June 22, 2023

How to save money and still enjoy your Italian getaway

FILED IN: Italy, Travel

My first trip to Italy was kind of planned on a whim within the span of a few months. Planning your next trip doesn’t have to be a huge deal. I understand, it’s mostly about time and money, but if you can swing the time, there are a ton of small ways to save money while traveling! So, get to planning! Just start small, by deciding the dates, then the locations you’d like to visit. Secure your flights, book lodging, then go from there. Remember: you don’t have to meticulously plan everything. Leave room for flexibility and spontaneity. It is absolutely possible to save money and still enjoy your Italian getaway with some smart planning and budgeting, so I’ve compiled some simple tips! If you’re looking to alleviate the stress of planning, I would love to help you plan your trip. I am now travel advising with Salt & Wind!

How to save money and still enjoy your Italian getaway – the planning

When to travel

Travel during off-peak season! Consider visiting Italy during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall and even into winter before the holidays) when the weather is often more pleasant, and tourist crowds are smaller. This can result in lower prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions.

Be flexible with your travel dates

Use flight comparison websites such as Google Flights and Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights. Being flexible with your travel dates can help you save a significant amount of money.

Use travel rewards

If you have travel rewards, consider using them to save money on flights, accommodations, or activities.

Note: If you are on the market for cards that earn you points, I love my Chase credit cards. I literally charge everything and pay it off monthly, so I am earning as many points as possible! The Sapphire Reserve earns triple points on food and travel, and has no foreign transaction fees. I always use this one when I am outside the US. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x points on all other purchases. They are the perfect combo! Ps. If you use either of those links to sign up, you can earn 60,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire Reserve and $200 cash back with Chase Freedom Unlimited!

Opt for budget accommodations

Instead of splurging on fancy hotels, why not explore budget-friendly options? Check out websites like Airbnb and Booking for affordable and comfy places to stay. Personally, I’m a fan of Airbnb because they offer a wide range of choices, and I like finding accommodations where I can have the whole place to myself for added privacy. Plus, it’s great to find a spot with at least a kitchenette so you can whip up your own meals and feel right at home.

Try to pack light

Traveling light on vacation is not only a smart choice but also a great way to save money. By packing only the essentials, you eliminate the need for excess baggage fees and avoid the hassle of lugging around heavy suitcases. Navigating through airports, train stations, and crowded streets is also much easier with less baggage, ultimately enhancing your overall travel experience while keeping your wallet happy.

Although I personally prefer checking a bag when traveling to Europe, I acknowledge the benefits of traveling without one. Not having a checked bag eliminates the risk of it getting lost during transit, making the journey smoother. Of course, the decision depends on the duration and time of year of your trip. To maximize efficiency, try packing versatile items that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits.

Looking for luggage storage options during your trip? Check out this website that offers a variety of locations all over the world, complete with reviews, where you can securely store your bags for just 5 euros per day.

How to save money and still enjoy your Italian getaway – transportation

Utilize public transportation

Italy has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including trains and buses. Opt for public transport instead of taxis or rental cars to save money on transportation costs. Trains, in particular, are a great way to explore the country while enjoying scenic views. You can use public transportation or walk around the majority of the big city centers in Italy, then use the Intercity trains to go between those big cities. There are also regional trains that make more stops, in the smaller towns.

But don’t be afraid to change it up

Hop on a plane to go from the north to the south or travel to one of Italy’s many dreamy islands. You can travel pretty affordably that way.

There are certain Italy itineraries that would be easier with a car, so don’t be afraid to rent one. On my first trips to Italy, we opted for renting a car since we wanted to be able to have more control over our transportation, like we are used to on road trips in the US. If you want to explore more of the scenic routes more in depth, rent a car for at least a portion of the trip. It is convenient to pick the car up at the larger train stations and airports.

I compiled everything you need to know about driving in Italy here.

How to save money and still enjoy your Italian getaway – dining & activities

Eat like a local

Explore local eateries, trattorie, and street food vendors rather than dining in touristy restaurants. This way, you can experience authentic Italian cuisine at a fraction of the cost. If you want to splurge on nicer restaurants, just balance those meals out with more affordable options. Italy is famous for its delicious food, but dining out for every meal can be costly. If you have access to a kitchen in your accommodation, take advantage of it by cooking some of your meals. Consider making one meal a day. Visit local markets or grocery stores to buy fresh ingredients and enjoy homemade meals. Even if you only have access to a small fridge, you can fill it with some of the essentials.

If you enjoy wine with your meals, perhaps opt for the house wine at lunch and a nicer bottle at dinner. You can get a liter of house wine in Italy for around 5 euros and it’s usually good quality. Usually restaurants will have a red or a white option.

Save on activities

Free activities

Often you can find free activities to take part in. A lot of the historical sites are free to see; ie. in Rome – Trevi Fountain, churches, Spanish Steps and so much more.

Italy is rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Take advantage of other free attractions such as parks, gardens, and walking tours to soak in the local atmosphere without spending a fortune.

Take advantage of city passes

Some cities offer tourist passes that provide discounted or free access to various attractions and public transportation. Look into purchasing city passes like the Roma Pass in Rome or Firenze Card in Florence to save money while sightseeing.

Embrace the local culture

Engage with locals and immerse yourself in the Italian culture. Attend local festivals, markets, and events, which can offer unique experiences and are often free. Opt for authentic local experiences rather than tourist traps, as they can be more affordable and provide a richer cultural experience.

How to save money and still enjoy your Italian getaway – no compromise on quality

Remember, saving money doesn’t mean compromising on the quality of your experience. By being smart about your choices and embracing the local culture, you can have a memorable and enjoyable vacation in Italy without breaking the bank. I hope you find these tips for how to save money and still enjoy your Italian getaway useful!

If you are in the midst of your Italy trip planning or just looking for inspiration? Check out the rest of my Italy content!


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Growing up near Pasadena, CA, my creativity blossomed as I delved into the LA food scene, food styling, photography, and storytelling. Now, I curate content centered around food, beverage, and travel, while indulging in hobbies like thrifting. Italy holds a special place in my heart, where I found love and embarked on a new chapter in Bologna. Join me on this creative journey of food, travel, and love.