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Italy Travel Budget for 2005

Bob the Navigator

Independent travel to Europe continues to become even more popular with American tourists, and it seems that Italia 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.

During the past seven years I have been fortunate to have planned more than 110 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 youth hostel backpackers to luxury five star jet-setters. We will ignore these extremes for now and concentrate on the more mainstream middle ranges.

Here are some assumptions for our hypothetical itinerary:

  • This is a 14 day (13 night) itinerary to Italy for a couple during the shoulder season months of April, May, Sept. and Oct. These are the best months for travel to Italy.
  • Flying into Milan or Venice and out of Rome, or vice versa, with the purchase of tourist class tickets, hopefully from a consolidator. The airfare is a big variable.
  • The 2-star budget assumes rail travel. The rental car options include all insurance and unlimited mileage and are for a ten day rental period. Car choices are compact/manual (3-star) and mid-size/automatic (4-star).
  • The prices quoted assume an exchange rate of one euro=$1.33.  I would add 10% to the accommodation prices if you plan to spend all of your time in the major art cities.

THIS BUDGET IS STICKER SHOCK TO THOSE OF US WHO HAVE TRAVELED OFTEN TO ITALY OVER THE PAST TWENTY YEARS.  THE CULPRIT IS THE VALUE OF THE DOLLAR THAT HAS DECLINED 40% IN THE PAST THREE YEARS. I USED TO BUDGET $5000 FOR OUR TRIPS, BUT NOW $6600 FOR OUR MAY TRIP TO SICILY.

Now that we have our parameters set let's 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. But I do feel the following is a realistic estimate of expenses for a typical itinerary in 2005.

TRAVEL EXPENSE ITEM 2 STAR 3 STAR 4 STAR
AIRFARE (2 PEOPLE) 1600 1600 1600
RAIL TICKETS (2 PEOPLE) 350 N/A N/A
CAR RENTAL (ALL INCL.) N/A 655 1040
GAS N/A 160 200
TOLLS N/A 50 50
TOTAL TRANSPORT $1950 $2465 $2890
HOTELS & INNS (13 NIGHTS) 1500 2400 3500
FOOD AND DRINK 1050 1400 1900
TOURISM COSTS 300 300 500
GELATO AND CAPPUCCINO 150 150 200
MISC. EXTRAS 150 150 200
DAILY LIVING TOTALS $3150 $4400 $6300
TOTAL TRIP COSTS: $5100 $6865 $9150

 

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 will have a great two-week adventure in Europe and spend less than $3500, while others may let an upscale tour company make the decisions for them and end up spending $10,000.

Is it worth it? You bet it is! Independent travel in Europe is not for everyone but it is my passion. After more than twenty creative sojourns, most of them since 1985, 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.

© Bob Little, 2005

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