What Paris is Like | 20 Christmas Gifts Under $20

3 years ago

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This week: Paris for ILTM, what Paris is like, an amazing Paris apartment service, 20 Christmas gifts under $20, and more.
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Where's Johnny Jet?

Greetings from South Florida! I just touched down in the Sunshine State and the sun is out! I’m glad I wasn’t here a few days ago as there were record rains. Can you believe Miami had 6.67" of rain between Friday and Saturday? They average 5.91" for all of their meteorological winter! I’m here with my dad since I hadn’t seen him in a month and he wanted to go somewhere warm with a race track for his birthday!
If you're following me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and/or Periscope, you know I just returned from France with my beautiful wife, Natalie (nataliediscala on Instagram). We spent four nights in Cannes attending the ILTM conference and then we had three days free to go wherever we wanted. Originally we were going to go see my cousins in Denmark or Italy or even take the train to Switzerland but in the end, we went to Paris to prove a point: We aren’t going to let terrorists scare us.
Cannes to Paris
To get to Paris from Cannes, I purchased last-minute (i.e. the day before) tickets on Air France for $148 each. I thought that was good deal until one of my French friends said he bought a first class ticket on the train for 30 Euros ($33). Ugh! The 400-mile trip by train takes over five hours and flying takes an hour and fifteen minutes, but next time, I'll take the train.
Uber in France
When we landed at Paris' Orly airport, we ordered an uberX. In France, uberX is not same same as uberX in America. UberX is Uber Pop in Europe, which all the French taxi drivers have a huge problem with. The cost to go from Orly to the heart of Paris is 35 Euros ($38). We later took an uberX from the city to CDG airport for our trip back and it was 50 Euros ($55). I prefer taking Uber to taking a taxi because I don’t speak French very well (my wife does). All I have to do is tap a few buttons and they know where to pick me up and drop me off. FYI: Out of the three Uber rides we took in France, two of the drivers spoke English (one didn’t at all).
Good to know: 10 Uber Tips that Will Totally Improve Your Next Experience
Paris Perfect
While attending the ILTM conference last week in Cannes, France, Natalie and I met with our good PR buddy, Geoffrey Weill. He told us about his new client ParisPerfect.com, which ended up sounding so good that we decided to take him up on an offer to experience what it’s like to rent an apartment from them…and boy, were we happy! To see what makes them different from other apartment rental companies, see this week's Travel Website of the Week.
What Paris is Like
Of course, the recent terrorists attacks were on our minds, but we refuse to let these misinformed killers dictate our travel plans. I know some thought this was a crazy time to go to France, while others thought it was the best time to visit. I obviously agree with the latter since right after a tragedy, a destination is usually much safer due to heightened security.
Security was definitely beefed up, but it wasn’t crazy. The weather was gorgeous, in the 50s during the day but chilly at night. We averaged 15,000 steps a day walking the streets and one thing is for sure: Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I can’t wait to go back.
Our apartment had a jaw-dropping view of the Eiffel Tower (see above) and the first couple nights it was unlit, as it had been since the attacks. But on Saturday night (our last night) as we were having dinner in the apartment, I saw a sparkle out of the window and jumped up to see that sure enough, the City of Light was back!
I’m so happy I listened to my gut and not the naysayers telling me not to travel to Europe. It was a magical trip just like every past trip to this beautiful city has been.
20 Christmas gifts under $20 from TravelSmith
Last week, my feature story was: We Asked Frequent Travelers: What Do You Want This Christmas? 
Well, I had some readers complain that some of the prices were way too high so this week, I’ve teamed up with TravelSmith, a company dedicated to providing customers with great travel gear, to feature 20 of their best Christmas gifts under $20. There was lots to choose from but I’ve narrowed it down to this list of winners.
Sponsored by Scottevest!
Christmas is around the corner! I bet your favorite traveler will love Scottevest’s multiple hidden pockets because they not only keep valuables safe, but can also act as extra carry-ons! I'm a huge fan and use their products every time I travel. Check out the latest line, including the jacket I always carry with me this time of year, on this page.

Travel Deals

This week's deals include: 
-Caribbean cruises with Norwegian with extras from $399
-$1996 -- Best of Britain 7-Night Guided Vacation, $499 Off*
-Want to be the first to hear about these deals—and more? Sign up for our Travel Deals newsletter here!

Travel News

This week’s news includes: 
-U.S. tightens visa waiver program in wake of Paris attacks
-U.S. Downgrades Thailand's Aviation Safety Rating
-United to offer basic economy fares in 2016
-More news >>

Website of the Week

There are a lot of apartment rental options in Paris and throughout the world. My wife and I just tried Paris Perfect, and it's different than all of them.
More >>

Travel Style

Long-time traveler Kerjan Bianca—Backpack Babe—recently traded her career for a one-way ticket to Thailand. Here's her Travel Style.
More >>

Tweeter of the Week

Scott Eddy is a Jamaican-Lebanese-American I met in Bangkok in October. Scott's a great guy with—get this—over 800,000 followers on Twitter.
More >>

Video of the Week

At the TBEX Fort Lauderdale conference they played this promotional video for Stockholm—featuring magician Charlie Caper. It blew my mind!
More >>

Product of the Week

Although these heavy duty Urban Armor Gear phone cases are not the most glamorous out there, they're military-tested—and just $34.95!
More >>

Instagrammer of the Week

The US Department of the Interior is doing a fantastic job of not only protecting America’s great outdoors but promoting it, too! They have 800,000+ followers!
More >>

App of the Week

The free Citymapper app is a huge help in navigating public transit, with A-to-B trip planning across all modes—subway, bus, rail, ferry, Uber, and more.
More >>

Travel Contests

-Win a week in Switzerland
-Win a five-night trip for two to Copenhagen
-Win a trip or a Jeep Cherokee
-More >>

Webcam of the Week

Even with temperatures above normal in North America, there's plenty of snow in Banff National Park in Alberta, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
More >>

Contributor stories

Scuba Diving in Mexico's Revillagigedo Islands, Part 1: 26 Hours by Boat

Marcela's dive trip through the "Galápagos of Mexico" begins with a long, educational journey from Chicago, full of Mexico tips and seascapes.
More >>

The InterContinental Miami—and What to See, Eat and Do Nearby

Art Basel Miami brings in the world's art elite, famed celebrities, DJs, know-it-alls, wannabes, and socialites. Tim Gaylord shares a place to stay in this vibrant city.
More >>

Natalie's Corner

There are so many factors that go into making a travel experience memorable, and not to be overlooked are the people. This week in Natalie's Corner, a post about Journeymakers: the people who've made travel special for Natalie.
More >>
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