Friday, October 22, 2010

Tipping in Italy

Another day of checking travel blogs, another awesome find that's totally appropriate!

Budget Travel posted an article about tipping in six situations in Italy - and after reading it, I realized that I have been over-tipping!

The article goes into the reasoning behind tipping at a restaurant, and it's an interesting read, but here's the quick and dirty:
•Pizzeria: €1 for each person, unless you are alone, then leave €2 or €3
•Restaurant: About 5 to 10 percent
•Taxi: Round the bill up, if you're feeling generous and the taxi driver took the short route
•Hairdresser: About 5 to 10 percent
•Hotel porters: €1 to €5
•Bar: Maximum €2
I love Budget Travel.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Europe airfare: The search continues.

I recently found a pretty great article on summer airfare to Europe on, and they've quelled a little of my anxiety about how much our flights will cost for next year.

The article, Summer Airfare to Europe, helps answer the question I've been contemplating since we found out we were going to Italy: When to buy our tickets. The short answer? Sometime between January, at the soonest, through March of next year. But what I found most interesting about this article was the table it has - it's a graph that shows the prices of airfare for the first half of 2009 vs. the first half of 2010.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Budget (woes)

As I may have mentioned, I'm a planner. I love to plan. And one of the aspects of planning is budgeting. While watching my "money" slip away as I build a budget is never fun, I still like to play with numbers and estimate what things will cost.

So, I couldn't help but build some budgets for this amazing trip we have in the works.

Of course, I sort of pad my budgets, and I base them on budget hotels, meals, etc. Hotel rooms? $150/night, though I'll be looking for $100/night. Food? $50/day, though we'll probably end up snacking for one meal a day, or buying stuff at the market instead of a restaurant. I think I'm pretty close on transportation, but I'd much rather come in under budget, than have something come up and be ridiculously more than we'd planned.

Here's the disclaimer of how I budgeted food. Breakfast = $10/person. Lunch = $15/person. Dinner = $25/person. I looked at what days we'd need what (arriving in afternoon, no dinner the night of the wedding, etc.) and came up with the food totals.

Monday, October 18, 2010 Walking Tour Maps

I was recently trying to map out a walking tour that I once did in Rome, and in the process I discovered It's a European site that allows you, among other things, to map out your own tours by entering the locations you want to see.

You have tons of options, too - you can visit the places in the order you enter them, or have the map "optimize" for you. You can choose your method of travel - car, foot, or bicycle. And you can see it on a map as well as have written directions. It also calculates the amount of time and distance your itinerary reflects!

I did a quick sample one for Rome when I was writing my last post, and did a tour starting at the Colosseum and ending at the Spanish Steps. Stops along the way include the Mouth of Truth, Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain.

This specific trek is 7.7 km long and estimated to take 2 hours... obviously we'd take longer so we could stop and see stuff, detour, take photos, eat gelato, etc. But I really love this site, and I have a feeling I'll be using it whenever I want to customize a walk!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Need to see list: Rome, Italy

Fountain of the Four Rivers, Piazza Navona


I've started to think about some of the things I want to do there on our trip next year. While I've been to Italy, and spent extensive amounts of time in the three main cities we'll be visiting, we'll be traveling with people who haven't been - and so it becomes a balance of checking out things that they want to see, and us not doing things we've done before and can skip this time around. Obviously, this means that at least for certain things, our group might split up. But, there are some things that never get old (no pun intended!) - the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and of course, the Colosseum.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Saving tips for a big trip

Saving for a trip can be tough, especially in this economy and with all the other expenses we have in our day to day lives. Since I have a big trip coming up, I thought I'd share three of my savings tips for travel.

A while back, I saw a commercial about that debit card that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and sticks the extra change into a savings account. I thought it was a pretty neat idea, so when I was trying to find a way to save some extra cash for Italy next year, I came up with my own version of it. My "ESA," or "envelope savings account."