First up came tackling the big ticket item, flights.
To hunt for fares, I used Hopper, an app that "analyzes billions of flights," according to its website. It suggested both the best days to travel and the best times to purchase flights. If your plans are flexible, the app can show a range of days that might be cheaper than others to book tickets. Once you select a window when you want to go, it gives you notifications for the best time to purchase.
I started looking for flights a couple of months before I wanted to take the trip and watched prices on the app for a few weeks. I also checked other travel sites like Kayak, Google Flights and Expedia. Though some experts have nixed the idea that booking sites use your search history data to increase the fares you're interested in, I used an incognito window just in case.
I purchased flights about a month and a half in advance and chose ones that were to leave and return on Thursdays, avoiding what can be higher prices for weekend travel. As a trade-off, I did have to take two extra days off of work.
In total, I paid $1,041.86 including taxes and fees for economy class, round trip tickets from New York's JFK airport to Paris' Charles de Gaulle.
So was that a good price?
According to air travel data company Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), the average ticket price to fly from any airport in New York City to any airport in Paris this summer is $1,498.94. That number is based on all round trip tickets purchased via U.S. travel agencies this year for travel in June through August. It was based on data from 30,782 sales.
Charles Schmitt, who has been a travel agent for 20 years, and works at Classic Travel in New York, gives a similar estimate. If you are buying in advance, the average cost for a an economy flight during the summer time from New York to Paris can range from $1,100 to $1,400, he says.
Schmitt says prices can go much higher if you book at the last minute or when schools let out for summer vacation.
My travel buddy Katie didn't use an app, but found another trick to save money. After she booked her flights, she took a look at the website again later that day. The cost for a seat on her flight had fallen by nearly $100, so she called Delta. They refunded the difference on her card. Sometimes, it pays to pick up the phone.
My estimated savings on flights: $260 (based on a mid-range price comparison)