Episode #195: How to plan your Italy trip for free

This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here

Listen to “How to Plan your Italy Trip for Free” on Spreaker.


How to plan your Italy trip for free – is it possible to get a highly personalized travel plan without expecting some cost involved? You probably already know the answer to this –  that it is actually impossible to get a travel plan to suit your exact situation, travel style and needs without it costing you either a lot of time and energy or paying someone for their services to help you get what you want. We at Untold Italy along with many of our podcast guests, love to help with as many free resources as we can, but it would be impossible to provide for all our listeners, a targetted, location and travel-style specific advice, so it is worth considering, if you don’t have the time or the access to information that you need, of paying a professional to help you – as you would with any other expensive purchase.

Show notes

In this episode, Untold Italy founder Katy talks about how accessing and compiling the information you need to plan the trip of your dreams and pull it all together into a magnificent plan is going to cost – either using up your valuable time and energy, or paying for the services of people to help you. For some reason, many people don’t expect to have to pay for travel advice in the same way they would for any other service that would expend someone’s time and energy. If you love to do your own planning and for your friends and family, then good for you (and we hope you receive the appreciation you deserve!), but for those who don’t, then we recommend getting a planner or agent who knows Italy and also ideally, the region you are visiting, rather than someone who deals with generic ‘travel’. It is well worth it to get access to someone’s years of Italian travel experience and especially when you bring in your specific travel needs and tastes into it.

SIGN UP: Stay up to date with our latest tour departures and new destinations here.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  1. Firstly, a big shout-out to all those who do the trip planning on behalf of your family and friends. It is a big job, and takes a lot of time and energy, not just booking everything and working all the logistics, but taking into account the different needs and tastes of everyone traveling with you. Perhaps not everyone quite appreciates the effort that you have put in, but just to let you know that at Untold Italy – we see you and know you do it because you truly care about everyone having a great vacation. Even though it can end up being (literally) a thankless task, it is worth it when you see the wonder in people’s faces as they enjoy the places and experiences you have arranged for them – creating wonderful memories for you and yours
  2. What an intensive job trip planning can be! Travel planning is a serious business. It takes hours upon hours to get things right, even if you’re a professional travel agent or planner
  3. Some people may really enjoy doing this and treat it like a hobby. Katy herself has always been one of those people, though now when it comes to travel in Italy at least, it’s her job. If she was planning a trip to Japan or Greece, the time she would spend building up an amazing travel plan is time she could spend doing something else, like reading, playing with her kids or catching up with her friends, so she would definitely consider handing over some at least some of the planning to a specialist on that place
  4. It can depend on how detailed you like your plan – some like to just book flights, turn up and then wing it, but very many of us don’t and particularly in these high-tourism days, things in Italy’s hotspots get booked up quickly. A detailed plan for a trip can take many weeks of planning time. First, you need to decide where you’re going and what you want to do, which we know is challenging for many of you, us included. You scroll around the internet, listen to podcasts like this one, and build an ever-growing list of places, experiences, and things you just can’t miss. But you can’t do it all and have to narrow things down, pull it all together, understand how you’re going to get around – the transportation systems etc, when things are open and closed, and how long you need to schedule to get between each activity that you’re doing. You might then find something is sold out or not available when you want to do it, so you need to adjust your plans all over again
  5. You definitely need a plan in the tourist hotspots of Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and Cinque Terre – unless you’re happy to spend your vacation standing in a line and/or eating terrible food. And if you’re going into the lesser-visited areas, you need to spend even more time, firstly getting to grips with getting around Italy as well as finding out how to access and experience everything in a place where minimal information is available 
  6. At Untold Italy, we have spent countless hours, months and years creating audio and written content to help people with Italy travel planning, on both our podcast and websites, which we take care to keep very well up to date. We have articles on where to stay, what to do, and lots of specific information about the different regions of Italy, and it grows and grows with each day and week. This information is, however, of course, general in nature, and we can’t address every specific travel need
  7. We share lots of tips and details but it is general information and it’s not personalized. That’s when many travelers turn to our Italy Travel Planning Community on Facebook for help. This is another place where you can also spend a lot of time supplementing your research and trying to make sure your plan makes sense. You can literally spend days there refining your plans as different people jump in and try to help you. It is a group we set up and we love having people share their travel plans and others giving their advice, tips and experiences to help them. But it still will take a lot of time to sift through this information and work out whether the person who’s providing their comments, has the same idea of a great travel plan as you and/or even is that qualified to give you the information. With any group of travelers, you’re going to get those with different levels of experience and different styles of travel and even different behaviors
  8. You’re paying with your time as you do your research and let’s not forget, when you’re viewing content online, you’re also paying with your eyeballs in terms of advertising and other online tactics (and for full disclosure, we at Untold use them – of course we do)
  9. These are the cheapest ways to build your travel plan, depending on how much you value your time and effort but you are, of course, not getting personalized advice. You can supplement this with a good guide book to get deeper. Here is our recommended list of The Best Travel Books for Italy
  10. If you want truly personalized advice you’ll need to engage a professional travel planner or travel agent, and you need to expect to pay for that service, just like you would any other professional service
  11. We have found that many people seem to think that travel advice should be completely free or given as a favor. This is bizarre when you consider that for any other purchase of thousands of dollars, you would probably seek out and pay for some professional advice
  12. Here at Untold Italy, we get hundreds of emails each week asking for personalized support – simple requests like asking for a recommendation for a restaurant in Rome for a special occasion or for a good place to stay for a family in Puglia. Our podcast guests have also told us they are inundated with ‘quick request’ emails, and what might seem like a quick request is quick to request, but an answer would not be quick and utilise a chunk of someone’s time and resources. We cannot answer these emails and messages in any detail. Katy would need to hire several people to be able to deal with the large number that comes in
  13. We would refer people to our online resources, so as a first port of call, we would suggest you look first at Untold Italy or Untold Morsels and if you can’t find the answer, head on over to the Facebook group where someone may be able to help. We have an eight-strong team here at Untold Italy that creates and updates content, moderates our Facebook community, and more. We’re very passionate about ensuring you have a kind and positive experience accessing the most up-to-date information about travel in Italy
  14. Some people who email us don’t even send a greeting with any welcome or pleasantries like a simple “Hi Katy” – they simply make demands. Needless to say, those emails get deleted immediately. We remind people that at the end of all these resources and businesses are human beings with feelings, and even if we can’t help we appreciate good manners
  15. If you’re wondering how you can access some personalized trip-planning services – at this time, Untold Italy only offer these services to guests joining our small group tours in the lesser-known areas of Italy, so we can’t offer these services unfortunately, but we would refer inquiries of that nature to Untold favorite, Danielle Oteri from Feast Travel, who has appeared on this podcast many times. Katy entrusted Danielle to help her plan half of her recent trip to Italy to the Cilento region. Danielle has an in-depth knowledge of this region and lots of contacts to make the trip special and save Katy hours of time and research, as well as money because she knows the best value ways to do things. She charges for her services of course (she is definitely not sitting around thinking “Oh, I do hope an email comes in where I can give away my time and expertise for free!’) If you want personalized assistance, however small you think it is, please understand that there is usually a cost associated with it
  16. If you don’t join one of our tours or engage Danielle, we advise looking for a travel planner or agent who has specific knowledge about travel in Italy and if possible, in the specific area of Italy that you want to visit
  17. There are lots of generalist travel agents out there, but they don’t have the time or resources to invest in understanding what is possible in every country worldwide, let alone all of the regions. We see agents who book their generic chain hotels because it is they do across all countries, but it might not be in the best area or give you the best Italian experience
  18. A key request from Katy in this podcast episode is that everyone respects her and our guests’ time and expertise. We all deliver so many resources to help you plan your trips with thoroughly researched and up-to-date information and at Untold we thoroughly document all of our podcast guest suggestions in our show notes, so listeners and those browsing the site can access this information easily, but while we try to be generous no-one has unlimited time to help thousands of people out there with their specific queries
  19. Sadly, we’ve actually had guests recently decline to come back on the podcast because they don’t want to deal with getting so many more requests for unpaid assistance. This is really upsetting and sad for Katy and for our listeners because they have already been so very generous with their time and knowledge
  20. Katy has traveled independently, doing her own research and planning, for most of her life and thoroughly enjoyed it – which is why she created this podcast and our website, but she has learned over the years that when time is precious or you know you simply cannot find the information you need online, then engaging a travel planner or agent to assist is absolutely invaluable
  21. There is no right or wrong way to plan your travel. Do it in whatever way suits you but if you can’t find all the information and insight you are looking for, it will likely be the only way to get in-depth and detailed help is to pay for the service. This can be on a small scale, just to help you iron out the logistics and get any final tips – with many offering Itinerary reviews, or help with booking the whole thing if it is something you simply don’t enjoy or have time for
  22. We want to thank all of those who listen and enjoy the podcast, and especially those of you who send beautiful messages of support, thanks, and encouragement, and leave heartwarming reviews. They truly mean the world to our team. Hearing that we played some small part in helping you have an amazing trip to Italy is exactly why we do what we do!

Looking for a trip consultation?

Regular podcast guest Danielle Oteri offers services for both Italy itinerary consulting, and itinerary design, as well as Feast Travel‘s own group tours. Despite her own vast knowledge of Italy, Katy used Danielle’s services in planning part of her trip to Italy in Southern Italy – in the Cilento region and the island of Ischia – to both save her time and to make use of that specialist information from years of experience. Danielle also publishes fantastic information on the many treasures of Southern Italy to help people reach and learn more about them, especially as information available in English is hard to come by for many of these places.

Specializing in the South Tyrol and Dolomites in Northern Italy, Kate and Vin at Throne and Vine offer a variety of trip-planning services, which can be invaluable in this region, where information, especially in English, is tricky to find. 

Travel the Untold Italy way

Traveling the Untold Italy way is soaking up every last minute, exploring the many different regions and subcultures of Italy. When you’re in the big cities it’s looking for those unique curiosities you can only find there or chasing after a unique experience that speaks to your passions – whether that be history, food, or creating art. Each and every one of our experiences reflects the local flavor, history and traditions of the regions we visit – which are so very different from each other.

Our style of travel includes exploring the unique tastes that draw on seasonal local ingredients. We’re about meeting local artisans and discovering the passion and dedication behind their creations. But above all, we believe in having time to explore and time to relax. And to enjoy long leisurely aperitivo and meals with great wine and even better company.

Untold Italy Tours

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to experience Italy beyond the obvious but were not sure how to organize your trip, let Untold Italy Tours take care of it for you and help you discover your authentic Italy. Come journey with us to untold regions and discover the Italian places, faces, stories, and tastes whose memories linger for years to come.

Please share if you found this article useful

Resources from Untold Italy

Planning a trip to Italy?

We love travel in Italy and sharing our knowledge. Read our Italy trip planning guide or join our FREE Italy travel planning community. Our 115,000+ members are happy to answer questions about your itinerary, how to get from place to place, the best places to stay and fun things to do.

Sign up for our news and podcast updates where we share mini guides, tips, exclusive deals and more and we'll send you our Italy Trip Planning Checklist to say grazie! >> click here to subscribe


Prefer to read along as you listen? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.

Disclosure: Untold Italy assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission. All opinions are our own – please visit our disclosure page for more information.