Millennials are a romantic generation, full of rosy aspirations and a deep love for John Green novels. We want things that are out of reach, beautiful and magnificent, and Paris seems to be just that. Paris, along with many other trips and vacations can become attainable thanks to some great timing, good planning, and hard work. So here’s your guidebook, woven with Parisian sentiments and a few croissants here and there. Us millennials, we don’t have to be homebound or tied to this home country of ours. We can fly. Now is your chance to start planning that trip of your dreams.
1. It’s time to get out of the way all the ticket buying, passport photos and research. Look up all the places you want to see. Scour Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs to see what would make your dream trip even better. Search for things based on what makes you and your trip pals excited. If you really enjoy art, make sure to look up some art museums! If you may be more into the foodie scene, look into hashtags of beautiful and affordable eateries. It is all up to you, so tailor it to your taste. Plan out the days that you ‘l be there, so you can be sure to fit everything in, but make sure you leave a few days for wandering and free time. That is when you get to truly discover the spontaneous things that come with a foreign city. It will leave some stress free time to simply explore. As you are planning, be sure to keep your budget in mind.
2. Pay for the trip yourself. It will make you appreciate what you do end up seeing more, and will make it feel even more special when you get there. Exchange your money, buy your tickets for events and plane rides, research must sees, break in the shoes you plan on wearing, clear your camera roll to make space for some new memories, download the music you plan on listening to, brush up on your French, and book a hotel.
3. Book a simple and clean hotel, close to the things you want to see. There’s no need to get something luxurious and expensive if that doesn’t really work for your budget. Really, the only time spent there will be for sleeping and showering.
4. Brush up on your French, but don’t stress about becoming fluent. Don’t expect everyone to know your language. Your tour guides will typically speak English, and as long as you know a little French, you should be able to get around.
Packing can be overwhelming, especially when you are going someplace you have never been, so….
The Parisian Packing Guide for Millennials:
- Two adapters (in case one breaks)
- Good shoes (already broken in)
- Plane snacks
- Different types of shoes (sandals, tennis, wet shoes, and of course cute shoes because HELLO, it’s Paris)
- Rain poncho
- Backpack or purse large enough for a….
- Water bottle
Since you’re heading somewhere new, as fun as wandering solo with your friends can be, sometimes getting led around by an expert is good too. Leave a few of the days for tours! Two good tour groups to keep in mind are Blue Fox Travel and Big Bus Tours (this one is a two day hop on/off bus tour through Paris and includes a river cruise on the Seine!).
5. With your delicious plane snacks in hand, the long flight will fly by. Make sure you bring a good book to pass the time on the flight. Think about bringing some comfy slippers to throw on so you don’t have to choose between wearing your shoes or having cold feet as you sleep.
The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Palais Garnier (the opera house), Pont Alexandre III, and Sacre Coeur are all essential must-sees in Paris.
A few other must-sees include the Musee Rodin, the Wall of Love and the views from a river cruise. Take loads of pictures as you go, and enjoy the views. The magic of Paris will always be brought to light by the mystique of the Eiffel Tower, the glittering lights of the city, and the art in every corner. Make sure you are looking for that.
6. Be safe as you go to see all the sights. As fun as it is to see such a romantic and large city, it is still a foreign country, so it’s important to watch your belongings and be cautious. Be aware and observant, listen to your gut, and stay at hotels that have good, trusted reviews. Be prepared to leave a situation if necessary and don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about leaving somewhere that you don’t feel comfortable.
7. Free time is probably one of the most underrated things when it comes to vacations. It allows one to wander, discover and just take in the nostalgia of some place. Here are some ideas of what you can do:
- Listen to a street musician.
- Walk along the Seine.
- Try a new crêpe stand.
- Sit on the opera steps.
- Sit near the Eiffel Tower and sketch it for some real French art to bring home.
- Watch the street painters.
- Look through the flower shops.
- Find a parfumerie.
8. Remember to stop and see the things that the average tourist might not think of. Get out of sticking simply to the mainstream cafes and activities. See the streets and experience the local life. Eat what they eat when you can. Go to places that locals recommend. The city is full of great street food options – think kebab sandwiches and crêpe stands galore! You can get cheap food that is also delicious! Check out the cheese shops and buy some bread to go with it. Have picnics with your goodies, and take advantage of the wine scene. The sky’s the limit with your eating wishes in Paris/
9. Another issue for many young people will be affordability. Budget! Budget! Budget! Yes, by all means buy a souvenir, but don’t go splurge on the most expensive porcelain vase or a shopping spree at the Parisian shopping district. Buy your souvenirs away from the centre of the tourist traps, and make sure you look for cheaper options!
Be open minded. Don’t be afraid to challenge your past views about something, and never stop exploring.
You should come back home and feel like you’ve taken something away. Whether that’s an increase in knowledge of the language or history, a new love for something, a greater respect for the people, place, culture, religion, etc., or an increase in gratitude for what you have, what you are able to do, what you know and have yet to learn. How can someone get the most out of Paris? Prepare, plan, and research before you go.
Embrace that Paris might be different than you pictured, and learn to love the things the locals love. As millennials, we sometimes get too set on what we want something to be. Embrace Paris. Document the actual things you did, and you saw, and you felt. Paris is real and waiting to be seen. Let’s go out and see it with the Parisian state of mind that life is rosy, art is everywhere, and people should always sing in French.