When chubby hubby first mentioned the possibility of a Euro trip he told me that his budget was just QAR 10K (roughly USD 2800) for the four of us, including flights. Because of that very limited budget I never thought it would come true with flights ranging from 500 USD to more than a thousand for the straight flights. But today we leave for Paris and visiting Brussels and Amsterdam in the span of 9 days. And we still have a couple of hundreds to spare.
1) The first task we needed to accomplish was to get our visas processed. The French embassy in Doha acquires the services of Capago for all their visa processing. We made temporary travel arrangements at a nearby travel agency, submitted our requirements and after three days our visas were released. We didn’t buy extra travel insurance since our existing health insurance provided by the chubby hubby’s company already included that. Thank God for that coverage! Visas for Aria and Marcus (aka booger and bear) were free so we only paid for the processing fee. Our total expense for the visa application for the four of us amounted to QAR 1100 (USD 302).
2) Once that was done, we finalized the booking for our flights, making sure to cancel the ones we made at the travel agency because it amounted to more than half of the budget. The key here is lots of patience and strong will. I had neither so chubby hubby worked on this one for us. We found cheap flights on orbitz.com and booked the ones with a 3 hour stop over. I wished myself well with handling a stop over with two toddlers in tow. I reminded husband that we should work as a team when handling Aria and Marcus if he wants to save with the flights instead of splurging on that direct flight. How this will go is yet to be determined but our flights (for four seats) amounted to only QAR 4122 (USD 1120.00).
3) Now the next task was to finalize which cities we wanted to visit. I wanted to stay in Paris for a big bulk of our vacation so we decided to stay there for 5 days. The challenging part was to decide which cities to go to next. Researched which major ones were nearby that I really wanted to see. France, Belgium and the Netherlands were all interconnected so we decided to go to Brussels for two days and then Amsterdam for two days. I just googled cheap hotels and saw a lot of places to stay in at less than 100 USD per night. I wanted to use AirBnB because the places offered had so much more space than the standard hotel room. However, chubby hubby was concerned with the security of the apartments so I gave in with his wishes. Found some hotels in that city using budgetplaces.com.
I made sure the hotels we picked were central and very near the metro station. Also made sure that places had good reviews on tripadvisor especially when it came to cleanliness. I cannot stand dirty rooms.
Our total hotel bookings amounted to QAR 2512 (EUR 608.00 or USD 680).
4) Train bookings were done on thalys. Thalys We didn’t have enough time to book ahead so we didn’t save much here. Chubby hubby finally gave in with buying train tickets because I made a fuss with how much time we were going to save with those bullet trains. Train bookings amounted to QAR 1347 (EUR 326 or USD 370).
5) Finalizing an itinerary with tours is quite limited when you work on a really small budget. I found an app online for some DIY tours for the three cities we are going to be visiting- City walks by gpsmycity.com. The free version of the app even have maps you can use with your phone’s locator. Upgrading is even more better (for USD 5) because it can act like a GPRS of the route you want to take. I also found some free walking tours online by sandeman. The Amsterdam tour comes with a minimal fee of 3 EUR and the kids are free but the Paris and the Brussels tour are free. Chubby hubby insists we make other tour reservations when we get there so I didn’t argue and let him win since he will be paying for it anyway. Total tour expense amount is QAR 25 (EUR 6 or USD 6.8).
I know it will get more expensive when we get there. There are city taxes and other things we need to spend money on like food and commute. There are also museum entrances that Chubby hubby might not think is worth it. However, I gave him my top 5 places we MUST go and see. We’ll see how it goes.
Visa – QAR 1100
Flights – QAR 4122
Accommodation QAR 2512
Train (Eurail) QAR 1347
Tour – QAR 25
TOTAL – QAR 9106 or around USD 2475
not bad huh?