How To Travel Italy On A Really Tight Budget

Do you want to travel to Italy (or pretty much anywhere) but think it’s out of your budget? There is no better time than now to travel. None of us know what is right around the corner, from unexpected illnesses to international turmoil, to the price of oil going up astronomically making air travel unaffordable.

I have been traveling all my life, sometimes with money, often without. As a single mom for several years my only way to travel was on a really tight budget. But I would always rather travel at a lower cost than miss out.

And let’s face it, the monuments, ancient buildings an incredible views stay the same whether you are doing a 5 star trip or a budget adventure.

Venice canals and rios away from the crowds
Venice, away from the crowds

If you want to travel to Italy but can’t see how to afford it, these tips make a huge difference!

It Starts With The Best Flight Deals

I go into this in depth in my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy, and I recommend reading that section of the book before even starting to look for flights so that you don’t get airlines and consolidators tracking you and pushing the prices up.

Get Creative

There are some creative ways to being the cost of flight way down. For example flying from Phoenix to Rome normally prices around $1300-$1500 round trip. But if I fly out of Los Angeles instead, the price drops closer to $800. A one way flight to Los Angeles is around $80, so I still save hundred on my ticket.

One time a friend and I got a rental car in Phoenix and drove it to the airport in L.A. It cost $20 in car rental plus a tank of gas. We had loads of fun on the road trip and saved money while we were at it!

Seek Out Cheaper Airports

Internal flights in Europe are not expensive. Sometimes you can save hundreds more dollars by going to a different airport then catching an internal European flight. For example, I have found flights on Air New Zealand (one of the top 5 international carriers) from Los Angeles to London Heathrow for around $450 round trip. Heathrow – Rome round trip can be done for under $200, so in this case for a total of $650 you can fly to Italy. There are always deals to be found if you spend the time clicking around.

Oh Canada!

You can find killer deals to Italy out of Canada. One of my Glam Italia Tour travelers flew out of Windsor airport which is only 8km from Detroit. Using Air Canada she got an incredible round trip deal, again in the $600s.

There are great prices on flights out of Toronto too. Sometimes you can get a really good deal flying into Toronto and from there winging your way to Italy.

Avoid Peak Season

For the most part the busiest travel season doesn’t offer the greatest deals, although I often find fantastic round trip flights in June and September. It takes some patience, but spending time researching can pay off. The shoulder season normally has better deals though.

Use Miles

I wrote about how to score free flights using frequent flier miles in this post.

You can do something as simple as running your life through a credit card that has a strong mileage program, like Capital One Venture card, and get more free flights than you would think. In the last 10 years I have done 5 round trips to Europe on frequent flier miles, 1 round trip to Australia and this past year 1 round trip to New Zealand. Suffice to say that a good mileage program is a game changer.

I never, ever waste miles on domestic flights, choosing instead to save them for international flights. If you can pay as many of your bills as possible with a good travel card, and do all your groceries, gas/trains – everything possible on that card you will be amazed at how fast you can accumulate enough points for a flight.

2. Don’t Stay In Hotels

In general hotels are the most expensive way to go. Vacation rentals, Bed and Breakfasts and home stays can save you a small fortune when you travel.

Splitting the cost of an apartment with a couple of friends not only saves you money on the overnight costs but also lets you prepare some meals at home.

A cozy bed and breakfast can be much less expensive than a hotel, and frequently is much nicer anyway.

I have a friend who travels to Italy for a month at a time with her husband and is able to do it because they do home stays. Basically the rent a room in someone’s house. Not only has this method meant they can travel more often and for longer, but also they have made some fantastic friends along the way!

3. Don’t Stay In The City Center

Normally the most expensive accommodation is in the heart of town or if near the ocean, the places with a view. Most tourism is focused right in the center of town so staying one neighborhood back can save you a significant amount on your nightly expense, while still being in walking distance to everywhere you want to go.

side street in Rome's Trastevere district
Trastevere, Rome

Just be careful not to make your trip more expensive by staying too far out and incurring large transport costs!

4. Choose A Less Expensive City

The most touristed cities have the highest costs. You can often save a huge amount on accommodation by staying somewhere less touristed.

scooter in Arezzo, Tuscany
Arezzo, Tuscany is just 40 minutes by local train from Florence

For example in the Amalfi Coast area staying in Salerno, a gorgeous medieval town on the water, will cost about 1/3 of the cost of staying in Positano or Sorrento.

If Florence is pricing too high look at Bologna, another absolutely beautiful city that is also on a main train line. Italy has so many unbelievably beautiful towns and cities to choose from, so don’t just look at the most well known.

5. Travel By Train

Italy has a really fantastic train system that lets you go almost anywhere, for a comparatively low price.

RELATED POST: HOW TO USE THE TRAINS IN ITALY

When I am traveling on a super tight budget I save lots of money by staying only in towns and cities that are easily accessible by train, and then getting around by train. This saves an enormous amount of money on rental cars, super cover insurance, toll roads and gasoline.

I have also used Flix Bus in Italy, although only once. The trip from Genoa to Florence cost 20 euros, the bus was modern and well equipped (it was super nice!) and we even got a coffee break midway through the trip.

6. Eat Where The Locals Eat

In Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy I have a chapter on how to choose a restaurant in Italy. (Well worth reading) Restaurants and eateries that are geared towards tourists are guaranteed to separate you from your money quickly, and normally with substandard food.

trattoria in Trastevere Rome
Trattoria in Trastevere, Rome

Italians take food seriously and wouldn’t be caught dead in a tourist restaurant. Save your money and go eat where the locals eat. The food will be fantastic and the price will be reasonable. For example, one of my favorite trattorias in Rome is always packed to bursting, but a pizza costs 4 euros and a half liter of wine costs 4 euros. So for under 10 euros you can have a full belly and be happy as a clam! (I tell you the name of the restaurant in my book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome)

7. Book Online Before You Leave

Most of the places you need to buy tickets for really aren’t expensive at all. If you make a list of what you are interested in seeing and then book tickets online ahead of time you can not only save money but also budget more easily. Most of the tickets cost between 10 and 20 euros. Picking and choosing a few things ahead of time and purchasing them online can free up money while you’re away. Most of us can squeeze out an extra $10 here and there for an entry ticket without noticing it, rather than having to budget another $100 all at once.

Colosseum, Rome
outside the Colosseum in Rome

Be advised that many tickets in Italy now have to be purchased online ahead of time, including the Colosseum.

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The Best Stocking Stuffers For The Traveler In Your Life

I always think that travelers or anyone planning a trip are the easiest people to buy gifts for! With Christmas just around the corner I wanted to give you some ideas for stocking stuffers for the travelers in your life.

This post contains Affiliate Links. Should you purchase anything via an affiliate link this blog may make a (very) small commission.

Beauty

Eos Lip Balm

Eos Lip Balms are ideal for travel. They are ideal for anything actually! Super hydrating and nourishing these little spheres will keep your kisser in good shape. Their bright colored dome shaped packaging makes them easy to locate in your bag too. Check Eos Lip Balm on Amazon here

Weleda Skin Food

Weleda Skin Food is my all time favorite travel moisturizer, especially for winter. It used to be a secret product I would bring back from Europe, but now you can get it on Amazon.

Winter skin needs extra TLC and this balm like moisturizer is incredibly nourishing, so is perfect for anywhere cold you are traveling to. I also like to use it when I am flying, as air travel is so incredibly dehydrating to your skin. You can get it in travel size or in regular size (still small enough to travel with) on Amazon.com

Korean Sheet Masks

I swear by these both for travel and at home use. They come in so handy when you travel as they take up no space. Sheets masks come in all kinds of formulas but I typically look for words such as moisturizing, nourishing and hydrating.

A day with too much sun or wind can be rectified with a 15 minute sheet mask. Skin that looks fatigued, dry, or lack luster can be repaired quickly with a sheet mask. Any time you want your complexion to look gorgeous and glowing, whatever the temperature or climate, a sheet mask is a win!

RELATED POST: 10 Airport Hacks For Busy Travel Days

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Gels

I have used Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Gels on my celebrity clients for years and always keep them in my personal travel bags too. Hydro Cool Firming Gels are little under eye masks that instantly hydrate and refresh tired looking under eyes. They are the best thing ever after a long flight, or any time you look or feel beat after a long day.

Nivea Body Products Travel Set

I always recommend taking your own body products when you travel. If you have ever had your skin dry out from hotel soaps you will understand why!

Also you never know if your skin will react to soaps and lotions it isn’t familiar with. I recommend avoiding any body products that smell sweet, fruity, or like food as they tend to attract more biting insects. The Nivea Nourish and Care Travel set has everything you need, won’t attract biting bugs. The regular set is for women but they also have a 5 piece travel grooming set specifically for men. It even comes in a manly looking duffle!

Anti Chafe Balm

Whether you are a cyclist, an athlete, a hiker or just someone who’s thighs like to meet in the middle, chafing can ruin a trip. From irritated skin to bleeding patches, it is not only unsightly but also can be incredibly painful and make something as simple as walking really difficult.

A good chafing balm is essential for any traveler, even if it is just to prevent the backs of your feet from rubbing your shoes and blistering. Body Glide Chafe Balm is considered to be the best. It comes in a variety of sizes too.

A Silk Pillowcase

Extend your blowout and stop your hair from roughing up on regular cotton pillowcases with a 100% mulberry silk pillowcase. Not only are silk pillowcases amazing for your hair, they are also fabulous for your skin, letting you wake up without pillowcase creases on your face.

I recommend getting a bold color or a patterned silk pillowcase as you are more likely to forget a white or cream one and leave it behind on the hotel bed. I never travel without one and have given them to friends and family for years. Try it once and you will be converted!

RELATED POST: HOW TO AVOID GETTING SICK WHEN YOU TRAVEL THIS WINTER

A Microfiber Towel

A microfiber towel is a perfect accompaniment for a traveler. Whether you want something to help your hair dry quickly, a fast drying towel to take to the beach and then throw in your suitcase, or a back up plan in case your hotel towel is anything like the ones in the horror hotel I got stuck in in Dallas recently, a microfiber towel is ideal. They pack down small and don’t take up space in your suitcase, tend to not get smelly, and generally save the day in multiple situations. This one from Rainleaf comes in a variety of different colors and only costs $12.

Tech

An Electronics Organizer

Smart Electronics Organizer $14.99 on Amazon.com

Losing phone chargers, cables, earbuds or any other gadgets when you travel is so annoying and can also be expensive. This Smart Electronics Organizer let’s you keep everything together, keeps cables untangled and all your gadgets organized so you can find things quickly. The slim fit case slips into your handbag, briefcase or backpack easily and doesn’t take up any room.

An International Power Adaptor

If you or the person you are buying for are heading overseas an international power adaptor is a must. This one from Unidapt not only has multiple USB charging ports but also can be used in Europe, UK, Asia, Australia/New Zealand and the USA.

I recommend the Unidapt Universal Power Adaptor in a bright color, such as blue (that’s what I travel with) so that you don’t accidentally leave it plugged in when you check out of your accommodation.

RELATED POST: Subscriptions That Make Great Gifts For Travelers

External Phone Battery

You should never board any flight without a fully charged phone and a fully charged external phone battery charger. You can’t rely on your seat having a USB port, or one that works, and chances of you being able to access a power point to plug into in a busy airport terminal.

The Anker Powercore 10,000 is a slim fit, lightweight charger than can power up at least two devices from completely dead. At $25 it is not expensive. You can get chargers with a higher mAh, but definitely do not go lower than 10,000 mAh.

Other Ideas

Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella

As a rule travel umbrellas are rubbish. The first gust of wind turns them inside out, more than a spattering of rain soaks them through, and they seldom hold up in a storm let alone for a second rainy day outing!

The Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella With Teflon Coating is the best travel umbrella you will ever find! Firstly, it actually covers you in the rain whereas most travel umbrellas can’t seem to keep your shoulders dry. It won’t flip inside out in the wind, has a teflon coating, so it really does repel water and keep you dry, and on top of that is lightweight and compact. Even better, it only retails for $22

Books To Buy Your Traveler

The following blog posts have book recommendations for travelers to Europe:

10 Books To Read Before Going To Venice

15 Fabulous Books Set In Italy

8 Fabulous Books Set In Paris


New 2020 Trips

10 Important Airport Hacks You Need To Know For Busy Travel Days

If you are flying during any busy time, from the holiday season to regular busy days/hours the key to avoiding stress and making it to the other end unscathed is to utilize these professional traveler, tried and tested airport travel hacks.

1. Always Check In Online

Checking in online 24 hours prior to your flight gives you several advantages. You are less likely to be bumped from your flight and you will already have your boarding pass. When you arrive at the airport unless you are checking a full sized suitcase you can move straight to the TSA checkpoint.

Airlines will let you gate check oversized bags for free, so you can save yourself $30 checked luggage fee by doing it at the gate.

2. Arrive Early

You may be able to get away with arriving later for flights during non-busy times, but during high traffic periods plan on arriving at the airport 2-3 hours early. The most stressful parts of flying on busy travel days are getting stuck in long lines either at check in or at the TSA check point. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra time up your sleeve – worst case scenario you have a coffee or something to eat once you have gone through the TSA check point.

3. Use The TSA App

Use the TSA app to see how long the wait times are. If they are looking excessive you can leave home earlier than planned.

4. Pack Your Carry-On Properly

One of the reasons that TSA gets so backed up is that travelers don’t think ahead when packing their carry-on luggage.

image via Smartertravel.com

If you don’t have TSA pre check you know up front that your liquids and laptops will have to be taken out of your bag before going through the x-ray machine. Save yourself (and everyone else) time and aggravation by having your liquids/skin care/makeup products packed together in see through bags packed at the top of your carry on.

RELATED POST: HOW TO PACK A SUITCASE LIKE A PRO

5. Be Ready For TSA

Another reason that lines get so backed up at the TSA checkpoint is travelers arriving not ready to proceed through.

*If you don’t have TSA Pre Check be sure to wear shoes that slip on and off easily.

* Remove all jewelry, belts, small change from your pockets, jackets, hats, scarves prior to entering the TSA line. Ideally do this before you leave home, and put on belts and jewelry after passing through the xray machines.

*Have your bags and coats ready to go through the xray prior to getting to the front of the line.

If you watch frequent flyers/professional travelers you will see that they have all of this thought out and prepared prior to arriving at the checkpoint.

6. Turn Left

Most people are right handed, so after having their I.D and boarding pass checked they turn right to the x-ray machines. The lines are always quicker to the left.

7. Bring Snacks

On busy travel days and busy flight times the lines at the terminal snack bars can get long. It is much easier and less stressful to bring your own snacks and just proceed to the gate.

RELATED POST: HOW TO LOOK FABULOUS AFTER A LONG FLIGHT

8. Bring A Phone Charger

Always arrive at the airport with a fully charged phone and a fully charged phone charger. You can’t rely on their being power socket/charging stations available, and even if there are phone charging ports at your seat on the plane there is no guarantee they will be working.

9. Bring A Refillable Water Bottle

Bring an empty water bottle and fill it at a filling station once you have cleared TSA. Should you encounter delays you will be glad you did!

RELATED POST: SUBSCRIPTIONS THAT MAKE GREAT GIFTS FOR TRAVELERS

10. Gate Check Bags

Most domestic flights now are fully booked which means they run out of overhead bin space. Save yourself the hassle of wandering up and down the aisle trying to find space for your carry-on bag by checking it at the gate.

There is no fee for gate checked bags and they get walked directly down to your plane, so unless you have a connecting flight you can be relatively certain your bag will arrive when you do.

FREE RESOURCES! Download my free travel resources PDFs. Check lists, planners and questionnaires as seen in my book, international Best Seller Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy (Secrets To Glamorous Travel On A Not So Glamorous Budget) GET YOUR FREE RESOURCES HERE

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