This blog post’s purpose is not to solely provide entertainment, but to present a realistic breakdown of expenses spent on a trip. The goal is to help create ideas on how to cut back, help set expectations, and to see how my money was spent based on airfare, lodging, transportation, attractions and meals.
Italy is at the top of most people’s lists for places they want to see the most. For me, I remember seeing the pictures of when my former youth pastor and his wife went on their honeymoon there. I couldn’t believe it – how could anything be more romantic than honeymooning in Rome? Especially since I had thoughts of riding on the back of a moped with a handsome man just like Lizzie McGuire did in her movie.
Well, dream accomplished. I had told William from the get-go this is where I wanted to go, and he was onboard with the idea. We went in April 2016. I have our general outline of how the trip went below for reference.
04/15/16 – Flew out of DFW
04/16/16 – Arrived in Naples after a layover in Frankfurt AND a layover in London (that required us to switch from Heathrow to Gatwick airport in 3 hours – yikes) – evening
04/17/16 – 04/18/16 – 2 full days exploring Naples
04/19/16 – Day trip from Naples to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius
04/20/16 – Train to Sorrento in morning, full day in Sorrento
04/21/16 – Day trip from Sorrento to Capri
04/22/16 – Day trip from Sorrento to Amalfi Coast (Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello)
04/23/16 – Train to Rome in morning
04/24/16 – 04/28/16 – 5 full days in Rome
04/29/16 – Train to Pisa in afternoon
04/30/16 – Pisa, leave for airport in evening. Fly to London for overnight layover
05/01/16 – London to Madrid, then finally home
Because it was our honeymoon, my gracious, thoughtful, awesome in-laws gave us miles to book the flight with! William’s dad flies multiple times a month for work so he racks up a lot of American Airline miles. We went with the Economy MileSAAver redemption, which is the lowest amount of points possible that you can use to get from point A to point B. They are not available every day, so you have to be flexible with your dates. At the time, this was 20,000 miles per person each way. So for both of us, this would total to 80,000 miles. American has increased this award to 22,500 miles each way now though (90,000 round trip for 2 people).
Even when you book with miles, you will still have to pay various taxes and fees associated with the ticket. When I currently looked this up on a similar flight, this was about $150.
Keep in mind, if you book through American Airlines, avoid long flight segments that are on British Airways. In my case, I had to make sure my flight going over the ocean was not a British Airways flight. They charge you the fuel surcharge on top of the miles redemption, so this can change that $150 fee to a $600 one.
If you don’t have people in your life with tons and tons of miles to spare though, you can sign up for a credit card with a good bonus. Some examples are:
Citi American Aadvantage – currently a 60,000 mile bonus, and the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard – currently a 50,000 bonus with an annual fee of $95 NOT waived. Clearly, the first card would be better but I already got it so this is appealing for me.
Starwood Preferred Guest – currently a 25,000 point bonus, and the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year. Every 20,000 points that you transfer (at a time) to American Airlines racks up an additional 5,000 mile bonus. If you would like more information on this card, send me your email on my Contact Me page. I have a special referral email I’ll send to you!
Make sure though you are careful with your credit, and have a score of at least 700 before applying.
Cost of airfare per person: $75
As a honeymoon present, we were able to upgrade for a bit of our stay in Italy as long as we kept it under $200 a night, and I used Rocket Miles to book these hotels. Why? Because they bonus me extra miles to the account of my choice just for booking through them. The prices for the hotels are similar to other hotel booking sites; the only difference is there are not as many options. The bonuses are always at least 1,000 miles but can go up to 13,000. Keep in mind, this is for the reservation (not per night).
In Naples, I found the Ramada Naples conveniently right next to the train station. After all taxes and fees were factored in, this cost $172 a night for 3 nights. I earned 516 miles through my credit card for making the reservation, and then I got a bonus of 9,000 American Airlines miles deposited to my account; 6,000 for the actual reservation and 3,000 for it being my first booking.
In Sorrento, we stayed at the Hotel Corallo for 4 nights at $183 total a night with all taxes and fees. So in addition to earning 731 miles on my credit card, I also earned a bonus of 6,000 American Airlines miles.
For the rest of the trip, we were on our own so I chose to book our lodging through AirBnb! In Rome, we stayed 6 nights in an apartment located within walking distance of the Vatican. It had a full kitchenette, a patio with a garden, neighborhood cats, and it took a million keys to get inside (very secure!) The host was very kind, even though she didn’t speak much English. There was also food to make breakfast and many guide books inside (and a map)! You can check her place out if you are looking at Rome here.
We paid about $61 a night, totaling $365 for the whole stay.
Finally, in Pisa for one night we also stayed at an AirBnb location. It was $58 for the grand total. Never met our host, but it was a great location.
Cost of lodging per person: $835.50 (but also earned 16,247 miles just through 2 hotel bookings. More than enough for a one way domestic airline ticket).
All of my Italy budgeting, especially transportation, ended up being some rather lengthy writing. I’ve decided to end this post here, but next week I will include more information on the cost of transportation, attractions and food. I will also reveal the grand total!