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Italy Travel Budget for 2008

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. I have enjoyed fourteen trips to Italy over the past twenty years, and will be the first to admit to recent sticker shock. Call it supply and demand, but I have seen a cost escalation of perhaps 18% in the past two years alone, much of that in the cost of accommodations.

During the past ten years I have been fortunate to have planned more than 200 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 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.
  • Arrival into Milan or Venice & departure from Rome, or vice versa, with tourist class tickets [open jaw]. It is hard to find airfares under $1000 in today’s market.
  • The 2-star budget assumes all rail or bus travel. The rental cars options include insurance and mileage, and are for a eight 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 one Euro=1.45 USD. I would add 10% to the accommodation prices if you plan to spend all of your time in the major art cities.
  • This budget was calculated based on a hypothetical itinerary to include the four destinations of Venice, Lake Como, Tuscany, and Rome [3-3-3-4=13 nights].

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 - not hard to do.

AIRFARE (2 PEOPLE) 2024 2024 2024
RAIL/BUS/TAXI 240 60 90
GAS (PETROL) N/A 140 180
TOLLS N/A 50 50
HOTELS & INNS (13 NIGHTS) 1950 3350 4500
FOOD AND DRINK 1200 1500 2000
TOURISM COSTS 400 400 600
MISC. EXTRAS 150 150 200
DAILY LIVING TOTALS $3900 $5600 $7600
TOTAL TRIP COSTS: $6164 $8384 $10628

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 $4,000, 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 average trip costs increase from $5,000 to $7,000 and now to more than $8,000 in just the past ten years—most of that since 2001.

Is it worth it? You bet it is! Independent travel in Europe is not for everyone, but it is my passion. After some 24 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 2006, Budget 2005, Budget 2004.

© Bob Little, 2008

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