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How To Visit Scandinavia On A Budget In 2020

An aerial view of the harbour at the Aker Brygge neighbourhood in Oslo.

It’s true that Scandinavia is one of the most expensive regions in the world to visit. But the real truth is that it’s only expensive if you mimic behaviors from ‘home’ such as staying in hotels, driving everywhere, visiting theme parks and eating out every night. The great thing about visiting Northern Europe is that none of that is necessary. In fact, doing so will limit your experience.

So while Scandinavia will never be a budget travel destination, there are ways to save money while still enjoying the best, authentic experiences.

Embrace slow travel

The concept of slow travel encourages travelers to slacken their pace, re-consider motivations and embrace a “less is more” instead of a “fast is better” ethos. Travel photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström runs the website Slow Travel Stockholm and says there is a “frustratingly frequent habit of speeding through all the best known landmarks of a city in 24 or 48 hours.”

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Given the high prices, that habit is very tempting in Scandinavian cities. Yet with their compact nature, walkable streets, multiple green spaces and plenty of apartments with kitchens to rent on AirBnB, Scandinavian cities are also well-suited for slow travel.

It may seem counter-intuitive to stay for longer when on a budget, but cheaper accommodation, much lower cooking costs and the ability to spend longer enjoying the same attractions can all keep the final bill down.

Embrace the outdoors lifestyle

Speaking of slow travel, nature is the theme park of Scandinavia and wild camping is one of the biggest joys of visiting the region. Not only do you get to explore the spectacular scenery with just wildlife for company, it doesn’t cost you a thing. It’s all possible thanks to allemannsretten, which is the freedom to roam law that preserves the right for anyone to access so much of the countryside. The rules differ slightly, but Norway, Denmark and Sweden all have similar regulations in place.

For a more comfortable yet still budget-friendly option, consider staying at one of the region’s many camping grounds. A tent is the cheapest option, but most campsites rent out cabins, which vary in quality from basic shelter to mountain lodge style luxury. They usually sleep at least four and always offer better value than a hotel. Most also come with at least a basic kitchenette so you can cook your own meals, saving yet even more cash.

Skip Norway

It breaks my heart a little to write this given that I’ve lived in Norway for more than eight years. The country’s natural landscape is simply stunning and there’s so many opportunities to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Yet there’s no denying that it’s much easier to rack up a big bill in Norway than it is in Sweden or Denmark.

If you’re not willing to embrace slow travel or the outdoors lifestyle, or if your idea of Scandinavia is cutting-edge design and urban chic, Sweden or Denmark could be better choices for you.

Plan ahead

If you want to travel quickly around the region and/or you prefer to stay in hotels, all is not lost. It’s still possible to slash the total bill simply by booking and paying in advance. This applies especially to domestic flights and trains, for which prices can be up to half by booking a specific departure at least a week in advance.

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If you’re confident you won’t change your plans, savings can be made with some hotel chains by paying upfront. For example, the popular Radisson Blu chain typically offers a 10-15% reduction in room rates when you pay in advance, although the bookings are non-refundable.

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I was born in the U.K. but moved to Norway in 2011 and haven’t looked back. I run a website and podcast for fellow expats, authored the Moon Norway travel guidebook, help Norwegian companies with their English, and spend my free time touring the country to discover more about the people and places of this unique corner of the world. I write for Forbes with an outsider’s inside perspective on Norway & Scandinavia.

Source: How To Visit Scandinavia On A Budget In 2020

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How Bali’s Legendary Mulia Spa Is Embracing Affordable Luxury

The Mulia's famed Oasis Pool.

Some places are easier to get to than others. Then, there’s Bali. For me, the journey took a 15-hour flight from New York to Hong Kong, a four-hour layover, and another five-hour flight. Needless to say, I landed at the Denpasar Airport in pretty grimy shape.

But once I stepped into the elegant, open-air lobby (think gleaming marbling floors, crisp white and beige palette, and local accents like oversized, wall-hanging abacuses) of The Mulia, an award-winning resort in Nasa Dua, my self-consciousness melted away. (The calming tones of traditional Balinese instruments, easygoing staff, and refreshing welcome drink surely helped). And it didn’t take long for me to realize why Bali has been such a longstanding, popular destination for well, most everyone: outdoor enthusiasts, spiritual seekers, honeymooners, and spa fanatics.

The Mulia offers three distinct categories of accommodations: The Mulia (all suites), Mulia Resort, and Mulia Villas (pictured).

The Mulia offers three distinct categories of accommodations: The Mulia (all suites), Mulia Resort, and Mulia Villas (pictured).

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

As for me? I fall squarely into the last category. But I wouldn’t categorize myself as the typical spa-goer. With a professional background in beauty and retail – I owned a Brooklyn apothecary with an in-house aesthetician for ten years – I’ve always held the belief that spa treatments are about far more than pampering and vanity. I also know that a breathlessly expensive, big brand name experience doesn’t necessarily correlate to quality, either.

This is when Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package enters the picture. As the name implies, the comprehensive, mind-and-body experience takes course over an entire day, from early morning through dinner. Yes, it’s definitely indulgent – Mulia Spa is widely and consistently recognized as one of the region’s best for good reason – but as I mentioned before, what makes this treatment a real standout is how it ticks off all the boxes (including one many travelers won’t typically discuss). Below, four reasons why Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package shouldn’t be missed.

The dazzling entrance to Mulia Spa.

The dazzling entrance to Mulia Spa.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

Relatively speaking, it’s a bargain.

It’s funny how many travel writers are loathe to comment on pricing. Because guess what? Everybody, regardless of income level, loves getting more bang for their hard-earned buck. Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package costs around $787 – which includes tax, along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and spans approximately six hours. And if you break down the price per hour, it comes down to about $131. (Just for quick comparison: a basic, hourlong Swedish massage at a no-frills spot in my Brooklyn neighborhood is $130.) So, for the same amount of dollars, you’re receiving world-class facilities and service (and not to mention, the breathtakingly Bali backdrop) at Mulia Spa. 

Alternate between the warm and cold hydrotherapy pools before your treatments.

Alternate between the warm and cold hydrotherapy pools before your treatments.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

It’s not just about pampering – which there’s plenty of.

Make no mistake: you’ll be thoroughly scrubbed, rubbed, and treated like royalty during most of the Full Day Spa Wellness Package. But you’ll begin the experience bright and early at 7:00 a.m. with your choice of fitness activity. While most guests opt for yoga – which makes sense, given that Bali is also a destination for yogis – I went on my own with a five-mile run. Commencing with physical activity not just helps you connect with yourself, but sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. And the spa’s famed Wellness Suite, comprised of hydrotherapy pools, steam room, sauna, and Asia Pacific’s only ice room – where you can sit in a 30-degrees Fahrenheit, and massage crushed ice all over your skin – just adds to the good vibes already set in motion.

Cool yourself off (and boost circulation) in Asia Pacific's only ice room.

Cool yourself off (and boost circulation) in Asia Pacific’s only ice room.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

Customization is key.

We’ve all tried out spa packages where the treatments are fixed beforehand. While they’re fine, Mulia Spa goes above and beyond by letting you create a truly bespoke experience for yourself. To that end, you’ll have a consultation at the spa the day before your appointment. After refreshing yourself with an oshibori and pink ginger drink, you’ll fill out a form detailing your specific needs and concerns. In addition to selecting a massage, facial, body scrub, and salon experience, you also get to pick what you’d like to eat for your meals throughout the day.

You'll enjoy a spacious, dedicated suite for most of the day.

You’ll enjoy a spacious, dedicated suite for most of the day.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

This isn’t your standard spa food.

I usually cringe when I hear the words spa food. Why? Because it almost always sacrifices flavor and creativity for low-calorie nutrition. But when I glanced at Mulia Spa’s menu, which was filled with a wide range of tantalizing options (including soups, small plates, juices, and entrees), I shelved my doubts. Everything I ordered was generously portioned, balanced, and nutritionally sound. My lunch of miso black cod, dashi spinach with eggplant, and steamed quinoa, for example, left me feeling completely satisfied for hours, without the least bit weighed down.

I cover travel – like hip hotels, a destination’s can’t-miss dining, and products that make the journey easier.

Source: How Bali’s Legendary Mulia Spa Is Embracing Affordable Luxury

Phone Photography Tricks – Trick Photography With Your Iphone!

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This Is Why You Are Afraid of Photographing People while Traveling — Discover

Sweden-based travel photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström reflects on the invisible barriers that stand between her (and every traveler’s) camera and the strangers that become the subjects of many of her most powerful photos.

via This Is Why You Are Afraid of Photographing People while Traveling — Discover

 

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