Job Perks

Job Perks: A Week in the Paris Office

by Jackie D on December 3, 2015

paris memorialLast month I visited our Paris office for work. I arrived about 48 hours after the attacks took place, so… it was definitely a very surreal time to be there. CDG Airport was pretty empty (has this ever happened?) There were police on the streets everywhere. The mood in the office was heavy, but all of my coworkers were safe, thankfully, and so it seemed like everyone was trying their best to move on and get back to work and not let the terrorist attacks scare them from carrying on with their lives (which, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to fight against terrorist attacks).

And so, despite the mood and the heightened security throughout the city, it was a very nice and productive week in the office. I got to meet people who I usually only e-mail or Skype chat with, and I got a taste of working from an office that is located right in the middle of a big city (and a 5 minute walk from where I was staying! That’s like 489574 hours shorter than my normal commute in New York!)

It was one of those weeks where you talk about big plans and New Years goals, and where you try to cram in as many meetings as possible because you don’t know when you’ll have the chance to meet face to face again. Hopefully, though, it’s looking like my next chance to meet up with my Paris colleagues won’t be too far into the future!

One of the only rough things about the week was my jet lag. I rarely suffer from jet lag — in fact, I usually really enjoy it, because my main side effect is usually just being wide awake and productive in the morning, which literally never happens for me in life otherwise. But this time I just could not get on Paris time to save my life. I think part of it was just the stress and adrenaline from being in the office for the week and being nervous about the attacks, eager to make a good first impression on my new coworkers, and anxious about all of the plans and goals we have for 2016. So actually yes, maybe it was just stress and not jet lag that kept me wide awake at 4am almost every night I was there. That and all of the tiny espressos.

Anyway, overall it was a great week and I managed to sneak in some adventures during my lunch breaks, the brisk fall evenings, and the Saturday & Sunday I spent roaming around after the work week was over. I crossed pretty much every item off my Paris to-do list: Palais de Tokyo (contemporary art museum that was FANTASTIC, more on that later), Shakespeare & Co Bookstore + the new cafe they just opened next to it (with normal-sized coffees!), my favorite little Paris art gallery (where I finally bought some art!), some window shopping in the Galeries Vivienne (also where I hid from the rain in a cozy tea house with some hot chocolate and a good mystery book). It was the best. Paris is just always the best.

(PS: I also posted some photos & Paris tips on the office’s Instagram account during the week, including a photo of the crazy pretty Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette that I am absolutely obsessed with like a true Christmas tree fan girl)

paris shakespeare and co bookstoreparis art galleryparis shoppingparis metroparis palais de tokyoparis eiffel tower

More Job Perks:
15 Trains & 22 Cities in 10 Days
Sex & The City Tour in NYC

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Job Perks: A Week in France

by Jackie D on July 31, 2015

provence lavender

I should start off by saying this: my company did not pay for my trip to France, nor was this a business trip. It was a personal trip, strictly for fun, but it was a trip that was made much more affordable to me because I work in the travel industry, and specifically at a company that focuses on travel in Europe, meaning I have connections and benefits that make these sorts of trips more possible for me. This post is one in a series meant to show how working in the travel industry makes frequent travel a real possibility for me.

With that said: FRANCE HAPPENED! And it was the best. If I’m grouchy for the next few blog posts, it’s because I wish I was back in France eating pain au chocolat. Although — if that’s the case then I should technically always be grouchy, because when given the choice between doing anything and eating pain au chocolat, I think I’d rather always be eating pain au chocolat.

I chose to go to France because, as I mentioned, I work in the travel industry at a company focused on European travel, so Europe is more affordable for me than non-European places because of the benefits and connections associated with this job. This is why I seem to keep ending up in Europe instead of Tokyo or India or Australia (three of my dream trips right now) — I’ve got the connections for Europe, so you better believe I’m going to use them.

rue cremieux paris
All in all, this trip cost me about $1800 total. 
 This $1800 covered 8 days in France, and specifically all of this: a round-trip flight from JFK to Paris; 4 nights of hotel accommodation in Paris, 1 night of hotel accommodation in Marseille, and 3 nights of Air BnB accommodation in Aix-en-Provence; all meals (mostly pain au chocolat, let’s be real); all souvenirs; 2 days of a rental car in Aix-en-Provence; 3 train trips; a sightseeing cruise in Marseille; a walking tour in Paris; various beers and cocktails and tiny little coffees.

When you consider that a round-trip flight from New York to Paris in high season is usually, in itself, at least $1000, and that hotels can cost hundreds of dollars a night, $1800 total for everything I mentioned is actually kind of impressive, right?

Being able to stay within this budget is due largely to the things I chose to do — or not do — in France. Even though I get a few discounts I still have to think about things like, you know, paying rent when I get back home, so I made an effort to be thrifty whenever possible.

I didn’t do THAT much shopping — I actually kind of wish I had done more — and I didn’t have any extravagant meals. In fact, the biggest meal I treated myself to was a $40 dinner in Paris where I had a fancy cocktail, nice entree, AND dessert — this is normal for some people, but unheard of for me. Aside from this, my meal average for each day of this trip was honestly about $20 total per day. I don’t eat much when I travel alone.

tgv train france
My accommodation was also ridiculously affordable. I highly, HIGHLY recommend the Mama Shelter hotel chain to everyone — they are fairly new and have opened locations in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Los Angeles, and Istanbul. I stayed with them in both Paris and Marseille. These locations were each slightly outside the city center, which helps make them more affordable, but they were both close to metro and bus lines. Also, I keep seeing the Mama Shelter Paris restaurant show up on all these “best places to eat in Paris” lists, if you’re into that. Doesn’t hurt that their rooftop bar is essentially a Pinterest masterpiece.

They didn’t pay me to say any of this, and I didn’t get a discount with them at any point — they had no idea that I work in the travel industry. Strictly a fan girl moment.

So that’s an overview of the logistics of this trip, and now we can get to the fun part: photos. I’ll be doing posts specifically about each place I visited (Paris, Aix, Provence area, Marseille) but for now here is an overview of the 8 days I spent eating pain au chocolat (literally at least once a day, everyday), driving along the most narrow roads I have ever seen (quite adeptly, if I do say so myself), running through lavender fields off the side of the road (this was mostly because bees were chasing me, though), riding a bike for the first time in literally like 5 years, reading in the pool at my Air BnB in the French countryside, almost getting washed overboard on a cruise along the Calanques in Marseille, asking strangers to take my photo every so often, speaking French again and actually being somewhat decent at it after what feels like a ridiculously long time…marseille port

IMG_7407
sacre coeur parisNow to sort out and send some souvenirs before I eat them myself (because edible souvenirs = the only souvenirs).

1. Lavender fields, Provence
2. Rue Cremieux, Paris
3. TGV train at Paris Gare Lyon station
4. Marseille port
5. Some stylish person,  Aix-en-Provence
6. View of Paris from the Sacre Coeur

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Job Perks: 15 Trains & 22 Cities in 10 Days

by Jackie D on February 10, 2015

We must have set a world record. We must have. I think it was actually more than 15 different types of trains, but I get a different number every time I try to count, even when I have the itinerary right in front of me.

My job is pretty fabulous because I get to talk about social media and Europe and trains all day, and those are three of my favorite things. This month I got to do more than just talk about them — I got to head out to Europe to ride the trains! Hate me yet? If not, don’t worry. I have pictures.

The goal of the trip was this: experience as many different types of trains and train companies as possible. We also met up with several representatives from our partner companies, and we enjoyed a few quick city tours of some of our customers’ favorite destinations. It was a blast but it was also without a doubt one of the most exhausting things I have ever done — and that’s including my whirlwind weeklong trip to Israel a couple years back.

I am still trying to wrap my head around everything we saw and experienced on this trip so that I can properly attend to a few follow-up projects at work, so for now I’ll share some of my favorite photos and train rides from that trip. We started in London and made our way through Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, Montpellier, Marseilles, Nice, Ventimiglia, Turin, Milan, Rome, Florence, Locarno, Bellinzona, St Moritz, Lucerne, and a variety of other small Swiss towns that I am still trying to differentiate from one another. My favorite part? Switzerland, by a landslide.

view from train window
Turin Italy
london st pancras station
marseilles train station10937421_10103302772848563_157074091_nScreen Shot 2015-02-10 at 1.43.26 PMIMG_7174

More Job Perks:
Sex and the City Tour
Tickets to a Baseball Game

And for more about this trip, see the two blog posts I wrote for Rail Europe:
How to Make the Most of a Quick Trip Through Europe
72 Hours on the Scenic Swiss Travel System

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