As I really get into the meat of planning, I thought I would take some time to share some of the ways we are saving money and making this trip affordable. We are not rolling in the dough and making this dream trip a reality has required some very specific planning to save thousands of dollars!
I hope to do a follow up post at some point, but I'll include the basics here. :)
First, we decided three years ago to take this trip now, when the boys would be a good age to handle travel and a lot of walking. They will be 8 and 10 when we go.
The very next thing we did was to get a Capital One Venture card. We filter absolutely anything we can through that card that does not cause a fee and (here is the key) we pay it off EVERY MONTH. Be smart and don't get a card unless you are sure you can do this.
Now I get nothing at all for advertising that card. I am sharing that info because it has made the biggest difference in cost for this trip. I'll share some of the ways.
First of all, plane tickets were going to be our biggest expense. Last summer I started checking prices here and there to get an idea of how much they would be. They would range anywhere from $800 and $1200 each.
Now here is a hint, be sure to clear your cookies between searches. Otherwise the ticket price will keep going up!
So one day last September I checked the prices and they were $584 each so I pounced on them, knowing it was a great price. After we cashed in all of our travel points from our credit card and because I purchased insurance, the tickets were $90 each. Round trip to Oslo and home again.
Then we started saving points up again.
Now since I am self employed and don't get paid vacation days, I wanted to come up with a creative way to not feel the pain of missing pay while we gone. So starting a year in advance, I began paying a little more than needed on all of our utility bills. By the time we go on our trip, we will have very few bills to pay for the month of June.
Another thing I had to do to save several hundred dollars was to find a way around Norway's train website NSB.no It will not take American credit cards. I could buy us train tickets on another website but that would have meant me spending $400 more on those tickets! It took me TWO hours but I finally found a loop hole. They allow you to pay with a Paypal account and when you do that, you can choose to pay with whatever card you link to the account. We saved a bunch of cash AND those tickets became free with our Venture card.
We also now have hotel rooms booked. These weren't super tricky but it did require me to familiarize myself with where the train station is and the sites we want to see in Oslo. I was able to narrow the search down and find great rooms near the heart of where we wanted to be, and FREE because of our card.
I guess what I am trying to share most is that planning and diligence pays off! I've spent hours researching sites and finding the best ways to get what we want and not pay a fortune.
A few other things I am doing: searching for travel gear on Ebay and friends! I downloaded the "trip advisor app" and it shows you nearby restaurants and how expensive they are along with local attractions. I'm trying to pay attention to when kids get in free to attractions and we plan on packing a lot of our own snacks from home!
So that's where we are so far. Just thought I would share as an encouragement to those of you who have a dream trip in your heart but aren't sure how to make it a reality! I'm happy to answer any questions if you'd like to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org