The Broke Traveler’s Guide: Visit Rome for Less than $1,000 (and that includes airfare)
Rome is expensive. That’s a fact. If you’re dying to go and you’re short on funds, you’re going to have to get creative, but don’t despair! Here’s the skinny on getting their on a thin budget. (Click for full-size image)
Let’s Break it Down
- Airfare – It ain’t cheap! For the best fares, plan way in advance and avoid the summer and holidays when fares are highest. Spring and Fall are your best bets. Sign up for alerts from every discount travel site online. As of this writing, the cheapest fare I found was $780. That means you’ll only have $220 to play with for everything else.
- Where to stay – You have to couch surf. You can’t even afford to stay in a hostel. So start looking at couchsurfing.com and other such sites immediately. This can actually be more fun, anyway, and your host can help clue you in on stretching that $220 for food and sightseeing. This is important, because it means you have just $31 a day. It’s going to be a challenge, but you’re up for it!
- Eating – Plan to spend $20 a day. You can enjoy amazing Roman food without ever setting foot in a restaurant. Find out where to buy staples like local breads, meats, cheeses, and cheap wine. This will comprise the majority of your food during your stay. If you do this well, you can enjoy a few fantastic meals out. Avoid tourist restaurants where the prices will be jacked way up. Ask your host for suggestions and watch where the locals go. Another thing to consider is that while you can’t count on it, many hosts will be excited to have you join them for a meal or two. If they didn’t like interacting with travelers, they wouldn’t volunteer their homes.
- Filling Your Days – You only have $11 a day for sightseeing. No problem. Avoid paying for transportation. Rome is a great walking city, so bring comfortable shoes. You can easily spend a whole day just strolling and enjoying the scenery, which of course, will cost you nothing and be quite enjoyable. Have a picnic while you’re at it. While many tourist destinations charge entrance fees, some of the main attractions are also free. Amongst the must-see freebies are the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Mouth of Truth, Piazza Navona (free musicians!), Villa Borghese Gardens (no admission and a perfect picnic spot), the Pyramid, and the Campo dei Fiori (this square has an amazing morning market you won’t want to miss).
Squeezing the most out of your money will mean that you have a wonderfully authentic vacation in Rome. While the touristy experience can be fun, it’s also expensive. Save that for a time when you have more money. Your cheap trip to Rome will give you an inside view on what life is really like in this city. After traveling this way, you might find that you actually prefer it to doing the whole tourist thing, anyway. Exploring a new city and taking the time to learn from its people will enrich your life in ways you never imagined.