By #BTBY Member, Virginia Harvey
Virginia has been a member of #BTBY for a good while and she loves to travel. Here she shares some of her invaluable tips when travelling on a budget and some of her favourite places in Italy.
I have always travelled, being very lucky as a child to go around Europe with my parents. Even then it was Italy that stole my heart and it was in Sorrento that I met my ‘first love’
I am lucky to be able to speak Italian which makes the whole experience even better but the people are lovely and like the English, will always make you feel welcome.
I tried to take my own children on travels often too, but as a single parent it wasn’t always easy. My daughter was interested in archaeology, so we had to go to Pompeii and Rome and as teenagers we had a group holiday to Barcelona with friends and stayed in an old Olympic village apartment. It was wonderful.
I found out early on how to travel on a tiny budget
I found out early on how to travel on a tiny budget and also discovered the benefits of a short break, or even a day in a lovely sunny spot. These short trips can be a great tonic and you can achieve such a lot in a long weekend. I find it better to travel more frequently for short breaks and of course, it keeps the cost down.
As a budget traveller, I am a great advocate of researching and booking your own travel plans rather than going through a travel agency. This way you can search for the best flights, best dates to travel and best accommodation deals.
Easyjet are very accessible, especially if you check a 3 week window and find the cheapest flights. I use booking.com to find an affordable hotel, always near the railway station and I only ever take cabin luggage!
When booking my accommodation, I only book bed and breakfast and don’t eat out as a rule. I like to buy so local fresh fruit and some bread and ham from the local shops. It really helps keep the cost down and means that as a single person travelling, I can get a great deal on a single room and enjoy the local food too.
So now I am 60 and still happy to travel on my own. This year I have been to Puglia in the south of Italy and also Lake Garda. I am currently planning a visit to Koblenz in Germany to include a long day trip along the Rhine.
I nearly died from sepsis, so will never stop travelling
I can usually do a 3-4 day break for about £300 and it is the best tonic – I had a sister who did not make it to 56 because of cancer and just before Christmas last year I nearly died from two episodes of sepsis, so I will never stop travelling and get away whenever I can.
So just do it! Get up and go!
So just do it, get up and go and if you want any tips on how to plan a trip and keep it cheap do get in touch with me via the #BTBY Facebook Group
Here are some of my favourite places to visit
for a couple of days
Desenzano – At the southern end of Lake Garda, Desenzano is easy to access by train from Verona airport. Take gorgeous boat trips on the lake or enjoy easy days out in Venice, Verona, Brescia, Padua.
Como – At the southern end of Lake Como with easy train access from Milan airport there are many small reasonable hotels not far from the lake shore. You can take day trips to Switzerland and Milan. many beautiful boat trips on the lake and also by Seaplane for the brave. Funicular railway takes you up the mountain
Sorrento – some fabulous small cheaper hotels and even last minute cheap deals with Tui. I always stay at the Hotel Meridiana. Sorrento is fairly easy to get to from Naples airport by train and you can also enjoy the Amalfi Drive, Capri, Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Lucca and Pisa – in the North but both lovely to stay in and easy to get to from Pisa airport. It’s possible to take a day trip to Florence.
Siena – There are some really cheap flights to Pisa where you can then travel by train. Siena has a beautiful mediaeval centre which is the scene of the famous Palio horse races. There are easy local bus routes to San Gimignano and Florence.
Not Italy but Nice is another favourite place. I have been a few times as it’s so easy to travel to from Gatwick. Nice can even be done as a day trip for a real tonic and a stunning meal out at La Maison de Marie. Easy access via bus just minutes from the airport and easy bus and train access to Monaco, Cannes, Antibes and even a sneaky trip to Italy (Ventimiglia)
Rome – I would never tire of going here and I do not really have enough words to describe it – just stunning! I always manage to get a cheap deal at the stunning Hotel Quirinale which is very close to the station which is easy to get to from Rome Fiumicino airport.
Inspirational films to help you fall in love too:-
- Tea with Mussolini
- A month by the lake
- My house in Umbria
- To Rome with love
- Love is all you need
- A room with a view
- Francesco’s Italy top to toe (BBC series on 2 DVDs)
By Virginia Harvey
PS – By Sally Bee
“Thank you Virginia for your fabulous insight and useful tips. This will help me so much booking my upcoming trips to Italy. I have to add that my favourite film to inspire travel is ‘To Catch A Thief’ with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. I LOVE the scene at Nice Flower market. SB xx”