5 Ways To Save Money On Your Trip to Rome
Rome was more expensive than I expected. The Eternal City deserves every single cent, it was nice to save over $2,000 while visiting Rome back in December, 2018. This is how we (my fiance and I) had a budget friendly trip to Rome (without doing the crazy things most people do to save money on a trip to Rome).
Here’s what we didn’t do:
- Cook our meals. Every breakfast, lunch, and dinner was authentic meals.
- We didn’t rent a bedroom, couch surf, or stay in a questionable hostel.
- While there are “free days” at the museums and attractions, we didn’t go on those days.
- Cheap eats are awesome, but we didn’t live off pizza and sandwiches either.
- Caffeine is a serious addiction, we indulged in 2-3 cappuccinos a day without breaking the bank.
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We Booked Our Flights via Skyscanner.
The two most expensive parts of any trip are transportation and accommodation. I used Skyscanner to look at European destinations in December and found that tickets to Rome were being sold for $149 from Fort Lauderdale. After giggling with excitement about possibly adding a trip to Rome to our budding plans to visit Europe, we double checked (and even triple checked) all the engines to make sure we were getting the best deal.
The cool thing was that Skyscanner showed us what other days in the month were the same price, cheaper, or more expensive. Being flexible and willing to fly out on a Thursday instead of the Tuesday ultimately saved us over $400. Our original travel dates were a little over double what Skyscanner advertised as the lowest rate for traveling two days later.
I’m not going to lie to you, I used to never use Skyscanner. I used Kayak for years. However, after seeing how flexible Skyscanner is in terms of any location, any date by day, week, or month, It changed how I plan my trips throughout the year. It is a #Must for planning any trip.
Want to find the cheapest international flights in 2019? Use Skyscanner’s easy and quick search tool for the best deals. Find your cheap flight in under 2 minutes.
We opted for an Airbnb.
I figured out relatively early on in the planning stages of my trip to Rome that an Airbnb was going to be the way to save the most amount of money. I was surprised at how affordable Airbnb was compared to the hotels in the search engines. Nothing makes my stomach twist more than paying an absurd amount of money for a hotel room.
Here’s How Renting An Airbnb Saved Me $900+ Dollars:
- I saved on luggage fees by being able to pack way less than I normally do. Knowing I was going to have a washer in my Airbnb changed how I packed. My airline charged $45 for the first bag and $90 for second checked bag. This saved us a total of $135 per person each way.
- We didn’t pay for overpriced bottles of water. We didn’t cook lunch and dinner in the Airbnb, but we did use the fridge to store water and snacks. A bottle of water can cost easily 1 to 3 euros in Rome. The average human should be drinking 6 bottles of water a day. This can be an additional cost of 6 to 18 dollars a day, per person! That adds up quickly! Instead, we walked to the local grocery store and we bought 2 cases of water, some wine, and a few other essentials and Ubered back.
- Free transfers to the airport! The average taxi ride or Uber was estimated to be 50+ euros each way. Our Airbnb offered free transfers to the airport. We saved a ton of money and stress of not knowing if our public transportation or taxi would work out so early in the morning. We simply let our host know, and the next morning at 4:30 AM our transfer shuttle was outside our cobblestone street.
- Location. Our Airbnb was in a prime location that made walking to our destinations easy. We found a lot of hotels we liked during our original planning, but many of them were really close to one landmark or train station instead of being in a charming, central neighborhood. Our Airbnb was a 25-minute walk away from the Colosseum, 10 minutes from the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. We felt absolutely safe in this area which saved us money on Ubers. Normally, we Uber early in the morning and at night if we don’t feel like our accommodations are in the best area.
- Lastly, the cost and value! My Airbnb featured a terrace, kitchen, full-size shower, living room, and bedroom in a two-story apartment for about $125 a night. While looking on search engines, 1 king or queen sized room is $150-$200+ a night for something with absolutely no frills. Our Airbnb was charming, loaded with character, and included free wifi and an in-unit washing machine.
Not buying tickets ahead of time.
Sure, no one likes waiting in line, but no one likes throwing money away either. Every travel planner reads about the lines and sold out dates and begins to overpack their trip itinerary with a bunch of pre-paid time-restrictive tickets that are hinging on something with so many variables.
For example, I pre-purchased tickets to the Colosseum for an early time slot on a Thursday morning. Back when I purchased the tickets while sitting form my desk in America, 10 AM seemed totally feasible. However, what I didn’t account for was still feeling a bit jet-lagged and waking up way behind schedule the day of the tour. All morning we were frantic, rushed, and then cranky on our walk. Instead of relishing in the history we were walking through to get to the Colosseum, we pushed past people at the speed of the light.
We arrived with a few minutes to spare and were quickly surrounded by tour guides offering upgraded tickets. Unfortunately, we rushed for nothing and there was no shortage of upgrades and tours starting every 15-30 minutes. It’s also important to note that the guided tours skip the line and enter differently from the normal ticket. We paid an additional 20-something Euros for the upgraded tickets and we caught our breath nearby.
Moral of the story, you’re probably better off showing up when you feel like it and purchasing tickets on-site.
I can list of incidences on all of my trips where something has not gone how “it was supposed to”. I’ve lost out on hundreds of dollars of buying too far in advance, only not to be able to use them because of a time-restrictive ticket. I’ve learned that I can save money (and stress), by playing it by ear.
Not buying anything in Rome until you’ve been there at least 48 hours.
Upon arrival, Rome seduces you with its boot-shaped bottles of Limoncello and colorful leather purses. However, what looks unique and irresistible on your first day of adventures, typically is tamed after spending a day or two on the streets. You’ll quickly figure out that painter on the sidewalk is painting and stenciling the same unique once-in-a-lifetime original work like every other painter.
Like most people, I love souvenirs and knick-knacks. Naturally, I want to buy everything I see right away and if I don’t, I walk away fearing I missed out on a special item. However, a few days later, I always feel silly when I admit I’ve seen “that thing” 14 more times. Being patient before purchasing has saved me hundreds of dollars (especially in Rome).
We spoke with locals and hung out with locals.
Speaking to a local can be intimidating, but Romans are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered. When we spoke to the locals, they poured, no, they turned on the WATERFALLS of information about the city, its history, the best spots, best hang-outs, and best restaurants. We were able to taste some of Rome’s best, legitimate food that actual Italians love every day without pulling out Yelp or Tripadvisor. We were eating better than most tourists while avoiding the highly marked up menu prices by eating in authentic eateries.
Remember Rome is a city, not as a checklist.
When a city is a few thousand years old, there’s bound to be an infinite amount of things to do. It was my dream to soak up Rome and fall in love with the city. By no means did I have to see every church, every statue, and the inside of every museum.
Our trip included a lot of walking hand in hand in a direction. Naturally, the streets of Rome led us to all of the best sights. We accidentally stumbled upon gorgeous panoramic views of the city. We embraced the opportunity to immerse ourselves by truly not knowing what was around the next corner. This kept the magic of Rome alive.
We didn’t see the Vatican or any major museums. Instead, we drank cappuccinos slowly, caught the sunset over the Colosseum and enjoyed our meals without an ounce of rushing. We let the city wake us up with its song every morning.
Some people will probably shame me for skipping over some major attractions. Seeing attractions back to back over a short stay can seem productive, but it is costly and can be exhausting.
The answer is YES you can save money on a trip to Rome.
Enjoy Rome at your pace and be ready to want to plan a trip back. Save yourself money and stress by giving yourself plenty of time to live like the Romans.
Don’t let your budget hold you back from visiting Rome. It is possible to plan a budget friendly trip to Rome and save money while visiting Rome without sacrificing comfort and authentic experiences. Opt for a central Airbnb, be flexible about your dates, and choose one or two “must-sees”. A little patience regarding purchasing time-restrictive tickets and impulsive souvenirs can save you space in the suitcase, money, and stress.
Rome is a must see city with a beautiful orange glow and history buzzing in the background. My advice is simple- unwind and enjoy Rome slowly. You’ll not only save money in Rome, but you’ll experience with plenty of reasons to come back.
What are some of your money saving tips for traveling to Europe?
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