I just got back from Rome.
A week ago Wednesday I suddenly had the realization that I was burnt out and wouldnt really be able to take more than a day or so off until July! Now or never.
So........I found a sick deal on air travel using miles, a 5 star hotel for 3 star price and off I went. Three days later I was flying to Italy for a week.
Air: USAirways was running a special on roundtrip travel to EU for 35k miles (usually its 80K, in fact domestic travel alone is 25k). I had 34k miles, so I bought 1k of miles for $50. I also paid taxes and a slight fee to have a 24 hour stop over in Philadelphia. Total airfare cost was $270.
Hotel: Booking.com found a rockin deal at the St. George Hotel in Rome. New, 5 star boutique hotel. With breakfast and all taxes, $240/night (6 nights). Also booked 1 night at the Rittenhouse, another 5 star hotel, in Philly for $240/night (1 night). Total paid for 7 nights of hotel $1680.
Entertainment, gifts, food, travel, etc: $1442. This includes quite a range of items. I bought some clothing prior to leaving ($160). I also bought an ipod for video watching on 32 total hours of air time ($260) + Itunes purchases ($40). I bought little in the way of souvenirs - a book from the Basquait show and 2 handmade journals ($120). The rest was basically museum entrances and food (boy did I eat well). Ate at Morimoto when I was in Philly too!
Total spent: $3392 for 8 days
The main savings here is obviously the air component - the same ticket was ~1k.
The same room in high season is $700. Even in a low, non-recessionary time, the room should have been $400. Another guest with the same room paid $350/night. But realistically I wouldnt have paid much more than I did for a hotel - the variable was just how high of quality I could scheme for the price. And wow - it was minimalistic chic luxury, so me.
I used about $600 in cash and the rest on credit. Bills will be paid in the following weeks and EF still in tact, so technically Im calling this the goal achieved: travel internationally, use cash.
Really interesting the sense of freedom and security I found knowing I had $30k available in credit and several thousand in cash. Different than prior experiences traveling abroad.