How to Travel around Italy on a Small Budget

Are you looking to save money on transport in Italy? It’s possible, don’t be discouraged!

The cost of your lowest transportation option depends on your plans and the deals that you find. When weighing your options, there are some things you should keep in mind.

This is the first of a series about how to save money when traveling in Italy. Stay tuned for more!

Italy: Rent a car

Do you need to rent a car while in Italy?

Many tourists rent cars to get around Italy. There are many benefits to owning your own vehicle: You can travel to remote areas, including the countryside, and you can go where you want.

Driving is the most expensive option when you plan to travel a lot and make many stops. If you reserve the car in advance, renting a car will usually cost EUR40-60 per day. And if you can’t drive a stick, beware: Automatic transmission vehicles are rare in Italy, so renting one will cost you. They can be as much as EUR60-80 per day if booked in advance. A GPS is highly recommended for driving in the country or finding out-of-the-way agriturismi.

There’s also the issue of gas prices. Do you think the U.S. prices are absurd? The average gasoline price in Italy was EUR1.55… per Liter in July. This works out to EUR5.87/gallon. Say your car gets 35 miles per gallon. For example, to drive from Florence, Italy to Rome, which is a distance of approximately 165 miles, it will cost you almost EUR30 to fill up your car with gas. Don’t think renting a car is the fastest way to travel from Point A to Point B. In fact, most of the time the train or plane is quicker.

However, driving is a great way to experience real Italy. Don’t discount renting an automobile… but keep these price-saving tips in mind.

Renting an automobile might be the best and cheapest option for you. If you are a large family or small group, you will want to visit many cities and towns; you would like to experience the country or go on off-road agriturismi. If you are a good driver and have more luggage than necessary.

You might find renting a car more costly and challenging if you are: A couple or an individual; you travel from one city to the next; you cannot drive a stick; your driving skills are not great; you don’t feel comfortable driving in different situations; and you want a large, American-sized vehicle (without specifying one). You get frustrated easily by being lost.

How to Save on a Car Rental in Italy

Renting a car in Italy is a great way to save money. Book ahead, online, and always. You can save up to 60% by booking in advance. Auto Europe, Maggiore Rent and Europcar, Sixt, and Autoeuropa are some of the sites you should check out.

If your car isn’t a high-quality European-model or stick-driven vehicle, you should consider purchasing insurance for. While this may cost you more in the long term, it could save you money in case of an accident. While insurance is part of the package when you rent a car, it’s limited-liability insurance–so if you accidentally scrape the side of a wall while driving down one of those extraordinarily-narrow medieval streets and scratch up the car, for example, you’ll have to pay for the damage. Ouch.

You might consider other pick-up points for your car than the one you are using to start your Italy trip. This is often the most expensive option. Combining the train and a car is often cheaper and faster. It is often cheaper to rent a car in Tuscany if you are leaving Rome. Renting a car in a small city is not the best way to start your car trip. You would be amazed at how many Italian towns have rental car agencies.

You don’t have to drop your car at the same place you picked it up. It all depends on what your itinerary is. However, if you find it more convenient to drop off the car in another city than the one you originally hired, book it ahead. Pre-reserving this option can save you up to EUR50. This is often less than the cost of gas to return to your starting point and much cheaper than the train to your next destination if you are continuing your journeys through Italy. We recently took a car from Piacenza and drove through northern Italy to arrive in Venice. The cost of dropping the car off in Venice was EUR60. However, the cost to travel by train from Piacenza back to Venice would have been EUR27-EUR50 per person.

Be familiar with the rules of the road. A nasty accident can cost you a lot of money. And, yes, Italian road signs and road etiquette may be different than back home. You should also be familiar with the rules regarding where you can drive. For example, in Florence city center, you will need a permit to enter. A fine could result if you don’t have one. Before you drive off the road, make sure you are aware of where non-residents have access.

Do it yourself when you get gas. You can do it yourself at many Italian gas stations.

Flying to Italy

Are you allowed to fly within Italy?

Flying is one of the most affordable ways to travel from Italy to Italy, thanks to so many budget airlines. However, both destinations must be large enough to support airports. You must also calculate how you will get to the airport.

It’s worthwhile to compare the budget airlines. For EUR115, you can fly roundtrips from Rome to Florence with Alitalia right now. The price drops to EUR100 if you travel in November. There are also budget airlines. You can fly roundtrip from Milan-Bergamo airport to Rome airport for EUR46, or Naples to Venice roundtrip for EUR99 with EasyJet. There are many other low-cost airlines that have appeared in recent years.

When booking a flight, make sure you read all the fine print. Ryanair allows you to take only a limited amount of baggage. You cannot even check any items at all. If you do not comply, you will be subject to heavy fines at the airport.

Flying may be the best and cheapest option for you if You pack light; your destinations offer airports that are economically accessible from the city center.

Flying can be a costly and time-consuming option if you: Expedite baggage fees, or have to carry your own bags; you are far from your destination and there isn’t cheap transportation available (e.g. late at night) and you have multiple destinations

How to Save on Flying in Italy

Take a look at several websites including budget and non-budget airlines, consolidators, and others. Expedia is not the only website you should be looking at. You should also check out other consolidator websites, such as Kayak and Skyscanner. Also, the Italian sites Vayama as well as Mobissimo.

These websites are best for searching non-budget airlines. Make sure to check out specific sites that offer cheap flights. Ryanair is a great option for those looking for the best value. However, you will get less than you pay. EasyJet offers a bit more comfort and sometimes the same price. Don’t forget the Italian carriers: BluExpress AirOne Wind Jet and Alitalia.

Be sure to read all the fine print. It’s usually cheaper to fly with a budget airline that allows you to check a bag for free if you are planning on doing so. Ryanair is not the only airline that allows you to check a bag. You should always, always be aware of what you can check in or take on board and what you need to do to avoid being fined at the airport.

How to get from the airport and to your destination before you book your flight. There are few things that can ruin the benefits of a cheap flight (other than being charged EUR60 for a bag with a slight overweight) than spending EUR45 on a last-minute taxi ride. You should ensure that there are cheaper options and that they will still be available when you land.

Pack your lunch. Budget airlines will charge you high prices for sandwiches or water when you are actually onboard. You’ll save even more if you grab a panino as soon as you get to the airport.

It’s easy to take the train in Italy

Is it worth taking the train to Italy?

It’s the perfect compromise between renting a car or flying. You can explore more than you would if you were bound to airports, but not as much as you could if driving. It’s also usually quicker than driving, and sometimes, if transportation to and from airports is included, it’s faster than flying. It’s reliable and can be affordable, as many people in Italy rely on it.

Strikes can ruin even the best-laid plans. Although they aren’t as frequent with trains as you might think (we experience a strike about every 40-50 times we ride the train), they can be annoying and cancel many routes or all of them at the last moment.

Be aware that train stations are not always located in the middle of Italy’s major cities. It may take you a few minutes to walk or take the metro to reach the historic or tourist areas. Stations in hilly towns such as Tuscany or Umbria are often at the top of the hill. Buses might not run frequently, so it may be a bit of a hike. Plan ahead if you have limited mobility or a lot of luggage.

If  You don’t have a lot of luggage, the train may be the best and cheapest option.

If you’re looking for a way to travel from one station to another, the train is likely to be the best and most expensive option.

How to save money on the train in Italy

Step-by-Step Guide to How to Travel Italy by Train. Here are some important points to keep in mind when saving money.

You can find discounts and promotional fares in advance. Trenitalia offers a variety of great deals on train tickets and promotions. You don’t even have to be a citizen or resident of Italy to benefit from them. One of the most popular promotions is the Mini offer. This allows you to save up to 60% on normal fares including Milan to Venice at EUR9 and Rome-Verona at EUR29. The Sabato Italiano deal is another, in which two people travel on Saturdays pay one ticket. Children younger than 12 years old traveling with an adult are eligible for free travel until August 31. If you are day-tripping, you can save on round-trip tickets (with return on same day as departure) with the Same Day Return offer

Did you find a discount? Book ahead and read the fine print. For example, the MINI fare must be booked at least 2 days in advance. On popular routes, however, many MINI fares have already run out.

If you are not traveling with a promotional fare you should only purchase your ticket once your travel plans have been established. The reason is that “Flexible” tickets allow you to change your reservation unlimitedly, but they cost 25% more than “Base” tickets. However, “Base” tickets are limited in the number of times you can modify your reservation. This can make it difficult to change your reservation. It is better to get your ticket the morning you arrive at the station than when you leave.

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