I love a good challenge at times and for my birthday I decided to challenge myself in another country! Well the good news is that it went better than planned. This was my first real trip outside of the United States with just my friend and excitement to lead the way! Below you will learn some tips and tricks to planning your next overseas trip and doing it without breaking the bank!
The first obstacle is finding a cheap airline ticket. I used Ebates to locate a cheap flight and get a percentage of your money back. You can book the flight on your credit card for rewards points or go to your local grocery store that gives you rewards for buying gift certificates (after you choose the airline or website you can buy a gift certificate to it). This way you are able to get your flights and rewards. The best time to visit on a budget is off season which spans from late October-March.
The second obstacle is finding a hotel – Fortunately I was able to have a friend hook me up but you can look on the different websites (Ebates) and be sure to check the reviews as well as looking for the hotel on YouTube or trip advisor for any reviews on there. Airbnb is also a good option.
Fun, Fun, Fun!
When trying to find things to do you can use the “get your guide” app to find discount tickets for fun activities like a delicious food walking tour in Rome or a gondola ride through Venice. If a guide is offered definitely go for that option because what you are experiencing means so much more.
Communication & Phones
Of course you need your phone to take pictures. In Europe they have different outlets so don’t forget to head to Ebates and get your European power adapter for $7.99 from target. On my next trip I would take a digital camera for the ability to take more pictures and not worry about dead phone batteries.)
No international phone plan? I decided not to get an international phone plan for a couple of reasons
- I wanted to finally cut off from my everyday life and just enjoy and be engulfed in the culture of Italy without distractions
- I am on a prepaid plan with Verizon and they don’t offer a international plan but I was told that I could get a sim card while over there and use that for international calling.
- Being cheap. Now what you should know is that the sim card you get while over there only allows you to call emergency and in country numbers. The alternative is to download 2 different apps “What’s App” and “Google Hangouts” which allows you to make video or regular calls and texts via a wifi signal. Just keep in mind that apps like your gps and get your guide only work with wifi so download everything you need (tickets) while you’re connected.
Getting around- So that may have been the easiest thing to do even if your awful with directions like I am. The language barrier was not as big of a deal as you would think. The people of Rome were so welcoming and open to show the way to areas such as the Vatican and the Colosseum. The trick is to have a map. I made sure I had a map and the areas that I wanted to go I showed the locals and they pointed the way! Some places do offer free days so you just need to research when they are. When we walked up to the Colosseum we were offered a walking tour (with access to the arena floor) with a bonus tour to the Roman Forum for only $30. (Way cheaper than what we found online)
If you are planning to go to different countries the Eurail Pass (https://www.eurail.com/en/eurail-passes/one-country-pass) is the most cost effective way to get there. (You can also use Ebates on this purchase as well) Note you will have to buy it in enough time to have it mailed to you! If you don’t have it mailed to you, you can still purchase it at the train station but you may not get the discount they offer online unless you get a good person at the desk who is willing to give you the discount. If you’ve ever traveled on the subway you can catch a train for 1.50 around town each way and have a ball. Just remember to find out the time the last one runs. If your not comfortable you can catch a uber. Just remember if you don’t have a phone plan you won’t be able to use your phone to call unless your connected to wifi.
*A tip on being safe – we were looking for a cab because we missed the last bus and a guy came up and offered us a cheaper rate to take us back. Now he claimed to be a cab type service I just know the only thought that came to my mind was that if I get into this car I may not make it back. Budgets go out the window when it comes to safety!
It’s best to get your money exchanged before you go. If your bank does it for free get your money exchanged there because you will have a fee anywhere else. Check with your credit card company to see if they offer a free foreign transaction rate. If they don’t be sure to see how much each swipe will cost you. Most places take Visa, very few take American Express.
Pro’s of the trip – Rome was absolutely beautiful and easy to get around. The Gelato was to DIE for – best I ever had in my life!
Con’s of Italy – The food was not as good as anticipated (sad face). We were told towards the end of the trip the best food places close around 3 or 4 p.m. Traveling in November was pretty rainy, out of 5 days it rained 3 days. Probably best to go before November even though it’s a little more expensive. Do not think about renting a car in Rome, stick with the bus, train, or cab/uber.