Last month my SO and I enjoyed a two week trip to Italy & the Mediterranean. We had a wonderful time cruising to Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece for a week, and then exploring Italy for another week. In Italy we attempted the whirlwind tour – we saw a number of cities and visited many of the highlights of Venice, Milan, and Florence. We didn’t spend enough time in any of the cities we visited to really get comfortable, and we’d love to return to a number of places we visited to explore further (especially Rome!).
Of course, one of my favorite parts of traveling is engineering a trip so that it costs a fraction of what you might expect. In my last post I detailed which portions of the trip we covered with travel rewards points, and now that we’re back, I wanted to give a final accounting of our out-of-pocket costs. Here is a total list of our actual costs:
- $450 – credit card annual fee (Chase Sapphire Reserve)
- $650 – cruise cost, after rewards points and credit
- $190 – cruise pre-paid gratuities
- $80 – airline fees, after rewards points
- $299 – train tickets between cities, booked before trip
- $450 – activities, tours, and museum entrance fees
- $141 – pre-trip packing supplies/accessories
- $479 – transportation: taxis, buses, trains, etc. on the trip
- $656 – food and drink
- $72 – t-shirts and souvenirs
- $113 – hotel city taxes
- $101 – on-board cruise expenses (tips, etc.)
- $150 – pet sitting
Total: ~$1915 per person
Most of the expenses above were expected, but I did not expect to pay city tax at each hotel we booked with reward points, and overall we took a few more taxis than I thought we might. Also, we splurged on booking a few fancy tours through the Chase UR portal (and paid for one in cash), and we tipped all of the tour guides in cash.
We spent quite a bit of money on food and drink, considering that most of our food for the first week was included in the cruise. We really enjoyed the food in Italy, and we let ourselves splurge rather than pinch pennies – we had many cappuccinos, ate great pasta, pizza, wine, and sandwiches, and enjoyed gelato in nearly every city we visited.
Staying at the Park Hyatt Milan for free (one of the nicest Hyatt hotels in the world) was an interesting experience – we had never stayed in a luxury hotel before, and we definitely felt a bit out of place. The room was very nice, but the entire experience we quite indulgent, and not really our style (the bathroom was larger than our bedroom at home!). If you aren’t sure what I mean, just check out the minibar menu:
Overall, we had a great trip, and I am very happy with the low total out-of-pocket cost we achieved – I love the power of reward points! Booking flights, hotels, and the majority of a cruise for nearly free enabled us to take a trip we would otherwise never consider. We are already scheming for and saving points toward more trips to Europe in the future. What’s your next travel hacking destination?