Finally, finally, finally…after almost a year in the US and Canada, Chad, Luna, and I boarded a series of planes, trains, taxis, and van shares and made our way back to Europe, where we kicked off an indefinite European adventure with a month in the town known as the Pearl of Sicily: Taormina.
Beloved for its perfectly kept stone streetscapes, winding cliffside staircases, ancient amphitheater, and—towering over it all—ever-active Mount Etna with its constant wispy white smoke, Taormina is where we spent our vacation both because of its far southern location (read: warmish, sunny winters) and because the photos were to-die-for.
We spent our month-long vacation climbing the hill to the castle, taking trains to nearby towns, walking down to the beachfront, wandering the winding alleys and staircases, drinking local wines, indulging in almost daily granitas and pastries, and—in between explorations—working on personal projects (for me: writing a novel; for Chad: coding software and learning the ukulele).
So, at the end of all that writing and wandering, pastry-chasing, train-riding, and watching the sun dip below Mount Etna, how much did this month-long vacation cost? The answer is probably a lot cheaper than you think.
|Groceries & supplies||$288.24||272.74|
|Entertainment & activities||$24.89||23.58|
|Luna (vet bills, supplies)||$6.33||6|
Notes on my spending:
The above numbers are for my expenses (not including Chad’s share of things) from December 8, 2016, to January 8, 2017. They include the train ride from Rome to Taormina (about $22), but do not include the long plane journey from Vancouver to Rome or the two days we spent in Rome (stay tuned for a Rome budget to come). Plane tickets vary so wildly depending on where you’re coming from, what time of year you’re traveling, if you got a deal of some sort, etc. etc. etc., so I rarely include them, as I don’t think they’re that useful.
It’s also important to keep in mind that we are slow, easy-going travelers. We didn’t try to rush around and see every town in Sicily. We didn’t eat out every day. We took things slow and spent a lot of our time lingering over meals, walking (cameras in hand), and simply enjoying the views. Someone who used Taormina as a base to see all of Sicily, who rented a car, who ate out every meal would spend much more than we did.
That said, we’re not budget travelers either. We picked a rather pricey apartment (pricey for the area) because it boasted some great views. We ate out probably a couple times a week. We didn’t skip cannoli or go without wine or otherwise pinch pennies. Someone willing to couch surf or stay in the town hostel, never eat out, skip the second cannolo, or otherwise scrimp could spend less than I did easily.
Now, as for each expense category:
Our apartment, which we found through Airbnb, was in a mid- to upper-price range for the area that time of year. There were plenty of apartments that came in cheaper and several far more expensive. We chose ours for its location and views. Unfortunately, the management was terrible, so I wouldn’t recommend the place. But the views—they were lovely. The numbers above represent my half of the rent for the month.
Transportation includes the train from Rome to Taormina (an all-day affair with some very pretty views, particularly on the left side of the train), as well as a day trip to Catania.
The grocery budget came in beautifully low and eating and drinking out did as well, despite our frequent trips to the local granita bar. We mostly ate in, making pastas, pan-frying veggies, and eating toasts with various olive, onion, artichoke, almond, cinnamon, and tomato spreads like it was going out of style. We drank wine almost nightly and tried the local lemon and almond liquors. We didn’t go easy at all, but groceries were very cheap.
I haven’t included health insurance because I was in the middle of switching things up and had three different insurances at different points throughout the month, but for reference, global health insurance not including the US costs me $160 per month through GeoBlue. That’s the plan I’ve gone with in the new year.
I’ve also left out business expenses, since they are unlikely to be relevant to anyone but myself, of which I had about $20 – $30 worth of ongoing payments for things like my eBook sales service and Photoshop.
Interested in seeing more travel budgets? You’ll find them all here.
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Hi Gigi, I just discovered Taormina while websurfing for a place to spend the winter with my dog Woody and a lady friend. Wow. Then I found your article. Would love to talk more about it with you. I’m also a writer (speaker, mindfulness coach…) and I’m looking to simplify my life and be in an inspiring place. Are you open to a conversation?
Happy to chat/answer questions. Feel free to email or Facebook message.