is probably the most expensive by far. We live in Edinburgh for around $100 a day for 2. Comfortable apartment, don’t eat out much and limit travel. Have done it for $50 a day in Spain.

    Could do it even cheaper if we opted for Workaway or Couchsurfing (I’m still working). Could do it even cheaper if it was parts of Asia, South America or Africa. Some areas are impossible to do cheap. Iceland and most of Scandinavia come to mind.

    Splurges tend to be meals out or weekend travel ( rent a car and an Airbnb). One of the cheapest vacations you can take is walking a section of the Camino in Spain. Do it for a week or two and if you were careful it would cost you $30 – 35 a day. Take the kids and they would see some amazing history and meet great people.

    • Glad to hear from you, Bruce.

      We’re living on close to $200 a day in the US (family of four) but I know we could cut back a fair amount if we needed or wanted to.

      What I’d like to do is minimize our fixed costs here (get down to one home ) in early retirement, which will allow our “travel expenses” be the bulk of our living expenses.

      Spain is moving higher and higher on our list for some extended slow travel.


  22. Amazing trip report, PoF. Incredible how you were able to have a nice vacation for 4 for only $4,300. And without any travel rewards to get the flights and hotel for free. Any plans to integrate travel rewards to reduce costs for your future travel?

    • It’s true that we didn’t use a single point to take this trip. I have played the points game a bit, though. Last year, I took CME trips and my wife accompanied me to San Francisco and Hawaii on points.

      I also sent her to Punta Cana last month and I believe all four of us flew to Florida on points last year for Spring break.



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