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Italy Travel Budget for 2004

Bob Little (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 "la dolce vita".

During the past six years I have been fortunate to have planned more than eighty 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.
  • The couple will fly into Milan or Venice and out of Rome, or vice versa, with tourist class tickets purchased well in advance, possibly 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. Car choices are compact/manual (3-star) and mid-size/automatic (4-star).

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 silk in Bellagio. Leaving aside the exceptional "budget busters" you choose to add on, I do feel the following is a realistic set of expense estimates for this itinerary.

AIRFARE (2 PEOPLE) 1600 1600 1600
GAS N/A 150 200
TOLLS N/A 50 50
TOTAL TRANSPORT $2100 $2450 $2800
HOTELS & INNS (13 NIGHTS) 1040 1700 2700
FOOD AND DRINK 700 1050 1350
TOURISM COSTS 300 300 500
MISC. EXTRAS 150 150 200
DAILY LIVING TOTALS $2340 $3350 $4950
TOTAL TRIP COSTS: $4440 $5800 $7750


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 $3000, while others may let an upscale tour company make the decisions for them and end up spending $8000 or more.

We consider ourselves to be primarily "3 star travelers" but our own two-week itineraries have varied from $3500 (Ireland in Sept.)] to $6000 (May in Switzerland/ Austria).

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, 2004

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