The Lofoten Islands

In a matter of days, HK and I will be on a flight headed to Norway. This is our first trip to Scandinavia, so we’re excited to see a different part of the world. We chose Norway as a result of my research for an article on my European Travel site at BellaOnline.  The Norway websites (Fjordnorway and visitnorway)  wowed us with stunning scenery of turquoise blue fjords surrounded by craggy cliffs and majestic mountains. As physically active travelers, we were impressed with the opportunities Norway offers-kayaking, glacier walks, white water rafting and hiking galore. Perfect! Add to that the fact that getting around is easy; the country’s bus, train, air and ferry systems can get you anywhere your heart desires.

HK also made it clear that he did not wish to travel to another 3rd world country this year. Last year’s 3-week trip to Bhutan was enough for a couple more years.

Knowing back in the spring that Norway was our destination, I scoured my favorite discounted airlines websites;  Kayak, Sidestep, Cheapoair and TripAdvisor.  I placed Atlanta-Norway on their watch lists, and within about a month, Cheapoair alerted me that there was a $535  fare. For Norway, that is a DEAL, so I grabbed it!  Now the fun part, deciding on our itinerary and booking rooms. ( I prefer to know where I’ll be staying beforehand, as history has shown us that just showing up, especially in rural areas where accommodations are limited, is risky business.)

Back in the day, I was a travel agent. I even co-owned a travel agency for awhile, but I made both a lousy boss and worse employee, so I quit. No, wait, maybe I fired myself. Whatever…After that gig, I went to work for an adventure travel company and was a trip consultant/tour escort.  Fun job, I got to travel all over Latin America, and HK got to go on several trips with me. Anyway, after learning how to put trips together, and realizing that I do not like group travel, HK and I began orchestrating our own trips, much more to our liking.

It was only after booking our airfare that I discovered that Norway is the most expensive country in the world. Hmmmm…I thought Japan had that title in the bag.  Yep, turns out even staying in a youth hostel can set you back a C-note.  (Compare that to our 50-cents a night tea houses in Nepal-YIKES!) Anyway, after comparing lots of suggested itineraries on travel-oriented websites such as Virtualtourist, Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, I combined all the elements that I thought would suit HK and me best.  The forums on all of those sites are excellent places to gather information and ask questions.  Fellow travelers are typically willing and eager to help.

Even though I was trying to book reservations 3 months in advance, nearly all of the hostels were full, so we will be staying in some camping cabins; small, simple inns; a big hotel on the water that I scored a deal on through, and in the far north, above the Arctic Circle on the Lofoten Islands, we are booked into a fishermen’s cabin for 3 days.

My dilemma has been how to pack for this trip, since the weather will be questionable, at best. My main objective in packing is that we can both carry-on all of our baggage. I have dealt with lost luggage before, and we won’t be in any one place long enough to hassle with that. I also refuse to pay the new rip-off “checked baggage” fees. It’s simply a matter of principle.  If I am dishing out the moo-la to contort my body in an agonizing position for hours on end and eat the shit they serve on those flights, I refuse to give them even more money to lose my stuff!

So, how does one pack for a 2-week trip abroad where some bulky clothes and hiking boots are a necessity? Check back later this week, because I am going to share my “packing-diva’s do’s and don’ts” for overhead-compartment mastery!