I’m traveling back to Italy this May/June for three weeks, and in the process of planning my trip. I thought now would be a great time to share a few resources I regularly use to get the best “bang for my buck” if you will (primarily since I like to travel there, I don’t want to pay full price each time). This blog should really be titled “Part I:” only because I’m constantly finding new resources and websites to score the best deals and I’m sure I’ll be posting more tips and guides in the future. Also most of the tips, I have recently accumulated are trial and error or have recently used and rate 5 stars. 

FLIGHTS
In previous posts I’ve talked about “cookies” keeping track of dates and cities you are searching, so it’s always best to search in the incognito or “private” browser option anytime you are browsing flights. {Vendors increase prices once they’re aware you’re searching specific dates and cities}

I’m pretty good at creating my own connections, especially when booking overseas. By doing this, I always save $300-400. The only con to doing this is long layovers and many connections, so if you HATE flying I would not recommend it, but for people who love to explore and visit new places this is a great option. I like to search New York, Los Angeles, or Boston for European flights because most of the time they have direct or one connection flights starting at $400 r/t  depending on the destination. I then just book a domestic flight from Dallas to whichever city I’m leaving from. Many sites charge a fee for finding the connection for you, I will say that creating your own connection does take a lot of time and research but the money you save in the long run is well worth it. 

This trip for example, creating my own connection: 
On the way:
Dallas to Boston (Spirit Airlines)
Boston to Dusseldorf, Germany (Air Berlin)
Dusseldorf, Germany to Bologna, Italy (Air Berlin)

Coming back:
Bologna, Italy to Dusseldorf, Germany (Air Berlin)
Dusseldorf, Germany to Boston (Air Berlin)
Boston to Charlotte (American Airlines)
Charlotte to Dallas (American Airlines)

 

 
 

Finding Flights: Norwegian, Priceline, Expedia, One Travel, TravelocityAir Berlin
Comparing Flights and Prices: Skyscanner

HOTELS AND ACCOMMODATIONS
Okay so I’ve honestly been lucky enough to make a few friends who live in Europe throughout college and high school, so most of the time I stay with them. However, when I do book Hotels overseas,  I use Booking.com, it is literally the best site to book any hotel whether it be in the states or overseas! Why? Because not only does it provide an EXTENSIVE list of hotels, b&b’s (which I like to book in Italy), resorts, and condos, but it gives you the option to book now pay later, in case something may come up OR you decide later on you want to book elsewhere. And in case that isn’t enough, there is also FREE cancellation within 24 hours of your stay. If you happen to be traveling to Italy I recommend searching for B&B’s (Bed and Breakfast) they are all over the country, and not only are there many that are extremely luxurious BUT, they offer an AMAZING homemade breakfast offerings each morning, most of them have gorgeous terraces outdoor each morning where it is served as well. In South Italy some start at $60 a night!! Especially, with rooftop terraces facing the sea, Jacuzzi’s with Prosecco, and cities waiting to be explored.
{If you are in need or renting a car there is also an option via booking.com with the same book now pay later option.} Not to mention, their app keeps track of all your bookings. 

Booking Hotels and Accommodations: Booking.com

TRAIN
The best way to travel from city to city or, even country to country is by train. Especially in Italy, unless you’ve driven there before you may think twice about attempting. We travelled by train to reach, Venice, Florence, and Rome. I loved the experience, most trains offer free wifi and electrical outlets for charging. I also think it’s the quickest and most efficient way of travel. From Italy we had access to reach, Germany, France and Switzerland, etc. so its a great resource to explore, especially for very low pricing. When I was in Sweden everyone took the train and subway. Tickets were easy to purchase at every station and the train/subway stopped at every major place you may need to go. It was so easily accessible and fast- Sweden in general has a FANTASTIC public transportation network. You wouldn’t need a car to get around at all. It’s natural to walk or take the train/subway daily. 

Finding Routes and Trains: Rail Europe, Eurail, GoEuro
Booking Train Passes: RailPass
Italian Train Destinations: TrenItalia

ATTRACTIONS, TOURS, AND ACTIVITIES:
After searching and searching for the best activities to do while on vacation and becoming nothing but stressed out, I finally came across Get your Guide, which is an online arcade of attractions, tours, activities! Plus there’s even an app, so instant gratification of planning at your fingertips. The best part of booking/planning your tours with them is they store your payment and booking information, so you can have everything planned on the app after booking. This is the best resource to me because of the amount of locations and activities they offer: I’m talking over 6,000 locations! It’s so stressful trying to find the best activities, museums, and fun to do while traveling and Get your Guide takes all the stress away, giving you the best and most popular activities to narrow down your search.

Finding Activities: GetYourGuide
Other Resources: Viator

PAYMENT
I honestly feel that times have changed, many people use to exchange cash before their trip, however now most places take most major credit cards, though before leaving you MUST let your bank know where you are traveling before hand (a 3% charge is allocated for all transactions on your card) I feel that the amount they charge to exchange cash is about the same as the 3% charge. In Germany, they wouldn’t accept cash at the airport anyways, only card. There are smaller cities though where you will need cash because they do not accept credit cards, so I would recommend having $200-300 currency, but nothing more (ATM’s are available in most cities too) so don’t stress about it. 

I hope you find this helpful especially if you’re currently planning a trip or find yourself planning one in the future. I will be posting more on my itinerary after I complete it. We are still discussing traveling to Paris/Fountainebleau for a weekend, since my friend will be home for the summer and of course how could I ever pass up France, though I will definitely let you guys in on the entire itinerary and places we plan to go as soon as we secure everything. I would love to hear any future plans in the comments below or your favorite booking sites.

XX, Whitney

 

2 thoughts on “Planning my Trip to Italy + Resources to Plan your Next Vacation”

    1. Thank you so much Natalie, I really appreciate it! I’m living vicariously through you right now. Hopefully I’m able to get to Korea one day! Loving all your posts! Hope your week is fabulous!! Xx Whitney

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