My 11-day April 2-12 low cost airlines budget travel trip flying WOW, Wizz, and Norwegian Airlines took me to Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden for $327 all-in round trip from San Francisco and back to Oakland, California. This was a ‘one carry on bag travels cheap’ solo traveler flight plan.
One of the main purposes of this trip was to test the feasibility of traveling on major low cost carrier airlines like WOW Air, Wizz and Norwegian to northern Europe in early April with only one small backpack. I paid no additional bag or seat fees on top of my low one-way ticket prices. Besides having to wear one pair of jeans and the same shoes for 11 days straight and carry a heavy winter parka I never wore once I left Iceland, I declare my experiment a success in ticketing budget flights, packing small and light, while staying at comfortable hotels for under $800 all-in for my total trip expenses.
I used Hilton, Club Carlson and Choice Privileges points, mostly earned from previous travel and about $100 in purchased hotel points.
San Francisco to Keflavik, Iceland KEF
- $70 one way WOW Airlines.
Keflavik Iceland KEF to Vilnius, Lithuania VNO
- $71 one way Wizz Airlines.
Riga, Latvia to Stockholm, Sweden ARN
- $38 one way Norwegian Airlines
Stockholm, Sweden to Oakland, California OAK
- $148 one way Norwegian Airlines
$327 round trip total airfare
Hilton Nordica Reykjavik, Iceland view.
$118 Ground Transportation
Keflavik Airport KEF to Reykjavik, Iceland by bus cost 4,900 ISK $44 round trip (50 minutes each way).
Taxi Vilnius Airport VNO to city center 10 EUR/$10.75 (10 min) Arrived in Vilnius at 1:30am. Otherwise, only 1 EUR for public bus during daytime hours.
Vilnius to Kaunas, Lithuania cost 4.50 EUR/$5 by train (85 minutes).
Kaunas to Klaipeda, Lithuania by bus cost 16.25 EUR/$17 (2hr. 15 min).
Klaipedia to Riga, Lithuania by bus cost 18 EUR/$19 (4hr. 30 min).
Stockholm Arlanda Airport ARN to city center by bus 198 SEK/$22 round trip (50 min each way).
$445 Total Transportation Expenses
San Francisco – Reykjavik, Iceland – Vilnius, Lithuania – Kaunas Lithuania – Klaipeda, Lithuania – Riga, Latvia – Stockholm, Sweden – Oakland, California.
The Bastion, Vilnius, Lithuania
Hotel Stays (10 nights)
$259 + 16,000 Hilton Honors + 43,500 Club Carlson + 10,000 Choice Privileges points.
Hilton Nordica Reykjavik, Iceland (one night) 16,000 Honors points + 7,408 ISK/$66 USD on Points & Money reward. Hotel refused my $25 Honors gift card I tried to redeem. Lowest room rate at time of booking = $171 USD.
Ramada Hotel Vilnius, Lithuania (one night) 3,000 Wyndham Rewards points + 62 EUR ($66) on GoFast reward. Room rate at time of booking 141 EUR.
Ramada Vilnius has great Old Town location and has a 5-star hotel rating. Ramada Vilnius won the Best Hotel in Lithuania award in recent years. Forget your preconceptions of the Ramada brand. Waitresses working breakfast buffet wore white gloves.
Best Western Santakos Hotel, Kaunas, Lithuania (one night) 63.45 EUR/$67.45. Earned $10 Best Western Travel Card, however, hotel refused my $20 in Best Western Travel Cards I tried to redeem. Great location though.
Park Inn Kaunas, Lithuania (one night) 13,500 Club Carlson points Business Class room upgrade with breakfast + 0.50 EUR city tax. Published rate was $130.00 per night for this business class upgrade room and lowest room rate was $83.
I would have stayed at the Club Carlson category 1 Park Inn Kaunas hotel two nights, if I had known Best Western would not accept my travel cards. This hotel is also city center location and fantastic reward night deal.
Radisson Blu Klaipeda, Lithuania (two nights) 15,000 Club Carlson points x 2 nights = 30,000 Club Carlson points + 1.00 EUR city tax. Another great city center location five minutes walk from Old Town.
Klaipeda, Lithuania Dane River
Days Inn Riga, Latvia (two nights) 28 EUR/night = 56 EUR/$59.51 on Best Rate + 2,000 Wyndham Rewards points during triple points promotion. Expect to earn 3,500+ points from 2-night stay, thus getting back the 3,000 points I redeemed for 79 EUR savings at Ramada Vilnius.
I toured Park Inn by Radisson Residence Riga Barona, a new hotel opened in past six months. These are the most impressive Park Inn rooms I have seen anywhere. Each room offers kitchen facilities. Room rates were under 60 EUR/night on dates I was in Riga.
Clarion Stockholm, Sweden (one night) = 10,000 Choice Privileges points.
First time staying at this location and I enjoyed it very much. Swim Open Stockholm, an international world-class level swim competition happening at adjacent Stockholm city pool complex. Hotel filled with gorgeous athletes.
Pale Blue Eyes
I am calling this trip my ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ tour due to my observation that I was one of the few people walking around with brown eyes in Lithuania and Latvia, where some 98% of 200+ people I tallied in Riga one morning had pale skin and some variation of blue eyes. The link is to a Latvia survey from 2010 finding 90% of Latvians had some variation of blue eyes. The Baltic nations have the highest concentration of blue-green-gray eyed people in the world.
Children playing in Riga, Latvia park.
Wow, Wizz and Norwegian allow one 10kg/22lb bag to fly free on flights I ticketed. My one small backpack 17”x14”x10” inches weighed 18 pounds stuffed with all my clothes and electronics.
A heavy winter parka was my only additional item to my small backpack. Aside from Iceland, I traveled comfortably without wearing the parka, a last minute change in clothing due to a cold temperature forecast in Reykjavik. Carrying my parka for 8 days through the Baltics and Stockholm was unnecessary extra baggage weight.
This overview is an outline of flights and hotels for my 11 day trip April 2-12.
I will be posting articles over the next couple of weeks with more details and photos on flights, hotels and travel in Reykjavik, Lithuania, Latvia and Stockholm.
Stockholm police van covered in flowers at memorial site of April 7 terrorist attack.