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Italy Travel Budget for 2013

Bob Little (Bob the Navigator)

Independent travel to Europe continues to be popular with American tourists, and it seems that Italy has become everyone's favorite destination. This phenomenon is certainly not difficult to understand for those of us who have learned to savor Bella Italia.

The airfares are the primary reason for increased costs in recent years. The airlines have cut the total number of flights and available seats while the supply/demand line has headed north. Many travelers are experiencing sticker shock on recent airfares. This itinerary assumes flying from Chicago to Rome and a return from Venice - an open jaw itinerary. The advantage of an open jaw itinerary is to maximize your time on the ground without backtracking to your starting point for your return flight.

During the past ten years I have been fortunate to have planned more than 300 personalized itineraries for independent travelers to southern Europe, most of them to Italy. Understandably, one of the first questions I get from a prospective client is about the projected costs. My quick answer is the obvious one, "that depends on you and your preferred travel style." As we delve deeper it becomes clear that the style choices of would-be independents can vary widely from youthful backpackers to luxury five star jet-setters. We will ignore these extremes for now and concentrate on the more mainstream middle ranges that we will label as 2, 3, and 4 star budgets.

Here are some assumptions for our sample itinerary (based on an actual client trip):

  • This is a 14-day (13 nights) itinerary to Italy for a two people during the shoulder months of April, May, September and October. These are the best months for travel to Italy.
  • Arrival into Rome and departure from Venice, or vice versa, with tourist class tickets.
  • The 2-star budget assumes all rail or bus travel. The rental car options include insurance and mileage, and are for a four day rental period. Car choices are compact/manual (3 star) and mid-size/auto (4 star). Prices are from AutoEurope.
  • All prices assume an exchange rate of €1.00= $1.30. I would add 10% to the accommodation prices if you plan to spend all of your time in the "big 3" art cities of Rome, Florence and Venice.
  • This budget was calculated based on a typical itinerary to include the four destinations of Rome, Florence, rural Tuscany and Venice. A car was included for the Tuscany days, and was dropped in Venice (3 & 4 star). The actual itinerary was:
    • 4 nights Rome
    • 2 nights Florence
    • 4 nights Rural Tuscany
    • 3 nights Venice
    • Totaling 13 Nights In Italy

Now that we have our parameters set let us go ahead and plan our budget. Remember, this is for planning purposes only and is really controlled by you. You may decide to blow the budget on Murano glass, Florentine leather, or Bellagio silk - not hard to do. One way to control costs is to consider renting apartments for stays of three nights or more.

AIRFARE (2 PEOPLE) 2452 2452 2452
RAIL/BUS/TAXI 250 80 110
GAS (PETROL) N/A 110 130
TOLLS N/A 50 50
HOTELS & INNS (13 NIGHTS) 1700 2900 3900
FOOD AND DRINK 1200 1500 2100
TOURISM COSTS 400 400 600
MISC. EXTRAS 150 150 200
DAILY LIVING TOTALS $3650 $5150 $7100
TOTAL TRIP COSTS: $6352 $8222 $10352

Let me emphasize that these cost projections are merely estimates and will vary widely based on seasonal variations and desired destinations. The fact is that some couples may enjoy a great two-week adventure in Italy and spend less than $4000, while others may let a commercial tour company make the decisions for them and end up spending $15,000.

As a typical 3-star traveler, I have seen my personal trip costs increase from about $5,000 to more than $8,000 over the past 20 years. Our current strategy is to stay longer in one location and rent apartments (i.e., Slow Travel). We did that during our past three trips to Italy and will again in the future. It allows us to save on hotel costs and to only eat out one meal per day.

Is it worth it? You bet it is! Independent travel in Europe is not for everyone, but it is my passion. After some 27 creative sojourns, most of them since 1984, I cannot wait to begin planning my next adventure. That is precisely the reason that I enjoy doing it for others. It is like a crossword puzzle for me - so satisfying when it all comes together.

Bob the Navigator is a retired IBMer whose passion for European travel has evolved into a hobby and trip planning business - www.bobthenavigator.homestead.com (Slow Travel Classified Listing). See Bob's Slow Travel member page for a list of his articles.

For fun, check out Bob's past budgets: Budget 2010, Budget 2009, Budget 2008, Budget 2006, Budget 2005, Budget 2004.


© Bob Little, 2013

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