The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel’s resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She’s always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.
Reader brianapitt writes, “Needing some help!! Ever since my husband and I got married almost three years ago, we’ve promised ourselves that we’ll take a trip to Italy. After his acceptance into medical school, we decided to go after his graduation in 2012. Recently, though, we decided that we’d like to start a family before he graduates. In doing that, our Italy window just got a lot smaller. My husband has an upcoming break in the months of July and August before he starts his clinical rotations. We see this as our last opportunity to go before we have children …. We have some money in savings, but need to use as little of that possible … Can you help us get to Italy this summer on a dime?”
Congratulations on your decision to enter into the wonderful world of parenting. I can understand your feeling of urgency in taking your dream vacation now. Your travel dates fall smack dab in the middle of Italy’s high season, but since the dates seem pretty well set, we’ll do the best we can with what we’ve got.
The first place to start planning an Italy summer vacation is by scouting package providers, such as Go-Today and EuropeASAP. This will give you a benchmark price of what a trip will cost for your particular needs, and you can compare other outlets from there.
For instance, Go-Today offers a six-night Taste of Italy package, which sees a great deal of the country in a short period of time, that starts at $1,699 per person (without taxes and fees) in July and August. The deal includes round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher price); two nights’ accommodations in Rome, Venice, and Florence; a second-class rail ticket between cities; daily continental breakfast; and hotel taxes and service charges. Just as a side note for those with a more flexible schedule, the package drops in price to $1,379 per person (without taxes and fees) in September.
If you prefer to remain stationary, Go-Today also has a Rome at its Best package that offers more time to familiarize yourself with the Roman scene, starting at $1,479 per person (without taxes and fees). The deal comes with round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher cost), six nights’ accommodations in Rome, daily breakfast, and hotel taxes and service charges.
Though these are only two options of available packages—you can change travel period, destinations, departure cities, and hotels—they give you a fairly good idea of prices for your time period. Plus, now we can try to see if we can do better by booking items separately.
For starters, I priced airfare from New York City to Rome in July starting at $1,075 (with taxes and fees) per person. Remember, airfare deals crop up all the time, and you may have some luck finding a cheap fare if you keep a watchful eye. However, a lot of airlines haven’t released summer travel deals quite yet, and there’s no guarantee the ones they offer will be better than what you’ve already found. It’s wise to book the moment you find a fare within your budget and then never look back.
As for a place to stay, I found an apartment rental in Rome starting at €45 (about $61 U.S.; check with for current rates), or about $366 for a six-night stay (with taxes and fees). A vacation rental can be a great way to get more bang for your buck since a rental provides more space and is typically less expensive than a hotel. Plus, you can cut costs by cooking at home instead of dining out.
The total cost for booking this trip would come to about $2,516 for two people (with taxes and fees) versus the $2,958 for two people (without taxes and fees) of the above package. While booking separately doesn’t include the price of breakfast—$400 for breakfasts seems a little excessive, in my opinion—it’s easy to see that it’s the clear winner for savings.
Though these prices probably don’t look that impressive compared to spring travel, a summer vacation to Rome for less than $1,300 per person isn’t anything to scoff at. Plus, you might even find a better price depending on where your final destination is and if you can find a sale on airfare. Either way, I hope that you can take your dream trip before the little one arrives.
To my other readers, please share any saving, booking, or planning tips you may have with brianapitt. Have you got any other suggestions on how to save on a trip to Italy? Or possibly where they should go in the country to save cash?
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All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.