How much can I expect to spend

Old Aug 16th, 2016, 05:35 AM
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How much can I expect to spend

This is our first time going to Italy.
We are spending 4 nights in each city
Going to Florence, Rome, and Sorrento
Our hotels, airfare, tickets to attractions are already paid in advance
This was a 25th wedding anniversary gift from my mother-in-law.
I am wondering how much money for food.
The hotels we are staying at are 4 stars and they do have a breakfast every morning
How much should I allocate for restaurants?
Do we use our credit card? Or is it better to take money out of atm? Or carry euros?
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 05:48 AM
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I'd use my credit card for everything to get the best exchange rate.

Get Euro out of any ATM as opposed to using ANY exchange booth INCLUDING Travelex or any hotel front desk. You will need some walking-around money.

Always ask that any credit card transaction (if you are given a choice and you always should be) be done in Euro, NOT Dollars.

How much you should allocate for any meal depends on how many meals you eat per day and the type of restaurant you prefer.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 06:33 AM
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Hard to answer.

The minimum would be something around 8 to 10 € for street food and beverages bought in grocery stores over 20 to 30 € for a meal and beverages in a simple restaurant up to 500 € in a Michelin-star rated restaurant.

If you want to save money grab your food at street stands (like pizza which is basically a kind of sandwich in Italy) and wash it down with a bottle of water, beer or wine bought in a grocery store. Or make your own sandwichs from food you buy in grocery stores.

If you want to eat in a restaurant study the menus which are hanging at the front doors. Wines are generally inexpensive in Italian restaurants, especially the socalled "house wines".
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 06:34 AM
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This is almost impossible to answer w/o knowing the habits of the people involved, but here goes:

I assume you mean breakfast is included at your hotels?

Lunch for two: 30 euros ($35)

Dinner for two, with a glass of house wine: 80 euros ($95).

Equals $130/day + add 10% (because you always end up spending 10% more than you think you will) = $145/day x 12 = +/- $1750.

Could you spend less? Absolutely.

Could you spend more? Absolutely.

Use credit cards whenever possible.

Use ATMs to withdraw maybe 200 euros each time. You don't want to withdraw smaller amounts because you'll probably be paying a fee for each transaction, so you want to minimize transactions. And you don't want to draw out much more and carry it around, for obvious reasons.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 08:33 AM
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Just like in the US you could spend less than $20 for lunch for 2 (sandwich/slice of pizza and soft drink from hole in the wall or grocery store) or easily far in excess of $100 for 2.

If you were vacationing in popular cities in the US and know what you's spend there then it will be fairly similar but add 20% for comfort.
Obviously, the most popular tourist areas such as cafes with a view of the Trevi fountain will charge more than a similar one just around the corner. That view is worth $$

Much easier to use credit card for everything apart from your gelato or slice of pizza as required.

Soft drinks are more expensive than house wine so if you drink alcohol you will be better off!
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 10:21 AM
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Try to use a credit card which does not have foreign transaction fees.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 01:59 PM
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You may have a credit card with no foreign-exchange fees. Lucky you; check the fine print. But many North American cards will add a surcharge for every purchase in foreign currency. That's no bargain. A better -- that is, cheaper -- strategy is to withdraw a major amount of currency from an ATM (using a debit/ATM card, not a credit card) and then spend the cash. I only charge very large items such as a hotel bill.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 02:32 PM
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What a lovely anniversary gift!

We budgeted 60 Euros a day for meals in Italy, and were able to stick to that for the most part. We never went hungry or felt like we missed out on anything.

We used one of our credit cards, which doesn't have foreign exchange fees, for almost everything. We also withdrew Euros from ATMS now and then when we needed cash. Most of the cash went in our money belts, and we kept small amounts in our pockets for a coffee, soda (we never had difficulty finding an 8 oz. can of soda for a Euro), or gelato.

Here's a link to my trip report. You can read about what we did and where we ate in Rome and Florence.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...y-may-2015.cfm
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 03:35 PM
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I use $100usd per person per day as my budget and can make that work pretty much anywhere. That is for food, drink, walking around money, local transportation, souvenirs.

I have money in 4 ways: local currency ordered from my home bank pre-trip, an ATM debit card i could withdraw euro directly, USD cash for emergencies, and a credit card or two.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 05:39 PM
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Agree that $100 per person for meals is comfortable if you don't go to any upscale places. We generally do one special dinner in each city and allow $300-$400 for that dinner with modest wine.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 05:52 PM
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<i> A better -- that is, cheaper -- strategy is to withdraw a major amount of currency from an ATM (using a debit/ATM card, not a credit card) and then spend the cash </i>

Southam, for me, getting foreign money as cash is not cost free and in some cases has been more expensive than charging on my credit card. My bank account is denominated in my home currency; when I go to a foreign ATM, it accesses my bank account through the ATM network; converts the amount I've requested into my home currency, at a rate that is not generally more favourable than the credit card rate and may be worse; debits my account of that amount, and discharges the corresponding amount of local currency notes in the machine. On top of this I might get dinged a flat fee for using that ATM.

So at least in my case, I've never found cash to be cheaper than putting it on credit card and there is into the bargain the security risk of carrying cash.

Foreign transaction costs are for me just a CODB (cost of doing business.)
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 07:27 PM
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A "special dinner" is different for different folks. We never spend more that $150 US for even our most special dinners, and usually much less.

Of course, the sky's the limit, but we do quite well in Italy with a budget of about $70 per person, no alcohol, but plenty of gelato and snacks.
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Old Aug 17th, 2016, 04:40 AM
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Congrats on your anniversary and the trip to Italy. How much to budget per day is difficult to answer.

A couple of things first: 1.) We spend a month in Italy every year and splurge a little on our hotels, 2.) we only use a credit card, which has no foreign transaction fees, for our hotels, 3.) we pay cash for everything else. It's just how we travel, 4.) We only use an ATM connected to a bank and only during opening hours. If the ATM eats our card we can go inside and retrieve it, and 5.) We do not exchange money for Euros here in the USA.

The restaurants will have a menu posted outside, so you can gauge after looking it over. A cogent strategy is to avoid restaurants in the major tourist areas. However, we do like a splurge at the Cafe Florian in Venice while their band is playing. The cover was 9€ per person and worth the cost.

Use an ATM card to obtain cash and NOT a credit card. If you use a credit card you will pay interest. We have an ATM card for a checking account with Charles Schwab, which does not charge a transaction fee and will refund any charges taken by the various banks. It's free and easy. The Schwab ATM card can be used here and abroad.

The Italians do not expect a tip in restaurants. It's not their custom. The wait staff is paid a decent wage.

Go and have fun.

Buon viaggio,
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Old Aug 17th, 2016, 05:17 AM
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Well to us a special dinner - in any place in western europe as well as at home is $300 to $400 for a couple with modest wine. (I basic dinner in a casual neighborhood place is about $85 or so for 2 with one glass of wine each, coffee, tax and tip). (In Central europe we can sometimes find special dinners for a little less - but prices are not nearly as low as they were 8 or 10 years ago.)

So if you eat much more modestly at home you can do the same in italy - as long as you check menus carefully. Depending on where you are from (not for us but if you don't come from a large city) prices will be about 20% higher than at home.

Whatever you do don't eat at places adjacent to major tourist sights, have menus with pictures on them, or touts trying to pull you into the restaurant.

One thing to be aware of is that fish is often sold by weight - so a listed price is not for the whole dinner but for only a portion of fish by weight.
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Old Aug 17th, 2016, 06:42 AM
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<< My bank account is denominated in my home currency; when I go to a foreign ATM, it accesses my bank account through the ATM network; converts the amount I've requested into my home currency, at a rate that is not generally more favourable than the credit card rate and may be worse; debits my account of that amount, and discharges the corresponding amount of local currency notes in the machine. On top of this I might get dinged a flat fee for using that ATM. >>

This is a rip-off called DCC, Dynamic Currency Conversion. It applies to credit cards as well as debit cards. For example when paying the bill in a restaurant with a credit card, the total can be denominated in the local currency or in your home currency. Always specify the local currency. Otherwise you're charged extra for the conversion, and the extra profit is split between the establishment and the company offering this service. At ATMs I've always seen a local currency option but it's in small print maybe shaded so it looks like it's not an available option. If you can't see such an option, void the transaction and try another bank ATM.

Once, in a busy restaurant in Toledo we were not asked but just given a bill in dollars not euros. We let it go but legally they have to give you the choice.
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Old Aug 17th, 2016, 07:27 AM
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Sue must live in an unusual place or have an odd bank if they are converting ATM transactions at worse rates than a credit card. I've never experienced or heard of such a thing. I wonder what bank that is.

I thought all banks basically use the same networks, anyway, for these transactions (some international Visa or MC networks) and it's the add-on charges that make the difference (ie, some add on 3% for ATM withdrawals, same as some CCs do), not the basic conversion rate. I thought that was the system for both ATM withdrawals and credit cards.
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Old Aug 17th, 2016, 08:17 AM
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I don't have to "check menus carefully" to keep to my $100/day budget. And of course I'm not spending $400 for a single dinner either.
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Old Aug 17th, 2016, 05:12 PM
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Well, perhaps you are a very light eater, or eat in only basic cafes or trattorias.

For dinner we do have an appetizer and main course each plus veggies side dish, shared dessert, wine, water and coffee. If you are having just a main course naturally would be less.
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