25 hours to Monterosso

Our most recent trip together took 25 hours to reach our destination. Our ankles were swollen and our clothes felt like they had fused with our bodies, but we hadn’t killed each other. Luckily for us, this is the norm rather than the exception. We knew from the outset that it was going to be a rough ride, and we had mentally prepared.

How did we know?

We planned it that way.

25 hours and 3 planes, a bus, and a train later, we still hadn't killed each other.
25 hours and 3 planes, a bus, and a train later, we still hadn’t killed each other.

Yes, you read that right, we voluntarily spent 25 hours traveling from Washington, DC to Monterosso, Italy (our home base in the Cinque Terre national park), a journey that could take a fraction of that time. Guess what? We would do it again. That round trip cost us a cool $619.

Now it wasn’t glamorous, and it definitely was not for the faint of heart, but it allowed us a 10 day vacation for less than the cost for me to fly across the country during the holidays. Here’s how we did it:

Early in March, Caitlyn and I had been complaining that we didn’t have a trip planned, and we needed something to look forward to. That same day an Iceland Air sale popped up on my Facebook page (major props to their marketing team). We were looking for a trip over Memorial Day weekend (you have to maximize your paid holidays and vacation days). The sale advertised fares as low as $499. Then we found it, a fare for $484 ($15 whole dollars under the lowest advertised price) over a holiday weekend, and we pounced. That’s how we picked Copenhagen.

Three weeks before we were due to leave, we discovered that life had gotten in our way and unlike any of our previous trips, we hadn’t done any planning and went into panic mode. We soon discovered we would be in Copenhagen during an extremely popular EDM festival, and that every hotel and hostel was out of our price range. We did what any reasonable human would do, we adapted and started looking for return flights out of Copenhagen.

Erroneously, we believed sticking close would be our best bet. We started looking towards Poland and Germany, when we found a cheap flight to Warsaw on Ryan Air with a connection. Where was that connection? Through Milan. When we searched just the Copenhagen to Milan route on Ryan Air, we discovered it was $12 + luggage one way. That’s how we picked Milan.

After purchasing two one way tickets and one bag from Ryan Air (pro tip, one traveler should have a large backpack that both can stuff items into when traveling on budget carriers, that way only one bag per two or three people needs to be checked!), and two one way tickets and a bag back to Copenhagen on Easy Jet, we discovered that Cinque Terre (where Caitlyn had previously visited 10 years ago in High School, and where I had always wanted to go), was a short 27 euro train ride away. And that’s how we finally landed on Cinque Terre.

Caitlyn calculating the exact exchange rate. It would have been better if we didn't know...
Caitlyn calculating the exact exchange rate. It would have been better if we didn’t know…

Our total expenditures:

  • $484 Iceland Air IAD-CPH (Return, also connection through Reykjavik)
  • $25 Ryan Air (plus splitting the bag fee) CPH-BGY
  • $5 Bus BGY – Milan Train Station
  • $30 Train Milan to Monterosso
  • $30 Train Monterosso to Milan
  • $45 Easy Jet flight MXP – CPH
    $619 Total


10 thoughts on “25 hours to Monterosso

    1. It was amazing! Unfortunately it rained the later half of the time we were there, but the hiking…the beaches…the seafood!!!

      If you do go and the path is still washed out, there’s a mountain path that’s “a bit more difficult.” It’s actually insanely difficult, we’ll be posting videos in a bit, straight vertical in between some towns, but the most picturesque views. And you felt good about eating for three at dinner that night.

  1. Did you say the whole trip only cost you $619?! What a steal. I guess one lesson I can learn from this is that strategic planning saves a whole lot of money. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi Sondra!
      Yes, for travel only we spent $619 each. When you’re traveling with a friend it helps so much, we stayed in our own AirBnB in Monterosso and a hotel in Milan, and I think we spent about $70/night average for lodging. Make your own breakfast at the AirBnB, make sandwiches to eat for lunch, and splurge on dinner, cappuccinos and gelato! It’s surprising how inexpensively you can do Europe!

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