Hi Frugalistas! When I wrote my itinerary planning series, I said that I believed that any itinerary was achievable, regardless of your budget. Well, nows the time to test that theory. I’m using three budget “standards” for my costings:
1. Cheap and cheerful
2. A frugalfirstclasstravel budget
3. The grand splurge
I’ve explicitly excluded the $5 a day backpack and the private jet/yacht versions, because I’m trying to write for the real world.
OK, so here’s the itinerary
My costs are based on my actual, real life itinerary in April:
5 nights in London, with a flight into Heathrow
a weekend in Nice (2 nights)
followed by 3 nights in the Cinque Terre, and a flight home from Milan Malpensa
What’s included and how have I set my price “rules”
I’ve included my actual price costs where I can for the frugalfirstclasstravel budget. I’ve had to price flights from London to Nice 3months in advance in order to get a direct comparison (I had booked mine ages ago, but interestingly paid the price I’ve been quoted.)
I’ve done all my price checks today using standard websites such as Tripadvisor, Skyscanner, Hostelbookers and Railplus. Where I’ve converted Australian dollars into Euros I’ve used the exchange rate I found on line today (0.80 Euro cents per Aussie dollar).
I’ve included transfers, accommodation and traveling around. I have deliberately excluded flights to and from Europe, costs for sightseeing, and also decided to leave out food costs – they just seemed so variable according to individual taste. Rooms are double rooms with private facilities.
Cheap & Cheerful
A transfer by Tube (using a one day Travelcard that includes Heathrow) will set you back GBP8.90. It takes 45mins or so and is a normal commuter train. Back to the airport to fly to Nice is the same, so that’s GBP17.90
I’ve chosen a Tune Hotel in Westminster for the 5nights accommodation. Tune Hotels work a bit like budget airlines – you get a bed and a shower room, but you pay for everything extra like TV, towels, wifi, even windows. Cost for a double room with a window but nothing else GBP340.
Getting round London an Oystercard offers the best value assuming you are doing plenty of getting around by public transport – this works out at about GBP8/day, so GBP40 for the 5 day stay.
Total cost for London: GBP397.90
I found an advance airfare from London Stansted to Nice on EasyJet for EUR43. That was the cheapest fare I could find on Skyscanner today. Stansted is further out than Heathrow, so you need to allow a bit extra for the transfer, and I haven’t included any budget airline extras for checking luggage etc.
Transfers in Nice from the airport by bus is EUR4, which also lets you use local public transport for the day.
I found the Hotel Villa Expurery Gardens in Nice, which apparently is the number one ranked hostel in France – EUR60 for the 2 nights including wifi in a double room with private bathroom.
Total cost for Nice: EUR107
A second class rail ticket to the Cinque Terre is EUR41 including reservations but not booking fees. (Advance purchase)
In the Cinque Terre I found a guesthouse in Manarola for EUR117 for the 3nights (double room with private bath)
Transfer from the Cinque Terre to Milan Malpensa by second class rail and bus from Milano Centrale station is about EUR32
Total cost for Cinque Terre: EUR190
I’ve priced this budget on the exact same basis as above, just to a different standard.
I’m using the Heathrow Express to get into central London GBP19 and takes 15mins on a dedicated train directly to Paddington, so GBP38 return.
My accommodation is an upmarket B&B I’ve booked through Uptown Reservations. It costs GBP625 for a double room with private or ensuite bathroom and a full continental breakfast.
Getting round is still the Oystercard at a total of GBP40 for the 5 days.
Total cost for London: GBP703
A cheap advance fare in Economy on British Airways is EUR45 and I’m using the same EUR4 bus ticket in Nice for transfers.
A three star hotel halfway between the station and the sea is about EUR200 and includes breakfast and wifi.
Total cost for Nice: EUR245
A first class advance rail ticket to the Cinque Terre costs about EUR92 and again includes compulsory reservations but no booking fees.
A three star hotel in Manarola with breakfast and wifi? EUR360
My frugalfirstclasstravel transfer to Milan Malpensa comes in at about EUR43 for a first class rail ticket and the bus from Milano Centrale station.
Total cost for the Cinque Terre: EUR495
The once in a life time splurge
I don’t know if I’d actually travel like this even if I had the money – it just seems so “isolated” from real people and the real world….but for those who lust for it….
A taxi transfer from Heathrow and back will set you back about GBP120+ (depending on traffic)
45 Park Lane in the Westminster area of London overlooks Hyde Park, so just had to be the place to stay! GBP2370 (gasp! And I couldn’t work out what that actually included……)
Getting around by taxi is the only way to go. The flagfall is GBP2.20, then it’s GBP1.60/km, plus waiting in traffic time. If you take 3 short trips a day for 5 days, I’m guessing it’s about GBP150 (at least).
Total cost for London: GBP2640
A business class flight from London to Nice is about EUR600 (yes, one way!), followed by a taxi to central Nice at EUR30
When it comes to a splurge in Nice, surely it has to be a sea view room at the iconic Hotel Negresco – a snip at EUR972, but that does include breakfast and wifi!
Total cost for Nice: EUR1002
A splurgy way to get to the Cinque Terre is a bit hard – it’s either the train, plane then train, or private car transfer. So I’m going the private car transfer route – EUR572
The Cinque Terre isn’t really splurge territory but fortunately the very near by Portofino is – a stay at the gorgeous looking Hotel Splendido in a sea view room is EUR1900, with breakfast.
And finally a private car transfer directly to Milan Malpensa (undoubtably for that the First Class flight home) comes in at a mere EUR501.
In my not-resolutions post, I promised not to judge the way others choose to travel, so which budget is “better” is actually irrelevant. It’s about illustrating that the same itinerary can work just as well for different budgets. Which one you choose (and indeed whether you mix and match) really is a matter of personal choice, and your budget.
If money was no object, which one would you choose?
The philosophy of frugalfirstclasstravel
Others authors’ own