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Rick Steves V-F-R Tour in March Budgeting

Any ideas on how much should I budget for meals and other non-covered expenses for this tour. Never been on one before so I'm not sure where to start. Planning to arrive three days earlier in Milan for one night and two early in Venice, and also stay over two days in Rome. I can figure out the airline and additional nights in a hotel, but "all breakfasts and half the dinners" is all the tour guide says. Thanks.

Posted by
597 posts

I think it depends on your eating habits and preferences, really. I didn't find Italy to be very expensive. If you like to eat on a budget, you can easily eat pizza, sandwiches, picnics, etc. for under 10 euro per person. With all the breakfasts included, many tour members ate large breakfasts and didn't eat lunch or just had a snack to tide them over for dinner. If you want to eat nicer restaurant meals, we found that most places in those cities were around 20-25 euro per person. You have to remember extra money for things like gelato, which is usually 3-4 euro. Souvenirs and entry prices to any extra site you might want to see are also highly variable. I am not nearly as experienced a traveler as the people here, but we usually make sure we have $100 per day for the two of us available just so we don't have to worry about money, and we usually return home with half of that, unless we go nuts on gifts for people.

Posted by
16791 posts

You'll be exclusively in big cities, with all the variety they offer, and the hotels will be within walking distance of many dining options. (You'll never be "trapped" in the countryside with access to only one restaurant.) With your $100 Travel Store coupon, it's a good idea to purchase either RS Italy 2018 (available now) or the three separate city guides. Then you can read ahead and mark up places that sound like they'll match your style and budget. Your guide will also mention favorites close to your sightseeing. While some customers in a sit-down restaurant will order several courses and beverages, light eaters can order less.

Posted by
929 posts

Like Tamara, we usually budget $100/day for the two of us. Often we don't use that much but a few times we have splurged and done so. This daily limit includes souvenir funds... mostly scarves or trinkets and such.

I typically use Trip Advisor to research mid range and budget restaurants along with extra things to do/see, write down addresses and sort of map them out using google. Then I save the list by area on my phone or in an itinerary.

Posted by
4104 posts

We always budget $100 per day for the two of us, and we've never spent that much. It's generally less than half that, at least while we're on the tour. And even before and after the tour, we never spend that much, except for the hotel.

Posted by
1619 posts

I've been on 2 Rick Steves tours to Italy and both times I budgeted my expenses at approximately 70 Euros a day. Some days, I came home with money. This covered souvenirs and misc. excursions as well as meals. You can eat well in Italy on little money.

Posted by
844 posts

Jim,

On the tours, and when we travel on our own, hubby and I usually share a panini and a 1/2 carafe of wine for lunch which is in the early afternoon. For dinner we have a casual meal and neither of us orders from every course, because we just can't eat that much. I doubt that we have spent more than $100/day
EXCEPT on one day in Florence. Years ago we had read about Bistecca Fiorentine (I probably misspelled it) and asked at the hotel for a restaurant recommendation. The nice owner gave us a rec and warned us that it was pricey but that if we wanted the real deal that was it. He also told us it was sold for 2 people because of the size. We said okay and he offered to make a reservation for us. BEST steak we have ever eaten! I only wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. The food and service and hospitality was great. There were a few but not many tourists there.
It was a highlight of our food on the trip and in Florence.

On your days before and after the tour, if your hotel doesn't offer breakfast, there are many cafes that you can have a cappuccino or coffee and pastry for very little money. We find that eating in Italy is more inexpensive than a tourist eating in the states.

Hope you have a great trip.

By the way, Hubby is from Eunice and I'm from Houma and Lafayette. We were in Eunice in October stocking up on sausage and crayfish, tabasco and roux!

Have a great trip! You'll love the RS tours.
Mimi

Posted by
2356 posts

Take a lesson from Mimi-have that splurge when the opportunity presents itself. The way we budget is for food for the entire trip. Then we track our expenses (not counting the occasional coffe and gelato). Like most posters we usually underspend. Then, when that great but costly dinner presents itself we are not limited by that $100 for that day.

Posted by
524 posts

No one has suggested this, but check out restaurant reviews on sites such as Tripadvisor. I don't pay much attention to the reviews, but I do check out the pictures posted by travelers. Also, from there you can connect to the restaurant's website. Once on the website, you can check out their menu and pricing. This might aide you with how much you might expect to spend.

Posted by
1508 posts

My personal experience on a RS tour awhile back was that Italian breakfasts are not "hearty" in the American way. Many hotels offered yogurt and some cold cuts/cheese if Americans and Germans were in the hotel, but it's typically a roll and coffee. I packed some granola bars for snacks just in case. Typically I had a light lunch (a sandwich, slice of pizza, or gelato) that was quite affordable (5-10 euro). Grocery stores are usually available - so fruit, a pastry, and yogurt are (to me) a fine meal. Even the highway rest areas (Autogrilles) offer full meals (pasta and wine) at affordable prices.

The detailed RS itineraries list what days you'll have a meal besides breakfast provided, though it can vary depending on the guide, and other variables (weather, holidays, etc). The prior suggestions of price ranges to budget seem reasonable to me - you may spend more/less on any given day. Also, don't ever skimp on or pass up gelato - it's worth every euro penny no matter if it's dessert or your chosen lunch item or eaten at 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. or any time between.

Posted by
5184 posts

Jim, budgeting-wise, its not that different than if you were traveling anywhere in the US. You tend to underestimate the little things - a newspaper, pack of gum, tissues, toothpaste, one more gelato, postage stamps, etc. But you will find plenty of options for meals outside the tour, at all budget levels.

Posted by
7762 posts

Like others, I budget $50/day for my tour days which I believe is what Rick suggests in the pre-planning information. However...I don't think I have ever averaged that much per day. If you do an optional gondola ride in Venice that will be a chunk of change but otherwise you probably won't have major entertainment expenses...maybe a few extra museum admissions here and there along with food.

I didn't look so I don't know if a Venice transportation pass comes with your tour? In some cities the tours give you metro passes or tickets so that can be an added expense. For Florence you won't need a transportation pass, for Rome, probably not either altho not sure what hotel they have you staying in. It's been several years since I was in Venice but I think they had a vaporetto pass for 24 or 72 hours??

I actually do keep track of my out of pocket expenses on tours and I think I average under 30E/day.

My most expensive days during a tour have been in Switzerland on a free day on either the 21BOE or GAS tour. I think those days wound up being around 80 to 100 CHF, most of which was transportation costs because I wanted to go up and hike or to the top of the Schilthorn.

I travel solo so I don't usually wind up in expensive restaurants for dinner so if you think you might enjoy fine dining then add some to that amount.

For non-tour days I usually figure 100 whatevers...Euro/GBP/etc excluding hotels.

Have a wonderful time!