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Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

A few months ago, I wrote about how my husband and I are finally ready to consider taking our kids on a big overseas trip.  We have two places we are strongly considering, so we are currently debating the merits of Paris vs. New Zealand for the big trip.

My husband and I honeymooned in Paris, and I have desired to return there for years. There are sites we didn’t see and sites we would like to repeat.

New Zealand is my husband’s idea. He knows people who traveled there recently, and the beauty of the country is hard to ignore.

To be clear, this trip isn’t about what is best for our kids. There are many places that would be better suited for them and for us as a family.

This trip is for the adults, and the kids will be coming with us. Since our extended family seems to run for the hills whenever we bring up the topic of watching our kids for an adults-only trip, we’ve decided we should travel where we want to go while we are still young with our kids in tow.

We are really torn on Paris vs. New Zealand. The itineraries would be so different, and each destination has its pros and cons.

Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

Potential Paris Itinerary

Lodging and Transportation: We would rent a condo for the week and rely on public transportation.

Day 1:  Explore the area around our condo rental. Visit the Eiffel Tower and bring a picnic dinner to Champ de Mars.

Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

Ah, Paris! Photo by Ivanna Salgado on Unsplash

Day 2:  Visit the Louvre, Notre Dame and/or Arc de Triomphe.

Day 3:  Explore the many nooks and crannies of Sacre Coeur.

Day 4:  See the Catacombs.

Days 5 & 6:  Disneyland!! No surprise we would visit, right?!?!

Day 7:  Take a day trip outside of Paris to one of these locations.

Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

I would love a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel. Photo by Okamatsu Fujikawa on Unsplash

Pros and Cons of Visiting Paris

Pros:

Sentimental Meaning. Paris brings up great memories for us. We wanted to go back on our 10-year anniversary, but we couldn’t find anyone to watch our kids for that long. This trip would roughly coincide with our 15th anniversary.

Easy Flights. Direct flights from DFW to CDG are only ~9 hours, which isn’t much longer than it takes for us to fly to Hawaii. I can totally picture us being ok for that long in coach.

Paris would also be fairly easy to get to using miles and/or cheap flights on a discount airline like WOW or Norwegian Air.

Convenient Location and Lodging. We could easily fill an entire week in and around Paris, so there’s no need to pack up and stay in different cities. Since we would be staying at a condo for the whole week, we could pack light and wash clothes as needed. We could also purchase food and have meals in our condo, which would satisfy my picky eaters.

Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

Notre-Dame in Paris. Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash

Cons:

Language Barrier. My husband and I learned a little French before our honeymoon, but we’ve forgotten most of it. We would need to re-learn it and teach some words and phrases to our kids. Learning a new language would be good for all of us, so this isn’t a big con in my eyes.

Terrorism. The reality is that Europe has more terrorism than other locations. I won’t let it stop me from traveling, but it’s something to be aware of.

Been there, done that. The biggest downside to visiting Paris in my husband’s eyes is that we’ve already been there, so our adventure will not be new to us (but still new to our kids).

New Zealand Itinerary

I’ve poured all over travel sites on New Zealand, and I admit that picking an itinerary is overwhelming. There is just so much to see and do!

But, since my husband really wants to visit Hobbiton movie set, we would focus on the north island.

Lodging and Transportation: We would need to stay in multiple hotels in at least 4 different locations. We would have to rent a car (and remember to drive on the left side!)

Days 1&2:  Explore Auckland (Sky Tower, day trip to Waiheke Island).

Days 3:  Drive to Hobbiton (2 hours). Stay overnight somewhere close.

Paris vs. New Zealand for Overseas Trip

Hobbiton movie set. Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

Day 4:  Drive to Waitomo Glowworm Caves (1.5 hours from Hobbitron area). These worms are only found in New Zealand!

Days 5 & 6:  Visit Rotorua (2 hour drive from Waitomo). Check out the geothermal wonders and learn about Maori culture.

Day 7:  Drive to Whittianga (3.5 hours from Rotorua). Visit Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.

Day 8:  Drive back to Auckland for flight home.

Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Pros and Cons of Visiting New Zealand

Pros:

Scenery. From everything I see in movies and photos, New Zealand is absolutely spectacular. Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring.

Same Language. We wouldn’t have to learn a new language, and maybe that would make the trip easier on all of us.

Safe Animals. My husband insists this is a major benefit of visiting New Zealand. There’s nothing in New Zealand that can kill you! There are no poisonous snakes or crocodiles in New Zealand (unlike its neighbor, Australia).

New Adventure. None of us have been to New Zealand, and the places we would visit are definitely adventurous! My husband, who never seems to care about having input on our trips, is really passionate about visiting New Zealand.

Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

Piha, 45 minutes from Auckland. Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

Cons:

Long, Expensive Flights. Flight time is at least double the time it takes to fly to Paris. We’re talking about at least 16 hours of butt-in-seat time in coach class on an airplane. Also, tickets using miles and cash are more expensive than tickets to Europe. Many award routings stop in Australia, which adds even more hours to butt-in-seat time. Oy!

Multiple Cities and Hotels. I don’t see us going to New Zealand and staying in a condo in one location for the entire week. We would be switching cites and hotels several times during the week. This will be much more taxing on all of us. And it seems like schlepping around, which is not my favorite.

Driving on Left Side. This may be minor, but to get around, we would need to traverse mountain roads on the left side of the highway. Yikes! And, almost every day we would be driving 2-3 hours to get to our next destination. We are not a good road trip family!

Getting Our Ducks in a Row

We need to figure out Paris vs. New Zealand within the next few months if we hope to go in early 2019. It seems like a long time away, but we would need to have all the necessary miles to book flights at 11 months out.

We don’t have enough miles for five round-trip tickets to New Zealand at this time, so we would need to steer our credit card strategy in that direction now so that we have the miles available in a few months.

Hopefully, we will make it to both of these destinations eventually. It’s just a matter of which one comes first. At any rate, we don’t want to wait until we’re too old to enjoy them or physically unable to travel.

Have you been to Paris or New Zealand? What are the primary factors you weigh when deciding the location of a big trip?

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Author: Nancy

Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

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40 thoughts on “Paris vs. New Zealand for Family Overseas Trip

  1. We are taking our kids (ages 6 and 8) to Paris in a few weeks as part of a larger Spain and France trip. We found good flights out of Paris, so it made sense to spend a few days there before we leave. The big thing I’m worried about in Paris is a lack of bathrooms. Last time we were there, I felt like there weren’t any bathrooms anywhere. LOL

    I would love to take my kids to New Zealand/Australia and we are considering it for summer 2019. Like you though, I worry about the long, long flights and how so much travel time might impact our trip. If we do travel to Australia/New Zealand, we would probably make it a 3 week trip just so we would have time to recover and enjoy it.

    • @Holly When we were in Paris for our honeymoon, I remember the lack of bathrooms were an issue for me (just me, without my kids!) I forgot about that part.

  2. I can’t tell you which destination you should pick because you’ve summarized the set of pros and cons for each of them quite nicely. However, I do want to make a suggestion on making a flight to New Zealand a bit easier. You can fly Air Tahiti Nui or Fiji Airways and spend one night in one of those places. Air Tahiti Nui is a decent option if you can find availability on a daytime flight from LAX ( 8 hours). It gets in at 10 PM, and there is a morning flight to New Zealand (6 hours total, leaves on certain days of the week). So, it would allow you guys to break up the itinerary and get some rest. The price should be 40k AA miles or 50k Delta miles. The same can be done with Fiji Airways. You can get a quick taste of a South Pacific island and get some rest too.

    • @Leana Can we stop over on those islands for a few nights on award tickets? Or would the awards be considered two separate award tickets? Stopping over somewhere warm and beachy does sound appealing.

      • @Nancy If you stop over in Tahiti or Fiji for longer than 24 hours, you will have to pay an additional 15k miles to fly to New Zealand. To me, it’s worth it, but you said you are low on miles, so…
        Another option is to apply for Avianca credit card. It costs 21k miles for PPT-AKL route on Air New Zealand (flight departs at night). United charges 22.5k miles for the same itinerary, I believe. Availability seems to be decent, unlike when you start out in US. Of course, dealing with Avianca is a can of worms.

      • P.S. I was talking about AA miles, when I mentioned 15k pricing. Other programs will have different requirements.
        One program I forgot to mention is Alaska Mileage Plan for Fiji Airways. You can get a free stopover and still pay 40k miles all-in from US, assuming there is availability. This is the best deal if you actually want to visit Fiji. But you will need a LOT of Alaska miles for 5 people, and those are kind of hard to get.

      • @Leana We have enough AA miles for 2 round-trip tickets with stopovers from LA to Fiji to Auckland. I guess we could pay for the other 3 and use hotel points inside of New Zealand. So much to think about!

  3. We’ve done both with kids. Your itineraries sound great but that is a lot of driving to do in New Zealand in 8 days with 3 kids. And 4 different hotels in 8 days doesn’t sound fun to me either. I’d do Paris unless I could extend the New Zealand trip by a few days.

    • @Denise Thanks for you input. My husband is currently pulling for New Zealand, so we’re trying to see if we could modify it to make it less exhausting. We could possibly do day tours from Auckland to a few of those places and not have to change hotels. Hmmmm….

  4. I’ve been to Australia and Asia with kids in business class. Even then, it took my kids 3 days to adjust to the time difference. If you go that far, I’d recommend staying 2-3 weeks. Eight days is way too short, then trying to do an ambitious itinerary and I fear that the experience may dissuade you from taking kids on future trips.

    Two years ago we went to Paris for Thanksgiving week. Flew coach and rented a 2BDR apartment which was great. It was located within walking distance to the Louvre and to several metro stations. A nice bonus was that the owner agreed to an early check-in since our flight landed at 6:30am. Thus we were able to arrive, sleep for 4 hours, then wander off to see the Eiffel Tower in the late afternoon. We had no jet-lag issues whatsoever. Your itinerary sounds appropriate for kids. If you visit Norte Dame, I’d recommend climbing up to the bell tower. I did it with my daughter and had a great experience. She still talks about it with her friends.

    Europe is a good first overseas trip for kids and London, Paris, or Rome make good destinations since there is much to do.

  5. Oh man! If you’ve already been to Paris, this is an easy choice – go to New Zealand! It’s a long flight but you guys knew that or else it wouldn’t have been in your top two choices 😉

  6. I’ve wanted to go to New Zealand–and for the same reason as your husband! I’d LOVE to see Hobbiton . I must confess to being a Tolkien nerd though… 🙂

    • @David T I just had too chime in when I read your comment! My husband is a huge Tolkien nerd too, so naturally, I thought he would want to visit Hobbiton. But he has no desire, for some reason. I actually would like to visit it myself, but not sure we can fit it into our 2-day stop in Auckland next year.

    • @David T My husband said that if we go to New Zealand there is no way we are traveling that far and NOT seeing Hobbiton. I’ve never seen the movies, but the set looks really cute and I think my daughter would love exploring it!

  7. I would say if you have the time and money do New Zealand – but 8 days seems like a very short trip to NZ. With the kids, I would say Paris!

  8. I would say do NZ if you could add more time; Paris if you only have a week. This post made me realize I am fortunate to have family that will take my kids, whether it be for a short weekend getaway or a week for us to go to Hawaii. I recently saw an article that said grandparents that babysit their grandchildren live longer. My mom will live forever! 🙂

    • @Jennifer You are very fortunate to have family that wants to babysit! My husband and I really want to stay healthy to provide that for our grandchildren someday.

  9. I’ve been to both. I’d recommend doing NZ with the kids and save Paris for one day when it can be just the two of you – more romantic. Chances are your kids will make it to Paris one day, even if they go on their own as adults, NZ though…? And NZ is SO kid friendly on so many levels. My neighbor who is from Madrid, Spain once commented to me that NZ was designed for children.

    One thing you forgot to consider is the exchange rate (unless I read too fast?). The airfare is expensive, but once you get to NZ everything is 30% off. In Paris everything will be a 20% increase on price. That adds up.

    Having traveled both North and South Islands pretty extensively. I would *strongly* recommend you reconsider your NZ itinerary. If you only have one week I’d spend all of it in the South Island. It would be a shame to come all this way and not see the best this country has to offer. It’s a big deal the South Island. You have to see it to believe it. The North Island is cute, but the South Island is drop-dead gorgeous.

    I just read your post out loud to my Kiwi man, “Nothing in NZ can kill you.” He responded, “Except the drivers”. Hahaha!

    • And after reading all the comments…I do tend to agree with most comments above. If you only have a week…? Maybe Paris is more practical (sad voice)…? Unless you can extend (hopeful happy voice)…?

      • @Amanda We were thinking of going in March over Spring Break when we would have a week and maybe a few days for flights to/from. However, maybe we should consider going in June when my kids are off school. We could for sure spend 2 weeks then. I’m just worried about it being too cold! 🙂

    • @Amanda Is there one destination on the South Island we could visit in 2-3 days? Honestly, New Zealand overwhelms me, there is just too much to see and do!

      • @Nancy. It’s “cold” in winter, mostly windy. It’s a long couple islands, so if you’re sticking to the North Island, it won’t be as bad as the South Island.

        Remember, I’m from Minnesota so I laugh at the “cold” here, but you being a Texan, might feel it differently. The advantage to going in June is that you’ll find better deals: Less expensive and better availability.

        To give you an idea of the “cold” I live with in the winter: I live in Wellington, bottom of the North Island. It is very windy here in Wellington, worse than the rest of the island. If I’m just going from car to house or house to car, I can wear the equivalent of a “fall jacket”. But if we are taking the kids to the park, which people do here in the winter, then I sometimes where a ski jacket so that I can stand outside comfortably while he plays outside. I’m the kind of person that’s always cold, even when it’s “cold”. The jacket protects me from the wind, more than the cold. It can get down to freezing, but when it does, it’s barely freezing, usually at night time, and it’s a big deal that makes the news. This is funny to a Minnesotan.

        In the winter, you know the sun sets earlier, so your daylight would get cut short. Because there’s hills everywhere, the sun often sets earlier than usual so if you went in the winter (June) I would plan accordingly. As a tourist in NZ, I never liked driving on the left side of the road outside of the cities in the dark. The roads are very hilly and windy (curvy, not breezy). There’s hardly any freeways, and some roads are very narrow. This makes road tripping fun and exciting and beautiful, but head-on collisions are a danger here, so I didn’t feel as comfortable driving at night, and I like to see the view when travelling.

        In my research, I’ve noticed that prices seem to peak around June 23rd-25th. Around the first day of “summer” in US. I’m guessing because it’s high season in The States. So if you can come before then, you’d have a better chance at finding good deals. Avoid coming in July as there is a two week holiday then and all New Zealanders will be on holiday and prices get jacked up.

        I’ve read that the best time to get decent airfare to NZ from US is April and November and it seems to be true. Either it’s high season here, or there so you have to shoot for something in the middle for the best deal.

        I’d say if your choice was 1 week of NZ in January or 2 weeks in June. I’d take 2 weeks in June. It’s “cold” but it can be hit or miss. You can get sunny days where all you need is a sweater. Our kids still run around in shorts in winter. It’s never deathly cold. I don’t own a pair of gloves and I never wear a hat.

        If you had only 2-3 days for the South Island, I would probably recommend you go to Queenstown. The town itself is kind of “meh”. It’s fine. But it’s not Paris! Haha! But it’s the center of everything beautiful. You can fly there from Auckland and use it as a base to explore and do some day trips and expensive excursions such as…

        You can fly to Milford Sound and take the boat cruise. Worth it. Even if it’s expensive to book that little tiny plane. It’s worth it. The view is great! You MUST take the gondola up to the top of Queenstown and see the view. MUST! I repeat! The drive down Skipper’s Canyon is pretty neat (you have to hire someone to drive you – you’re car won’t be insured on the road). Watching the bunji jumpers at Kawarau Bridge over the river is fun. You can walk right out behind the jumpers and watch from the bridge or you can watch from the viewing platform. Or take a jump! I’d skip the jet boat. And there’s always the beautiful drive to Wanaka.

        The best part of NZ is the driving (once you get out of Auckland!). So if you go for an extended stay I’d recommend skipping Auckland all together, flying to Wellington and hanging for a day or two and then taking ferry across or flying to Christchurch. From Christchurch you can drive to Akaroa (google images of Akaroa!!!! I LOVVVVVEEE). Drive to Tekapu…Hike Hooker’s Valley…Drive to Wanaka…and on to Queenstown. Something like that. Not looking at a map at the moment!

        Sorry! That was a long answer to a short question!

      • @Nancy – and P.S. I always remember to calculate 3 days for travel to NZ. One day to get there. One day to get home. And one day to cross the dateline. So a 10-day vacation turns into a 7 day vacation, somehow. And a 14 day-vacation turns into an 11-day vacation. I travelled in NZ years ago for 2 months. There’s tons to do and see, as you pointed out in your comments. Getting here is half the battle. If you make it, you should stay as long as you can and make the most of it, chances are you won’t get back. And spending a couple nights in Fiji isn’t a bad way to come either! I’ve done it and loved it!

      • @Nancy – I ran it past my Kiwi man and he said he’d prefer 1 week in summer to 2 in winter. He said with a confused face, “It will be wet and rainy and cold….” But he suggested if you were into skiing it could be good. So I guess with so many pros and cons and different ways of looking at it, there is no wrong answer. I’d just follow your hearts. Which plan gets the family now excited overall? Which plan do people mouse react to? Go with that one!

      • @Amanda Thanks for getting his input. My husband is really more excited for New Zealand, so maybe we’ll see if we can make that work for an extended Spring Break trip. I was online looking at the luge in Rotorua and my 13-year-old started looking over my shoulder. “Where is that?!?! Are we going there?!?!” Not that he wouldn’t be excited about Paris, too, but the two destinations are so different.

  10. Honestly, a week in Paris sounds just divine to me! I’ve been there so many times and even lived there for a semester. I just find it to be the most beautiful city in the world and never tire of it. And how cool to visit a place as a couple and then years later with your kids? I know the trip isn’t for your kids, but what do they think of experiencing all the landmarks and Frenchness?? I now so appreciate all the European culture I absorbed while traveling with my family as a kid, though I didn’t necessarily at the time… but Paris at least has such cool and well known sights even for kids, plus lots of scenic parks to run around in.

    That said, I’m sure New Zealand is absolutely gorgeous and amazing. It’s just sooooo far for only a week… I’m getting stressed even reading your itinerary and people’s suggestions! It really seems like you should include the South Island, and it sounds like overall you’d really rather go to NZ. So I would say try to get a second week and go for it. Good luck, YOLO!

    • I have to say that the NZ itinerary seems pretty reasonable. NZ is small. It’s pretty quick and easy and usually beautiful to get from point a to point b. But yeah, South Island is king.

  11. Man, what a conundrum!! I think I’d go with Paris – just because of the flight length. Jet lag kills me, I’d hate to see what would happen if it was me + my kids all jet lagged and miserable!

  12. I would pick Paris over NZ because of the flight and being able to stay in one place. I just looked at your link for day trips from Paris, and they look amazing. I wish your ready Erik Kolar would do a full write up of Paris with kids since they have already been there. It’s on our family’s wish list, and I’m really hoping I can book it in a few years.

    As for NZ, maybe if you had more time…long flights and jumping hotels is just not my cup of tea, but seeing Hobbiton would be soooo cool.

    • @Stephanie Those day trips outside of Paris are really appealing to me. We stayed in the Loire Valley for a few days after Paris and it was awesome, but I think it’s a little too far for a day trip with my kids.

      I haven’t even watched the movies and I still think Hobbiton looks so cool! 🙂

  13. Nancy,

    Based on my earlier post (https://milesforfamily.com/2017/07/07/reader-seth-gives-awesome-tips-visiting-new-zealand-kids/), you can probably guess that I’d choose NZ.

    In our trips to NZ, we face the same issue you’re confronted with – traveling with kids AND wanting to see a lot of things/cover a lot of ground. We were fortunate in that our first few trips were before we had kids. In our more recent trips (with kids) we’ve tried to stay in 1 region, with many attractions/activities within a 1-2 hour drive. This approach worked well for us in the Nelson/Abel Tasman, Dunedin, and Queenstown/Wanaka regions.

    A few general thoughts:

    If possible, limit your time in Auckland and focus on the South Island. That said, one thing that’s far better in the North Island is thermal hot springs.

    Skip Waitomo. It was ok, but there are more exciting attractions in NZ, and other places to see glowworms and tramp through caves. Also, considering your proposed itinerary, it would eat time, add extra travel, and require additional hotel switching.

    Check out the NZ Frenzy series by Scott Cook, which will give you even more ideas. Even if you don’t have the book, there’s lots of useful online content and photos.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to reach out if you have specific questions.

    • @Seth Thanks for the info! I re-read your NZ post, and the trouble is that every part looks fabulous and breathtaking! I will check out the NZ Frenzy series. Thanks!

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