One of the most important factors when planning travel is the cost.  Having a background as an accountant, cost is certainly one of the things we consider most when planning a getaway.  Many vloggers and bloggers who travel full-time are on very strict budgets, with income only coming from YouTube monetization, affiliate links, Patreon support, etc.  Since we’re very much rooted in the states and are only able to travel once or twice a year, our travel budgets differ quite a bit.

Typically, we take one large two-week trip per year.  We almost always use miles to cut the costs.  What I want do with this blog is to show you how much a trip can cost, even when you fly for free and avoid super expensive lodging.

So, our 2018 trip is (as suggested) a two-week trip to Italy.  We’ll be flying in to Venice before traversing across the country with stops in Tuscany before ending our vacation in Rome.  Each year, we do our best to shave more and more dollars off of what we spent in the prior year, but in the end, we always seem to land in just about the same place.  So, let’s take a look at our spending for 2018:

Airfare

  • 2 Open Jaw Flights from Evansville, IN to Venice and from Rome to Evansville – $161.92 (Plus 120k United Miles)
  • Exit row seat reserverations from Chicago to Dublin – $140.00
    • Total Airfare Costs – $301.92

Lodging – Italy (not surprisingly) turned out to be pretty expensive from a lodging standpoing.  If we were staying in a city or area long term, we would definitely try to sacrifice location for the sake of cost, but since our trips typically consist of only 3-4 days in an area, location becomes super important in order for us to make the most of our time on the ground.  Let’s break down the lodging costs:

  • 3 Nights in Venice (AirBNB) – $408.39 ($136.13 per night)
  • 3 Nights in Florence (AirBNB) – $233.91 ($77.97 per night) We did pretty good on this one.
  • 3 Nights in Siena Agriturismo – $392.59 ($130.86 per night)
  • 4 Nights in Rome (Booking.com) – $531.00 ($132.75 per night)
    • Total Lodging Costs – $1565.89

So, you may be thinking, less than $1900 for a 2 week trip to Italy!  That’s pretty amazing.  To think that for under $2000, you can fly to Italy and have great accommodations in prime locations for 14 nights, that’s pretty good.  It’s at this point, I always make the mistake of estimating other potential costs, that our budget starts to bloat.

Let’s take a look at other potential costs:

  • Food – We aim high with our budget at $75 per day.  We don’t usually spend this much, as we typically eat breakfast and/or lunch from a grocery store.  But, if we did spend our max estimate, food costs for 15 days would land at – $1125.00
  • Excursions/Tours/Entertainment – We don’t do too much in the way of guided tours or expensive activities, but we do pick and choose a few things.  If there’s a castle or something that we want to visit, we may pay the fee to enter.  Or, we may join a walking tour, or even book an all day excursion once in a while.  We’re both suckers for food tours and cooking classes, and they can sometimes get pricey.  Again, conservatively budgeting, we estimate our entertainment costs for two weeks at – $1000.00.
  • Transportation – Whether you’re staying in one city or bouncing from place to place, you’ll need some sort of transportation.  For our 2018 trip, we’ll be combining trains, buses, and car rental to get around.  Estimated cost of a 3 day car rental, plus trains in between destinations puts us at about $350.00.
  • Phone – Since we don’t travel with a group or a guide, affordable data access is a must for us.  We typically pick up a local SIM Card upon arrival in a new country.  For Italy, a local SIM will run us about – $35.00
  • Insurance – We always book travel insurance when traveling internationally.  We do have credit cards that offer it, but we’ve found the coverage to just be better with companies like Travel Guard.  Our policy for 2018 cost us – $115.00
  • Pet Care – Do you have pets?  We do, and it’s always a major consideration in our travel budget.  For our two dogs, two weeks boarding usually costs us about – $500.00

Total Trip Estimate – $5000.00

This may seem like a ton of money, and it is.  Our approach is to spead out our spending and knock out things piece by piece.  We first book our flights, which cost us next to nothing.  We then start researching lodging options.  This is the hardest part, as we have to balance cost vs. location/quality.  Sometimes, you will still pay a premium for a good location, even if the quality is bad.  From there, it’s simply planning ahead for what else you may encounter.  We will check train routes in advance.  If an early bird fare is available, we may grab it, but we’re more apt to book our tickets at the train station.

We do our best to have every major cost covered before we depart, so the only costs incurred during travel are the day to day expenses (food, entertainment, etc.)

As mentioned, we always aim high with our budget to avoid as many surprises as possible.  While we sometimes find the cost of travel daunting, we’d rather be as prepared as possible to be able to enjoy our adventures to the fullest.