Why You Might Want to Consider an Italy Travel Package


hiking2Once 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.

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hiking1Choosing 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.

photos, top to bottom: Rick McCharles, Randy OHC


10 thoughts on “Why You Might Want to Consider an Italy Travel Package

  • Jessica Gennuso

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for responding to my earlier question. I think we have decided to fly from Venice (on Easyjet) after 2 days into Naples (we decided not to spend any time in Naples) head to Sorrentino for 2 1/2 days (spend 3/4 a day in Pompeii while based in Sorrento) and then Positano for the remaining 2 1/2 days. Do you think this would be too exhausting. We will be on our honeymoon so we would like to see sites but also relax a little and enjoy beach and coast.
    If we choose to nix the 7 day cruise prior to our travel in italy. Our itinerary will be as below.
    Venice 2 1/2 days August 2nd am to 4th
    Rome 3 days August 4th – 7th
    Sorrento 3 days – August 8 – 10th (visit Pompeii 3/4 day)
    Positano 4 days Aug 11th to the 14th. Need to leave early am for flight in Naples on the 14th.
    Do you think this is a good timeline?
    I am concerned about the best way to book these trips. I usually use Expedia to book my hotels. Would you recommend another way? My flight has already been purchased. Sorry for the long list of questions.

    Thanks,
    Jessica

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Jessica:

    I think whether you do the cruise beforehand or not, your itinerary options look pretty good. The only adjustment I’d consider is basing yourself in a central coastal city – either Sorrento or Positano or even somewhere in between – so that you don’t have to move hotels. That whole coastal area is similar enough that moving from one town to another might not be worth it. And with 6-7 days in one place you can do lots of day-trips to other nearby towns and islands.

    As for what site to use to book your trip, I think whatever site you’re comfortable with is the one to use. There may be better deals out there on different sites, so you might want to read about how to use different ticket sites just in case, but it’s also about what you’re comfortable with.

    Ciao,
    Jessica

  • hather reilly

    Hi Jessica,

    Great site! I wanted to comment on the 2 week travel itinerary page but was unable to.

    I’ll be going back to Italy for the first time since 10 years ago when I did a Summer semester in college! My Husband and I are going for our 5 year wedding anniversary for 2 weeks in September, and he has never been before. I’m having trouble narrowing down where to go because I want him to see everything I saw but there’s also some places I didn’t get to see and want to.

    My “must” list includes Rome, Venice, Florence and Pompei. Ideally I’d like to do a quick stop in Naples, but not for anymore than a 1/2 day. I’d also like to get back to Ischia because I loved it so much. I’m also considering Sorrento and Cinque Terre if I can work those in somehow.

    I like your itinerary and will have about 13 or 14 days, but wonder if I can chop a day or two off Florence/Tuscany and maybe one day off Rome to accommodate some of these other places on my wishlist. Any suggestions on how I can fit this all in, or what I should sacrifice? Also, where should I start and end the trip?

    Thanks so much!
    Heather

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Heather:

    Whoa, didn’t realize the comment box on that post wasn’t working – thanks for letting me know! Will try to get that one fixed – it’s a popular post for comments. 🙂

    You can absolutely chop days off of my suggested itinerary (it’s just a suggestion!). I try to make suggestions like that based mostly on how I travel, which isn’t for everyone. For instance, I don’t like staying in a place for only one night, and if I can stay 3-4 all the better. With more places on your “must-see” list, however, you may not be able to do that. And if that’s okay with you, then that’s great!

    Not to say they’re identical to one another, but the Sorrento/Amalfi area and the Cinque Terre are both coastal, so if it’s just Italian coast you’re craving then I’d say choose one and skip the other. And Pompeii is do-able as a long day trip from Rome, but it’s really easier to do with Naples as your base. If you stayed in Naples overnight, you could probably do a half-day trip to Pompeii and a half-day in Sorrento (it’s a long day), thereby squeezing both those places in and still getting a little bit of time in Naples.

    I’m a big fan of open-jaw tickets, since they allow more time on the ground. And they’re often roughly the same price as regular round-trip tickets, so it’s definitely worth looking. You can read more about them here: http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/tips-for-flying-to-italy-open-jaw-tickets-flying-into-the-venice-airport.html

    Whatever you choose for a start and end point, I’d just suggest you try not to backtrack if possible, as that’s where you’ll end up losing vacation time to transport time. Look at your stops geographically, and choose based on that. In your case, I’d start with flying into Venice and out of Naples. If Naples is too costly, try into Venice and out of Rome.

    I hope that helps,
    Jessica

  • Heather Reilly

    Thanks, Jessica. I had one more question with regard to renting a car. I know we can get around Florence pretty easily, but in order to see the real Tuscan country-side (Siena, Orvieto, etc.), do you feel renting a car is necessary? Outside of that, I know Venice, Rome and the outlying areas are pretty easy to reach through other means, but wondering if we’ll be inhibited if we don’t rent a car for Tuscany. Same question for Sorrento.

    Thanks for all your help!
    -Heather

  • Jessica Post author

    If you’re using Florence as the home-base from which to make driving day-trips into the Tuscan countryside, consider that you’ll be driving a car into Florence in order to do that (and driving in Florence is a pain). Also, Siena and Orvieto both have train stations (and, from Florence, Siena is actually better reached by bus) so you wouldn’t need a car for those places. The only reason I’d suggest a car is if your home-base was something other than a city with access to public transportation, or if your day-trip itinerary included some secluded villa or vineyard with no train or bus station.

    If you decide to get a car anyway, for a day or a few, here are some posts that might help you:
    Driving in Italy: http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/driving-in-italy.html
    Renting a Car in Italy: http://www.italylogue.com/car-rental

    And also:
    Getting from Florence to Siena: http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/getting-from-florence-to-siena.html
    Day Trips from Florence: http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/day-trips-from-florence.html

  • hather reilly

    Jessica,

    Thanks for all the help so far. Now I’m just trying to work out the last 3 days/nights of my trip and looking for some guidance. Our final day in Rome will also start the last 3 days of our trip. I’m looking at some combo of Naples/Pompei/Ischia/Sorrento and trying to figure out the most efficient way to accomplish this. I’d be happy just stopping in Naples quickly for lunch, but also know it could be a good home base to get to these other places. I am fairly certain I want to spend the last day and night in Ischia (then leaving early the next morning to catch a flight out of Naples). That leaves me the two previous nights to stay elsewhere. Would it make sense to stay in Sorrento? Any thoughts on how I can eat pizza in Naples, see Sorrento and Pompei and also spend a day and night in Ischia all during the last 3 days would be super helpful.

    Thanks!!

    Heather

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Heather:

    That’s a lot to pack into three days, but here’s what I might suggest:

    Day One – Early train from Rome to Naples. Look into booking a day-trip (usually a half-day or 3/4-day) to Pompeii from Naples. Not sure when they leave, so you might not be able to do this on your first day, but if you can it would be good. (A tour company I love is Context Travel, & they have a half-day Pompeii tour: http://contexttravel.com/naples/tours/half-day-pompeii/PTR3491/) Finish tour, return to Naples for pizza at Di Matteo (my favorite!) and overnight in a hotel in the historic center (“storico antico“).

    Day Two – Morning boat to Sorrento. (Here’s how to get to Sorrento from Naples.) Be sure to stop at a pastry stop in Naples and get some “sfogliatelle” to eat later on. It can be as little as a 40-min trip over to Sorrento, so no rush necessary. Spend the day in Sorrento, lazily wandering the streets, and spend the night in Sorrento.

    Day Three – Morning boat to Ischia. Spend the day/night in Ischia, and then take an early boat back to the Naples Airport (confirm in advance that you can get an early enough boat so you don’t miss your plane – if it sounds like this might be a problem, you can swap Sorrento and Ischia in the order of when you visit/stay there).

    Now, this isn’t my ideal itinerary, in that you’re changing hotels every night, but if you absolutely have to visit each of these places in three days, it’s one way to do it!

    Ciao,
    Jessica

  • hather reilly

    Jessica,

    I finally booked this trip and felt compelled to report back on the plans. Still going with a flight into Venice (2 nights), then to Florence (4x nights) with day trips to various towns, 4x nights in Rome, and the I’ve decided on Positano for the last 3 nights. We’ll do a stop in Pompei from Rome to Positano. We may do a day trip while in Positano… Any thoughts on that?

    Your site has been SOOO helpful!

  • Jessica Post author

    Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you’ve found the site helpful!

    I think a day trip from Positano is fine, depending on where you’re planning to go. The easiest day trip options from Positano would be other Amalfi Coast towns, or maybe one or two of the islands nearby.

    Have a great trip!
    Jessica

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