Friday, November 26, 2010


You know I'm the tightwad of the family, the penny-pincher, the one who's always saying 'no, we can't afford to ...", so it was with mixed feelings that I began our eight week vacation back in September.  Yes, I'd found budget (sometimes even free) accommodations, and yes, I'd planned ahead, even including a few splurges along the way, but I was still nervous about how much it would end up costing.  It's easy to say okay, the hotel room is $80 per night and the parking is $15, and we can probably get by with a simple breakfast at home and maybe $40 for lunch, but then there's always the STUFF. 

You can never plan for or budget for the STUFF because you don't really know exactly what type of STUFF you'll end up with.  We knew we'd have some chocolate, and some wine, and probably some other food related goodies as well, and I knew we'd be looking for Christmas and birthday gifts along the way too.  Having just paid to move lots of STUFF back to the states from Italy, I didn't really think I needed anything else, but then you just never know.  I knew I wanted to look for ceramic house numbers in Deruta, and we ended up having one large tile custom made - then we needed to have a holder for the tile, so we visited our blacksmith Paolo in San Venanzo who was thrilled that his work would be going to the United States! 

Anyway, some how we ended up with quite a bit of STUFF - most of it really HEAVY STUFF too.  Thank goodness we traveled mostly by car and didn't have to haul all our STUFF on and off the trains, and thank goodness we took the transatlantic cruise back home - they really don't care how much STUFF you have, but you do have to worry about the airlines.  We planned ahead and booked our flight from Ft Lauderdale back to Louisville on Southwest Airlines, who still let you check TWO bags each for no additional charge.  Thanks to curbside check-in and a nice tip all our bags made it safely onboard. I was VERY nervous about having the bags weighed - maybe some would have been 49 pounds but others might have been 53 pounds, then we would have spent a frantic few minutes rearranging everything.

And yes, everything made it home safe and sound, and now most of it has been put away - or wrapped up for gifts.  Now all I'm left with are the charge slips and statements.  Which leads me back to the title of this post:  travel costs.  I'll bet you thought I'd gotten completely off track, didn't you?  You know how I tend to ramble on.....

I did keep some notes about our expenses during our six weeks in Italy.  We were very lucky that we didn't have to rent a car - our friend Wendy was kind enough to lend our old car back to us while we were there, which of course made us feel very comfortable.  We had some work done on the car to repay her, but this had been one of the conditions when we gave her the car last April before we moved back to the states! 

Looking at the charge card statement it's not as easy as you might think to spot all the gas stations, so these numbers might be a little off - maybe there was another tank of gas I missed, but it looks like we spent just over $400 for gas (diesel), and if we'd been REALLY smart we would have calculated the mileage as well!!!

We also spent about $96 on buses, trains and trail passes, and about $185 for tolls on the autostrada.  Our lodging costs varied from free at Wendy's house to $70 to cover utilities at a friend's house, to about $650 per week for our two vacation rentals.  We also paid about $200 for three nights on the Cinque Terre, $122 for one night in Genoa and $230 for two nights in Turin.   That makes lodging just over $1800 for six weeks, but of course it was a little more than that - we tried to treat Wendy whenever we could to 'pay' for our stay there.  So, let's see: 
  • $400 for gas
  • $200 services for the car
  • $96 for busses/trains etc
  • $185 for tolls
  • $70 utilities in Puglia
  • $200 3 nights in Levanto
  • $122 one night in Genoa
  • $230 two nights in Turin
  • $1320 for 2 one week vacation rentals
And the grand total for lodging and travel is:  $2823.  If we'd had to rent a car the costs would have been considerable higher, even more so if the rental car had taken regular gas instead of diesel.

Our food costs are harder to calculate:  trips to the grocery store often included non food items, so I can't rely on receipts, and many a quick pizza or gelato was paid for in cash, making it almost impossible to remember.  We did have some pricey lunches that were oh-so-worth-it and others that were just so-so, and as always I did enjoy cooking on quite a few occasions.  I'll tell you right now that one of the biggest surprises was that pesto in Liguria, while definitely yummy, isn't any better than what I make at home!

So the last of the charges just came in today and everything will be paid off before Christmas.  Art will look at me like I'm crazy for trying to break down all the costs and will tell me "See, it's all paid off, we had a great time, why do you worry so much?", and of course my answer will be that if I didn't worry so much and didn't keep track of expenses it would have cost a LOT more!  Still, six weeks in Italy, two more weeks on a transatlantic cruise home - yes, I have to say it - PRICELESS!!!!


At 11/26/2010 05:39:00 PM , Blogger jan said...

Have to agree. The bottom line is "priceless."

At 11/27/2010 07:48:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you add your air line costs/taxis/cruise fare/on-shore excursions ( guided or independent ) entertainment, the car care job, gratuities and all the etc. etc. what was your total per person cost for the full eight weeks? even non - food supermarket buys and markets included.

Guess that means all bills, and all cash spent from departure to return.

Curious for comparison purposes,

At 11/28/2010 07:55:00 PM , Anonymous Michelle from NJ said...

Barb and Art, the time you spent living in San V. and your trips back will all be the best spent $ of your lives. Priceless memories, priceless friendships and priceless experiences are what it's all about! Welcome back. Can't wait to see some of your historically fabulous photos posted with commentary. Michelle

At 11/30/2010 07:23:00 AM , Blogger Melissa Keith said...

Barb - I'm like you, I like to budget and keep costs down. The lower we keep our costs, the longer we can travel. We've just arrived in Italy for a 2 week visit after 3 months in Turkey. Travel in Turkey is very easy on the budget! Although we knew there was a big price difference, we are still getting used to the prices here in Italy. But it is sooo worth it. Italy is one of our favorite places on the planet!
Oh yes, occasional splurges are fun too. I bought new leather boots in Orvieto yesterday (on sale of course!). Picture of boots is up on facebook :-)

At 12/12/2010 04:57:00 AM , Anonymous martha said...

Good post Barb. If it is okay I will put a link to this on my travel page. Sounds like you all had a great time. Martha

At 12/12/2010 01:55:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks everyone! And yes Martha, a link would be nice!

At 1/11/2011 07:37:00 PM , Anonymous EFT Therapy said...

Nothing beats Italy! It is indeed priceless!


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