Category Archives: Denmark

Exchanging Currency and Money Tips for Traveling

With our pending departure to Denmark (less than 10 days at the office!), we’re getting to the point of exchanging money.  Since I no longer have a Danish bank account, we’ll have to rely on exchanging dollars for kroners .

As I suspected, travel guru Rick Steves warns that exchange fees have gone skyward in the last decade. But he also gives lots of practical tips for using cash and credit in Europe. Use your debit card at ATMs to avoid additional credit card fees, and getting out more cash at once is preferred. Rick Steves also recommends calling your bank to find out what fees they charge, apparently One PacificCoast Bank doesn’t charge a fee if you use an All Point Network ATM…we’ll be looking out for those! He also reminds you to call your credit card/bank to let them know you’ll be traveling so they suspect theft.

We are planning to use almost all cash, partly because it’s easier to budget and gauge how much you are spending. We will exchange $1000 to begin, which will hopefully last us a while…

On TravelPortland I found a coupon for waiving currency exchange fees, bonus!  There are some easy  online currency converters , but thankfully with close to 5 kroner to a $1, it’s an easy to calculate in your head. 

How much cash versus credit do you use on vacation?

Don’t you just love the Danish kroner, writer Karen Blixen makes a lovely 50 kr?!

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Travel Countdown!

Now that we’ve had a week away camping and week to recoup, it’s time to get busy with the countdown for our trip to Denmark. I still have to pinch myself when I think of all the people and places I’ve missed for so many years…I can hardly wait to reconnect and show my family the beautiful little country that feels like part of myself.

There are plenty of pre-trip tasks, but thankfully I think we’ll manage just fine with almost three weeks to go. I’m patiently awaiting the arrival of my renewed passport…after I made the bonehead mistake of filling it out in pencil…not panicking yet…

I’m also realizing that I was a bit conservative on our original travel budget, which makes me really glad that we bought our tickets for a great price on Icelandair.

Initially I thought we would spend almost all of our time with my many lovely hosts families, and while we still plan on spending the majority of our time together, I agreed with Hubby that we need to take some time to explore Denmark as a family. 

I just booked 2 nights each at youth hostels near Legoland and Skagen at the tip-top of Denmark. 4 nights at a hostel with a private room for four will run us 1400 dkk or $488. The good news is that Danish hostels set a very high standard and are typically very clean and come with a nice Danish-style continental breakfast. I think it will be well worth the effort and expense to travel so extensively. I can also feel good about sticking to a budget…I actually booked an apartment rental for $379 for just two nights before we decided that we really should stay on a “hostel budget.” It makes me more grateful than ever for all of my generous host families.

What are you saving up and counting down for?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Travel Gift Policy

As our family heads off to Denmark, on our first international family vacation with kids, I’ve started to consider the topic of gifts.  When it comes to travel, gift giving often hits you coming and going.  Unless you are headed off to a resort, in most cases of international travel you may likely have reason to provide your host with some kind of a gift.

In our case, I have beloved host families whom I’ve lived with and care for deeply.  We’ll also be staying with several families over the course of our trip, and thus obviously want to provide a thank you for our hosts.  I won’t give it away entirely, as some may be readers, but I’ve managed to find some lovely options at our local Saturday Market.  When it comes to buying outbound gifts, the main guidance is to find something that represents where you are from (hopefully locally made as well), isn’t too weighty or delicate, and shows appropriate thanks to your host.

On the flip side of travel, is to consider what works for you in terms of buying gifts for friends and family as you return from your adventures.  While clearly it is nice to share goodies from your travels, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind when souvenir purchases:

  • Don’t go over board!  It is very easy to want to buy something for everyone. From my experience, most people aren’t actually expecting something, and will respect that you would rather share stories than t-shirts.
  • Not everyone actually wants a souvenir from a place they’ve never been.  They would likely appreciate something thoughtfully selected, but to buy something just to check it off your list is likely just a waste on both sides.  Not everyone wants a wooden rhinoceros.
  • Have fun!  Shopping and finding goodies to bring home from travels is supposed to be fun, so don’t feel like you have to buy anything for anyone, including yourself.  Markets and shopping can be some of the most interesting experiences in any country, but not becomes significantly less fun if you have an agenda. 
  • Be conscious of what you buy for yourself.  Likely you’ll want to keep whatever it is that you get for a lifetime to remember your trip.  If you travel a lot, it is easy to end up with a pile of trinkets.  My sister, who travels abroad frequently, advises to find something utilitarian that will add value to your life in a useful way.  This most often ends up to be something kitchen related, or an easy buy of jewelry, which is lightweight and adds to your style.  
  • You’ll also likely appreciate the memory of shopping for the item as much as you will the item itself!

What gifts do you bring for hosts when traveling?
What are your favorite souvenirs?

Sustainable Family Finances  
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Vacation Pre-trip Steps

Traveling has made my bank account poor but my life so very rich.
– Unknown

There’s a good reason why I think a lot of people don’t travel more; it’s not the money, but the work it takes to plan out travel. With our departure date to Denmark “just” three months away, I finally starting to refocus on a wrapping up my year-long pre-trip list:
  • Dream Big!
  • Save every extra dollar
  • Set a realistic travel budget
  • Purchase airplanes – found a great deal through Icelandair
  • Research car rental prices – just purchased over two weeks for $909, plus gas (more than our initial budget, but that’s just what it costs)
  • Get passports – more on this topic when we get them all back…
  • Finalize itinerary, set any reservations and update budget accordingly
  • Purchase gifts for host families/friends…that’ll be fun!
  • Pack smart…strategy is key
  • Plan for family fun and adventure…

On top of having successfully saved for our trip (sometimes I still can’t believe it!), we are very lucky to have lots of family and friends to stay with on our trip. One of my host sisters has offered her apartment to us in Copenhagen, just a short walk to the Little Mermaid waterfront statue. Another host family has offered their beach house, and we’re only planning a night or two in a hotel for our anniversary during the entire 3 week trip…talk about travel savings. 

If you don’t have personal connections in your dream destination place, there are ways of making it happen. I haven’t tried it myself, but I’m very intrigued by the concept of “couchsurfing” internationally.

Here’s fun Adaptu article on  Money Saving Tips for your Next Family Vacation

I also found a quick video,  “Adaptu pulse! Vacations!”,  that includes some great quotes on why experience matters:

“It’s a matter of being frugal, if you don’t live an excessive lifestyle, you can afford it.”

“In terms of choosing between a vacation or a new couch, I’ve always gone for the vacation.” 

I could agree more!  🙂

What dream vacation are you saving for?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Tax Time…that is, if you’re not rich!

I had half forgotten that taxes are due tomorrow, since we filed our taxes months ago, but then I read the local Willamette Weekly cover article on  9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes .

It’s really in depth, and pretty darn infuriating. Since I know you all won’t take the time to read the full article, here are the tax myths that he tries to dispel:

  1. Poor Americans do pay taxes
  2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden
  3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes
  4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all
  5. And (surprise!), since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income
  6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same – less taxes
  7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs
  8. Republicans like taxes too
  9. Other countries do it better

Not surprisingly, it was the last section that really got me going, wondering for the umpteenth time why I live in a country that likens taxes to torture and can’t understand how creating a system of mutual support is a good thing I wrote last tax season about green taxes and  taxing priorities , and have made my socialist tendencies known. Call me socialist, but I’d happily pay into a system that provides a safety net and makes many predictable expenses less expensive. Instead families are stuck wondering how to budget for unpaid maternity leave, save for college and retire with a reasonable standard of living.

What gets me is that all these tax myths are being created by those who pay the least proportionally. Obama is proposing a  modest tax increases on the wealthy , but it’s still no where near equality. I try to be an optimist in my personal, but politics lately are getting under my skin, and the tax debate reminds me of how much better I think we could do for our families. 

Would you pay more taxes for more services?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.