Sounds pretty impossible right? If you convert it into INR it comes to roughly 100,000 per person, let me tell you it is totally possible. I along with my family toured Spain & Italy for a total of 12 nights and had the most awesome vacation ever. You can do it too, all it needs is a bit of planning, extensive research and knowing where to spend and where to save.
I have divided this post into various parts, this one will deal with the pre-trip planning, starting from deciding which places to visit, Visa, booking of tickets, apartments/hotels etc.
Step 1 – Zeroing in on places to visit:
Both Spain & Italy have loads of things to offer and you need to figure out what really attracts you, it is also important to do a cost benefit analysis to ensure that your set budget is not encroached. At this junction I would like to tell you that we did not set aside a budget at the start, the idea was to find ways to reduce the trip cost while maximizing the return!
During our trip in Spain we covered Madrid, Barcelona & Ibiza. Other popular places in Spain include Toledo, Granada, Valencia and Seville.
Reason behind choosing the above 3 were simple, in totality all three offered us a glimpse into the Spanish history & culture (Madrid), the modern cosmopolitan side (Barcelona) and of course the famed nightlife and party culture (Ibiza). I would like to mention here that although I have segregated the above three, it was very interesting to realize that all 3 places had a mix of all elements and that was a pleasant surprise! Also not to forget, our inter country expenses while covering these three were rock bottom, all thanks to Ryan Air, shout out to them, they’re doing a brilliant job!
Our trip in Italy was much more hectic and we got a little ambitious however we ended up covering all places comfortably, a reason for this was the highly efficient train network in Italy which helped us cover distances quite quickly, comfortably and also at very reasonable prices (provided you book in advance). We covered Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples (Pompeii) & finally Rome. Yes sounds hectic, but well No Pain No Gain right ;). If you do your research you would find that the above mentioned places constitute 70-80% of the popular spots and my personal belief is that if you have covered this, then you have pretty much covered a very good part of Italy, you can be sure you are not missing out much. As a side note, instead of Naples my personal suggestion is that you can also add a day in either Florence and cover Pisa through a day tour or a day in Venice/Milan and cover Verona (famous for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet).
Step 2 – Tickets & Hotels!
Now then once we have finalized our spots (more or less) it’s time to book your tickets (which will also constitute a large part of your trip cost). So well we started doing our initial research, most of your popular airlines like Emirates, Air India, Lufthansa etc don’t have return tickets for anywhere less than Rs 50,000 and this was when we were looking for tickets 3/4 months in advance!
However we came across one particular ticket offered by Saudi Airlines, Mumbai – Madrid and Rome – Mumbai for just Rs 28,500 ie roughly $444, yes that’s right an International plane ticket for that price. I am sure a lot of you have questions and doubts about Saudi Airlines (more on that later).
If you’re travelling on a budget, it is imperative that you save on your flight tickets, it can give you alot of leverage!
Pro Tip: Make sure you try all sorts of permutations and combinations in terms of the arrival and departure cities, for example we looked for Delhi-Madrid, Mumbai-Madrid, Delhi-Rome, Mumbai-Rome, Delhi-Barcelona, Mumbai-Barcelona and more! Your departure city would also depend on personal preference and ease of travel, most importantly the prices. In my experience international flights to Europe are definitely cheaper from Mumbai as compared to Delhi. To check out plane tickets and availability you can head to websites like kayak.com, expedia.com, goibibo.com, mmt.com etc. However it will always end up cheaper if you finally book your tickets from the airline website, in this case it was – http://www.saudia.com/.
Now that the International Plane tickets are done, next part is to fix up your visa and secondly your accommodations and inter city/country travel!
More on this in Part 2 of this post! Stay Tuned!