[bad] luck, but regardless, the holiday was still super cheap.
I wasn’t even planning a holiday, I was only on Skyscanner trying to find some cheap flights for a friend, when I saw that there was a list of the cheapest flights out of the UK. Norway was at the top of the list, which I was baffled by, as it also happened to be on the top of our wish list. Despite these plane tickets starting from just £5 each way, I knew it would be more expensive when we got there, so I wasn’t holding my breath just yet.
That said, no matter what holiday destination you go to, the chances are that there’s plenty to do in the area. Many holiday-goers can feel hamstrung by their tight purse-strings, but that’s a misconception. After searching to get tips on the weather and things to do in Norway, it was apparent that it could be done on a budget, with some meticulous planning.
Our adventure begun when we jumped on the megabus overnight up to London, because the longest (consequently, the most expensive) part of getting anywhere when you live in Cornwall, is the 300 mile journey to the airport. Granted, getting a bus for 8 hours isn’t the comfiest ride, but one herbal sleeping tablet later, we woke up in Victoria station at 7:30am, and it only cost me £10 – that beats a £280 one-way train ticket!
After grabbing some food at Jackson + Rye, we made our way to our train to get to the airport. Alas! A rail replacement was the beginning of our drama… We were a little late making our way over to the station, so Stansted Express aren’t completely to blame. We sat in traffic for what felt like a lifetime, starring at my watch working out exactly how many minutes we had to power through security.
This brings me to my first money saving tip: If you’re flying, those baggage costs can pile up on you, adding hundreds to your bill. You don’t always need to take a huge suitcase with you on a long weekend break. Before you add another bag to your flight, check out Ryanair baggage allowance and see if you can get away with just a small case. Chances are you’ll be able to save quite a bundle here. Personally, I prefer just having the freedom of a backpack and no luggage to drag around and deal with before and after boarding.
Anyway, security was rammed, then after twenty minute, we still had about 30 people ahead of us, when the boarding gate had already closed! On last call, we ran down to our gate, only to find we had to get a TRAIN, A TRAIN! To our gate. This was impossible! Hot, red and sweaty, we got to the lounge, to find out flight was 20 minutes delayed and only just opened. I feel sick just thinking about it… I always said after my Bali nightmare (late for check-in), that I’d never leave it so close again.
We celebrated making our flight with bubbles on the plane, obviously! This leads me to my second money saving tip… it’s always tempting just to go for convenience and use the airport to convert your currency. Any seasoned traveller will quickly tell you that’s a terrible idea. Airport bureau de changes charge an arm and a leg for any money conversion. There are services that are just as easy to use and offer currency exchange at a much reduced rate. So make sure you either get your currency before or use an international credit card!
We landed in a blanket of white snow at Moss Airport Rygge, located 66 kilometres southeast of Oslo. We jumped on the Rygge-ekspress which is a 55-minute drive from downtown and runs every 40 minutes – when you book online for about £20, and it syncs up with your flight, so even if you are delayed (like we are, they’ll wait for you).
Once in central Oslo, we were absolutely starving. A big part of the fun of a holiday is getting a good taste for the local food. Whether that means pasties or paella, you want to treat your taste buds. There are loads of ways to save when it comes to food. My third and final money saving tip, set aside a separate food budget that leaves more money for other things. Or even better, pick the right choice of accommodation, such as Airbnb, can you allow some nights of making your own food, too, which is always less expensive.
This is exactly what we did and booked ourselves into a penthouse apartment in central Oslo. Unfortunately, our host didn’t meet us, and wouldn’t answer our phone calls. This meant we regretfully had to book into a hotel. Not only was this stress, super expensive and disappointing, but it also messed up our plans. More from us on that soon though…. Standing in knee deep snow with nowhere to sleep, we decided to check-in to the Raddison Blu, standing in the commercial district located by Oslo Central Station, and within walking distance of top attractions like the Royal Palace, National Gallery and Oslo Spektrum Arena.
We hopped in the glass elevator and shot up 37 floors to our suite, and dropped our bags on the king-size bed, overlooking views of the city. Suddenly I could feel a release – we’d made it. I didn’t want to look at my credit card bill, but that was the least of my worries. This room took care of my stress, much to the help of a gigantic bath that could support a small family. After taking full advantage of the naked sauna on the top floor with panoramic views of Oslo, we decided to hit the town and grab some food. After all, this was only the start and we had a big day ahead of ourselves the next day…
Check out our Norway photo diary, and read part two tomorrow on Strawberry Squeeze.