What We Spent on Our Trip to Italy
My husband and I feel very fortunate that until recently all our European travels have been piggy-backed onto work trips. This has saved us thousands of dollars in the past, and made traveling internationally fairly affordable for us. I find it important to clarify our past travel budgeting experiences, because I'm about to share exactly what we spent on our trip to Italy over the summer. This was our first European trip together where we paid for everything ourselves. Some of you are rolling your eyes at this. Trust me, I know how privileged this sounds. Shay and I have thanked God for these opportunities, and we feel very blessed! As soon as we started planning for Italy I knew I wanted to document what we spent, and share it on my blog. My hope is this will help readers plan their next Italian adventure!
Shay and I started planning to go to Italy for his 30th birthday about five months in advance. I didn't have a clue as to what this was going to cost us. I can’t really say we “budgeted”, more so we cut back on unnecessary spending for those five months (i.e. less Uber rides, less weekday lunch outings, more BYOB restaurants, etc.) I was prepared for the worst, which was great because I was pleasantly surprised when I added everything up!
In total we spent $5,645 on our trip to Italy. This includes flights, accommodations, food, excursions, travel in country, and spending money. Below is a breakdown of what we spent in each city. Everything is shown in US dollars. If we paid in Euros, I converted it using the average exchange rate during the time we were there, which was 1.13. Numbers shown below are for two people.
Where We Saved:
- Our #1 savings was on the flights, hands down. We hit the jackpot with $832 round-trip tickets each, with a connection in the US on the way there, and a direct flight back - both at reasonable travel times. (Thanks Google Flights!)
- We got ourselves a Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, which waives all international transaction fees. Booking things online with a regular Chase credit card usually incurs a 3% fee if the thing you buy is in Euros. Withdrawing money from an ATM outside of the US with a Chase debit card incurs a $5 charge for each withdrawal + a 3% fee. With this credit card we took out less money from ATMs, which saved us from getting dinged. We also used this card to book our accommodations prior to leaving. This saved us around $85 up front. Of course there are other savings I can't really put a number on, which has more to do with the amount of points we've earned on the card since we got it. (Note: The card is free the first year. Also, this is not a sponsored post.)
- Out of all the activities we wanted to do, there was only one option for a “freebie”, which was our admission to the Vatican Museum. We happened to be in Rome the last Sunday of the month, when admission is free for everyone. This saved us about $40. People warned us this was a bad idea because of how crowded it would be on a “free day”, but I’m happy to report that it was a great choice! We had to get there about an hour before the doors opened to get in line, but I’m a sucker for a deal, so to me this was worth the savings. (Plus, we got to see the Pope speak, NBD.)
Where We Splurged:
- We paid $221 for a VIP tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. General admission would have cost us about $30, but I thought it was worth paying extra to go to the underground, the arena floor, and to the third tier - these spaces are closed to everyone else. In addition, we had a very knowledgeable archaeologist as our guide, which I appreciated as opposed to being on our own.
- In Rome we did a wine tasting dinner for $150. This was our most expensive meal. We did this our first night in Italy, and I’m so glad we did. It really set us up for success with ordering wine for the duration of our trip. This has also carried over to life back in The States. I now know what kinds of wine I like and what kinds I don’t like.
- We hired a private driver to pick us up from the Naples train station and drop us off at our apartment in Positano. This cost us $160 for a 1.5 hour ride. If we had taken the public bus, it would have cost us $80. This was a difficult decision. I’m a public transit girl through and through. Initially I wanted to take the bus, however, after extensive research I learned that the buses go pretty slow and tend to be so crowded that you could end up standing for 3 straight hours. For me, this wasn’t worth the risk. On the plus side, we only needed the private driver one-way. (From Positano we took a ferry to Capri and then a ferry from Capri back to Naples.)
My best advice for budgeting for a big trip like this is to decide up front what’s worth the extra money and what isn’t. When you’re spending money gradually over several months, it can be easy to forget your limits. Write it down as you go, and don’t forget about setting aside spending money for while you’re there.
I’ll leave you with one last bit of information. I went back and looked at what we paid for dinner in each city. Below is an average dinner cost for two people, including (at least) one bottle of wine and dessert.
If you have any questions about the cost of the trip, questions about any of the cities we went to, or budgeting tips of your own, feel free to comment below!