Saturday, 3 August 2013

Some thoughts on holiday budgets and July in Instagram


I've just spent a very pleasant hour sitting at my mother-in-law's table with a cup of tea catching up on some blog reading. At least four of the posts I read today were all about holidays in France and I enjoyed every one of them. We are going to France soon (two weeks today in fact!) and John asked me this morning if I was looking forward to it. I took so long to answer that I kind of answered his question. I have so much to do between now and then, so much to occupy me and think about, that I can't really see beyond that. We get back the Sunday before term starts so I need to feel organised before our holiday begins. 

And I'm worried about money. I've been told by someone who just returned from France that everything was horribly, ludicrously expensive. Whether this is due to the exchange rate or their expectations I don't know. People who've recently been to France - did you find this to be the case? I'm worried that what we've budgeted for spending money wont be nearly enough but I don't want to penny-pinch all through the holiday either. I am used to (and good at) living on a tight budget at home but on holiday I find it depressing. I want to indulge the kids in ice creams and myself in the odd coffee or glass of beer and pizzas for lunch for all of us without worrying about how overpriced things are or how far the euros will stretch. And I love to browse the shops and bring trinkets and bits and bobs home with me - it makes the holiday feeling stretch further. Am I the only person who worries about such things?

So John and I sat down a wrote a list of all the things that needed to be done before we go and did two of them today (new school shoes for the kids and fix the rear brake light on the car). I feel better. And the posts I read today made me remember how I love France and what a beautiful country it is. And two weeks with my parents, sisters, partners, nieces and nephews...that will be heaven.

We'll find a balance. We'll muddle through, we always do.

Anyway, the reason I originally started this post was to make a pretty mosaic of my July photos on Instagram. My Instagram love increases all the time. I like the quick glance back over a month of photos, they way it just gives you a feel for the rhythm of daily life and the seasons, nothing more. Of course you don't need Instagram for this but since my camera is heavy it's nice just to use my phone sometimes when I'm out and about. I'm also loving the social side if it too, that's a lot of fun.

So above, we have a month of unbelievably good weather, hot and sunny just like summer should be. Nearly all those photos were taken outside. There are lots of blue skies, plenty of lush greens and a few pops of berry-fruit red. July was a month of picking flowers, picking fruit, enjoying time at home and away, road trips, days out, enjoying the garden, mainly just enjoying the sunshine and life in general. 

I hope August is as good.


47 comments:

L is for Love said...

Hi Gillian
We are in Barcelona at the moment and I must say that I was taken back a little at the poor exchange rate when we got our budgeted euro's, but we are managing quite well and have managed to treat ourselves to one little gift each and eat out once a day/evening with the odd beer and ice-cream in-between without feeling like we are penny pinching or going over our rough daily budget. I'm not sure about France, but Supermarkets are always good for cheap ice cold drinks and beers as well as some bread and cheese and fruit, perfect alfresco fodder indeed. I am trying not to think about all the stuff I need to get done before September :o) x Penny

Jennifer said...

Your photos are really pretty. I love looking at snapshots of other people's lives. I understand your concerns about money. That's why we haven't had any really lavish vacations, not even before we had our kids. Our honeymoon was even very simple. We have trouble justifying big expenditures on fun, which is probably a serious shortcoming. I think you'll know when you've spent the right amount; you won't feel like you've been very extravagant but you will be enjoying yourselves.

jen said...

I love Instagram too - it's perfect for those captured moments. Holiday budgeting is a hard one - I haven't been abroad in years so I can't help sorry, but best person I can think of to ask is Andrea at Little Buckles! xx

Jo said...

We found France expensive too but I always had drinks for the girls in my bag and a snack in the pocket of our rucksack. Love your photos. Jo x

Linda Gilbert said...

I remember it so well when we used to go on holiday and have a wonderful time but with a finite budget. Watching thirsty children down a drink in one or being hungry when out and about was hard. They still laugh ( or is that grimace) when at the end of the holiday we had to share a great big tin of ravioli that you could buy cheaply. In France . Served with a lot od baguettes.
But they learnt so much knowing that money does not grow on trees etc etc etc.
Have a wonderful time nd enjoy every minute

grace said...

We found it a bit expensive but soon found an aldi and stocked up for day trips....and wine to bring home! How do you get your Instagram photos in a collage like that? They look lovely x

Amy said...

I haven't been to France for years, so I cannot comment on the prices there, but I know what you mean about spending money whilst you are away. When you are at home you know what your normal expenses and budget are but you have no idea what things will cost when you are away and you don't want to be counting out every penny - or cent in France. One way to worry less might be to allocate an amount per day of all your spending money and that might help?

I hope that you have a great time regardless of finance and that you get all you need to done before you go. I know what you mean about needing to be organised though. People ask if I am looking forward to a holiday and I never am as I always think of the 1001 self imposed things I have got to do before I go - hoover the loft out anyone!

Anyway, hope you have a great time.

Grayseasailor said...

While I have no experience in France, I do know that when traveling it has helped to cut costs by buying some groceries from markets to have picnic meals along the way which is both fun and less expensive than buying every meal from a restaurant.
I love your Instagram collage! I have resisted learning how to use Instagram, but you do tempt me, Gillian :)
Blessings to you and yours as you plan for your trip and the term ahead,
Gracie xx

thriftwood said...

Hi Gillian, I worry like you too and always feel drained by the time I get on holiday! Try not to worry, what will be will be and I'm sure you'll be fine. We haven't been abroad as a family for quite a few years now, but I always tried to take it easy money-wise the first half of the holiday, and hopefully be able to splash out and buy a few souvenirs the second half.

Hope you have a fab the and can't wait t ear all about it!

Love Claire

PS, Love the mosaic xxx

Just a little less said...

Hi, don't expect France to be cheaper than the UK... food prices are on a par (but better quality) but the wine is cheaper (yay!). This was rural France, we had some very cheap and tasty family meals at the local village bar, paid more in the smarter nearby town and had an exceptional meal for our anniversary meal in a simple but foodie canal side restaurant (mmm emories...)Enjoy the anticipation. Claire xo

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

Well we spent far too much and we were in England! It expensive everywhere these days, make use of the supermarkets, take snacks/drinks out with you. Above all enjoy yourself! I will need to be really careful now but I'm so glad we had our holiday, in my experience things work out in the end so don't worry! :) x

Sol said...

hi there I have just come across your blog from Louise Hunter Handmade's blog.

We go to France once a year. it is getting more expensive. So we have now opted to have the lunch set menu's and in the evening make food at the gite. and only have 2 evening meals out.

in May we went for a weekend Pierrefonds, we found this area seriously expensive, we ended up having car boot lunches. After going to the supermarket.

I would do everything everyone has said. Take a cool box in the car for drinks as you can make squash up in the morning and then have 1 or 2 drinks when out, to save money.

We also take a bread knife and plastic plates for impromptu picnics incase we aren't any where near a café for lunch.

Maybe if you are driving take some items from your cupboards with you. I saw that frugal queen does this on her blog.

I adore france. please don't be put off. I would say the prices are round about the same as London. we found Normandy more expensive than Brittany. Trip advisor the area you are going to and see what others have said about dining.

I hope you have a lovely time. I have book marked you so will be back to read further

Susan Smith said...

Love your instagram pictures and sometimes we worry too much when going on holiday. I'm sure it will be great even on a budget,(we do everything on a budget) so just enjoy your time with family.

Lottie :: Oyster and Pearl said...

I have high hopes for August as well.

We went to France at the end of June and did find it pretty expensive. But we were in the south, where it is always overpriced. I think it might depend on where you are, although the Euro exchange rate is pretty shocking. Hope you have a glorious holiday regardless x

Julia said...

Love all your (sunny) photos! You sound like myself - I like to really enjoy myself when I am on vacation and not worry about every little penny I spend. I don't mind to stay on a budget at home, but not on vacation! I know you will have a wonderful time with your family in France and I cannot wait to see your photos and hear all about it!

CJ said...

Wonderful mosaic, I really must learn how to do these, they look so pretty. I know exactly what you mean about pre-holiday activity. It is hard to imagine how it will all ever get done. I always heave a huge sigh of relief when the car door is shut and it is time to go. Hope you have a lovely time.

SaraJ said...

I agree - going on holiday is stressful but worth it when you get there! :)
We haven't been to France for ages - we usually go to Spain but that has become increasingly expensive. We don't eat out every night and when we do we eat at local rather than tourist restaurants. Hugely cheaper and much nicer food. I'm guessing it is the same in France. We picnic at lunchtimes, generally having stocked up at a local supermarket. Fresh white bread, cheese and fruit. Perfect. Then I don't feel overly extravagant buying ice creams. The cost that bugs me is paying 2€ for a small bottle of water. I know it's the same at home but arghhhhh!!
Hope you're having a good weekend. x

A little bit Country said...

A few of my friends are on holiday (and one lives there) in France. Love looking at their photos. Such a world away from me here. xo

Hannapat said...

We went to France last August and we would go back every year as we love it. Yes it is expensive but no more than England. We ate out only a couple of times and the rest if the time made packed lunches and cooked meals or had BBQ where we stayed. Get yourself organised and find out where the closest brocante are to where you're staying and although alot of the things are expensive you can get some amazing things for next to nothing. There are websites that give you all the info on brocante in a specific (ie central France) area. We are off to Italy in a week and we feel much the same I have to add and it's horrid. Life has become so incredibly expensive. We also did the school clothes shop and needed a suitcase and almost died when it all came to over £300!! That's largely a new school starter and shoes (football and school). Anyways enough winging. Love seeing you on Instagram and also enjoying it. Love your monthly mosaic!! Hope you get everything done before your hols xoxo

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I'm afraid I've no idea about prices in France just now ... I've not been anywhere outside the UK for a while. I do know that 'holidaying on not quite enough money' feeling though ... four children and one income meant life was of necessity more frugal when the children were small but, as you say, you get by.

I'm about to finally join Instagram ... eek!

PinkCatJo said...

I was surprised at the cost of everything when we went to Paris in 2011. I did think that was because it was the capital but everything seemed much more than in London. I find that making money last for myself throughout the whole six weeks holiday very difficult because of wanting to get out and do stuff and ending up with the odd lunch here and odd drink there. And that's just me on my own before I've even started to think about the holiday. It must be harder with a family but I'm sure you'll be fine and find a way round it. You do seem so very organised! I still haven't written my holiday to-do lists!
Loving your Instagram mosaic - it's a nice way to see the month as a whole! x

Di said...

A lovely mosaic of summer colours. It is cold here and it is so nice to enjoy summer warmth through your pictures. I am sure you will have a wonderful time in France and the finances will work out. The important thing is that you are creating wonderful memories for your family.

Pink Milk said...

I always get terribly stressed before a holiday, Gillian. I fly around like a mad thing bleaching toilets and cleaning crevices - just in case. It's madness really! I completely understand you wanting to be prepared for the new school year as it's so close to your return date.

The exchange rate is abysmal at the moment - pretty much one pound equalling one euro. We did overspend a little. I think it very much depends on where in France you're going. The further south we travelled, the more expensive things seemed to be. Supermarket prices are certainly no dearer than here though so if you can self cater a little, it really does help. We got into the habit of buying huge multipacks of water and juice and carrying them around with us and alternated eating out with 'eating in'.

I'm sure you'll have an absolutely super time. It is a beautiful country and well worth the hassle, I promise!

Heather xx

Bronwyn said...

We are going to France for 2 weeks in July 2014. We hear it's expensive too, compared to Canada, especially the price of gasoline. We're trying to save our pennies the best we can so that we can feel free to spend a bit while there, too. What's France if you can't buy a nice bottle of wine? I'm eager to hear how you find it in terms of $$. But mostly, I ma eager to see pics of your marvellous vacation!!

Julie said...

I always end up worrying about money on holiday even though I give myself a good talking to beforehand and tell myself just to enjoy it. I'm sure you'll be fine and, if you're self-catering, it won't be much different to being at home. Plus you have the gorgeous local food markets to browse around. Enjoy your break - can't wait to see your photos - I know they're going to be gorgeous. x

lindsey said...

Haven't been to France recently but I love your photos and am going to try and find you on IG :)

lindsey said...

I can't find you so can you let me know what name you go by

Ladybird Diaries said...

We holidayed in the South of France last year, it was wonderful, you will have a fabulous time. We stayed in a gite and self catered, my husband enjoys cooking on holiday with market produce etc and I just let him get on with it as I do most of the day to day cooking at home. I always took drinks and snacks with us when out and about during the day and I think that helps keeps costs down. Try not to worry to much, it will all work out okay and a great time will be had by all.
Marianne x

Amelie Pou said...

Being French and going back to France a couple of times a year, I have to say I don't think France is that much more expensive than here but then I live in London so I might not have the best benchmark!! Paris is expensive but outside of Paris, I think you can eat out at a reasonable price. And yes, it is a good idea to stock up on snacks (such a wide selection!!) and drinks in the supermarket! Where are you going? I'm sure you'll have a lovely lovely time. Can't wait to see the pics!

Jen Walshaw said...

We are off to Frnace in two weeks too and I am worrying about the exchange rate. However, we have decided to take the cool box and I know that the boys and my nice (who is the same age as Maxi) will quite happily eat fruit, bread, ham and cheese for lunch, as will we. I am planning to cook a few of the evening meals on the site and I love food shopping in france, so wont mind this. I think we should manage a few coffees, bears and icecreams though!

forgetmenots blue said...

I've never been to France myself but am hoping to go soon. Sure it will be brilliant. Wonderful photos x

Gillian said...

I use instaport to copy them all over from my instagram account onto my laptop, then use picmonkey to make the collage. Hope that helps. x

Gillian said...

hello - I'm gillianlr x

Thomasina Tittlemouse said...

I've been enjoying catching up on your July posts - what a lovely month of happy summer activities! Beautifully captured in your lovely pics as always. As far as budgeting in France is concerned, yes, it can be expensive but if you are self-catering which I suspect you will be, you will have more flexibility than if staying in a hotel. We don't eat out a lot in France, partly because it's expensive and partly because I like to cook with French ingredients!, but it's nice to do so for a treat and if it's not all the time you don't need to worry about the cost so much. Prix fixe menus are good starts and mean you can keep the bill from escalating unexpectedly. Ice creams and drinks in cafés etc can be pricey (as in the UK) but again you don't have to do this all the time. A bottle of French squash, diluted with tap water, in reusable drinks' bottles brought from home, will have an exoticism for little ones that Ribena from Sainsburys' back home can't compete with anyway! (Mostly tap water is of drinking water quality in France now unlike when I first went to France as a child, so you shouldn't need to buy mineral water all the time) Buying food is most economically done in one of the big French supermarché chains like Auchan - food bought at one of those delightful open-air marchés can be astronomically pricey! Hope this helps a bit and that you all have a lovely time! E x

mags said...

Your post obviously resounded with lots of readers. Despite the exchange I'm sure you'll have a great time ..French bread and cheese, very cheap wine, flea markets! For me holidays are always worth it because they make the most wonderful family memories and I really treasure them. X

Sol said...

Thanks for coming over to my blog. I hope you have an excellent time. You haven't said if you are going to a Gite or camping or a hotel...

Bevie said...

I love your blog, and the photos you've shared are awesome. Will come again, have an awesome week, and peace be with you!

trishie said...

How exciting about your upcoming trip to France. I don't have any advice unfortunately as the last time I went there was some 15 years ago! But I hope you'll have a fabulous time.

sweetmillie said...

Hello,

I live in Paris and I can tell you that there is a lot of ways not to spend too much money in Paris. First, you can have the best pizzas to take away and eat them along the river with your family having like a french pic-nic (I do that all the time and we enjoy it so much). If you really want to eat in a retaurant for lunch, prefer always the little bar than the typical restaurant (yes, the one with the menu in 25 languages you think is tipycal...). I know the waiter won't probably answer in english (they just don't know english and they are not very friendly) but you can be sure that a real Croque Monsieur with salad and french fries won't be as expensive as you can have for lunch on another restaurant (and always taste better). Then have a great coffee as we love it here and enjoy the sun at thet "terasse". Being honest with yo: Parisian never order cake or desert in restaurant. We have so many "patisseries" to have real french cakes! We just prefer the one you can buy and eat in a parc. Let's try, you'll see it's delicious and cheaper! Another way to spend less money is to always buy your water and drinks in a small supermarket. Cheap, fresh and we all do that! To let you see the difference : a coke in a bar is 3,5 euros or more. The same one in a supermarket is 1euro. In a bakery is 1,50 or 2euros. Just in case, you can visit 10 beautiful museum for free in Paris, you just have to ask to the tourism desk near Pyramides, they will give you the list. And last but not least, if you come to visit Montmartre (my place), you'll find a really nice little café who makes great food and not very expensive just behind the Butte in front of the metro stop Lamarck named "Le refuge", a real typycal french café with good french food! I use to eat there a lot's of time! Hope you'll enjoy your trip! If you have any question, i would be delighted to answer before I go on holidays myself in 4 days... Emilie

Jo said...

I've just been catching up on all the posts I missed while I was away, what a busy start to the holidays you've had. I must just start by mentioning the teacher's presents, you're so creative, you put the gifts I gave when my kids were at primary school to shame. The playhouse looks wonderful. Believe it or not, there's still a two storey playhouse taking up room in my garden even though my kids are 18 and 15, we use it as a dumping ground really, it needs to go. It looks like you all had a wonderful time in London, though tut tut about your disappointment at the cockerel. I can just imagine Angus's little face on the tube journey, bless. Try not to stress about your holiday, it all comes good in the end and you'll have a fab time with all your family there too.

Leanne said...

Gillina,

I'm sure you've had oodles of replies to your question about the cost of France. It was more expensive than we thought it would be. But as we were in Betty and self catering, we were able to offset these costs and allow for the treats too. I had squirrled away a little money for markets and the like, but in the end it was sooooo hot that I couldn't even contemplate taking the boys (and I include Marc there) to one. Lucky for me I found the best little toy shop, and indulged in a bit of children's stationary!!
You will have a fabulous time.

Leanne xx

Leanne said...

Oh my God,

Gillian. I meant to write Gillian. It came out backwards. I am going to the optician's next week. Can you think why?

xx

The Custards said...

It is wonderful how so many have popped up and given advice and tips - that is a really lovely thing. I am sure that you will have the most lovely time - we have only been abroad with the children twice - prior to that it has always been skin flint camping holidays. As always it is the simplest things that are so often the best and most appreciated
Have a lovely time away
Best wishes
Jenny

Andrea @ little buckles said...

Ah yes, and we thought it was cheap to live here! Have your main meal at lunch when many bars have a cheap menu and they are usually really good as that's when the French eat. Have a great time! x

Sol said...

oh also I don't know if it is just me, but we couldn't find normal squash. So if your kids drink that, maybe take a bottle with you. As there are a few of you. maybe a bottle for each car so you can dilute it when there.

I have been to Bergerac and to Aubettere a few times. it can be very warm. But oh the sunflowers oh my gosh you are going to have an amazing time. you will think you are in a painting.

Anonymous said...

To add our penn'orth. We have just come back from France and was shocked by the cost of eating. Even a takeaway pizza set you back 12 euro. AS for a sit down meal, splash out and have to 16 euro prix fixe and what do you get. Something and a lot of chips. Was never offered a fresh vegetable except if I ordered a salad. As for breakfast, 6 euro for a roll and jam and a coffee. When the french come to an english caff they must think that they are in heaven. We burnt up our holiday budget for two years in no time.

goedkope vakantie in spanje said...

I think,i found the information that i wanna find through this post...Holiday is a great time that you want to spend with your love one but money is the biggest problem that ever comes so don't worry just follow all these tips that are given in this post or gets all holiday in your budget...!!