A Family Adventure in Paris – Part 1 – Introduction

To me, exposing my children to cultures all around the world at as young of an age as possible is of the utmost importance.  (Frankly, it’s something I’m not doing enough of!)  My wife, while she shares the same desire of exposure for the kids, finds the journey to and from to be quite stressful.  Whereas to me, getting on the plane to go to Paris for the weekend a no-brainer (assuming low miles business class awards are available), for her, agreeing to such a trip is a decision filled with much consternation.

Having successfully managed our trip to Hawaii over Christmas (including a red-eye home), my wife was willing to “give it a try” and take the kids (aged 8 and 5) to Paris.  My wife and I visited Paris a number of times pre-children, including a 10-day visit in 2001; it is a city we both love.  Beyond our holidays, I’ve been to Paris numerous times on business, and I am very comfortable in the city.  I figured setting the kids’ first trans-Atlantic trip in such a city would be the best way to go.

Spousal approval in hand, I set out to make this trip an entirely points trip.  I often end up using points for some of the flights, paying cash for others of the flights, and paying cash for hotels.  This was the first time I pulled a trip off purely on points.

For flights, that was no problem.  We were able to get four non-stop business class awards on Air France for the dates we wanted to travel.  We used Delta SkyMiles (SkyPesos my a-double-s) for the trip.  We realized a tremendous valuation on the points for the flights, and got exactly what we wanted.  The hotel situation was more limited, as I only really have meaningful stashes of Starwood and Ritz points.  Paris isn’t Starwood’s strongest city, but I was able to find a not bad hotel to stay at on points.  While not my first choice of hotels, it saved a significant amount of money over where I would have ended up staying if I wasn’t on points.

We booked to travel over President’s Day week in the US, when school was closed here.  As luck would have it, that was also “Week 7” in many parts of Europe (a holiday week), so there were plenty of kids out and about when we were there – which was great.

Spending time in a city like Paris with two children under 10 certainly requires a different plan than traveling as two happy-go-lucky adults who didn’t have meaningful budget constraints.  My wife planned the day activities, and I planned the dinners.  Together, we put together a great trip that everyone in our family enjoyed.  Other than one particularly deluxe dinner, our biggest single cash expense was parking at JFK!

Please allow me to share our experiences with you.