Budgeting in Denmark?

No amount of warning could have prepared us for the Scandinavian reality of price hikes.  We knew everything was going to be expensive, but it wasn’t until our first day in Denmark that we grimaced at the numbers and regrettably made the conversions in our heads from Danish kroners (kr) to US dollars as we paid for everything.  Instead of enjoying our first day in Denmark, we ran obligatory errands and forced ourselves to hunker down at a McDonalds (free wifi and power outlets!) to get our bearings.

On our day of arrival to Denmark, we found a free stellplatz in Haderslev on our way from Bremen, Germany to Copenhagen.  Strangely enough it was a private residence, and no one was home.

The next day we wasted time trying to find an ATM in town and waited for a tourist info center to open to inquire about laundromats.  When we arrived to the laundromat, we were greeted with this payment machine:

After finally getting some help and starting on a single load, we did the conversion in our heads.  Kr 29 for a tiny load of clothes, and kr 2 for 2.5 minutes of drying amounted to…$4.25 for one wash and 29¢ for 2.6 minutes!!! I thought San Francisco was expensive!  We ended up drying our clothes for 13 minutes in the dryer, and then hung them up in the RV as we continued the drive to Copenhagen.IMG_7520

At least it was a gorgeous day as we crossed the bridges onto Fyn and Zealand Islands.

The first camping site we arrived to ended up being too costly for our needs–at kr 78 per person, kr 30 to camp, and an additional kr 35 for a temporary camping membership, it would have been $32 just to park there, and it was still quite a ways from Copenhagen.  By that point we were frustrated with the costs that we knew we had to face during our entire stay in Denmark and immediately headed over to McDonalds (for wifi).

One medium Coke and one large fries later (kr 42 or $6.15, ugh!), we got creative and figured out logistics.  We only needed a quick place to park and sleep that night, so we found one free stellplatz in Værløse, a town 20 km northwest of Copenhagen.  This little stellplatz amazingly turned out to be our haven–a dirt lot behind a small museum, from which we were able to get wifi!  Dark, quiet, free, free wifi…could it have gotten any better? It did!  A sign posted in the lot gave instructions (in Danish of course) on where to get free fresh water and dump tanks.  Thanks to Google translate, we set out the next morning to fill our 100L tank with fresh water at a facility just a 12-minute drive away.

Thanks to the free wifi, we were able to figure out logistics for our time in Copenhagen.  We could easily have taken the nearby metro in Værløse to central Copenhagen, but that meant a 45-minute ride and the insane price tag of kr 60 ($8.85) for a single ticket!  Almost $36 per day for two people just for transportation? No thanks.  Thanks to Google street view, I got creative and figured out another solution, which worked beautifully. The next morning after we filled our water tank, we drove to to the Ryparken metro station (20 minutes), parked the RV for free on the street, and took the 13-minute metro ride into central Copenhagen for kr 24 ($3.50) each.  Nguyening!

We ended up spending 3 nights at this lovely and quiet location in Værløse: the first night on arrival, a second night after driving to Ryparken and exploring Copenhagen for a full day, and a third night after touring Kronborg Castle in Elsinore.IMG_7610

Because our best friend from San Francisco was flying out to Copenhagen to spend quality time with us, we spent our final two nights in Copenhagen at a centrally located 4-star hotel–on booking.com, last-minute deals always pop up.  We reserved a heavily discounted double room for kr 1379 ($202) for 2 nights, and paid an extra kr 195 ($28.60) per night to park our RV in the hotel parking lot.  Our friend slept in the RV. =)

Once accommodation and transportation were taken into account, food was the next major expenditure.  Because meals at restaurants averaged kr 100-200 ($14.65-$29) per person, I would prepare a large breakfast and dinner in the RV.  We did “splurge” on lunch though–I needed to get my Vietnamese food fix and we paid kr 129 ($19) for what would normally be $8 back in the states.  It would be a sin to pass up on world-famous Danish pastries, and I discovered Anderson Bakery, where prices for takeout were absurdly reasonable.  Because spending $50-$60/day/person on food alone wouldn’t be abnormal, preparing my own food had more impact on my wallet in Denmark than in Germany.

OH, and Chris needed a haircut.  Typical prices for a men’s haircut were kr 300-330 ($44-$48).  WOW.  Fortunately after roaming the city streets, we stumbled upon a “cheap” haircut place for only kr 150 ($22).

Everyone says the prices in New York City, San Francisco, and Tokyo are ridiculously expensive, but the prices I saw in all those cities never shocked me.  Scandinavia, on the other hand, is a whole different story.  Having an RV definitely contributed to saving money while in Copenhagen–we did not have to pay for a hotel (the cheapest option would have been $30 pp for a dorm bed), we cut costs on transportation, and we prepared most of our own meals.  Fortunately, we were only planning to spend time in Denmark, not Norway, Finland, or Sweden.  That would be another time, another adventure, and definitely another budget.

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