Category Archives: Denmark

Priceline Bidding

So I’m a bit more of a novice when it comes to priceline , but I know that my savvy traveling sister is a fan of the site. If you wonder if it is too good to be true, you aren’t alone. There are great deals to be had, but there are good tips and guidelines that my sister has been kind enough to share.   I’ll be using these tips to get a rental car for Denmark, and report back on how the experience goes.

Here are a few tips for getting good deals on priceline:

  • If you don’t know anything about priceline, the basics are that you give the price you’d like to pay for travel (car rental, hotels, flights, etc), and then if someone takes your bid, you pay that price. If you bid too low, you have to make some adjustment to your bid or wait 24hrs.  
  • Start in advance if possible. Priceline makes you change your bid or wait, but if you bid early this works to your advantage. Last minute deals are also there, but easier if you are flexible.
  • Know the market. Depending on what it is you are looking for, know what price you’d like to be paying.  Look to see what it would cost you outright, so you know if you are getting a deal that is worth it.
  • Make sure to go to the Name Your Own Price section, otherwise you can be suckered into their standard offers.
  • Car rentals are the no brainer, since one brand is comparable to others. I’ve gotten as low as $14/day on week long rentals, and $50 for a weekend trip.  This depends all on where you are traveling.
  • Hotels are a bit trickier. This is done by location and rating level. Depending on the city and how they break out the zones, this can work for or against you. For instance in say the Dupont Circle area of DC, it would be a safe bet to bid on a three or four star hotel and know you would come up with something fine, since you can look at the list and make sure there aren’t any sketchy options. However in Portland, Oregon they include the whole city in one zone. Bidding on a three stars wouldn’t be certain to get a sweet spot in downtown. Whereas bidding on a four star hotel it was guaranteed to be one of three hotels. We were able to get one of the best hotels in Portland, the Benson, for $100 and then we were upgraded for our honeymoon. My vote is to go for a better hotel and bid lower.
  • Flights, I haven’t tried these. My vote would be that it isn’t worth it unless you have the flexibility.
  • Bid Lower. The site always tells you, geez, you’ve bid really low, you’d be much more likely to get it if you bid X amount.  Take this into consideration, but don’t fall for this.  For example, they will tell you that $22 a day is reasonable for a car rental, when in reality you can end up getting it for $16 a day.  Find a happy balance.

Do you have tips for Priceline?  Have you gotten any good deals?

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


“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
– Leon Suenes

This quote feels so true; I’m ecstatic because w e bought our tickets to Denmark!  

Just a year ago, before starting this blog, I honestly didn’t have much faith that we’d be able to afford such a trip. But we saved up by investing in our family’s dream, not the consumer-driven American dream.  Sharing my love of all things Danish with my own family is worth any superficial sacrifice.  Experiencing life to it’s fullest is far more valuable to me than any “thing.”

Hubby commented as we bought our tickets how it’s a shame that Girly will be too young to remember the trip, but I don’t feel the same way. During these early years, experience is learning and this trip will help form her own values and beliefs about the world. Our Big Guy will hopefully remember some of the beautiful places and people will visit. They will begin to form bonds with my host families and friends, and that will be priceless.

So, here’s the skinny on the tickets.  My goal has been to get our tickets for under $4k, and we bought our four tickets for $3991.68. 

I’ve been researching on and off for several months, and Icelandair is by far the best deal from the west coast (by $300-400 per ticket). Icelandair has a great reputation, and the true reason for the savings is the fact that the trip over the arctic requires less fuel than other routes to Europe. So, we’re also saving on our carbon footprint. They also have an Iceland Carbon Fund, which I plan on using the offset our trip.

And yes, for the critics out there, we did save our entire $4k tax return. We’ll also soon be setting other financial goals for the upcoming year together.

I’m so excited that our dream is now a reality!

What’s your dream trip?

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

Party Planning

We’ve been hosting our annual “julefrokost” (Danish-themed holiday party = Christmas lunch) for ten years now, so we’ve got it down to a science by now. Apartment Therapy has some great articles on how to maximize your party space, and how to throw a great party.

Our new “secret” is that this year is that we timed our monthly cleaning service from EcoMaids for the day before our shindig. We didn’t take advantage of it, but they had a deal that if you got a clean before, they’d give a free fill-in service after your house guests leave! Hubby usually does most of the cleaning, but it will be handy to have him available for Daddy-duty and wear the kids out for a good nap 😉 

Instead of buying plastic silverware, we opt to use silverware. That’s why we have a dishwasher after all. Plus, guests only really need spoons for my traditional potato leek soup. We bought the most durable “disposal” soup bowls, and we’ve now been washing and reusing for five years.

As far as our budget goes, I always splurge a bit. I figure that this is our big gesture of generosity and friendship, and social capital is worth it. We certainly don’t go overboard though, like this:  DINKS Reality – Holiday Party Budget . I think the most important thing is to keep thing simple and not try too hard to impress. Partying is supposed to be fun, not stressful.

IKEA has made our menu easier and more authentic; I couldn’t get Icelandic shrimp before. By definition, a julefrokost is all about eating, and Danes are known to eat for up to four hours at them…and then drink all night! The beauty with my menu is that there’s lots of prep, but very little time-consuming cooking:

  • Potato leek soup – host mother’s creamy recipe
  • Potato chips, dill dip, veggie tray
  • Smørebrød (open-faced sandwiches) with meats, cheeses, shrimp, eggs, tomatoes, remoulade, crab pate, laks, crackers and breads
  • Meatballs/sauce, mini-hotdogs
  • Æbleskiver (special spherical pancakes, dipped in jam and powdered sugar), chocolates, gummis, cookies
  • Glögg, Carlsberg, Snapps
The soup is always a hit, and is a cheap way to fill bellies. The most important thing is that everyone gets that hyggeligt (cozy) feeling inside! That’s priceless.

Even though our kids rarely watch movies, we find that a few hours of classic Rankin Bass films is just part of the tradition.  We are also trying to get a babysitter so that parents don’t have to be on watch as much. We’re also planning a few simple activities to keep them from bouncing off the wall from too much sugar!

How much do you budget for parties?

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

Travel Planning

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”  ~ Susan Heller

For the past several months, I’ve been preparing to achieve our goal of traveling to Denmark next summer. I’m lucky to have many host families and friends there, but Denmark is still very expensive. Thankfully, the exchange is the best it’s been a long time, so I’m hoping that stays in our favor too  (5.4 kr = $1) .

Here is the rough budget I’ve got so far, which will really hinge on getting inexpensive flights. The meals/groceries depend upon our exact length of stay and closely prices match the costs when I lived there over ten years ago…my next step is obviously to talk with friends and family about how much they would budget.

Tickets x4 $4-5k
Rental car $800
Sightseeing (Legoland, Tivoli, Cultural places) $500
Meals/groceries $800
Gifts to DK/Home $200
Misc. $200

High End Estimate $7,500

This budget makes my college trips back to Copenhagen for under $1k seem so cheap now. It’s also what has intimidated me for so long and made me convince myself that such a trip was out of reach.  You may wonder why we would prioritize spending so much of our family income on a trip, and the answer is that this is really a trip to see extended-adopted family. Many of my friends now have children that I have never met. Plus, I remember dreaming about one day taking my kids to Legoland!

Our primary saving strategy is that we saved $2k last year from my child care reimbursements, and this year I’m saving every penny. This will give us a total of $7k to travel and any extra will come from our regular monthly expenses that we would be paying whether we are at home or abroad.

Have you planned a family trip to Europe?
Any tips are welcomed!

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

Bicycling Culture

With the last Sunday Parkways of the summer coming up, I’d like to share about bicycle culture.  Bicycling is a way of living with a history, traditions, and trends that signal social change is shifting gears toward sustainability. 

There’s a strong biking community in Portland, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance now has over 5,000 members! When I first moved to Portland in 2000 I bike commuted from Ladd’s Addition to North Portland and would see a handful of bikes daily, now 2,745 commuters now ride along N Williams and Sunset magazine even profiled this hip place to bike!  

Bicycles had a   thriving history  before car culture took over. I love this article about   packing 6,000 bicyclists on a ferry   from Seattle-to-Bainbridge, which also talks about the history of bikes in the NW.

Having lived in Denmark, I know that Portland has only scratched the surface of the depth of bicycling culture. Bicycling is like second nature in Denmark. Like most Danes, I had two bicycles, one at each train station. My headmaster rode to school in a suit, stilettos are not uncommon either. Girls with unbelievably short skirts pedal. One of my best vacations ever was spent biking around the fairytale island of Bornholm. Danes aren’t selfish though, and are ready to share their love of cycling worldwide through their Cycling Embassy. If two wheels make you gush, check out Copenhagenize – “for the love of bicycle culture.”

Lastly, I’d like to share about a fun new bicycle book called Joyride, it’s getting some great press and hope to read it before too long.

Does your family bicycle for fun? 
Do you bike-commute to save money and reduce your footprint?

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