Traveling throughout Italy for 6 weeks in the peak season of August must be crazy expensive. This is something that most people would think, but it all depends on how you travel. Are you looking to enter every museum? Do you need to stay in 4 star hotels, and eat at 4 star restaurants for every meal? Do you need to drink coffee every single morning, no if’s, and’s or but’s? Are you flying whenever is convenient for you, instead of being flexible and/or utilizing airline miles? No matter how you travel, I’m confident you will have an amazing experience traveling throughout Italy for 6 weeks. However, depending on how you answer those questions will most likely mean the difference between an extremely expensive life changing journey, or a budget friendly life changing journey.
For us, we were able to experience everything we wanted to in Italy, and then some…all for $57 / day. This includes the flight from the US to Rome and all spending while in Italy. We stayed with locals that we knew through Couchsurfing and through family friends. We stayed in hostels that offered free meals and coffee. We stayed away from cabs, and instead walked and used public transportation. We took the slower, more inexpensive regional trains instead of the pricier fast speed ones. We picked and chose what museums or sites were worth seeing, and since we both aren’t the biggest “museum people”, we steered clear of many of them and instead chose to walk around the city, chat with locals, and just soak in the environment around us.
This isn’t to say we didn’t go out for nice meals or do our fair share of partying. We sure did. We just didn’t go out for every single meal, every single day. We of course saved when we stayed with people we knew, who often cooked for us as well as offered us a place to stay. When we had an Airbnb in Sicily, we made good use of the local supermarket to make ourselves sandwiches and pasta, as well as excellent bottles of wine for 3-5 Euros. Supermarkets can be one of the best ways to keep your budget in check, while also seeing and enjoying what the local people eat on a daily basis. Think about it…do you go out to eat at restaurants all the time when you’re home? Most likely the answer is no, because you’d be broke if you did. The same is true almost anywhere in the world. Italians make home cooked meals with food bought from the grocery store, just like you and I would do. We took advantage of hostel happy hours with discounted beers and drank bottles of wine in our rooms with new friends. One night we took a shared ride from Calabria to Florence, over 12 hours overnight, and saved by not booking a place to sleep that night. A fair share of laundry was done in sinks, although we are beginning to realize that it just works so much better in an actual machine.
So although I quit my job working in finance in NYC, I haven’t given up utilizing these skills on a daily basis at all. I just shifted them towards something that was important for me. Knowing where our money is going will allow us to know where we stand on any given day. And since after all our goal is to last at least a year on the road, and not blow through all of our money in the first few months, this will be very useful for us. It also can inspire others to think of the possibilities of travel. Travel can be inexpensive if you utilize some different opportunities, challenge yourself, sacrifice, and put yourself in situations that you wouldn’t normally do in your everyday life. A lot of times these could end up being some of your favorite travel memories.