Passports, gear, hiking and more. What we're doing to get ready for Norway.
A number of people have asked, "are you ready?!" as we're about 2 weeks out from departure. The answer? Um, no. Definitely not. But also.... YES! So ready...
The main reason we "aren't" ready is because it has come so quickly. We have a bit more gear to acquire, a fair amount of paperwork to finish up, several appointments to check off the list for good measure, and then the incredible challenge of actually packing a family of four for a month in Norway. Yes, we are attempting to be minimalistic, but still.
The reason we "are" ready is because...it's time. We're excited! We have talked about family travel for over 12 years. When we were early married, we almost moved to New Zealand for a year! However, we ended up with a sweet little peanut instead (which is the BEST!). But now, adventure is calling and it's voice is loud!
Adventure is calling and it's voice is loud!
We're finally saying yes, after saying no, for so long.
So, what are we doing to prepare? Check out the list below! We'll try to consolidate enough not to bore you, but give enough details for our Type-A personality friends to have something juicy enough to work with.
NOTE: We did a lot of research on traveling as a family before we chose Norway. I mean, A LOT of research. BUT, choosing Norway (as opposed to other locations), is making a BIG difference in planning and prep. Keep in mind this is a simplified list, every family is different, and every trip itself has different goals and objectives.
We took time to review our finances, do a mock budget for the trip, and ensure we'd be able to responsibly pursue and enjoy our time away. What did this look like?
Cost "analysis" of Norway (it's "expensive," so how does that play out practically with lodging, transportation, etc.?) - we researched in detail and created our mock budget
We ensured our budget would work! Do we have enough to pay for this trip? What does income look like while away? Are our other finance areas secure (savings, retirement, typical monthly budget, etc.)? Are we committed to this "investment/experience?"
We also added in budget considerations for trip gear/preparation - we needed a lot of gear. Norway is not as easy as packing a swimsuit, shorts, sandals and some sundresses friends. More on this below!
Once we had a good overview of the budget and knew what we could responsibly afford - then we started booking "all the things!"
Itinerary & Bookings This one is pretty self explanatory. We talked with travel agents (who were lovely!) about options and it became clear very quickly that organized tours do not provide what we are looking for. So, we continued our research, shopped for the best deals (that fit what we wanted) and booked! This will be quite the experiment!
First we chose locations. We landed on Bergen (gateway to the Fjords... and apparently inspiration for the Frozen franchise) as well as Tromso (217 miles North of the Arctic Circle!)
Then flights! Scary level of commitment there!
Once we had flights and locations, we selected a combination of AirBnBs and hotels.
We then proceeded to book cars (in certain areas)
Last we booked specific activities needed ahead of time (Fjord tour, trains, and Steven's specific needs for his Trolltunga hike!)
Physical Training & Travel Gear
Now here's a fun one (sort of...)! We knew we weren't totally prepared for some of the hikes we plan to do as a family, mainly from an endurance and elevation standpoint. The elevation isn't "high" compared to some regions, but it's enough of a change from Michigan "sea levelish" to warrant some effort. Some of the hikes include 1000-1500ft variances.
So, 1-2x per week leading up to the trip we've been walking, hiking and intentional about extra physical fitness. We are an "active" family in general, but this isn't our typical wheelhouse. So, random hikes (and testing of a lot of gear!) is what we've been doing on the weekends.
Add to those hikes the need for some specialized gear and we are hoping we're covered. Some random items we needed: new hiking boots, specialty hiking backpack, extra luggage, rain jackets, new fleece etc., plus misc travel items. We apologize to our neighbors for all the boxes! Again, we are being intentional to go as minimalistic as possible, but in Norwegian climate it seems we need to be prepared for a number of different possibilities, which adds to the list.
Paperwork & Planning
This one is key for international travel. Some things we were intentional about:
Updated passports - you don't gain entry without them!
International ID - for driving support overseas, in theory
Itinerary - we mapped this, a friend got me a beautiful template to organize it, and we'll have online and hard copies for specific people at home to keep on hand
Verifying entry requirements with US Embassy - we did this just to ensure we knew what was required following pandemic restrictions lifting; good news, we should be good to go!
Updated will - we're traveling overseas, it's wise to have it regularly updated anyway, it's a precaution, so it's on our list
Dreaming & Expectations This was simply talking about what our hopes and expectations were for the trip. It was suggested to us to ensure we're all on the same page. If one person wants to tour museums, the other go scuba diving, and the kids just want to swim the whole time - that could be interesting. It was fun to think through as a family. Discussing this helped determine priorities and gave us a foundation for the itinerary. Good news, we're on the same page. Adventures, family experiences in a new culture, intentionally slowing down, and personal/family time in nature [consistently] are on the list! And fjords. Fjords are on the list as well.
Countdown = 14 days Here we go!