Quite often guests traveling with Italian Excursion spend a week with us getting to know the rhythm of Italy and then want to spend more time after they’ve left us traveling on their own. While we are initially planning their tour with italianexcursion.com we include some tips and travel advice to make their extended stay easier. Here are some of the questions we pose to stimulate their planning and a few recommendations to support their decisions, if they are not seasoned travelers but feel like doing some independent travel.
Choosing an area to explore:
1) How much time do you have? More time allowed can mean discovering more regions.
2) What are your main interests? One region may be noted for its national parks, if hiking and nature is a favorite activity; another place may have an abundance of art or history if that is your passion.
3) Budget concerns always play into this sort of planning. Staying in large cities will be more costly, while staying in a remote area will be more economical.
4) When considering you choice keep in mind which departure city you will be flying out of to return home. You wouldn’t want to be a day away from an airport and have to spend that time traveling just to catch your plane. Of course, you can always book your flights to accommodate your return. An “open jaw” ticket allows you to arrive and depart from different cities, which gives you more latitude for where you might end up at the end of the trip.
1) Will you need to rent a car? Is your lodging on a train or bus line?
2) Renting a car requires insurance (an added but necessary expense in Italy).
3) An international driver’s license is required, but that is very simple; no test involved, just a fee through AAA.
1) If you love to cook, you may want an apartment or house. This option also allows for more privacy. You may need a car to get out and about if the house is not in town, unless you are lucky enough to be on a bus route. An apartment may be in town but you may prefer renting a car to go beyond the town you are staying in. Again, there may be public transportation so this is something to research and be aware of. One of our tour operators at slowtraveltours.com has written a comprehensive guide to using the train system in Italy, which should be most helpful. See Matt Daub’s previous posting from last week to learn about train travel in Italy.
2) If you prefer coming back from a day of sightseeing to find everything tidied up and beds made, you may prefer a hotel.
3) Are you interested in the workings of a farm? I might suit you to stay on a working farm or agritourismo, where the family also lives and you can interact with them closely.
4) Be sure to research and check on the activities located in the area you choose. The internet has many sources for this and we would be glad to point you to some of them, as well.
5) There are many internet travel sites with lodging reviews. Just remember that travelers have different expectations and preferences. Reviews are subjective and reflect an individual’s own desires and experiences.
Questions to ask when booking accommodations:
1) Prices are usually negotiable, depending on the time of year. If it’s “high season” when traveling is at a peak, this will not be true. Consider traveling early spring, late fall or even winter for lower costs.
2) Booking directly with the owner of an accommodation will be less expensive. However, you may be more comfortable dealing with a well known booking company that guarantees the site will be as promised, since they have actually inspected said property. This could be a better option for you.
3) Be sure to ask for what you want, such as the type of beds in each room (twin or a double, which is sometimes called a marriage bed); is the bathroom shared or ensuite; are cleaning, heating costs included or separate; what sort of breakfast is included (some places just provide coffee and rolls; some full buffet); how much of a deposit is required, or can it be paid upon arrival; any hidden fees. Be specific, get things in writing and take the printed emails with you. Most vacation rentals, rental companies and hoteliers are very easy to do business with, reliable and helpful. Wiring a deposit through your bank will incur a fee of $30-45. Not all companies, especially if you are working with the owner of a property, will take credit cards. Again, you must assess your level of comfort. Or you can ask for support from italianexcursion.com to help make your reservations.
So, these are just a few of the tasks you will need to tend to for your exended stay in Italy. Be sure to include them in your planning so you can enjoy your vacation in Italy. And ask any of us here at slowtraveltours for additional support in making your Italian experience onethat is memorable. We love sharing our Italy with others!
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