How to make the dream “trip to Italy” come true
As I tend to travel often to Italy, budgeting for my regular visit home is something I have to address and be on top of.
There are lots of interesting ways on the internet for saving up, but often I find that these are irrelevant to me, or uncomfortable, or ridiculous or even impossible. Take for instance ‘selling items on Ebay’ for cash to put towards the ticket. Brilliant idea, but I never get around to do it.
So, here are the ones I regularly use.
1. Set up a separate account where you put a regular percentage of your monthly income.
The fact that is a percentage allows you to adjust it based on what you received, without stretching yourself too much (to the point of using a credit card for buying food). You can start with 10% than see if you can cut down on other expenses and increase that 10% to 15%, and so on. DO NOT TOUCH this money until you have reached the goal (pay for the ticket) or the departure day.
2. Only buy good items and don’t waste too much on souvenirs.
“Bring me SOMETHING from Italy!” ... Promising a gift to all your friends is something that might not be feasible, could become a stressful exercise and, most of all, will blow your shopping funds. I usually only buy presents for the MINIMUM number of people I can. If you don’t promise, there is no expectation. And it’s better than coming back with a suitcase of key rings from Venice!
3. Go in the off season.
I know that Christmas in Italy would be lovely and that an Italian summer is a must-have experience, but I now tend to travel in the off-season. The aim of the game is to save on high season’s airfares and accommodation rates (so I can have more shopping money).
4. Don’t exchange too much money beforehand.
Simply withdraw what you need from your bank account at any ATM in Italy (called bancomat). This will definitely cut down on exchange fees.
Photo courtesy of Citta` di Torino
5. Don't buy things you already have back home.
I have learnt to pack only blacks and whites: easy to match for ANY occasion. If you are invited to a special restaurant, you won’t need to go and buy a suitable outfit that you probably already have in your wardrobe at home. Keep your shopping money for unique pieces, not for double-ups.
6. Book accommodation when you are there.
This strategy allows you to do a realistic budget for meals, transports and shopping for the day. For instance, if that night I can only find accommodation for 100 euro, then I know that my dinner could include appetisers and a bottle of wine. If the room is 150 euro, then main course and a small gelato-to-go will have to do. This way the budget is kept in integrity and spending is based on a “calculated” choice.
7. Last but not least, set the date.
This is super important. Put the date in your calendar. Tell friends you are going. Tell yourself YOU ARE GOING. Then, work out the days you have until the departure and how much you would need to save. Put in place as many systems as you can.
Picture courtesy of Bertok
But the moral of the story is not to take on these tips and start putting them in place.
Instead, it’s to encourage you to make your dream of going to Italy a reality.
implement those tips that work for you, find your own structures for saving up and follow through. The land of all things beautiful is awaiting.