Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pre-trip planning tips: Greece & Italy

Hi all,

Daddy, baby Aedan and I have just came back from our 13 days & 12 nights Europe trip where we travelled from Israel to Athens, Santorini, Rome, Florence, Venice & Pisa before returning to Singapore. 
It was one of our best trips in our lives! Though it was exhausting to travel with a baby, the joy from travelling as a family made it all worth it. Glad we did it!
After this trip, we are more motivated to travel more before Aedan turns 2 when we will have to pay for his flight ticket. :p

Today I'll be sharing with you my pre-trip planning with useful travel tips!

1. Flight ticket

If you have not heard of Sky Scanner or have not used it to purchase your flight tickets, you may be paying hundred or even thousand dollars more for your flight tickets.
It's only after i started using sky scanner that I realised flight tickets can vary A LOT from booking via different platforms. It can be a few hundred or even thousand dollars difference! Moreover, sky scanner helps in filtering the best value travel period and airline. 
We travelled with our baby so we were not looking for the cheapest tickets but the best valued tickets which were not too expensive, direct flight (without multiple transits) with short flight hours and good departure/arrival times (avoid too early or too late flights). There were many considerations and sky scanner worked awesome in helping us find the best options! 

We flew from Tel Aviv to Athens to Santorini then to Rome before flying back to Singapore. 
Price stated below are for 2 adults plus one infant

✈️ Tel Aviv to Athens via Aegean, 2 hrs: SGD 704.01 
✈️ Athens to Santorini via Sky Express, 45mins: SGD 369.09
✈️ Santorini to Rome via Blue Express, 2hr 15 mins: SGD 800.37
✈️Rome to Singapore via Singapore Airline, 12 hrs: SGD 1414.42

We managed to fly to 4 destinations with only SGD 3288 for 2 adults and one baby. 

Link to Sky Scanner: https://www.skyscanner.com.sg

2. Accommodation

To save on staying in expensive hotel, we stayed at local apartments and booked via Airbnb. Besides saving money, another good thing about staying with locals was that we got to learn from them the best places to see and dine and to avoid tourist traps.
Moreover, we got to use the kitchen to prepare food for our baby. :)

šŸ Athens (3 nights): SGD 188
šŸ Santorini (3 nights): SGD 462
šŸ Florence (4 nights): SGD 432
šŸ Rome (3 nights): SGD 363 
We stayed for 2 nights in Rome but paid for 3 nights as I got the check-out date wrong. I thought we were departing Rome on 31st Aug but instead it was 30th Aug ("dunno what I was thinking"). Paid the price for my mistake :( 

It costed us total of only SGD 1445.28.
We booked our accommodation at Athens directly with the host so there's no Airbnb fee!
All our accommodations are very spacious, located at central area and near to public transports. 

Link to Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com.sg

3. Connectivity

To me, travel is easy when we have Internet access.  Everything will be within your reach and you will never get lost with Google Maps. However, while planning for the trip, I have problem deciding whether to purchase a pocket wifi or to get a SIM card. After much research, we realized that it's cheaper for us to get SIM card as there were only 2 of us using the Internet and we only need to purchase one SIM card as the other person could simply use personal hotspot teetering. It will be more worth it to purchase pocket wifi for large group of travellers as it can be tapped by up to 10 users. 

In Greece, we have purchased a SIM card from Cosmote mobile operator that costs only 15 Euro for 3 GB of mobile data. We got it from their outlet near to our accommodation.

In Italy, we purchased SIM card from Vodafone that costs 20 Euro for 2 GB of mobile data. We got it from a booth located at the train station at Fiumicino airport. 

Frankly 1 GB is more than enough. We never exceeded 1GB usage for each country. Moreover, it's convenient that we have a local number to make calls when necessary. 

Link to Cosmote: https://www.cosmote.gr
Link to Vodafone: http://www.vodafone.it


4. Transportation within country 

Throughout our whole Europe trip, we mostly travelled by local public transports. I personally love exploring a country via public transport as not only it's cheap, it's also a good way to "feel" a country. We avoided taking taxi unless it was late at night or we have to catch an early flight.

In Athens, we managed to explore the country via their metro and by walking a lot. It costs only 1.40 Euro /person/ride. 

In Santorini, we explored the country via their public bus which costs only around 1.8-2.0 Euro /person/ride. We managed to visit most of the attractions via their bus from Fira bus station. 

In Italy, we took their regional high speed train to Florence, Venice and Pisa and spent our time walking around the city. The ticket prices vary depending on destination, time and train. You can book cheaper tickets online (remember to print hard copy as it's required for checking) or purchase on the spot. As we were travelling with baby and it's harder to be on-time, we purchased our tickets 15 mins before departure at the train stations. You can check the train schedule online. 

Link to metro route at Athens: http://www.ametro.gr/page/default.asp?la=2&id=48
Link to train booking in Italy: https://www.italiarail.com


I hope these tips will be useful to you. I'll blog down our travel memories in other post! :)
Going to stay in Singapore for a month.. there are so many food, people and places to visit in a month.
Also, we are having Aedan's one year + one month birthday party this coming Sunday. 
I can't wait to meet my friends this Sunday! 



Never stop exploring the world ... even with a baby!

- Mommy eve

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