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How to Travel Cheap in Italy with Kids
Train Travel
Public Trasport
Sagras & Festivals
Cheap Flights
How to Travel Cheap in Italy with Kids

Ferry Boat, Elba Island

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Families traveling to Italy this summer should be prepared for outrageous prices. The cost of food, accommodation, transport and souvenirs has increased significantly in recent years. And US dollar holders aren't the only travelers feeling the squeeze. Italy has become an expensive vacation destination for Europeans as well. Yet with a bit of research and advance planning you can significantly reduce the cost of a holiday in Italy without impacting the fun or relegating the crew to hostels and hamburgers.

The following cost saving tips won't make the trip cheap but they will help reduce the sting of a family vacation in the bel paese.

  1. Travel off the beaten path and head south rather than north. Tour Etruscan villages instead of Tuscan hill towns. Gawk at Greek ruins in Sicily as opposed to studying art in Florence. Bask on the beaches in Puglia rather than Sardinia. Mingle with locals on the island of Ponza in lieu of rubbing elbows with the rich and famous on Capri. You may just discover something new!

  2. Trade luxury for charm and stay at a B&B or agriturismo (farmhouse) instead of a hotel. And if you are traveling by car or bike book rooms in small towns rather than big cities and cut the cost of accommodation in half.

  3. You don't need to traverse the country from north to south and east to west to introduce the kids to Italy. Select an area and get to know it well. Not only will you reduce your transportation bill you will increase your accommodation options. Apartment rentals and house swaps can help make a trip to Italy affordable.

  4. Renting an apartment or swapping homes doesn't mean you have to forego Italian food. Buy fresh bread and pastries at a local bakery and enjoy a typically Italian breakfast. Buy prosciutto and formaggio at a neighborhood store and savor a tasty snack. Shop at a farmer's market and prepare an Italian meal together.

  5. Take local transport instead of taxis and travel by train rather than renting a car (gasoline and highway tolls are not incidentals but rather a significant component of car rental). In addition to saving money you will also feel green.

  6. Research rail passes and multi-use metro, bus and vaporetto tickets before you purchase. There is little value for those that travel little.

  7. Get out and walk. Italian cities and towns are great places to roam.

  8. Summers are synonymous with Sagras. Food and handmade crafts are abundant and cheap at these local fairs and the entertainment is generally free. Search for sagras on the tourism website of the towns you plan to visit.

  9. Make a trip to the local supermarket your first family excursion. Packing snacks and water can significantly reduce the amount you spend on incidentals each day.

  10. Find out where locals dine and eat there too. You are likely to get a better meal at a much lower price. Osteria and trattoria are less formal and, in general, less expensive than ristoranti.

  11. If you are traveling in the countryside book a meal at an agriturismo. They cost significantly less and offer significantly more. And they provide an opportunity for the kids to play while you relax over a long savory lunch. But be sure to bring your appetite, most are fixed price.

  12. Sip cappuccino at the bar and enjoy a gelato on the go. Sitting at a table costs more, sometimes frightfully so.

  13. Don't tip. Italians never do.

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