Travel is our thing, especially in retirement. The pandemic put a big crimp in that, but we’re making up for lost time. We’ve just returned from 10 days in Florence, which was not only utterly wonderful but also quite LBYM.
We opted for a lovely apartment with a complete kitchen, a private, peaceful attached garden, and a perfect location that cost half of what a room in a 4-star (not to mention 5-star) hotel would cost. (We use VRBO, mostly.) DW walked the one block to the bakery in the mornings, and we lounged over our breakfasts for a fraction of the cost of a (crowded) restaurant.
For lunch, we’d typically grab a cheap focaccia or panini sandwich or eat in the apartment after a morning of taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. Simple but excellent dinners al fresco with house wine ran 20-25 Euros apiece (which includes tax and tip). Dessert was usually gelato on the walk home as we enjoyed holiday lights on the streets.
We pack carry-on only, which makes traveling simple, quick, and cheap. We took the 1.50 Euro tram from/to the Florence airport, which is shiny new, safe, and faster than a taxi that would cost at least 10x as much as our tram fare. We walked everywhere else. Everywhere.
As for the airfare, we traveled off-season, which is not only cheaper but also offers a gloriously uncrowded Florence with cool weather perfect for long walks. We used Google Trips to fine-tune our travel dates to further reduce cost and travel time. I have “status” with Delta, thanks to our frequent long-haul trips and my co-branded Amex card (which also gets us into the airport lounges), so we get upgraded (free!) to better seats, usually opting for bulkhead rows.
Bottom line: it can be done! (Photo: DW shopping at Mercato Centrale)