Transportation

Planes, Trains, and automobiles

Discovering Norway

These last two months have been full of traveling and seeing the world, but there is nothing like coming home to my Hobbit Hole, my routine, and my blog! Travis and I recently traveled to Oslo, Norway. It is an incredible place to explore and wander, and we had our fair share of learning experiences.

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We flew into Oslo and rented a car for the 45 minute drive to the city. Pro Tip—If you are renting a car, make sure your hotel is car friendly. Life is all about adventures, and there is nothing quite like the adventure of navigating downtown Oslo’s myriad of one way streets, almost running over pedestrians jumping out in the middle of the street, or driving through tram-only stops in efforts to find a parking garage nearby to park your car for 3 days. Train might be the best way to go.

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We got a private tour Oslo Highlight tour from the Oslo Guidebureau. It was incredible to walk around the city with an expert. Our guide was very personable and we were able to ask questions about what we were interested in. June was the perfect time to go because the streets were lined with Lilac trees and so many other types of flowers. It is a very walkable city with so much to see, including the Norwegian Parliament Building, the Royal Palace, and the Grand Hotel, which is the annual venue for the winner of the Nobel Peace prize.

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The highlight of our Oslo walking tour was hopping on a boat and heading across the waters to the Viking Ship Museum. It was the ONE thing Travis wanted to do more than anything else on our whole vacation. It was absolutely fascinating to see these ships and what life was like for the Vikings. These ships were excavated in 1880 and 1903 and were found to be burial ships. The clay soil they were buried in kept them beautifully preserved. Similar to the Egyptian pyramids, respected individuals would be buried with their possessions and anything they would need for the afterlife. There were quite a few artifacts on display, but the majority of them are in storage beneath the museum. It is a smaller museum, so it didn’t take much time to see it in its entirety. They have plans to expand in the near future in order to put more items on display.

fullsizeoutput_478On our third day in the Oslo, we decided to make good use of the car we rented and take a little road trip outside the city. We ventured south of the city to Tønsberg, which is the home to the Saga Oseberg—a successfully replicated, sea-worthy Viking ship. It is also a pleasant scenic walk along the docks and through the town. After a few hours wandering, we hopped in the car again to explore the fjords and Norwegian countryside. It  was gorgeous.

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We only had a few days to explore the beautiful country of Norway, but as always, there is so much left to discover! Here are a few things that are on the bucket list for next time we visit:

Norway in a Nutshell: This tour was highly recommended by quite a few sites I researched. We didn’t have time this trip, but I want to go back JUST to do this! You are able to explore the beautiful fjords of Norway. Like, we are talking Lord-of-the-Rings-epic fjords. You take trains, boats, busses to see some of the the coolest, most picturesque parts of Norway.

The National Gallery: There are so many awesome pieces of art on display. Of the most notable, The Scream is one of the most famous paintings by Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch. There is also an entire (separate) museum dedicated to him and his works. in another part of the city.

The Vigeland Sculpture Park: This park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. There are hundreds of sculptures around the park made from so many different mediums: plaster, marble, wrought iron, and several more. I am so bummed we didn’t get a chance to explore it while in Oslo, but it will be one of our first stops when we go back one day.

Happy travels, friends!

Bethany

Your “GoBag” and Other Carry On Ideas

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Growing up as an Air Force brat, I remember my fighter-pilot dad having a big, green bag packed at all times. It sat in the corner of my parents’ room ready at a seconds notice. I remember it being packed after 9-11 should he be called into action in the F-117 Stealth Fighter. This big green was his “Go Bag.” It had everything he needed ready to go at a moment’s notice.

I travel a lot for work and have a little Go Bag of my own going on. And though I am not waiting to fly a jet into enemy territory, I have my carry-on checklist down to a science. And my bag isn’t army green—he’s mostly blue and white.

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In fact, I still remember the day I met my R2D2 suitcase. I first spotted him at Disneyland for $160. I was so tempted to drop the cash right then and there blaming my allotted splurge impulse. Instead, I looked it up on Amazon and found the exact American Tourister suitcase for literally half the price. We have been together ever since. He is often grouped with my hedgehog patterned briefcase carrying all my hand bag essentials that I need to grab on the go.

Carry-On Luggage 101:

—Liquids bag: I travel with a bag designated just for liquids meeting TSA requirements. This is awesome since I don’t want to pack massive bottles of shampoo/conditioner that have been known to explode all over my clothes in my bag, and they leave space in R2D2. I also can pull out one neat little bag when it comes time to security and not worry about what other liquids are floating around in my suitcase.

—Detergent pods: I keep these guys with my liquids. I seriously love that they make individual servings of detergent. I pack a few in a plastic bag just in case I want to wash something in the sink or there happens to be a washer/dryer where I am staying. I have hand washed in the sink certain clothes I need cleaned, or my hotel has a washer dryer that I can use. And I don’t have to pay for their overpriced detergent!

—“Tacos” and “Burritos”: These little handy dandy contraptions help keep your cords in an organized, de-tangled dream. I have all my charging cords and headphones wrapped up and put in one bag. No more searching my hedgehog briefcase when I want to plug in at the gate before my flight—I have my handy dandy go-to cords bag!

—Snack bars: As a Whole30 veteran, I always make sure I pack my own snacks to hold me over when I am stuck on a plane at lunch time. My favorite healthy snacks are Lara Bars and Epic Bars. Whatever suits your fancy, always have a stash in your carry on just in case your tummy is a’rumbling.

When You Have That Annoying Cold:250px-Extra_flotation_devices

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to fly with a head cold. It is not a pleasant feeling for your ears or face. Or your happiness levels. So beyond a stack of tissues and a bottle of water, here are just a few more ideas:

Airborne: Around my busy season of travel, I take an airborne every day. If I am sick or not, I want to avoid it at all costs.

—Benedryl: This awesome antihistamine, allergy relief medicine available at any drug store is awesome not only for those struggling with allergies, but it also helps when you’re stuffed up and are about to fly! I have had serious head colds and take one before I board my flight, and it really helps. Just a suggestion!

Earplanes: I heard about these little guys from a flight attendant on one of my flights.  They are designed to help with cabin pressure pain that comes with the joys of a sinus cold, or if your ears are uncomfortable flying in general.

What are your favorite things to pack in your carry on? Come back next week to read part 2 in our carry-on series—what to pack for an INTERNATIONAL flight.

Until next time jet setters,

Bethany

Five Strategies to Booking an Inexpensive Flight

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I remember booking my very first flight to England. I had never gone anywhere outside North America, and the feeling was enthralling. Granted, I was also packing up my entire life in Chicago into two 50-pound suitcases and moving my life to another continent—so that might have also added to the slightly euphoric feeling. Nonetheless, I was hooked.

I love that feeling of turning dreams into plans, goals into reality, and starting the countdown to the next adventure. I love saying to a friend, “I am going to visit you on the other side of the world,” and actually DOING it.

Wanderlust is contagious.

Flashback to about 2 years ago when my friend/roommate Kristen and I were sitting on a couch in the loft of our rented house searching for an Adventure. My previous roommate from England was working in New Zealand, and I wanted to see her (and trek to Hobbiton). There was a lot of dreaming, researching, planning, and saving. Using all the strategies I outline below, we found a deal that got us to not only New Zealand, but Fiji and Australia as well. It included airfare AND hotel AND travel insurance for less than $1,900 a person. With these strategies I outline below, I bet you could probably get trips around the globe for even less than that.

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Today, let’s talk about saving money on airfare. There are a few strategies when booking cheap flights. There is a lot of really good “travel-meat” (aka, a ton of apps and websites) in this post, so here we go:

  1. Dream a Little (or a LOT):

    This is a big step in the planning process. Think about where you want to go, what sites you want to see around the world, friends you want to visit in other countries, etc. I have several countries in the back of my mind I want to visit one day, so I keep an eye out for those deals when they come my way. I am subscribed to several different sites/blogs that make me dream about the places I want to go to next. One of my favorites is Conde Nast Traveler. I love pretty much anything they put out travel related. I also follow TravelZoo’s Top 20 to see what is going on around the web.

  2. Fly in the OFF-PEAK or Shoulder Seasons:

    People think traveling is expensive because they look at the most convenient times to travel. The only problem with that is that everyone else is ALSO going to travel at that time–i.e. summer vacation, spring break, etc. These are the peak seasons, and also the most expensive time to fly. When it comes to traveling, there are actually 3 seasons: Peak, Shoulder, and Off-Peak. Your life will change when you discover how reasonable prices are during the Shoulder (times close to but not quite yet Peak) and Off-Peak. Here is another great resource outlining the five tips for off-peak travel.

  3. Be Flexible:

    Let’s face it, if you have to fly at a certain time on a certain date with no wiggle room, you’re gonna pay more. When it comes to travel dates, you will get a better price when you are flexible. One of my favorite apps to find the best dates WHEN to buy and WHEN to fly is Hopper. The thing I love about Hopper is it gives you a color coded calendar of the trip you want indicating which are the best days to fly out, and it gives you an option to watch the trip to alert you of the best ticket prices. A couple quick disclaimers about Hopper: there are certain airlines (like Southwest) that only show up on their own website, so be sure to check there, too. Additionally, there is an option to purchase through Hopper, but I actually only use it to find the best dates to fly. I take all that information and go to step four…

  4. Research:

    Please please PLEASE shop around. I use several sites and apps to compare prices. Once I check Hopper, I look at what their flights are going for, I plug those dates into Skyscanner, Kayak or TravelZoo and see what the best fares actually are. The thing I love about TravelZoo is that there are deals for the whole traveling package airfare, hotel, sometimes a rental car. These are my favorite to book because they are a super great deal and saves me some hassle! When Kristen and I went to Fiji, new Zealand and Australia, TravelZoo was running a sale through TripMasters. They were a great resource and we had a great trip with no hassles!

  5. Be Spontaneous:

    I also like following Secret Flying or All The Flight Deals to look at spontaneous deals from my area. Sites like these catch error fares or just super cheap tickets to places all round the world. The dates are usually specific, so it helps to be spontaneous during these times. I totally get that not everyone can do this (heck, I can’t drop everything and travel world sometimes either), but it is fun to think, “What if…”.

What are some of your favorite sites or strategies when it comes to flying? Let’s hear them!

Until next time Adventurers,

Bethany