We are getting married on 10/22/10 and are planning to take our honeymoon immediately after the wedding. I have always wanted to go to Italy and would love to figure out a way to make it work. I went to see a travel agent last week who said that it would not be worth going on our budget, which was very disappointing. We have $5000 for two people and can go for 10-12 days (adjusting the amount of days to fit within our budget.) I definitely want to spend some time in Rome and would love to spend time in the wine regions of Tuscany. Other than this, we have no itinerary and are open to any suggestions that might make a trip on this budget possible. We don't want to be struggling with a too-small budget that makes the trip less enjoyable for us, so if $5000 equals a not-great trip, we don't think it's the best bet for our honeymoon. Does anyone think it's possible to have a nice honeymoon on this budget in Italy? If so, please let me know and I will be a very happy bride-to-be! :)
No disrepect to travel agents in general, but the one you talked to is full of hooey. $5000 for 2 people, for 10-12 days, in late October which is off-season, who don't have insane expections (no all-day shopping trips at Gucci), is just fine. I think you could probably sign up for a RS tour on that budget, and probably even save more doing it yourself.
Dad and I went for 12 days: 3 Rome, 2 Orvieto, 7 Florence (that part was the RS tour), in late November and I think our trip cost somewhere around $3500 total. You're in MA, so flights should be cheaper than from the West Coast.
If you haven't yet, get a copy of Rick Steves' Italy 2010 (or, you could get the Rome and Florence/Tuscany books if you want to be more specific) and do a little research to pin down the places and things you want to see.
Couple of general pointers:
1) Bigger cities are more expensive. Florence (and other places north) tend to be more expensive than Rome (and other places south).
2) If you plan to travel by train, tickets in Italy are usually cheaper to buy when you get there and buying point to point, rather than using a railpass. It may or may not make sense to rent a car, depending on where you want to go. Generally cities = no car. Small towns in Tuscany, a car is recommended, but you have to be comfortable with Italian driving.
3) After doing a little reading, come back here and post questions you may have. Be sure to let us know what you're interested in, any restrictions you have, etc. The more information you give us, the better quality of answers you will receive.
And 4) don't listen to lackwit travel agents who tell you 10-12 days in Italy can't be done for $5000. Sheesh!
A couple suggestions:
1. So much of the expense is airfare, so be sure both to keep an eye out for special deals, and to look for alternative ways to fly. Do you have frequent flyer miles? Or,if you use credit cards, do you have one with airline miles rewards? You can find hotels and B&Bs at all sorts of prices, so check Rick's latest guidebook for inexpensive suggestions.
- Some people find this tacky, but there are gift registries online where your family and friends can "donate" to the honeymoon. In practice, it's really just giving money, but it looks a little nicer in that people "buy" specific items. We used this for our registry this year. One couple gave money towards seeing a theater show in London; another gave money towards dining out at restaurants. (Outside of the official registry, one grandmother gave up her timeshare points to get us a week's worth of a luxury hotel.)
If you're OK not getting the traditional wedding gifts, a contribution towards a trip might be something to consider. Some traditionalists will insist on getting you a vase or a tea set, but a few might be willing to chip in on making your honeymoon a memorable one. Congratulations and good luck! (And one word of advice from someone who's traveled the next day: Give yourself a day of rest near home after the wedding before racing off to the airport).
Seems more than adequate and very doable unless you are used to and insisting on 4 and 5 star accomodations.
Watch for specials on airfare. I'd limit to probably two or at most three destinations. Racing around everywhere is expensive and not much fun.
If it were me I'd probably do Rome and some place in Central Tuscany in a smaller town. I'd rent apartments in both places. Both to keep costs down some and because it gives you more of a feeling you are living there.
tuscany can be done with public transit but having a car gives you more options.
If after doing some more research on your own, you decide you want to get a bit farther from Rome then look to "open jaw" tickets. For example flying into Venice and out of Rome. Which not surprisingly would make a splendid honeymoon. Venice -Rome
As the others have said, it should be possible for you to take at least a short honeymoon in Italy. However, there are a few variables that will need to be considered. Is there any possibility that your budget might be over $5K (you may receive some cash as wedding gifts?).
The first thing to consider is air fares. I'm not too familiar with availability or costs from your area, but I suspect you'll need at least $1500 for both of you. Using open jaw flights would be the best idea (more on that later).
The next variable will be currency exchange. As your wedding is almost a year in the future, there's no way to predict where the currencies will be at that time. The best you'll be able to do is make an estimate.
One method you might consider would be to fly to Milan at the start, and go immediately to Lago di Como (Varenna) for a few days to recover from jet lag and get used to being in Italy (it's a beautiful spot!). From there travel to Tuscany for a few days (do you have any particular places in mind?). Florence (which is in Tuscany) is beautiful but you could also consider Siena. You might also have a look at Orvieto (which is in Umbria). Finally, head for Rome and fly home from there. Try to allow at least 4 days in Rome, as there's LOTS to see.
Allocating 12 days for the trip would be better, as you'll lose the first day in travel and time zone changes. I'd highly recommend that you pick up a copy of the Italy 2010 Guidebook, which is available now. It contains lots of great suggestions for budget accommodations, getting around, admission prices for various sites, etc. That's a book I always pack along when I'm travelling in Italy, as it's a great reference source. You might also have a look at Europe Through The Back Door (might be a copy at your local Library).
Agreed with other posting. I can always beat the prices of travel agents and packages.
For example on Swiss Air you can book only at 340 days out but if I put in 1 week prior to your trip next year for example 10/16/2010 mot 10/23/2010 you could fly into rome for 782 or milan 762 roundtrip including taxes and fees. The rates may be cheaper in tyhe 550 to 600 range later next year. So lets just say flight is 1550 max for two then if you have 12 days you got two days of travel so 10 nights of hotel and if you dont need the 4 star hotel then try for 100-125 per night. That would be 1250. You are up to 2800. That leaves 2200 for food transportation and sightseeing. I think it can be done and you would have a great time.
I also agree keep in touch with the website and put down your thoughts and everyone will help you with there ideas.
Travel agents are part of a dying industry. The internet has rendered them irrelevant.
As others have said, get a copy of Rick's guide, get an idea of where you might want to visit, and come back to this site with questions. We're happy to help, but the more specific you can be, the more helpful we'll be.
One itinerary note: I'd caution against trying to see too much. You're better off seeing a few places in a relaxed way then seeing a lot of places in a rushed and hectic way.
Congratulations on your engagement!
As previous posters stated you can do it! Read Rick's Europe Through the BAckdoor book to get started. Skip the 4 and 5 star accommodations and you will meet more people and have more fun! We have some very fond memories of our stays in Europe and sitting outside at the agriturismo visiting with other guests. This would have never happened if we were staying at fancy hotels. With some careful planning you can do it and have a terrific trip!!
Did you decide to start looking into plannig your trip?
$5000 is plenty of money for a 10 day trip depending on how fancy you want to travel. Get Rick Steves books and start doing your research. Spending $100 per person (including lodging) is very reasonable and very doable. If you budget $200 per day for 10 days that's $2000 plus $2000 for airfare you and are at $4000 with a $1000 left over to do whatever.
The problem with a travel agent is that they are going to put you in expensive, boring, and stale hotels. All you need is a clean bed right? Go with the mom and pop places. For example if you are going to stay in Florence check out Katti House, it is in Rick's book. I stayed there last month (Oct. 2009) for 65 euro per night and it was wonderful. Ignore the travel agent and do the planning yourself. You will save money and learn a lot about the places where you will be traveling too. Good luck!
Thanks so much for all of the responses. You have all made me feel so much more confident that we can actually do this and have a great time. I'm a little bit at a loss for how to start planning. Do I book a flight first, look for hotels, etc? Do you think it would be helpful to take a look at tours offered in Italy to see what people are reasonably able to do in 10 days and try to get ideas for the places we could visit? I don't have a great concept of the distance from one place to another and how much we can do. There are so many amazing places I am not sure exactly which ones I can reasonably do and for how long for each. I just know that I 100% want to spend some time in Rome and some time in the Tuscany region (although I don't know what towns are best.)
Deana, start with Ken's advice:
"I'd highly recommend that you pick up a copy of the Italy 2010 Guidebook, which is available now. It contains lots of great suggestions for budget accommodations, getting around, admission prices for various sites, etc. That's a book I always pack along when I'm travelling in Italy, as it's a great reference source. You might also have a look at Europe Through The Back Door (might be a copy at your local Library)."
Reading both books is the best way to start.
I have one further bit to add to the excellent advice already given here. We have two "bibles" we use for accommodations in Europe, Alastair Sawday's Special Places to Stay series (specialplacestostay.com) and Karen Brown's B&B series (www.karenbrown.com). Both have whole books just for Italian lodgings, and both have some listings in the budget range. Also, I just got a newsletter from Sawday announcing the appearance of his new publication, Slow Travel Italy. The advantage of using such guides is that you'll find out about small places that may be utterly wonderful but are not on the radar of other guidebooks. I second the suggestion of cross-checking on Tripadvisor. I do it religiously when planning a trip.
Deana, Start with the Italy RS travel guide, and spend some time on this message board after you have read it thoroughly. Wife and I just got back from a wonderful 16 days in North/Central Italy with a week in montepulciano (which I would highly reccomend). Everything; air, meals, trains, 1 wk car rental, fuel, gifts, was 8000. We did not skimp on anything either. We ate well, went where we wanted, saw everthing we could, and had a really beautiful time, so it can easily be done. Congratulations, enjoy, and have a wonderful time in Italy. It is one of the most romantic places in Europe.
1st decide where you want to go. With a 10-12 day trip, I would leave off Venice. Just cause it is out of the way and there are many places to go to around Italy between the Lake region all the way down to Amalfi. Read the books and decide on 3-4 locations. Also decide are you going for sightseeing (Rome, Florence) or do you want ot go to smaller places (Cinque Terra, Tuscany, Lake Como/Lake Lugano, Sorrento). I can look for the best rates for you from Boston to Italy flying in one city and out another. But rates for return flights in November are not available yet.
Start by firing your travel agent. They only want to sell you the high-end packages that they offer. They are not interested in number crunching and researching the best places to stay on a budget.
In every city, there are plenty of opportunities to stay at a nice place for very little money. It would be helpful if the helpline knew what cities, besides Rome, you are interested in visiting and what kind of itinerary you want to keep. There are a lot of folks here who can give all kinds of recommendations.
When I first went to Italy, I found that TripAdvisor.com was a most excellent resource for finding well regarded accommodations on a budget. When searching, make certain that you check the box marked "availability NOT confirmed". This will bring up all accommodations according your parameters and their rank. Half the fun of taking a trip is in the planning and anticipation. If you do wish to book hotels yourself, be sure to book through the hotel directly and not through an online 3rd Party service such as Hotels.com. And, when submitting your dates, remember that Europeans use the format dd/mm/yyyy. It would be best to spell out the month (October) whenever possible to avoid confusion, and double check your reservations for accuracy.
First thing you need to know. Travel agents do their job for money. Since you generally are not billed for their services( although I know some charge a flat fee for airline ticketing) ,, the money comes from somewhere. That somewhere is the commisions they earn by selling you a tour, or a booking you into a hotel ,, the tour operater or hotel pays them. Of course ,, you will not find any cute budget places paying commisions,, so you will generally end up in big bland chain hotels. Boring, and more expensive . They are not really interested in selling you the cheapest options,, and will try and downplay the advantages of mom and pop places etc
Second, when one goes on a trip to the Caribbean or Hawaii(for example) the hotels are often complete resorts, with muliple pools, bars, restaurants, etc etc. You could just stay in the hotel and have a great time. Europe generally is all about the sights of Europe,, so , focus on a hotel that is clean, well located, and within budget. All other issues are gravy .My one exception ,, only in summer, is I must have a/c,, since you are going in fall , this is not an issue for you .
Save money,, research and book your own hotels. Most have good cancellation policies( read them) and if you find a better one you can always rebook. Do read suggested guide books, and google for hotel reviews,, just enter name and word reveiws,, tripadvisor.com is a great site,, but there are many others. Read lots of them,, and go with the average opinion.
Some of us( many of us actually, ) love the whole process of researching . It really makes the trip excitment build and last a long time, plus the bonus of learning all the tips from other travellers is immeasurable. I had been to Paris many times before I learned on a forum about how to avoid lines at the Louvre,, you will learn tips that will save you money and hassles in Italy.
Have a fun time reading and planning!
You sure can do it for 5000 dollars. No real scrimping involved unless you were planning on renting luxury car and staying in 5 star places. Accomodations--Plenty of nice 2 and 3 star places that you can find on internet or by asking on this site once you get your initial plan on paper.
Transportation--Trains are relatively inexpensive.
Food--Small local restaurants are usually better food and lower prices than the "tourist" places.
Ask on the board when you get closer in time and folks will let you know their favorites in various places. Plus "Mouthwatering Italy" on the Graffiti Wall has numerous recommendations.
Exchange rate--Main thing you may have to remember is that with exchange rate you are not getting 5000 euros but instead about 3500 or so. So do you calculations in euros and then make math calculation to dollars. I am no currency expert, but hard to believe exchange rate will be much worse in a year and hopefully be a little better.
Planning--The advice to dump the travel agent is good. You can do the research, ask on sites like this, and have a lot fun plus you will be more informed before you get there which will make the trip more enjoyable.
Christmas gift--Make sure somebody gives you Rick's latest book on Italy as a Christmas present! Best place to start your adventure.
Deana: The advice these wise people are giving you will guarantee you have a memorable and much less expensive honeymoon. Pat, I particularly like what you wrote.
On Thanksgiving, I had friends of 20+ years over for dinner and the daughter, now 25, is also getting married in October 2010 and wants to honeymoon in Italy for 10/12 days. She shared that a travel agent quoted a price of 12K! My flabber was gasted! After I recovered from the shock, I tactfully introduced her to this site, brought out all my 2010 RS Italy, Rome, Tuscany, ETTBD books and offered to help make their dream a reality for much less. (I am going to Italy in June for 21 days and have been there before so I have some limited working knowledge).
She also liked the suggestion of the gift registry and is going to work on a "PC" way to word the suggestion of giving money gifts for the honeymoon.
Everybody here offers sensational information and certainly has provided invaluable insights and information for my trip planning. Thank you all.
This past spring (euro=$1.35) we did 27 days, mostly in Italy, including Florence, Milan, Rome (but not Venice) for average of $190/day for two people ( $95/day/pp). Had a car the whole time (which we feel is cheaper and allows us to cover more ground each day). No flea bags, no hostels, nice suppers, simple breakfasts and lunches. Costs included metro, etc; but not airfare to and from Europe.
Deana: Congratulations on your engagement! You can do it on your budget. All the previous responses are great ones. We recently returned from Italy. We stayed at a lovely B&B in Rome called At Your Place. It was very close to the Vatican, close to public transportation and just lovely. We paid approximately €80 per night. The other thing you might consider (depending on how long you are staying in one area) renting an apartment. We rent through vrbo.com and have had good experiences.
In terms of planning, start with your flights. Open jaws flights, where you fly into one city and out of another, often makes the most sense. Open-jaws flights shouldn't be any more expensive than round-trip.
Next, make your hotel reservations, particularly in a big, busy city like Rome. You can wait a little longer for hotel reservations in smaller locations. I would say your don't need to make any hotel reservations for a while yet.
I would also suggest, with the number of days you have, to spend time in Rome and rural Tuscany, basing yourselves in Siena or Orvieto, which are bigger, or Montalcino or Montepulciano, which are smaller and in the heart of the Tuscan Brunello wine country. (The Chianti area is where you find Chianti wines, of course.)
Visit your local library and check out all the books you can. While I find Rick Steves provides good advice and trip-planning info, picture guidebooks such as Eyewitness guides are good for getting initial ideas on destinations.