As they say, it’s better to see something once than hear about it a 1000 times. Going by that principle I had made up my mind earlier in the year to chase the Northern lights. This post is about my Northern lights trip from India.
Keeping the Northern lights (aurora borealis) as the centrepiece, an epic Euro Trip was planned. The best season for Northern lights is from Oct – Feb during the European winter and so the dates were locked. Thus, I embarked on this 18 day long Northern lights trip from India.
Planning the Northern lights trip from India
Since, this was my 2nd Euro trip, I was comparatively relaxed and had a clear picture and timeline about the trip. For those of you who are planning their own Northern lights trip from India or even a Euro trip, consider the following:
- Book flights 3-2 months before the trip.
- Immediately after that book hotels/hostels and inter city transport (free-cancellation options)
- 2 months before the trip, apply for the Visa. (Refer my Schengen Visa Guide for Indians)
- 2 months to 1 day before the trip, shopping for the trip.
We had a small group of 5 in Finland & Norway and the group expanded to 6 in Iceland and it was down to 3 for Belgium and Luxembourg and back to solo tripping for Amsterdam.
Here’s the rough itinerary:
|19/10 – 20/10||Helsinki – Finland|
|21/10 – 22/10||Tromso – Norway|
|23/10 – 24/10||Bergen – Norway|
|25/10 – 31/10||Iceland|
|31/10 – 01/11||Bruges, Belgium|
|03/11 – 04/11||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
Helsinki the capital of Finland was the first stop of my 2nd Euro trip (Northern lights trip from India). I had a late night flight from Mumbai with a stopover in Paris, Charles De Gaulle Airport. All my immigration formalities were done at Paris itself and after immigration I headed straight to the lounge for some quick breakfast. After a beautiful plane ride, few hours later I landed at Helsinki and synced up with my friends coming in from all over India.
Norway – The land of the midnight sun
The most important country in our Northern lights trip from India. We spent 4 days in Norway, 2 in Tromso & 2 in Bergen. Tromso was the designated spot for hunting the Northern lights, did we get lucky? Read on to find out..
- Day 5 & 6 – Bergen Sightseeing
Iceland – Land of the Vikings
Iceland or Dreamland, my favourite country of the trip in terms of the terrain and the natural landscape. I have always wanted to go to New Zealand (but somehow that trip hasn’t happened yet), but now I can say for sure that if New Zealand had a twin or a cousin it would be Iceland.
We spent 7 days road-tripping in this country. Since, we covered so much I am still working on putting all the details together real soon.
- Day 6 to Day 12 – The epic Iceland road trip
We got down at Amsterdam Schipol airport and got our car from Hertz and it was another surprise. Everything about this trip was getting better day by day.
- Day 13 – Must do things in Bruges
After Bruges, we left for Luxembourg in the morning. Plan was to spend the entire day in Luxembourg, have a dinner and then drive late in the night to Amsterdam.
- Day 14 – Luxembourg sightseeing
After the road trip, we circled back to Netherlands, I parted ways with Rishi and Siri and decided to stay back for 3 more days in Amsterdam. I had already been to Amsterdam in my 2017 Euro trip, but that was mostly around Rotterdam and Amsterdam City itself. However, during this trip my intention was to go to the dutch countryside.
- Day 15 – Spent going around the Amsterdam city again. Did a canal tour, had some special cookies and stuff and spent the night roaming around the red light area and then a club.
- Day 16
- Day 17
- Day 18
- Catching the flight back home.
I have put up a separate post in detail of all the internal flights I took along with the expenses for every flight. You can read about it here – Euro Trip 2018, Flight breakup & expenses.
This is one factor which will greatly influence your trip costs.
- If you really want to keep the costs low, my suggestion is to carry ready to cook food packets with you. They cost around 60-100 INR. You can cook these packets in the hostel kitchens or AirBnb.
- Other option is to buy food from the local super markets and cook that in the kitchens.
- I am a kind of self-proclaimed foodie and unlike most people I don’t crave Indian food at all when I am travelling, so for this trip I remember carrying 15-18 ready to eat packets with me and bring back 12 of them. Yeah, I always went out and ate something local – It could be a pizza, burger, local sandwich or a full blown meal but I hardly ate from ready to eat packets.
So roughly a meal in Finland, Norway, Iceland will cost around €12-20, whereas in Netherlands & Belgium you can get a meal for €7-12. But the plus side of these countries is the cost of beer. It’s actually cheaper than water. So keep that in mind.
Water Expenses – The tap water throughout Europe is drinkable. So always keep a portable bottle with you and fill it up at your hotel/hostel and free water fountains that you may encounter. Don’t be shy or wary of filling in the tap water – I have stayed in 5 star hotels in Europe and even there the staff asks you to use the water from bathroom washbasins for drinking purposes. Yup, no kidding.
Some of you may find it a little weird but I hate worrying and thinking about the price of things once on the trip; for me it basically spoils the fun of the trip worrying about how much a thing would cost in INR after converting.
So, I follow this principle – I budget for the trip and do all my research before hand and then I add 20-25% buffer to the trip expenses to kind of get a final budget. After that all I do is spend and then only when I am back from the trip I calculate the expenses, so this blog is like a blessing in disguise now, even for me. Since, I am writing down day-wise trip details I have mentioned all the expenses in their respective day-wise posts.
If you need more details you can leave me a comment or drop me a message on Instagram.
|City||Hostel Name / Booking Link / Cost||Detailed Review|
Cheap Sleep Helsinki
€25/person for a 6-mixed bed dorm/night
|Cheap Sleep Helsinki, Review|
Skansen Hotel Tromso
€70/night for a double room
|Coming soon. Highly recommended.|
€70/night for twin room
|Coming soon. Won’t recommend due to the rude receptionist.|
|Iceland||Iceland road trip itinerary – 7 Days||Since Iceland was a 7 day road trip, for accommodation and other expenses check the day wise posts
Iceland road trip itinerary – 7 Days
5800 INR/night for 3 people
But you can check the reviews on AirBnb, wonderful hosts. Highly recommended.
Wow Hostel Amsterdam
7500 INR for 3 nights.
Overall trip expenses
I spent around 2-2.5 lakhs INR for this 18 day Northern lights trip from India. Could this have been done cheaper? Definitely a big YES.
- Swap hostel/hotel/airbnb bookings with Couch-surfing. It’s an amazing way to travel the world for cheap but somehow I just don’t relish the concept of staying in someone else’s home. If you are like me and don’t want to couch share then go for hostels.
- Eat ready to eat food or cook your own food. If you love food, this is probably the toughest option because the local food tells you so much about the local culture.
- Staying in hostel has one big advantage – Sometimes it’s easier to club activities with a larger group and that saves a hell lot of money.
- As you must have already made out from the Flight Details & Expenses post, I took a lot of flights which were kind of expensive. If you have the time, swap the flights with overnight train journeys. Not only will you save money on transport but also a hotel/hostel stay.
I am pretty confident that if you follow all the above points, you can do this trip in around 1.5 lakhs INR or below.
A personal rant – Don’t fall in the trap of peer pressure
Tourist or Traveller?
I am a member of a lot of travel groups and I often see posts either making fun or putting down the normal tourist or non-solo travellers. There seems to be an obsession with either travelling solo or being a traveller. As if its bad to be a tourist.
Let me tell you one think very clearly – Tourist or traveller doesn’t matter. My first euro trip was a tourist trip in 2017 and if you ask me frankly it was also the most stress-free and fun trip because everything was planned and I had to worry about nothing. There was a tour guide throughout the trip who took care of the places to visit, where to eat etc. Basically stress-free stuff. Also it was a group trip with people ranging from 20 to 70 years old.
But I still had a gala time with all of them. Some reminded me of my parents, siblings and even friends. So when you make your next travel plan, think about what will make you happy rather than being obsessed about travelling solo or travelling cheap.
I know people, who have hated travelling solo because it was so stress-free but they still continue to do it because they want their Insta, FB & other social media handles to proudly say – SOLO TRAVELLER, not a TOURIST.
If you have been following my blogs, you know that I do solo, duo, trio and even group trips. My end game is simple – Travelling should be fun and somewhat economical. Rest whether I do it as a tourist or solo traveller or stay in hostels or 5 star hotels doesn’t matter much to me.
The CHEAPEST keyword syndrome
How many of you have been researching for a particular place and the first thing that you put in google – Whats the CHEAPEST way to go to XXXX place?
It’s ok, we are all guilty of this. I used to be no different in my younger days but here’s a friendly advice though – Don’t try to be obsessed with the word cheapest.
For e.g. You can do a trip to NZ within 1.25L if you decide to not do any adventure or sightseeing activity. But then has that trip accomplished anything except maybe a tick on the list of the countries you covered?
In closing I just say this, in todays world we are all humans, white or black doesn’t matter. On similar lines, we are all travellers (tourists included). We all have personal preferences and its ok to do things in your own way.
Life me comfort zone ke bahar ka kuch karne ke kai tarike or mauke he, it doesn’t always have to be travelling solo.
Travel the way, you enjoy the most. It can be couch-surfing, hitch hiking, solo, duo or even a luxury trip. Don’t fall under the trap of peer pressure.
Travel should make YOU HAPPY and only that matters. If you are reading this line, I thank you for amount of time you have spent reading about this Northern lights trip from India & also for reading my rants.
Thanks for all the love. Means the world to me.