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Daily Budget question for Paris and London

We are a family of 4 (2 boys 8 & 11) and I have a question regarding daily budget given the exchange rate. Does $120 for meals, travel, food seem reasonable? Or is this too low? We are staying in apartments will be eating breakfast there (most likely) and will be enjoying lots of picnics! I can't imagine we'll eat out anywhere expensive.

Posted by
33314 posts

are you making any day trips from either city?

Have you costed admissions?

Posted by
80 posts

For London I think that it is too low. You might want to google some of the restaurants in the area that you will be staying at and seeing if they have menus on line that can give you a rough idea of what you will be spending.

Posted by
2466 posts

Is this US dollars or some other currency?
If it's USD 120, it's pretty much the same amount in euros.

If you drink sodas or juice, buy them at the supermarket - you can break open single packs of sodas, but not juice. Cost - 1 or 2 EU.

At cafes or restaurants, sodas and juice and beer or wine cost about 5 EU per glass. A large coffee will run about the same. Tap water is free - ask for "un carafe d'eau" for the table.

Bakeries and sandwich shops have "formules" or "menus" - a baguette sandwich, a drink and sometimes a cookie - between 5 and 8 EU. Other things are available but may not be included in the "formule/menu" - quiche, slice of pizza, salads...normally from 5 to 7 EU.

Crepe stands charge by the filling - nutella, sugar/butter - 3 EU. Egg, ham, cheese or combo - 5 - 7 EU. Don't eat the hot dogs, they're disgusting.

Pizza - a decent 12" pizza costs about 10 - 15 EU. Normally, one person is expected to eat an entire pizza, but if you order something else, you'll be allowed to share.

Cafes and restaurants will have menus posted outside, so you can see prices. The least expensive is the "menu" or "plat du jour" - normally around 25 EU for a 2 or 3 course meal, depending on neighborhood. Drinks are never included in the price. If prices look high, walk down a side street, where they will be lower.

When you go shopping at the grocery or wherever, you must bring your own bags. Stores either will not provide them or will charge you for them.

Posted by
33314 posts

chexbres is right for Paris, some of London will be much more expensive, some - like a pre packed sandwich - can be less.

Posted by
33314 posts

A good index might be how much it costs to feed the boys. Do they go to McDonalds? What do they have? Happy meal for one? How much does it cost at home? I'll look at something similar in England when I pass by.

Where is home? What country?

Posted by
36 posts

We just got back from a 3-week trip that included both cities. We budgeted $250 per day (family of four, including two teenagers), but we didn't spend that much most days - probably closer to $175 a day for food, local travel, etc. This did NOT include the cost for attractions, museum entry fees, and longer distance travel.

One good money-saving tip is to eat your "big meal" for lunch and save picnicking, pizza, and crepe/sandwich meals for dinner. Most restaurants in both cities have lunch menus with much more reasonable prices than their dinner menus.

Posted by
3 posts

What a lovely community! Thank you for all your advice. I'm getting the sense that my budget is too skimpy and will start doing the math to calculate our costs based on all of your suggestions.

Posted by
287 posts

I found the takeout sandwiches at Sainsbury's (all over London) to be good and inexpensive (I have a particular fondness for their egg salad). Pair that with a bottle of water or juice and a cookie or a bag of chips ("crisps" in the UK) or fruit and you have an inexpensive and tasty picnic lunch for one.

In Paris I liked getting the little individual quiches from street markets (like in the Rue Cler). They heat them up for you on the spot and they were delicious and inexpensive. Many varieties to choose from. Again, paired with a drink and some fruit (from a nearby fruit/produce vendor) and you have a very affordable Paris lunch.

Posted by
2233 posts

Sainsbury & Tesco in London will be your friend for picnic & apt.food. Google locations ahead of time and bring your own bags. Do you have any of those bags that scrunch into a little pouch? If you are passing through any of the major train stations, they have pasty shops which are inexpensive and filling.

Nigel, am I correct I saying that there is a cap on cost of daily tube/bus fares?

Also, if you use the journey planner feature on the tfl.com website you can see how long a destination will take using different bus or tube option. We used the website a lot this last trip.

Have a great time.

Posted by
33314 posts

If an Oyster PAYG (pay as you go) card, yes there is a daily cap, depending on zones and if the tube is used.

If using a contactless card, a similar day and weekly cap applies, but if you mix your cards yu won't benefit.

Posted by
3 posts

Adding to Nigle's Oyster card tip - we just came back from a 2-week trip to London and Paris. Oyster card is the best money you can spend. 45 pounds for adult weekly pass and half for kids, good for bus and tube, for zone 1&2 - you only need these two zones and just pay extra for ride from airport. Yes you can buy pass at Heathrow tube station. And yes Sanwichs from Tesco and Sainsbury supermarket are money savers, 2.99 -3.99 pounds each. We found London is so cheap compared to Paris - 20 pieces chicken nuggets at McDonalds for 10 pounds and in Paris a combo costs 10 Euro. And in London 2L milk and 6 free range eggs cost only 2.5 pounds! and most museums are FREE! The same with Paris weekly pass - you need to arrive on Monday to take advantage of it and 25 pounds for everyone. Having these passes you'll realize you don't need to pay big money for those bus tours. I wish We had time to just take buses and see the cities day and night. Have fun! Make sure you arrive 3 hours before the flight as we missed our flight from Paris and what a nightmare - which is the only upset.

Posted by
3 posts

Add We have two boys 12 &14 and stayed in Highbury (North East corner of London) and wished that we brought soccer ball as people were playing ball, having picknic in the two green parks on our way to groceries. Young kids in London love scooters. In Paris we saw many people on scooters. We usually cooked a big breakfast in the morning - that way you can have two meals a day. Have fun!

Posted by
4629 posts

I don't think many find Paris more expensive than London. Paris has cheap metro ticket packets for about $1.70/ride and child admissions are usually free, and churches do not charge admission. London is traditionally super expensive although the recent slide in the pound may mitigate some of that.

Like Emma said, you can make your original budget work if you are willing to walk quite a bit and be stingy with restaurants. Agree that lodging farther out will greatly increase costs and time spent dealing with the tube (not generally quality time). Draw a line from Trafalgar Square to the Tate Modern and try to stay close to that, then a lot will be within walking distance and you can restrict yourself to daily transit passes for a couple days to see more peripheral sites. Weekly passes for transit make more sense to lodging locations farther west, Earls Court, Kensington, Paddington, etc, where nearly everything is a tube ride away. Unfortunately this is where most of the lodging is located.

Posted by
712 posts

I agree with what was mentioned before. if $120 is your budget, period, then it may work - but you have to make it work, which involves more effort. Perhaps heading back to the apartment for lunches or dinners, and eating out just once a day. Doing more research on budget places and taking note of specials, like when a museum entrance is free or where kids get a discount. I'm a budget traveler, and I find that my biggest issue is food, especially when you are out wandering around and get hungry. The budget sometimes doesn't allow for the flexibility of eating wherever and whenever. And if you have 2 young boys, that is something to think about. But with some elbow grease, Google and this site, you are def on your way. Happy Travels!!

Posted by
3992 posts

Last summer we traveled to Paris and London with our two pre teen granddaughters. I thought a lot about food options for group ahead of time. We were fortunate to have apartments/houses for both weeks so we often ate at least one meal at home.

I calculated the cost of someone in the group getting hungry when we were out and about and the whole group needing to stop for a snack--this really adds up. I ended up buying some Kind bars at a discount in the US and taking them with us. I took a couple at a time in my purse when we were headed out sightseeing for the any. If some one got hungry a bit before a mealtime they'd eat a bar. By the time we were done with that portion of the trip, the bars were gone and I had more room in my suitcase for a couple of purchases to take home.

I think your budget is doable but like others have said, you'll need to look at your food options (and snacks) carefully. Fortunately transportation options for kids in London is easy on the budget and some really great kid friendly museums in London are free for everyone.