“There is no point having a lot of money if it’s just going to sit there and not be good for anything.” -Amerika C.
Great advice from a friend about spending money on what you love. I love to travel, but nobody wants to spend ALL of their money traveling. The theme for my EuroTrip 2011 adventure is “Ballin’ on a Budget.” I want to get First Class treatment with Buddy Pass prices. First stop, the eternal city, Rome!
Rome is a non-stop adventure! It’s one of those places that you could just wander around for days in amazement of it’s beauty. The key to getting the most out of a city inundated with museums/monuments is to consult an expert. You could buy a guide book or even better get a travel agent that will charge you a pretty penny. Or you could hop online for free city guides and talk to friends that have spent time in the city. The good thing about being in college is that you probably have friends studying abroad all over the world. Utilize them!
Free Tour Guide – My impromptu tour guide for my 4 days in Rome was my roommates’ girlfriends’ roommate (and she was awesome!) If you’re traveling to Europe in the summer you will most likely have friends that would love to re-live their crazy Eurotrip by showing/telling you their favorite spots. I got really lucky to have an amazing guide who was actually studying for her final exam on all of big sites in Rome. So she was able to practice by walking me around the city and I was able to get a world class tour for free99!
Roma Pass– The best 25 bucks I spent in Italy was for the Roma Pass. It lets you ride all city transportation (bus, train, tram) for free and grants you free admission to two museums in the city. The best part of the pass is that you don’t have to buy a ticket to the museums you visit, you just walk right up to the front of the line and walk in the door. I bypassed a line wrapping around the Colosseum and walked in like I was a celebrity. (Definitely spotted some European tourist snapping pics of me as I walked up the VIP entrance – the Will Smith doppelganger still lives on haha!)
Free audio tours – A way to save money on official tours/tour guides in big cities like Rome is to download a free audio tour right on your iPod. Rick Steves does great, free audio tours of the popular tourist spots around the world. You get all the info you want/need about the sites and you keep your money in your pocket where it belongs. Be warned Rick Steves thinks he’s a comedian, so be prepared for some corny tour guide jokes. Even the best of us tour guides have some lame jokes every now and then.
Vatican Free Day – Worst Kept Secret in Rome: The Vatican Museums are open to the public for free on the last Sunday of every month. The line to get in for Free99 starts wrapping around the walls of the holy city hours before the museums open. Best Kept Secret in Rome: If you wait 2 hours after the museum opens there is absolutely NO LINE AT ALL to get in. So save yourself several miserable hours of your life, skip the line and enjoy the Vatican for free. Tell the Pope that Jhaff sent you.
Meet the Pope – Well kind of… On Sunday’s at 12 noon the Pope comes out and blesses the crowd at St. Peters Square (Free99!). It’s pretty incredible to hear good ole Benedict XVI give shout-outs to people from all over the world in Italian, French, English, Spanish, German and Polish.
Jhaff’s Favorite (FREE) Spots in the Eternal City:
The Pantheon – SOOO COOL! Go in the afternoon and marvel at the sunlight beaming onto the floor of the enormous temple. (Not to be confused with the Parthanon in Athens)
The Trevi Fountain – Legend has it that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain it will ensure your return back to Rome one day. (Hopefully I’ll make it back sooner rather than later or I wasted a whole Euro!)
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – There is just something about the Tomb of the Unknown soldier that fascinates me in every country. Rome’s is especially interesting because it sits at the Monument to Victor Emmanuel. The massive monument can be seen from most of the city and serves as a great landmark if (most likely WHEN) you get lost in the Eternal City.