In May my husband T.R. and I traveled internationally for the first time. It was the best experience of our married life. But how was a trip of any size possible for poor, young, college kids with no frequent flier miles and no extra cash to spend? Here are my tips on how to travel Italy on a budget.
Tip #1: How To Plan Your Budget For The Trip
When you plan your budget make sure you include the number of days off work, travel destination(s), and transportation costs FIRST. Your flight is usually the largest expense to factor into all the above. In the beginning we planned 2-3 weeks of vacation time. We wanted to travel to Switzerland, France, and Italy. Our budget was $4500 for everything.
After months of planning this was narrowed down to traveling Italy for 17 days. This fit the best flight we could find (Roundtrip non-stop from SLC to London Heathrow, and then a non-stop from Heathrow to Bologna). We wanted to really experience as much of the country as we could. Adding France and Switzerland was too expensive, and would have been difficult to pack into 17 days.
Tip #2: Work Extra To Build That Savings Account
This tip important because without both of us working extra serving shifts at the restaurants we would not have had the money to spend on the trip. After working 50 hour weeks between two jobs, I can say it was worth it. 🙂
Cutting costs like eating out, buying items you don’t need, and entertainment are other great ways to build up your savings account.
Tip #3: Plan around best flights
Just because a flight is $200 less than the next one does not mean it is the best option. You need to factor in flight times, jet lag, layovers, and available services upon landing. So if your flight from LAX to London is 27 hours, 4 changes, and arrives at 2:00 in the morning it might not be the best option (even if it is a “great deal”, TRUST ME). You will be have wasted 2 days traveling, be dead tired, and the chance of getting transportation or a hotel at 2:00 am is slim.
Tip #4: Don’t Plan To Eat Out Every Meal
I know the foodie in you wants to eat out for every meal, but if you are on a budget just don’t do it. Seriously. One of the largest travel costs can be food! We planned to eat out for one meal every other day, and we wanted to eat somewhere really nice twice. If you must eat out somewhere in Italy order pizza and bring your own water bottle (you are charged a ridiculous amount for water in restaurants). It is cheap, very filling, and SO GOOD. I swear we ate our weight in pizza. Ahh.. *drool *….
Looking back I loved the days we went to the local grocery store or market and got a hot crunchy baguette, fresh mozzarella cheese, juicy red tomatoes, and some salty prosciutto. I enjoyed doing something “normal” while traveling, and browsing the aisles of a new grocery store is always fun (especially in Italy!).
Break Down Of What Our Budget Looked Like:
SLC-LONDON HEATHROW & HEATHROW- BOLOGNA
We used all public transportation (which needs it’s own blog post don’t you think?)
AirBnB is your friend 🙂 However, we stayed in hotels and hostels as well. Our favorites were AirBnB stays. Extra tip: Choose lodging by its location, even if it costs you an extra 30 dollars. Distance is time; time is money.
We went to the Uffizi Gallery, Museum of San Marco, Baptistry/Tower/Duomo, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Baths of Caracalla, Capitoline Hill, Palatine Hill and Palatine Museum, Pantheon, Vatican Museums, The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, Trevi Fountain, and much more 🙂
We mainly used WiFi, but did get a cheap data plan. You will want some form of data for GPS use. We used Google maps all the time.
You could cut this cost down more if you wanted to. We were very frugal with eating, which was the largest contributor to staying on budget.
Gifts, souvenirs, etc. all fit into this category.
TOTAL= $4500 for 17 days in 6 different destinations in Italy
What are some of your tips on budget-friendly traveling?? I’m positive I haven’t covered it all.