Call me bourgeois, but our summer vacations have already been planned and booked. Forget an adventurous back-packing trip, or nonchalant last-minute. In my experience, timely and thorough planning are a family holiday’s best friend. Paired with your prescription-free stress relieve pills. Because in an era where you can plan and book your holiday without a travel agent and do it all yourself online, a lot of research time goes into putting the route and accommodation together. But I survived!
Here’s the low-down on how we’ve planned our summer holiday trip with kids to Norway. And how I managed to keep my sanity in the process.
Step 1: Picking a country
Our holiday policy consist of traveling to a country abroad Europe one year and traveling to European country (by car) the next year. The European holidays help us save for our intercontinental trips and keep our kids from getting travel-spoilt. It encourages us all to enjoy the beauty of the entire world, be it far away or closer by.
Survival tip 1: make a short list to choose your destination from.
Last year we traveled to Costa Rica, so this year an European country is to be chosen. We made things easier to make a European and intercontinental short list to pick from. Scandinavia was one of the items on the European short list and the Lonely Planet Scandinavia guide book helped us picking Norway (passing through Denmark) as our main destination.
Step 2: Choosing a route
This involves a lot of Lonely Planet reading, Pinterest searching and your plain old Google-ing. Norway is supposed to be a crazy beautiful country with lots of nature, but with a 11-year and 3-year old city slickers we need some variety.
Survival tip 2: create a must-see/do list with items of each family member
I do most of the researching, checking now and then what the rest of the family want to do or see. Our route always includes at least one of the must-see/do of each family member. Legoland and Viking stuff for the boys; fjords and survival activities for the husband and trail running and tv location scouting for me.
So these are the places we will be staying over at:
Day 1 – 3 Copenhagen/Roskilde
The fair at Tivoli, the statue of the Little Mermaid and sailing a real Viking ship at the Viking Museum in Roskilde makes this a no-brainer for families traveling to Northern Europe.
Day 4 Oslo
The night ferry is a perfect way to overcome long hauls when doing a road trip with kids. A ferry is a boat is exciting is no bored kids is happy parents. And lets us arrive early morning in Oslo, making time for some city exploration before heading up north to Lillehammer.
Day 5 – 7 Lillehammer/Gudbrandstalen
The Love of My Life and I bingedwatched all seasons of Lilyhammer, so visiting this town and scouting for film locations was a must-see. I think of bringing a card board version of Johnny Henriksen and Torgeir Lien to glam up our Japanese-style photo ops. One of the Lilyhammer scenes was set at Hunderfossen, a family park just outside of Lilyhammer. I’m guessing our kids will be happy their dorky parents wanted to drive up to a film location of a series they liked.
Day 8 – 10 Geilo
This mountain village lets the boys be Men: hiking, fishing, kayaking and going on an elk safari is the main game in this area. Junior and the Love of My Live are debating how to make use of Allemansretten: the Scandinavian right to hunt, fish, camp and pick fruit and veg on a fair use policy, despite of whoever owns the land.
Day 10 – 14 Voss/Bergen
This is why will be traveling to Norway instead of Sweden or Finland: fjords. Fjords are the main reason why Norway is supposed to be so crazy beautiful. We can’t wait to see for ourselves! A boat tour on the fjord is obivously on our bucket list, and the train ride from Flam overlooking the fjord is too. Visiting Bergen to satisfy my shopping nerves is on the mom list. I doubt the boys will complain when we visit this geeky cartoon shop too.
Day 15 – 17 Preikestolen/Stavanger
Preikestolen and Kjerag Boulder are some major hiking attractions, but my research led me to the conclusion that it’s not for kids. Heck, it might not even have been for me, as I’m afraid. But getting close and enjoying the views of yet another fjord should be fun enough.
Day 18 – 20 Sondervig (Denmark)
We’ll be taking the night ferry from Stavanger to the tip of Denmark. In Denmark, visiting Legoland is absolutely obligatory, but the live Viking museum will appeal to my cosplayer eldest too. Add some wide sandy beaches suited for (kite)surfing and you find us a happy family!
Step 3: Booking accommodation
Because of Allemansretten, it would be possible to take your tent and set up for the night wherever possible. Campings are affordable too. We’re not the tenting type, however. So we looked for camping huts and holiday cabins (stuga) with private bathroom. To our surprise you won’t need to upgrade to very expensive rentals to find cabins with sauna or hot tub! If you want to book the best value for money rentals, you’d better book soon. These diamonds sell quickly.
Survival tip 3: Deciding and booking early gives you best value for money.
We booked most of our accommodation through Buro Scanbrit, a travel agent specialized in travels to Northwestern Europe.
It’s not until August before I can update you on our experiences in Norway and what is most fun with kids. I can’t wait! But I guess we have too. If you want to follow the next steps of my holiday planning to Norway, please check out my Pinterest board:
Did you plan your family holiday already? Let me know your tips!
xoxo – Irene.