In about 45 days I will be arriving in Oslo, Norway on United flight UA38. My arrival and my flight departure from Oslo 13 days after arrival are the only confirmed portions of my two week trip.
Time to start Norway trip planning and put in place some Choice Privileges and Club Carlson hotel nights in Norway, the world’s most expensive country or at least in the top three. Nearly all my hotel nights will be on points.
My question though is do I really want to spend two weeks in Norway?
For me it is a question of trip expense to live 13 days in Norway.
This post was originally meant to be about low cost flights on Air Baltic, Wizz, RyanAir and Norwegian Air from Oslo to other airports around Europe. That will be a post to come. I got distracted thinking about the price of food in Norway.
Sticking to a $100 per day travel budget in Norway
Just as I have a basic rule of thumb to try and keep my hotel expenses down to an average of $100 per night when traveling throughout the year, I also like to keep my travel expenses for everything else at $100 or less per day when traveling. I want to keep my total travel expenses under $1,500 for this 15-day trip to Norway, not including the $541 I spent for the SFO-OSL economy class ticket back in March.
Sure I could splurge for a trip around Norway. As a frequent traveler, I keep in mind that every dollar I spend on this trip is a dollar less I will have available for the expenses of the next trip. I am planning to be in Greece on another Europe trip in October.
Mommy Points spent a day in Oslo earlier this year and spent $125 on dinner for two persons. At that rate, eating one meal out for 13 days would set me back about $800, leaving only $500 for everything else. With breakfast included at most hotels, my food budget would probably be about $1,000 for one person, assuming I ate grocery store food between the hotel breakfast and restaurant meals.
I was in Oslo last year. I photographed restaurant menus as I walked around the city. I saw the price for a Big Mac on a menu outside of a McDonald’s at $20 USD. Yesterday in Monterey, California I saw a sign outside of McDonald’s advertising two Big Macs for $5.00 USD. Fortunately, I don’t eat Big Macs. I do like McDonald’s $1 any size drinks when I am on road trips.
In downtown Oslo, the Tex-Mexican Lounge restaurant I passed charged 196 NOK for a beef burrito. $31.67 USD for a burrito. A vegetarian burrito was only $27.15.
Carlson’s TGI Fridays in Oslo charged $10 for a beer and nearly $20 for a cocktail. Blackened Cajun Chicken Sandwich at TGI Friday’s was 162 NOK ($26 USD) and one of the lowest priced food items on the menu. A martini (112 NOK) or mojito (118 NOK) will set you back $18 to $19 per drink.
The Price of Beer in Norway
I like beer. I specifically like to taste domestic beers of whatever country I am in. I don’t like to pay more than $1.00 for a bottle of beer. That has been my rule of thumb for 30 years. I ended up spending a couple hours in the airport lounge at Oslo drinking beer for free as I waited for my flight to Helsinki. That was my only taste of Norwegian beer.
Frydenlund Pilsner is a Norwegian beer. The supermarket price was 29.70 NOK ($4.80 USD) per can. Tuborg (Danish beer) was the lowest priced beer I saw in glass at 15.70 NOK per bottle or $2.54 USD. Carlsberg and Pilsner Urquell were around 28.20 NOK or $4.56 USD. The supermarket where I saw these prices did not have any discount for buying a six-pack.
For a traveler on a budget, Norway is definitely a grocery store food supplies necessity.
Norway Cost of Food
What about supermarket food in Norway?
A can of Del Monte lentils is a good nutritious staple food at 15.10 NOK ($2.44 USD). A small tin of sardines is budget traveler food at 22.50 NOK ($3.64 USD).
Three red bell peppers 8.90 NOK ($1.45 USD). A pound of tomatoes was about the same price, so there are some reasonable food items. A stalk of broccoli and a head of cauliflower were about 12NOK ($2.00 USD). Grocery store vegetables are affordable and comparably priced to many places in the USA. Vegetarian diets are a great cost saver in Norway.
Some travelers on a European vacation toss the budget and simply lay down the credit card for the restaurant bill when it comes to meal times.
Looks like I’ll be tossing the salad in Norway when it comes to my meal times beyond the breakfast provided by the hotels.
Low Cost Alternatives to Norway
My next Norway trip planning post will look at low cost flights from Norway to other places in Europe. I am amazed at the number of cities I can fly to from Oslo for under $100 round trip. My trip to Norway may actually end up taking me to another country or countries like Sweden or Switzerland, Czech Republic or Hungary, Greece or Turkey, Latvia and Estonia.
Low cost flights on Air Baltic, Wizz, RyanAir and Norwegian Air from Oslo to other airports around Europe open up many possibilities. The next question is how much do these low cost carriers really cost and what about the extra fees for checked bags and other airline expenses?
I’ll explore some of the many options for travel from Oslo for under $100 one way and the cost for checked bags among different low cost carrier airlines. I’d like to think I could travel with only one carry-on, but that might be difficult if I am staying north of the Arctic Circle in Norway for part of my trip and relaxing on the Mediterranean beach during the same two-week trip.
Related Loyalty Traveler post: Hunger in Oslo. Prices? What Prices! (March 13, 2013)
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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