I’m 35 & This Is How Much We Spent On My Family Trip To The Amalfi Coast

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Welcome to Travel Diaries, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 35-year-old Sales Director based in London, spends languorous afternoons by the pool in Italy's Amalfi Coast with her toddler and husband.
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Age: 35
Occupation: Sales Director
Salary: around $130,000 (depends on commission)
Travel Companion: My husband, 41 and my daughter, 2
Travel Companion's Salary: $235,000
Hometown: London, UK
Trip Location: Amalfi Coast, Italy
Trip Length: 7 days
Annual # Of Vacation Days: 30 days
Companion’s # of Vacation Days: 30 days
We booked round trip flights from London Gatwick to Naples, Italy, three tickets for $715. To get to and from Gatwick airport, we booked round trip Gatwick Express tickets for $62.40 (two round trip tickets for my husband and myself). We have a Two Together travel pass which gives us a 30 percent discount on all train travel for the year, and kids under 5 are free. While at the Amalfi Coast we drove a rented car. The seven-day rental came out at $955.50.
Total: $1,732.40
We stayed at Hotel in Sorrento for three nights for $916.50 and breakfast and parking were included. Our room was on the top floor of a villa with a huge outdoor patio. Then at our hotel in Maiori, we spent three nights (breakfast included) for $716.71 and our room had a balcony and an ocean view.
Total: $1,633.21
Miscellaneous pre-vacation spending
Mani and pedi: $52.00

Day One

11:45 a.m. – It’s about time to head out! We leave from Gatwick Airport at 2:45 p.m., so aim to head out about three hours ahead of time. My husband calls a black cab to get us to Victoria Station to take the Gatwick Express which is an express train to get from Central London to the airport $22.87
12:05 p.m. – Manage to hop on the Gatwick Express without waiting too long. My husband and I have a Two Together Railcard which saves us 30% on all train trips we take together, which includes any Heathrow and Gatwick Express tickets. I pre-ordered our tickets the other day, so we don’t pay anything now.
1:30 p.m. – Arrive at Gatwick Airport and after a seamless check in and trip through security (Gatwick has an amazing family lane!) we learn our flight is delayed an hour due to air traffic control. We decide to get lunch at the Wetherspoons Pub, and all split a club sandwich and fries. My husband has a beer, and I have a Diet Coke. $22.20
2:30 p.m. – One thing I love about European airports is their play spaces for kids; our toddler is hesitant at first to join the fray of the soft play area (it’s a bit like Hunger Games in there) but a few other young kids enter which brings the energy level down. Of course, when it’s time to leave she cries hysterically and I have to surfboard her out of there.
3:45 p.m. – We are on the flight and boarded! All that running around paid off, our daughter is asleep for the majority of the two-hour flight.
7:30 p.m. – We arrive in Naples and go through passport control. Once we get our bags, and before we pick the rental car, I stop for a slice of pizza to tide our daughter over until we get a real dinner $3.33
8:15 p.m. – Finally on the road! Because we were three hours past the time of our original reservation, Sixt rental car cancelled our rental. Did not know they would do that, but it ends up not being a problem and we get a nice BMW station wagon as our ride. We start the drive to Sorrento, which is about an hour and a half away.
9:30 p.m. – We call our hotel and let them know we are going to be a bit later at check-in than expected. I realize while on the phone that this is a pretty small villa, and they are basically waiting for us to arrive. We get to the hotel, settle into the room, and my husband goes off in search of dinner. My daughter and I discover that there are French doors that lead out onto a huge sun deck, she says “wow” in her adorable toddler voice, she’s never seen anything like this!
10:00 p.m. – Late night pizza party! My husband brings back two pizzas and a bottle of pinot grigio, some milk for our daughter and some additional snacks and water. We eat our pizza on the bed, and our little girl is so excited to finally have dinner, but also about to pass out. We let her fall asleep in our bed and then transfer her to the crib the hotel has for us. $32.19
Daily Total: 103.46
Day Two
8:30 a.m. – After a full night of sleep, we are showered, dressed, and head down to the first floor of the villa for breakfast. I am absolutely in love with our hotel, it feels like we are staying with family, we basically have full run of the place. Our daughter has made friends with another little girl who is staying at the villa chasing after the resident dogs out on the lawn. After Americanos, scrambled eggs, and fresh baked pastries which are included in the cost of the room, we head upstairs to grab out things and explore Sorrento for the day.
10:30 a.m. – The bus stop is a quick walk from the villa, and it’s very easy to buy tickets. We only wait about five minutes for the bus, and head into town. The drive down the Via Capo on the bus is not for the faint of heart! I missed the scenery last night as it was dark, and today we take in the beautiful views. We get four one-ride tickets (two for me and two for my husband, kids ride free). $5.32
10:45 a.m. – First order of business is to buy a contact lens holder as I left mine at home. We stop by a pharmacy and I buy a combo lens holder and contact solution $4.45
12:00 p.m. – After walking around for a while we find a shady spot to have a drink. Living in London we are not used to this warm weather. Our daughter is asleep in her pram, and my husband and I split a Diet Coke and beer. $6.66
1:00 p.m. – We stop by the mini mart for lunch items (water, a sandwich, some cookies) and catch the bus back. We’ve really timed it right today because normally the buses come every 20 minutes, but we’ve hardly had to wait at all! $5.55
1:20 pm. – We see that there is a path next to our hotel that leads to some Roman ruins and a beach. After a long hot walk down to the beach, we decide it’s too tricky to navigate with a toddler and walk back up. My husband carries our daughter and I carry the fold up travel pram. Workout for the day!
3:00 p.m. – After a quick nap, our daughter is up, and we spend the rest of the afternoon lounging and swimming by the pool. No one is here and it is so nice to let her run around without worrying about whether or not she is disturbing anyone. I make decent progress with my book, Boys in Trees by Carly Simon, my husband finished Bad Blood and my daughter is entertained by her Peppa Pig sticker book.
6:00 p.m. – Sorrento is known for its excellent seafood, so we plan to head down to the Piccola Marina for dinner. We get ready to go down the hill, and see that there are about 20 additional people who are also waiting for the bus, very different scene than this morning. After waiting about 20 minutes, and realising we won’t make it on this bus, we bite the bullet and grab a taxi into town. $27.50
6:45 pm. – We arrive at the Piccola Marina, and the dining options are underwhelming. Everything seems very touristy with waiters coming up to us asking us to eat at their restaurants. We walk around the Marina for a bit, and then take the elevator up to the main part of the city (they don’t charge for our daughter). $2.22
7:15 p.m. – We find a nice looking trattoria and immediately order a round of Aperol Spritzes. We end up ordering more pizza (as we know our daughter will eat it) and a pasta dish with seafood and homemade pappardelle. We time this well, as the place is pretty packed when we head out, and traveling with a toddler you want to get out of dodge when they start getting fussy! $61.06
9:00 p.m. – It’s getting pretty late for us, so we grab some gelato for dessert and head up to the bus stop to take the bus home. $4.44
Daily Total: $117.20

Day Three

7:30 p.m. – My alarm goes off, today we are heading to Pompeii and I really want to get there early! I get myself ready first, then my daughter. My husband keeps asking for five more minutes, but I impress on him the importance of getting there early, there is not much shade there and it is going to be hot! I last visited Pompeii when I was 17, so excited to go again.
9:15 a.m. – Because we are in Italy, you can’t rush breakfast, so we take the time to enjoy breakfast before heading out on the road. Pompeii is a little over an hour’s drive from Sorrento, and I’d really like to be there before 10:30 a.m. You can take the train, but since we have a rental car and my husband loves driving (not for the faint of heart in Italy!) we drive it to Pompeii. There are a few tolls we end up having to pay $8.88
11:00 a.m. – Now my husband sees why I was so adamant about leaving early! We end up having to wait in line for about 25 minutes (well, he waits, my daughter and I hang out in the shade while she entertains other visitors with her antics) and we are in. We decide to skip hiring a guide, we aren’t sure how our toddler is going to handle Pompeii, and we don’t want to pay €120 if we end up having to leave after 20 minutes. We have a guide book to help us, and there are so many guides we end up hearing snatches of commentary as we visit point to point. $33.30
1:30 p.m. – Pompeii is huge, me and my husband easily could have spent all day there. It is fascinating to see the excavations, while we are there there are people who are still working on different areas. Some of the most interesting things we saw were the “Beware of Dog” sign and the temple of Jupiter. Crazy to imagine that this was once a bustling town of 20,000, even with all the tourists. By this point, we’ve seen what we want to see and decide it’s time to head back to our car and grab lunch at a restaurant near the parking lot on site. Our parking fee is reduced because we ate at the restaurant. $26.60
3:00 p.m. – Our daughter napped in the car, and we decide to spend a bit of time out by the pool. I catch up on my magazines and keep reading Boys in Trees. We head up to get ready around 4:45 p.m.; we are visiting a local winery this evening!
6:00 p.m. – One thing we really wanted to do while in Sorrento was go wine tasting. We found this great place called Angelis and they were happy to accommodate us (including our daughter – we confirmed ahead of time that it was fine to bring her). The winemaker’s mother is thrilled to have a toddler around, and even lets her play with a special dolly to keep her entertained. I taste five wines, including two from the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius. We also learn that while it’s extremely popular in the US or UK, the rosé craze has not hit Italy, and Prosecco production is through the roof to meet US demands. We end up buying two bottles of white, and are only charged for one tasting as my husband didn’t really drink – he just had a few sips of my wine. $48.85
8:00 p.m. – We stop at the mini mart (they had meat and cheese and bread at the tasting) for a Caprese sandwich, more water, and snacks $11.10
9:00 p.m. – By now we are back at the villa and exhausted after our long day. Time for bed!
Daily Total: $115.33

Day Four

8:30 a.m. – We sleep in and take our time getting ready this morning. After a leisurely breakfast of amazing eggs and coffee, we pack up and head down to the pool to relax and take some photos in the beautiful surroundings of the villa.
11:30 a.m. – We are checked out and begin the drive along the Amalfi Coast to Maiori. WOW – the scenery is stunning but it is not a drive for the faint hearted. Loads of scooters, cars passing each other on windy mountain roads, but gorgeous scenery. My husband loves to drive, so he is in his element. Originally we had wanted to stop in Positano or Amalfi for lunch, but the drive is so intense, and parking so difficult we decide to wait until we get to our hotel for lunch.
1:15 p.m. – Our hotel in Maiori is a bit further down the coastal road and a sharp turnoff. We check in and immediately notice that they are offering a mini cruise to visit Positano, the Emerald Grotto and a stop to swim in the sea. The price is reasonable and we wait to hear back if they can accommodate us. We arrive to our room and it is stunning, the patio opens out to a full ocean view, with the Maiori Coast to our right. I could look out at the sea all day, but it’s time to get some lunch. $77.72
1:30 p.m. – Our hotel has a light lunch menu at the pool, and we are the only ones there, which is great. We order two sandwiches and an order of french fries to share. My husband gets an Aperol spritz, and I have a few sips of that as well. We charge it to the room (this is later reflected in the bill when we check out). Our daughter has a nap, and we chill in the room. Once she wakes up, we change to hang out by the pool.
5:30 p.m. – Because we’ve had so many late nights the past few days, my goal is to get us eating dinner by 6:45 p.m. We head down along the main road to the main seafront boulevard. Our hotel recommends a seafood place called Al Mare, and after taking a spin through the main drag, we head to dinner. Maiori is a world apart from Sorrento, no tourists and wide sidewalks, it is super easy to get around with a toddler. I buy a magnet ($2) as we collect resin magnets from all of our travels, We stop in a pharmacy to buy some baby sunscreen ($26.65) Gulp!! I forget how expensive sunscreen is in Europe, but this stuff works really really well, and we only had the one option and it was a huge container that will last us all summer. $28.65
6:30 p.m. – We show up to the restaurant and are the first people there. It’s really nice with a beautiful ocean view. As more people come in, we give in and let our daughter watch Peppa Pig on my phone so we (and everyone else) can enjoy dinner sans toddler meltdown. My husband has an Amberjack Fillet and I have pasta stuffed with a puree of Swordfish and eggplant, which is delicious! We split a Caprese salad with burrata and a bottle of local wine. This is definitely the best and nicest meal of the trip. $94.38
8:15 p.m. – On our way back to the hotel I see a stand selling lemon granita, so of course we have tot stop to taste the local speciality! $3.33
Daily Total: $204.08

Day Five

7:00 a.m. – Today we have to wake up early in order to catch our boat for the mini cruise, it departs at 9:00 a.m., and we definitely need the time to get everyone ready and to the dock on time. The breakfast buffet is still being laid out as we arrive, so we have a simple breakfast of coffee, yogurt, and fruit, making sure to bring a bunch of snacks (packaged Italian cookies) for the boat.
8:45 a.m. – By now we are all on the dock – there are about 10 of us on the boat, an older couple, about three couples on their honeymoon, the captain, and us. The boat is beautiful and much nicer than I expected it to be. As we slowly make our way across the coast, the captain shouts out each of the different villages we pass. (Minori! Amalfi!) It is so cool to see the coast from this vantage point and we take a ton of pictures.
10:30 a.m. – First stop at the Emerald Grotto – I had been here before as a teenager, so I offer to stay on the boat with our daughter while my husband and the rest of the boat takes a smaller rowboat to explore the Grotto, which is essentially a cave that naturally glows green. It is pretty cool but having seen it once, I don’t feel I’m missing anything. $6.66
11:30 a.m. – Dock in Positano – We have an hour of free time here and our first order of business is to get some food as we didn’t have a “real” breakfast. We stop at one of the restaurants along the beach for a quick brunch. The dock is teeming with people, and as we are with a stroller in “the vertical city” we want to do something easy. We have an order of scrambled eggs, a fruit salad, and more coffee and water. The bill comes to $44.42, which is crazy but not unexpected considering it is Positano! We do a bit of walking around the windy steps before heading back to the dock. $44.42
12:45 p.m. – Final stop off in a cove to swim! My husband jumps in as soon as we are stopped, he is such a water baby. I am a bit scared of swimming in the sea, it’s something I never would have done previous to meeting him, but I’m so hot, and the water looks so inviting I jump in too. We head back to Maiori, and my daughter falls asleep in my lap. We joke that the whir of the boats motor and gentle rocking must be taking her back to the womb!
1:30 p.m. – Back in Maiori we stop for another snack, and split a sandwich, a Diet Coke and an Aperol Spritz at one of the beach clubs near the dock. So crazy how Maiori is not that far away in the distance, but a world apart from the glitz and crowds of Positano. I much prefer it! $19.98
2:00 p.m – Our daughter is asleep and napping peacefully! Being out on the water really took it out of her. She ends up taking a really long nap and we chill out in the hotel room. At one point I go to the pool to cool off and sit in the sun for about an hour.
6:00 p.m. – I had done a bit of research during our downtime for different restaurant options, and find a place called La Terrazza which is a local place a few blocks inland from the ocean. The reviews say it’s a local place, with amazing pasta. We are (surprise surprise) the first people in the restaurant. We order pizza, a pasta dish with sausage and eggplant, and some wine. My daughter LOVES the pasta and pizza, I feel like she ate more tonight than she has the past two days! I think with the heat none of us have felt much like eating and today our appetites are back! $62.17
7:45 p.m. – After dinner we take a stroll down the main drive of Maiori and everyone is out in full force! It’s cool to see moms with their babies, kids learning how to ride bikes, and the old guys hanging out on benches. Everyone knows each other, and you can really feel the sense of community. My husband and I split an After Eight gelato (essentially mint chip, but way better!) and let our daughter play with the kids on the playground. She is in her element, going down slides, and running around with the other kiddos. $2.22
Daily Total: $135.45

Day Six

2:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. – I am wide awake. I have no idea why but I have been up for the past four hours :(
9:40 a.m. – When I finally wake up, I do a double take. How is it 9:40? I have my husband run up to the breakfast buffet to grab a few things for breakfast, and get everyone ready for the day.
11:00 a.m. – We order cappuccinos from the hotel bar (charge it to the room) and discuss what we’d like to do on our last day here. My husband wants to keep things chill, but I want to go up to the mountain town of Ravello. After seeing that it’s only a 25-minute drive away, and there is a Belmond Hotel there, (we’ve never stayed at one, but hope to someday!) we decide to visit Ravello and then go down to the beach in the late afternoon to go swimming.
11:45 a.m. – I’m glad we left when we did, we snag one of the last available parking spaces in the lot at Ravello. Because no cars are allowed in the center of the town, it makes for a very enjoyable strolling experience. We figure out where the Belmond Hotel is, and head off in that direction. We arrive, and see that there are not one, but two weddings taking place, so it is really busy. We take a few pictures of the mountain view, and head back to the town square where we get lunch.
12:30 p.m. – We find a shady spot in the main town square and order lunch: a panini and Caprese salad, some water and a Diet Coke. $28.86
1:30 p.m. – Having seen most of Ravello, we can tell that our daughter is fading fast, so we head back to Maiori. We pay for parking. $8.88
3:00 p.m. – Our hotel has a partnership with one of the beach clubs, so we arrange to book two lawn chairs and an umbrella through the hotel. This is charged to our room, which we will pay later. It is so nice being out on the beach, swimming in the ocean and relaxing. I wish our daughter would actually get in the water – she will let me hold her but doesn’t want me to dip her in. $35.00
4:30 p.m. – I buy a beer from the beach club snack bar. $2.77
6:00 p.m. – Because it was so reasonable and we enjoyed the food so much, we decide to return to La Terrazza for dinner. But first, I want to buy a few souvenirs. I get a tea towel and salad tosser set and an olive dish. ($17.76) This time we order pizza, grilled vegetables, mussels, and French fries. We each have a glass of white wine, and then order one more to split. The waitstaff is so nice since they remembered us from last night… in fact, we notice a few tables of diners who were there the night before! ($41.00). $58.76
8:00 p.m. – Same routine as last night; we head down to playground and share a scoop of orange and lemon sorbet. $3.33
9:30 p.m. – We have wake up fairly early tomorrow to make our 11:00 a.m. flight, so we ensure everything is packed up. Just as we are all settling down to sleep we hear a series of big booms… fireworks on the beach! Our daughter's face lights up as we stand on the balcony taking in the fireworks, this is her first time seeing them and she is enthralled. It’s so sweet and a lovely way to end our trip.
Daily Total: $137.60

Day Seven

6:30 a.m.– First alarm. I focus on getting myself ready as we want to be in the car and out the door by 7:30 a.m. My husband runs upstairs to grab a few things for breakfast (banana, yogurt, croissant) and we make sure our daughter is fed.
7:15 a.m. – Hotel check out, we have a few miscellaneous expenses that need to be taken care of, including having a child's cot in the room ($17 per day, for four days), parking ($17 per day, for four days), some laundry my husband did ($25), the beach club entry ($40), lunch our first day at the hotel ($26), and miscellaneous drinks at the bar like our cappuccinos ($4.02) and taxes and fees. $231.20
7:28 a.m. – We are in the car and on the road! It’s projecting about one hour and 15 minutes to get to Naples airport and we still need to gas up and return the rental car. The drive along the coast is beautiful, but it’s crazy to see these large trucks passing each other on the narrow roads trying to get their Friday morning deliveries in.
8:45 a.m. – My husband fills our rental with gas. $38.80
9:30 a.m. – The rental car is dropped off and we are through security. My husband buys two lattes because at this point we really need our coffee! $5.55
11:00 a.m. – Once on the plane and boarded, we learn that due to weather in London we are delayed about an hour hour and 15 minutes. We were planning to buy lunch on the plane, but that will have to wait until we are airborne.
1:30 p.m. – Everyone on the plane is getting hangry, and the flight attendants are clearly not getting on with each other. We are in row 16, but by row 9 they have totally run out of sandwiches. I buy a flapjack, a tapas box, and a diet Coke, and hope my daughter will have a bit of a snack. $10.64
3:00 p.m. – We land in London, and go through customs easily. My husband collects our luggage while I head to M&S for lunch. I buy a chicken fajita wrap (which is surprisingly really tasty) and a Mediterranean orzo salad and pesto pasta salad box. $10.50
3:15 p.m. – Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for the Gatwick Express, one comes in about four minutes. We don’t need to pay for tickets as we bought return tickets.
3:45 p.m. – Get in line at the taxi rank at Victoria station – it seems really quiet for a Friday afternoon in central London, and we get back to our flat quickly. $22.68
4:00 p.m. – Home sweet home! We love Italy and can’t wait until our next trip!
Daily Total: $319.37
How did you prepare for this trip?
We travel to Italy once or twice a year, and have always wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast. I used Rick Steves travel books, Instagram, and Pinterest to plan.
Did you use credit card points or miles to pay for parts of this trip?
We used rewards from to pay for part of the hotel in Maiori ($165). We put everything on our credit cards (mine is a mileage card, my husband’s is a hotel card).
When did you book your flight? Do you think you got a good deal?
I feel like we got a good deal, we booked a few months in advance of our trip
Do you have credit card debt as a result of booking this vacation? If so, how much?
No, we booked a lot of this in advance and paid off the credit cards in full.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
There were so many highlights, but the boat cruise we took was one of my favorites, as was wine tasting at Angelis.
What was the best meal or food you ate while you were there?
We loved the food and the view at Al Mare in Maiori.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
Driving is not for the faint-hearted! The scooters in Sorrento and in the neighboring towns are no joke and people pass on single lane roads like it's no big deal. My husband, who loves driving, said it was one of the most difficult drives he’s ever done.
Is there anything about your trip you would do differently in retrospect?
Stay another week :) No, but really, I thought we did a really good job planning everything. I loved the hotels we stayed at and felt we had a great mix of sightseeing and chill time.
Would you stay at your hotels again?
YES absolutely would recommend. Our hotels made the trip so special, especially the one in Sorrento.
Where were you located in the specific city and would you recommend staying in that part of town?
I recommend Mairoi above the other more touristy towns like Positano or Amalfi, not only was it quieter, but the prices for food and activities were lower too. It is also the town in the Amalfi coast with the longest coastline and a great beach. Traveling with kids it was much less hectic, they had wide sidewalks and the main street was closed to traffic.
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
I would have loved to have spent more time in Amalfi or Atrani which are supposed to be amazing. Amalfi is known for it’s beautiful Byzantine cathedral, and Artrani is supposed to have stunning beach views and be a bit quieter than some of the other more touristy towns.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time? Would you have come home sooner or stayed longer given the chance?
I could have easily spent another week in the Amalfi coast, exploring some of the smaller towns, as well as some of the other Greek and Roman ruins that you can tour, like Herculaneum or Paestum. Plus, more time just relaxing by the pool in the afternoons!
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