It varies, but here’s a good place to start. The things to consider when thinking about costs are the accommodations, tours / activities, logistics, food, flights, and our planning fees.
Costs are based on 2023 prices and are for two people. Note that this is not a budget trip but it’s not the lap of luxury either.
Hotels: 300 USD per room per night. Note this is average across the trip. Venice and the Amalfi Coast are more expensive. Note that low season might be less. Note that there are many less expensive hotels, Airbnbs, apartments, etc across Italy. However our travelers typically start with this budget and go up. This gets you a great 3 or 4 star hotel in an excellent central location, with breakfast and taxes included. If you want a sea view on the Amalfi Coast you could easily spend 1,000 USD/night.
Tours & Activities: 400 USD per day. Note that this does not include VIP experiences. Note that this does not include activities with per-person costs such as cooking classes or vespa tours. Note that this does not include high end excursions such as a full day boat excursion off the Amalfi Coast or a balloon ride over Tuscany. This price reflects a half day private guided walking tour, and would include the cost of the guide, entry tickets, and a tip. You can have a fabulous trip with private guided half day tours on most days.
Logistics: 200 USD per day. This includes airport transfers, rental car costs, train tickets, and the occasional taxi. Note that this is average across the trip. Some days you’ll be on your own two feet and some days you might have a 500 USD private transfer. However, if you are staying on the Amalfi Coast and you are getting around by private driver, you might spend 1,000 USD / day.
Food: 250 USD per day. Note that this assumes that breakfast is included with the hotel (most are). This assumes you’ll have a light lunch, like a salad at a café, or a quick sandwich. This assumes that you’ll sit down at a restaurant for dinner every night. You won’t be eating in Michelin-starred places, but you also won’t be going to the grocery store to grab a baguette and a hunk of cheese like you did in your backpacking days. This also allows a budget for coffee, gelato, and snacks.
Flights from the US are typically between about 800 USD and 1600 USD in economy class, depending on where you’re flying from and depending on the time of year.
Planning fees: Our planning fees are either 250 USD / day or 375 USD / day, for up to 6 people. We always tell people that travel industry markups (inside those single-price packages) are about 20% – 25% so if our fees are in that range, that’s about right. If our fees are lower, you’re getting a deal. If our fees are more than that, it might not make sense to work with us. In the examples above, the trip costs add up to 1,150 USD per couple per day. If this couple hired us for Platinum travel planning at 375 USD / day, that works out to about 30% of trip costs. However, if two couples traveling together split the cost of trip planning fees, this is a good deal, compared to purchasing the exact same trip in a package deal.
Officially, we only do Italy. However, we can recommend other fee-for-service travel experts for other destinations.
Here’s where I am going to toot my own horn and talk about my amazing team. We are hard working, detail oriented, and will provide you excellent customer service. But anybody can say that. Here are nine specific reasons that separate Italy Beyond the Obvious from other travel consultants:
This Wall Street Journal article does a great job of outlining four reasons you should use a travel consultant:
When should you reach out to a travel agent?
• If you want someone to call when things go wrong: Nearly 70% of affluent consumers who use travel agents say what’s most important is that an agent protect them or help them when things go wrong with a trip, according to a study by Harrison Group and American Express Publishing. “Travel agents are a kind of insurance,” Taylor say. For many agents, this means being on call at all hours.
• If you’re pressed for time or just want to avoid hassles: About one in three travelers feels overwhelmed by the amount of travel information online, according to the American Express Spending & Savings Tracker, a survey that looks at Americans’ spending and saving habits. If you’re in this group, or simply don’t have time to deal with trip planning, travel agents can do it all for you. Tell them where you want to go and the types of things you like to do, and they can put together a list of options for you and book them, saving you time. Agents are particularly useful to travelers who plan to take complicated trips, or go to multiple destinations or with multiple generations, says Gonchar.
• If you want more of a local experience: Good travel consultants have relationships with locals in your destination, experts say, so they can do things like arrange for you to have dinner with a local family, recommend restaurants and pubs that residents like but tourists don’t tend to know about, or find a tiny B&B for you to stay at where you can get to know the owner.
• If you want a highly customized experience: More and more travelers are asking for one-of-a-kind trips specifically tailored to their likes, says Gonchar. A foodie might want something like a private cooking class in Italy, a meet-and-greet with a chef she’s been reading about and a table in the private wine room of a restaurant. While she might not have the connections to get this done herself, a travel agent with deep local knowledge might be able to make this happen for her, Gonchar says.
We should discuss this before we begin. Your Italy Beyond the Obvious itinerary will be very organized, with everything pre-booked and double checked. But you have to be able to execute it on your own when you get there.
You’ll know where to go, when, and how to get there, but you’ll still have to leave your hotel, on your own, in a foreign country with a foreign language and using foreign currency (and possibly in a jet-lagged fog). Your local guides, local drivers, hotel concierge, and our on-trip support can help a lot here, but if you haven’t spent time in foreign countries, all of this can still be overwhelming.
For travelers who have never been abroad, we only offer our Platinum travel planning service because it makes us too nervous if you don’t have on trip support.
Sure. Italy’s main sights are famous for good reason. Sometimes “beyond the obvious” means the way you travel, not what you see. So maybe you want to see the main sights with a 2 year old in tow, or maybe you want to avoid crowds as much as possible.
Sometimes. But more importantly, you can be assured that all recommendations are good value for the money. You get what you pay for, so I don’t necessarily recommend the least expensive option. We are very used to working within a budget. That said, Italy Beyond the Obvious is not typically for the budget traveler.
Return on your investment is in 2 parts:
Time saved during the planning process: To organize a trip to Italy with the level of organization and detail provided by Italy Beyond the Obvious, plan on spending about 8 hours per travel day if you are going to do it yourself. A 10-day trip would therefore take about 80 hours for an average person to plan (including internet and guidebook research, time spent on the phone to Italy, booking time, and double-checking everything). By contrast, plan on 2-3 hours spent via phone or email with Italy Beyond the Obvious. For a 10-day trip, that’s about 77 hours of time saved. How much is your time worth per hour?
Time used more efficiently on the trip: when a trip is well-organized ahead of time, you won’t waste time getting lost; showing up at the train station and realizing that train doesn’t run on Sundays; fixing errors due to the language barrier during the booking process; or waiting in line for 2 hours for a museum that could have been pre-booked. We estimate that travelers with organized pre-booked itineraries can accomplish 20% more in a day, and don’t forget: you accomplish more in a single day, at a lower stress level, for more enjoyment.
Let’s say your 10-day trip to Italy works out to cost $600/day, including everything. Let’s say you have 12 hours per day of “out and about time”, to enjoy, explore, and relax. Each Italian vacation hour essentially costs $50. A 10-day vacation has 120 vacation hours. Therefore being able to do 20% more because of a well-planned vacation equals 24 hours during the vacation which are spent relaxing and enjoying Italy rather than spent problem-solving and stressed in a foreign country. To put a dollar value on it, those 24 hours x $50 per hour is $1200 worth of time that can be used to enjoy Italy instead of lost due to planning mistakes.
Put your own numbers in to the examples above in 1) and 2) (and take into account that part 2 can be multiplied by number of people traveling together) to calculate how much you will actually save by having Italy Beyond the Obvious plan your Italian vacation!
The short answer is: the business model. We charge consulting fees for our time and expertise, because we have deep Italy knowledge and can create your trip from the ground up. We do not sell other people’s packages – we book directly with local providers, cutting out any middlemen. We also do not mark anything up.
Travel agents receive commissions for booking hotels, cruises, flights, or tours for travelers from their portfolio and therefore they must spend their time booking things that give them commission.
It takes us about 5 hours of work to create one Platinum trip day, which means you are essentially hiring us as consultants at $75/hour for our time and expertise.
We spend a lot of time on things that do not offer commissions such as:
The Italy Beyond the Obvious team is available to you while you’re on the ground in Italy. We are available 24/7! Past examples of clients using on-trip support include:
Yes absolutely. Our Diamond Planning service is for groups of more than 6 people.
Absolutely. And, you should ask us for the cost breakdown, because the vast majority of the time, we can create the same trip for a lower cost. Online tours are sold at a package price, and when we break down the individual costs – even with our highest end Platinum level planning services – the total trip cost always comes out lower.
For trips in high season, the more notice we get the better. A year in advance is not too early to hire us! But for a low stress planning process, in high season, we need a minimum of 6 months.
The biggest factor here is whether we have the capacity. We hit capacity every single year. Because we offer a high-touch, white glove planning service, when we max out the hours of the team, we simply cannot take on any additional work. Often by January we are at capacity for June and September, for example. The best way to find out is to contact us and ask.
That said, if you have a flexible budget and a straightforward trip (Rome, Florence, Venice, Amalfi Coast for example) and you are traveling in shoulder season, we can usually fit you in!
Gold Planning Service: this is bare bones and is most often used by people who have rented a villa and want one activity in the morning and then want to chill out by the pool in the afternoon. Or, people who want a very relaxed and slow pace.
Platinum Planning Service: Most of our trips fall into this category. If you appreciate smooth logistics, an activity in the morning followed by recommendations in the afternoon, with a dinner reservation, this will likely work for you. This also includes on-trip support, and driving logistics which are key if you will have a rental car.
Diamond Planning Service: This is for trips with more than 6 people.
Contact us, we’re happy to answer all of your questions.
"We had a wonderful trip! We did so many amazing things and experienced many wonderful places yet never felt like..."
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