I can’t help but feel that lines are often blurred when it comes to how much people assume it costs to travel. I’ve had friends, family and strangers collectively ask me how I have afforded to leave home for two months at a time, and the answer is always the same: I save so (SO) hard for the other ten months of the year. That being said, I must admit I’m extremely frugal when it comes to how I spend my money on travelling. This means that I am able to stretch what is usually a pretty small budget across weeks and even months. I check and check and check again when it comes to the cheapest ways to travel, have learned how to strike the perfect balance between cheap and quality hotels, and don’t ever let the supposed expense of a place put me off visiting it – if there’s a will there’s always a way!
This time last year when we were planning our trip to Europe, visiting as many places in Italy as possible was high on our agenda. The thing about Italy, however, is that it’s expensive to get around, expensive to stay in, and expensive to eat in. The Amalfi Coast is no exception, and is probably more costly than the rest of the country to stay in. I knew we wanted to go, I knew how much we could afford to spend a night on hotels and I most certainly knew that staying along the coast wasn’t in the books, so I had to improvise.
What happens when we plan trips is that we will begin to draft an itinerary, and price hotels and trains or planes as we go along to see which version of the itinerary makes the most sense both practically and financially. We always book hotels with free cancellation so that if indeed plans do change or, like in this case, we decide we need to book a cheaper hotel to cut costs, then we can do so hassle free.
After initially booking a hotel in Positano for four nights at a cost of €400, we both knew that was way above board what we were prepared to pay. Had it been just those four nights we were travelling then we wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but considering we were gone for nine weeks it was reckless to dedicate that much of our budget to a less than mediocre hotel. We deemed the Amalfi Coast was far beyond what we wanted to spend on accommodation, and it was then we started to look at the possibility of staying in Naples for the duration of our stay and travelling out each day to a different town.
Naples is nowhere near as glamorous as the Amalfi Coast, but as backpackers we weren’t really concerned about that. In order to take the train or boat to the coast, it’s most often necessary to travel via Naples regardless. We were able to squeeze another city into our itinerary, enjoy the incredible Neopolitan food when we returned back to the city every night and save even more money on the cost of food and drink along the water. For us, it wasn’t about saying we had stayed in such a hotel or shopped in such a shop, we genuinely just wanted to go and experience the stunning coastal towns, and that’s exactly what we got to do.
Our hotel in Naples, Hotel Colombo, cost us only €245 for six nights, which saved us €155 and gained us an extra two nights in the area. It was located directly between the port and train station, meaning access to both the boat to Capri and the Circumvesuviana (train) to both Sorrento and Pompeii were only a five minute walk in each direction. It was placed on a quiet side street just off the Corso Umberto I and the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Trains cost a mere €3.60 in each direction, and the boat to Capri €18 in each direction. The boat is pretty expensive, but because Capri is an island travel to it from both Naples and the towns along the Amalfi Coast are costly and it helps to bear in mind that if you were to stay on Capri you would be required to pay the boat fare, regardless.
Most of the days we stayed in Naples, we left the city in the morning and returned at night from day trips. The city was incredible and offered the perfect base for our travels. It allowed us to see the incredible sights of both Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast without having to worry about the financial aspect of the journey. So, not only were we actually able to go, but we were able to go and not have to worry about how it would impact the budget for the remainder of our trip which ultimately made it all the more enjoyable.