Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Planning Our 'Expensive' Norwegian Honeymoon

My blog was pretty much on hiatus for the past few months and now all of a sudden I have too much travel stuffs to blog about...oops I traveled again. =P Yes I know I've just finished blogging about Australia not too long ago and now I've still got plenty to blog about my recent trip to Sweden and Norway. My 'travel season' started slightly earlier this year and these 2 trips were unintentionally scheduled with only 2 weeks gap in between. So within one month, I traveled from South-Equator-North, from Fall-Summer-Spring, from Australia-Malaysia-Scandinavia. Of course, I was fortunate that my bosses were kind enough to allow me to take off from work at this time of the year. =)

Earlier during the year, a lot of people asked where will we be going for our honeymoon and honestly, we didn't even think about it at all until one month after the wedding. So what made us choose Northern Europe? Being LDR newlyweds, the traveling had to be 'fair' for both of us so we decided to meet-half-way and Europe was the easiest option. Between Germany and Scandinavia, we finally decided on the latter coz the flight was cheaper and it sounded more 'exotic'! =P

Daniel did some research online and asked if May was alright for me. It didn't take long for us to decide on the dates and the next thing I knew was that he booked his flight already. He did good on choosing the dates coz our timing was perfect. Even though it was not the time of the year to see the Northern lights, everything else were perfect. It was still off-season so the summer crowds have yet to arrive and prices weren't too notoriously expensive yet, the weather was also warming up and snow was melting so most of the roads were open and outdoor activities were also available. 

After we've both booked our flights (I will vent about my flight booking experience later), it was then time for me to start planning out our 14-days route and come up with a detailed itinerary. In fact, I didn't know much about Scandinavian countries prior to this and the first thing that I found from my research was that Norway and Stockholm are on the top 5 list of the most expensive places to visit...pardon my ignorance. =.= If you wanna know how expensive is expensive, Norway tops the Big Mac Index with a Big Mac costing $7.80 in Norway. Oh yea...we 'brilliantly' picked these 2 expensive countries for our honeymoon as if we're so loaded. P.S. I'm still earning only MYR...poor die me ok! 

Given how expensive everything was, I was even more determined to make this a budget, adventurous, and memorable! At one point, I even thought about camping (so 'exotic' right...haha) but unfortunately the weather was still too cold to do that. Some people may say that we should splurge on our honeymoon since its a once-in-a-lifetime thing (a lot of things are), but nope, we ain't gonna spoil ourselves with expensive traveling yet coz we can only do these kinda crazy budget adventures when we're still young. We still need to save our money to travel the world. =P 

Planning the 14-days itinerary from scratch was pretty fun but time consuming. This was the main thing that kept me busy after work for 3 months. Initially, we thought about stopping by Copenhagen and Helsinki but we figured that we wouldn't have enough time for so many cities so we decided to stick to just Sweden and Norway. Besides, I'd rather spend more time in Norway...especially after reading this article and seeing these photos. But after reading this statement, "Norway, with its natural wonders making it one of the most beautiful countries on Earth, is a huge country that is not easy to travel around on a budget.", the only thing that came through my mind was...crap we're gonna be so broke! Oh well, there's no turning back so the only thing I could do to accomplish my 'budget' mission was to come up with a cost-efficient plan for us without compromising on the fun part.

In fact, it wasn't easy finding travelogues about others' experiences of traveling in Norway on a budget for me to reference (wished more people blog). Deciding the route was a challenge coz it's not easy to get to the smaller town with public transportation (especially during off-season) and it's almost equally expensive to travel by bus, train, ferry, or plane. We finally decided to spend only 2 days in Stockholm and the rest of our trip in Norway focusing on the Southwest region. So here's a summary of some of the things we did to keep our cost low for this 'expensive' honeymoon:
  • Traveled on overnight bus/train to save on 3 nights' accommodation.
  • Purchased bus/train tickets online 2 months ahead for the discounted prices.
  • Stayed in hostels/apartment/campsites with kitchen allowing us to cook our own meals.
  • Showered only when necessary at campsites where we had to pay for 5 minutes of hot shower.
  • Rented a car for a week (at 30% discount with Daniel's AAA car insurance) allowing us to travel easily at our own pace to small towns and stay at cheaper and nicer campsites away from the touristy expensive areas. 
  • Walked with our heavy luggage (sometimes without) for 1-3kms to save on transportation costs.
  • Enjoyed the nature by doing quite a good bit of hiking and exploring, which is free.
  • Took a whole lot of photos (for free) coz the best thing in Norway is its natural beauty. 
Now you must be thinking, erm...this doesn't sound very fun and romantic...are you sure this was your honeymoon?? I admit, this trip was a mentally relaxing, physically challenging one but it was probably one of the best road trip that we've ever been on and definitely a very memorable honeymoon. =) Norway is a place that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime and it's either you do it on a budget when you're young, or do it the expensive way when you're old. I'll share more about our trip and photos in the next few posts. So stay tuned!! 

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