Funny and charming, I was excited to interview the founder of Italy on a Budget Irene Chimenti, the mastermind behind this incredible brand. Founded in 2007, the company focuses creating once-in-a-lifetime tours for budget travellers aged between 18 to 35.
Throughout the interview, I was struck by Irene's honesty when she shared about her challenges and her struggles. She was also generous in sharing advice on her wins. Here's probably the most genuine Spotlight interview to date. Enjoy.
So, if the grip on your wallet is as tight as most Italian men's trousers, you no longer need to miss out this beautiful region. Italy on a Budget are the local superheroes and in the words of Super Mario, your friendly Italian plumber, “Life is a game, kid! It all depends on how you play.”
Italy on a Budget
Irene fell in love with travelling and began working in the travel industry when she took up a part-time job as a tour guide in England while completing her degree in Foreign Languages. During her travels after university, she realised how backward the concept of travel was in Italy so she decided to do something about it. She founded Tuscany on a Budget and soon outgrew the name as she began offering tours around Italy.
"Was it scary?" I asked.
"I'm not sure. I was excited and young. It’s only after you started that you realise what you’ve started", she replied.
Italy is a well-known for its luxury travel options but Italy on a Budget goes against the grain by focusing on the young budget traveller. She decided to do so because the luxury travel market is saturated and not all travellers can to travel on a big budget. However, she did admit to some challenges along the way.
"It is not easy to start a business in Italy because of the high costs so it is almost impossible to start a budget tour company. It is really difficult to find cheap options for travellers."
An authentic travel experience
From solo travellers to backpackers from all over the world, Irene and her team do their best to deliver an "authentic travel experience". We discussed how that term seems to be used so much today, on every website, blog post and travel magazine. I’m not sure if people actually know what it means or how to deliver an “authentic experience". For Irene, this was simple.
We want customers to experience the good and bad of our country.
There's a difference between a good guide and great one. We obviously look for great tour guides.
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.