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Italy Travel Budget for 2009

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. Call it supply and demand, but we had seen a cost escalation of perhaps 18% in 2007/2008. That has changed in 2009. Both airfares and hotel costs have declined in recent months based on the lower demand for travel to Europe from the USA. This budget reflects the first drop in total costs since I have been doing this budget, and the only decline I can recall in the past 25 years that we have been traveling to Europe. It may only be temporary.

During the past ten years I have been fortunate to have planned more than 240 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 two, three, and four star budgets.

Here are some assumptions for our typical itinerary (based on a recent 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 Venice and departure from Milan, or vice versa, with tourist class tickets (open jaw). Airfares have decreased significantly since last year - about time!
  • The 2-star budget assumes all rail or bus travel. The rental cars options include insurance and mileage, and are for a six day rental period. Car choices are compact/manual (3 stars) and mid-size/auto (4 stars). Prices are from AutoEurope.
  • All prices assume an exchange rate of €1=$1.35. I would add 10% to the accommodation prices if you plan to spend all of your time in the major art cities (e.g., Florence).
  • This budget was calculated based on a typical fast-travel 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) 1560 1560 1560
RAIL/BUS/TAXI 240 60 90
GAS (PETROL) N/A 140 180
TOLLS N/A 50 50
HOTELS & INNS (13 NIGHTS) 1900 2800 4000
FOOD AND DRINK 1200 1500 2100
TOURISM COSTS 400 400 600
MISC. EXTRAS 150 150 200
DAILY LIVING TOTALS $3850 $5050 $7200
TOTAL TRIP COSTS: $5650 $7328 $9810

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 about $5,000 to more than $8,000 over the past years - and now a modest decline of about 10% in 2009. We will be going back to Italy in September for three weeks to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in Venice, Lake Como, and the Dolomites. It will be our 15th trip to Italy.

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 2008, Budget 2006, Budget 2005, Budget 2004.

Discuss this article with other Slow Travelers.

© Bob Little, 2009

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