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Month in Review – August 2011

This is month three for us on the road. August was more about small mountain towns and resting on the beach, rather than big urban city centers and exploring museums. We spent the majority of the month in Italy and even though we technically reached Turkey by the last couple days, the only other country we spent significant time in was Greece. Here is the breakdown.

August- Calendar Overview – Key Dates and More

We visited 12 different cities this month with the inclusion of Pisa, which we did by day trip. Last month we did about the same amount. This feels like a healthy pace for balancing exploration & adventure with rest & relaxation so we don’t burn out.

August – Monthly Expenses

Transportation Recap:

Month #1  traveled by Automobile for ~$3,900 or $130 per day

Month #2 traveled predominantly by train and low cost airline for ~$2,900 or $94 per day

This month we added ferries into the mix:

  • Airplanes – $598
  • Trains – $514
  • Ferries – $333
  • Buses – $129
  • Taxi – $184
  • Subway – $0

The subtotal for the month is ~$1,760 or ~$57 per day. So the private lease of a car is almost double what public transportation ends up costing when you don’t have close to ~$900 worth of mistakes involved. Note: the air travel was on regional carriers.

What we learned in the world of transportation this month:

  1. Ferries are more pleasurable then both planes and buses. You get more leg room in both cases and in the case of air travel, you avoid the time lost sitting in the airport and the security hassle all together.
  2. For anyone with a delicate stomach ferry travel might not be for you. The overnight ferry was similar to a cruise ship but the smaller people-only vessels in combination with patches of less than calm seas were a bit choppy.

Random Line Items:

  • Hotel costs soared to a whopping $130 per night average and that is including the 5 nights of free stays on Starwood points. This was because we were in Italy during high season. We also opted to stay more on the 3 star side since we were using the hotel facilities more this month.
  • Meal per diems were $40 for lunch & $70 for dinner. So a slight increase to last month, but once again that was driven by Italy. It should also be noted that we are consistently ordering a bottle of wine with dinner and beers or cokes with lunch. If you moved to water you would shave 20% off these figures.
  • It is hard to pass through Italy, particularly Florence, and not shop for gifts. Appears we might have been a little modest in the budgeting process on these line items.
  • We are spending almost nothing on internet connections because they are almost always included in the room fees. This, in addition to the miracle of Skype, has keep our communications cost well below budget. Amazing how connected the world is due to this fabulous invention Al Gore gave us.

August – Summary

Well, we did not manage to cut the cost this month as anticipated in last month’s closing. While we enjoyed 5 nights of free stays on Starwood, we also splurged on all of the lavish benefits of the resort and offset the savings for the most part. Being in Italy during high season was also not helping the cause, we just didn’t see the hotel cost rising that much, but to be honest we don’t know how much of it was just Italy being more expensive vs. Italy being more expensive only because it was August? At this point, it is time to concede that the daily burn rate for Europe should have been closer to $320 vs $300, but that a lot of that is due to our own choices to do modest upgrades, eat relatively expensive meals and not spare any attraction if we think it is something unique.

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