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Northern Europe Rough Travel Budget

May 13, 2011

Plane tickets to Europe are obscenely expensive right now.  As usual, I have very little flexibility as far as dates go, which doesn’t help.  My friend recommended flying round trip to London and booking intermediate tickets on foreign airlines, but that doesn’t seem like it will save much money at all.  If any.  As of now, we’re planning on booking an open-jaw ticket (into one city, out of another).  Round trip tickets to our main city are actually the same price, so… I don’t know.  I’m just shocked at the prices.  I wish I would have started planning sooner, but T didn’t know for sure he was going until recently.

Here is what the budget is looking like:

  • One open jaw ticket from (LA to russia, norway to LA) during peak travel season:  $1600 (!?!)
  • T’s ticket will be reimbursed 100%
  • Lodging in Russia will be reimbursed 100%
  • Food in Russia will be reimbursed, but probably not 100% of my meals
  • Transportation to Stockholm:  $300 (two plane tickets, estimated)
  • Transportation to Oslo (bus or plane or train – TBD):  $150
  • Lodging in stockholm (2 nights):  $200 (TBD)
  • Lodging in Oslo (1 night):  $100 (TBD)
  • Norway in a Nutshell “tour” from Oslo to Bergen:  $500 (for two)
  • Lodging in Bergen:  $0, courtesy of friend
  • Russian Visas:  $100 or so

This adds up to about $3000, and then we still need to cover entertainment and about a week’s worth of food.  Norway and Russia are both very expensive countries, so that could easily run us $100/day.  This doesn’t include the fact that I’m likely will have to take some unpaid vacation to make this happen.

So…. really expensive!!!    Not to mention that we actually have to pay a lot of T’s expenses up front and get reimbursed later (probably another $3000?).  Still, I don’t think we’ll ever have an opportunity to see (parts of) Russia and Norway again for so cheap.  The trip would be about half as expensive if I cut out the Norway portion, but I really am excited to see a piece of my family history.  All I’ve heard about Norway makes it seem like an ideal country, and my friend there claims to be moving sometime late this year.  I also justify this to myself by thinking about how we’ll probably start having kids in a couple years, and probably have less energy and funds to want to go to Europe.  So…  this totally makes sense right now.

But still.  Ouch.  Am I crazy?!

28 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2011 8:16 am

    It sounds expensive (and is) but I agree – it’s a great opportunity. I think we work hard, save hard etc so that when these oportunities arise, we can take them.

  2. May 13, 2011 8:22 am

    No, you’re not crazy. $3000 for this trip is not bad. It would cost over double that if T didn’t get his reimbursed. You should definitely do it. I don’t think that you will regret seeing Norway.

  3. Walnut permalink
    May 13, 2011 8:32 am

    No, not crazy at all. I’m tentatively planning a trip for two to Barcelona and we’re roughly planning for ~$5000 for two people.

    I hear your vacation time crunch. My company won’t let salaried employees take unpaid time off, so when I had an unexpected opportunity to go to Rome this past February, I was allowed to “borrow” from my future vacation time. It was really nice not worrying about missing a paycheck while I was gone, but the awful part is that I won’t have a full day of vacation at my disposal until August.

  4. May 13, 2011 8:41 am

    I am also getting sticker shock at the airline prices. My friend and I have been talking about euro-travel for about 5 years, and this summer she will be doing a month-long course in London. I plan to visit for one week and also hop over to Paris. And HOLY MOLY it’s expensive!!!!!!!!!!!! I was in Ireland in 2009 and Spain in 2005 and those weren’t exactly cheap….. But London and Paris in July in 2011…. UGH. I haven’t booked tickets yet, but i figure, this is the only time we’ll be able to backpack together, and my tax refund should cover (most) expenses… but I also don’t get paid holidays, so it’s not ideal, but hey, you only live once right?

    That sounds terrible, my real rationale is that I sock away close to 55% of my income and I’ve saved a supremely healthy emergency fund/house down-payment fund, so if i can cash flow this trip out of current income, why the hell not?

    • May 14, 2011 12:20 pm

      Exactly, why the hell not! That sounds fabulous.

  5. May 13, 2011 8:47 am

    You’re not crazy. I’d just ask myself what I’d do with the money if I didn’t go on the trip. If the trip is a better use, in your mind, than the alternative then do it. You can afford it and save so you’re allowed to spend on things that you want and aren’t necessary even if they’re expensive.

  6. May 13, 2011 8:56 am

    Nope, not crazy at all. You’re taking advantage of an opportunity to have an amazing experience for far less money than it would cost you any other time.

  7. Amanda permalink
    May 13, 2011 9:03 am

    Did you check Ryan Air? While not glamourous you can get some pretty cheap tickets between European cities as long as you are comfortable not flying into their “main” airports.

    • SP permalink*
      May 13, 2011 9:21 am

      I did – but they don’t seem to fly into Russia at all.

      RT tickets to london from LA are at best $300 dollars cheaper than the open jaw ticket, so we would have to do better than $300 for two tickets (one from LON to moscow or st. petersburg, one from bergen back to london). :/

  8. May 13, 2011 9:10 am

    I think this sounds reasonable. We were pricing tickets to Europe earlier this year – Paris and Rome and we got major sticker shock too. Funny thing is, tickets to Asia are cheaper even though they pass through European countries. Mike had some work stuff and we couldn’t go, but we want to see a bit of Europe before we have kids too. What about visas? Do they cost a lot?

  9. May 13, 2011 9:37 am

    That actually sounds quite reasonable for Scandinavia (I’ve never been to Russia). You should go definitely go now! It sucks that plane tickets are expensive, but you won’t regret the trip. I promise!

    • May 14, 2011 12:20 pm

      Have you been to Scandinavia? Any favorite parts of it?

  10. May 13, 2011 10:34 am

    I think you should go without any regrets. Once you have kids, you won’t be able to travel for a long, long time. Plus you have the means/resources to take this trip. Definitely fly open-jaw if it saves time. I used to think that r/t would be cheaper but that hasn’t been the case on my last two trips, and you end up wasting precious travel time.

  11. May 13, 2011 10:48 am

    This sounds very reasonable to me. Scandinavia and Russia are expensive – do it now while you’ll get some reimbursement!!

  12. May 13, 2011 2:34 pm

    Very reasonable for a trip for 2 esp. to Russia hope you guys have fun!

  13. Karen permalink
    May 13, 2011 3:24 pm

    That sounds like a good deal to me.
    Also, shouldn’t T’s company reimburse him for this visa?

    • May 14, 2011 12:21 pm

      Yes, but my visa won’t be reimbursed. $100 might be a high estimate, but he also might have to physically go to the russian embassy (in san fran) to get it… so we’ll see!

      • Karen permalink
        May 17, 2011 6:27 pm

        If they have him go to the embassy, he should take your application with him. For my tourist Brazilian visa, we used a 3rd party to get the visa. I’m working on a business one and I think I will have the guy go for me lol I’ve been told it takes longer if someone else goes instead of the applicant but that wasn’t the case for my tourist one (all this pertaining to Brazil but food for thought).

        I hope you post pictures of Russia. I’d love to go one day.

  14. May 13, 2011 3:40 pm

    You gotta do it! It’s pricey, but so much less than it would be without T’s portion being reimbursed.

  15. Jen permalink
    May 13, 2011 3:45 pm

    Definitely don’t think you’re crazy either. My husband and I are planning a big Europe trip for this summer for 2 weeks. And wow, is it expensive (we’re looking at a number considerably higher than you’re estimating!) The prices you’re quoting for flights from LA don’t seem so bad to me, as I saw roundtrip flights for $1600 from the Midwest. We ended up booking open-jaw tickets that are into London and out of another major city that were a few hundred less than that. They were just a tad more than flying London roundtrip, but a whole lot more convenient for our itinerary.

    We too decided that now is the time to go — no kids yet and the ability to pay for a trip without affecting other goals. We save for retirement and have a large e-fund and healthy house down payment fund for when we decide to buy. And it IS a lot of money, but I keep telling myself to relax. We are careful with our money, work hard and save precisely so we can make these sorts of big plans a reality.

    • May 15, 2011 8:33 pm

      Flying from LA, we seem to have to connect through the midwest (or texas) for europe. Asia flights tend to be cheaper i think.

      I agree – there is a time to go, and the time is NOW. 🙂

  16. El Cheapo permalink
    May 13, 2011 8:31 pm

    You’re not crazy. Many years from now, you’ll have great memories of the trip and probably won’t mince what you paid for it. Money is meant to be spend on experiences with the people you love. Cheers and have fun SP (and T) !!!

  17. Rachael permalink
    May 14, 2011 8:57 am

    Pricey but it will be worth it! My friend just came back from a weekend in Oslo (the beauty of living in the north of England- it’s so close, and his return flight was something like £30, with Ryanair) and said it was beautiful!

  18. May 17, 2011 6:53 pm

    Although it may be expensive ( and what isn’t these days?), it may be an opportunity you might not have again. I say jump on it, and have fun!

  19. May 19, 2011 7:28 pm

    I can’t believe the price of flights to europe right now. I’m soo glad I booked my july flight back in feb when things where cheaper.

    • May 19, 2011 10:20 pm

      That’s great! To where?

      I think it is partially gas prices, but who knows? We didn’t know for sure he would be accepted to go until very late last month, so we couldn’t take advantage of booking early!

  20. Alice permalink
    May 29, 2011 9:09 am

    What a wonderful opportunity! And you have been diligently saving and can afford it. Enjoy it while you are young and can get around easily. I traveled around Europe, via EasyJet and Ryan Air (while they are cheap they charge an arm and a leg for luggage) and taking the Euro Rail (from London to Paris). You can make it cheaper by staying at B&B’s and hostels (you can rent rooms in a hostel with 2 beds cheap) or cheap hotels on Stay 10 nights and they give you a free night.
    What a wonderful opportunity for you. When I traveled all I heard from all the older people traveling is that they wished they did more traveling when they were younger and had more energy! You have no kids so it’s easier to travel and the memories will be priceless! Enjoy!


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