Once you’ve decided on a trip to Italy, you’ve got some choices to make. For starters, you can make all the arrangements yourself, or you can opt for one of the many Italy travel packages out there. But before you scoff at a vacation package, let me tell you why you might want to go that route.
Planning your own trip to Italy is satisfying, I can attest to that – but even with extensive research beforehand you still run the risk of missing something or making a booking error. We’ve all done it. I read about the pizzeria in Naples that “invented” my favorite pizza (the margherita) only after I left, so I’ll have to save a taste test for a future visit. It was basically a leap of faith every time I left my stuff in my room at the super cheap hotel I booked for a recent visit to Rome, hoping it would be there when I got back (it was). I get a kick out of the occasional travel mishap, but sometimes it’s reassuring to know your mistakes will only be minor ones. And there’s almost no better way to make sure that’s the case than to book a spot on a well-organized tour with a reputable company.
If you’re someone who’s more used to hostels, public buses, and the other trappings of budget travel, you might think there aren’t any package tours that would suit you. And if you’re a seriously budget traveler, that might be true. You are, after all, paying for a service. But you might also be surprised at how affordable some vacation packages can be. Some tour companies specialize in cheap travel, and have access to money-saving options you don’t. Also, since they’re usually booking things in “bulk,” so to speak, they’re more likely to get discounts you could never hope to get booking things on your own.
Of course, whenever you’re looking at a travel package, you need to do the math to figure out if it’s really a bargain. Price out what Rome hostels (or cheap hotels in Rome, if you’re not the hostel type) would cost if you booked them on your own, for instance, and combine that with the best deal on cheap tickets to Rome you can find. If you add up those prices and it’s less than the package deal, then booking things on your own is obviously the way to go. But if the package deal includes extras like private guides at Italy tourist attractions, any transportation, entry fees at museums, or any meals, then make sure you’re taking those costs into account, too.
Choosing to take a package tour of Italy isn’t just about budget, however. Sometimes it’s about focus. While the majority of package trips are going to be fairly general, taking in the biggest sights in the most popular cities, some trips are geared toward very specific interests. What foodie wouldn’t leap at the chance to have special meals in famous restaurants or get cooking lessons from Italian chefs? I know car enthusiasts who wouldn’t mind skipping every other museum in Italy if they were guaranteed they’d get to see the Ferrari Museum and the Lamborghini Museum. And active folks who appreciate pretty scenery can’t do much better in Italy than a cycling trip through Tuscany or a hiking tour of Sardinia.
Sure, a package trip may not be your usual travel style. And a vacation package in Italy may not be the ideal kind of trip for you. But it’s worth checking out your options before you make that decision. To paraphrase (badly) an old cigarette ad – vacation packages have come a long way, baby.
>> See what kinds of adventure trips in Italy are on offer right now.