Revenge Spending Got Me: How We Spent A Week in Italy

by Kaitlyn Ranze

We just got back from Italy. Our version of veni, vidi, vici was more like “We came, we ate, and we spent a ton of money.” And while I didn’t feel this guilt or shame while swiping my way across the peninsula, I didn’t exactly do a great job tracking our expenses on the trip. Why is that?

Emotional spending

When you buy something you don’t need and, in some cases, don’t even really want, as a result of feeling stressed out, bored, unhappy or any number of other emotions – that’s emotional spending. But it’s not limited to negative feelings. For instance, what did you buy yourself the last time you got a raise?

In our case, I think a couple of things happened. The lure of being somewhere new and “making the most of it” hurt our budget. Before Covid numbers started spiking again, we were also swept up by the “returning to normal” wave. We felt like we could live a little after sheltering in place for over a year. (Also, when did “sheltering in” place get added to our everyday vernacular?)

Revenge spending

Before the pandemic, before being parents, we were adventurous. Flying a little last minute wasn’t new to us. What was new was traveling with a toddler and anticipating the costs in a post-pandemic world. Bring on the last minute tickets to Italy and all of the associated costs.

Here’s a breakdown of our expenses during our trip to Italy and a breakdown of how I feel about it.


United / Delta

$423.40 per person (so times 2) = $846.82

For two people flying internationally, I ain’t mad at it. It cost us four times as much to get to Thailand a few years ago. We also didn’t have to pay for a seat for our toddler because she is under two. I am dreading the added expense when she ages.

Traveling with a toddler means following their schedule.

Because we normally fly Southwest, I hate paying for luggage. I noticed so does everyone else, given the total volume and competition for overhead space. Because we flew Delta for one leg of the trip, luggage wasn’t included.

Luggage = $60.

Where we stayed

Four nights in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre – $474.77

I thought I did a decent job of finding a deal. The thing is, taxes and cleaning bills just really ruin the AirBnB experience. May AMAZING deal was layered with hidden feels.

Thankfully, my husband crushed the room search finding a spot in the heart of Rome for a steal.

Four nights in Rome two blocks from the Colosseum $148.04

I resisted the urge to go shopping in Rome, despite drooling over the options in Monti, a neighborhood with mixed restaurants, shops, and hotels. At this point in our trip, it didn’t matter how tempting the store-fronts were. Italy was running our coffers dry.

Why is that? Small things we didn’t account for started to add up. Our biggest expenses would obviously be the flight and hotel, but how would we get from one city to another?

How we got around

Tickets from Milan to Cinque Terre (Bus and Train) $76.88

Hiking was an incredible and beautiful way to get from one village in the Cinque Terre to the other. Through wineries and along the coast, the national parks are gorgeous. But hiking them isn’t free.

Hiking and Unlimited Train Tickets Parco Nazionale – $115.40

Taxis in Rome – $56.80


But how could we be on the Ligurian Sea without seeing Cinque Terre from it? At least that’s how I rationalized this spur of the moment expense.

Private Boat Tour Cinque Terre = $390.72

The conversion from EU to USD is a killer, but this was incredible and probably the closest to adventure we could get.

I mentioned that we liked challenges, right?

We hiked to the top of St. Peter’s Basicillica (551) steps. It was beautiful, but we couldn’t do it without a tour = $234.43

Fun fact about the Vatican Museum – it’s the second largest in the world. You could spend a year there and not see everything. Silly me, I didn’t realize before going that it would include MORE than just Catholic history. (We’re not Catholic.) Worth the visit and tour.

How could we go to Rome without visiting the Coloseum? And like everything else, on this trip,

Roman Forum and Coloseum $56.83

I would’ve and should’ve paid for a tour of these monuments. Rome is chock-full of history and audio walking tour didn’t feel informative enough. Next time, we’re springing for a tour guide, no matter how cheap I’m being.


I think the first thing people ask about is the food. We did a lot of unofficial food tourism, splitting a meal, and eating again an hour and half later.

Food = $882.

Important things to know: a cappuccino and a double shot of espresso is probably only $3 Euro. Wine is also pretty reasonable for as low as $10 a bottle. Sure, we could get a focaccia sandwich and a bottle of water for $8-10, but we were more likely to sit down at a moderately priced joint. A past plate, meat course, and a dessert added up. (But the tiramisu!)

That doesn’t include the $90.84 we spent at Laguardia Airport for Kombucha, drinks, a peanut butter and jelly Smucker’s Uncrustable, and over-priced/underwhelming fruit. (Yeah, I am still angry at myself for not telling my husband’s gut he could skip the probiotics.)

Total = $972.84

We certainly wouldn’t have spent this much in a week in the states, let alone, a month. I think we could’ve been more mindful. In fact, one of the things we talked about when we got back was how meals added up.



We tested negative for Covid before heading to Italy, but our tiny human got us sick with a cold. Enter the $25.86 charge at a pharmacy for decongestant.

Covid Tests

To return to the states, we had to spend $25 each on rapid Anti-gen tests.

Grand total of Mindless spending in Italy = $3,483.50*

Normally, we’d try to spend at least $1,000 less on a vacation, usually by picking a destination with a lower cost of living. In this case, we opted for more expensive conveniences a lot of the time. Take a taxi instead of public transportation and eat at the first place you see instead of searching for lower cost options.

So what are we doing about it?

Mindful Spending

At a certain point, I just stopped asking questions or tracking our expenses. Rather than be mindful, opt for cheaper alternatives, or put in a little extra effort, we kept swiping.

Our plan for next time:

  • Do more research for a more realistic budget.
  • Save more in advance.
  • Track expenses so we can make adjustments as we go.
  • Stay mindful. We kept trying to remind ourselves this isn’t the last time we would go to Italy, but it still felt like it. We rushed to swipe.
  • Communicate more. Neither one of us wanted to be the bad cop, but now we’re looking at a few sacrifices over the next two months to compensate for our extravagance.
Creating an Auto-Save is a great way to tackle your financial goals.

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