The 'F' Word
Raise your hand if you have been saving money to plan your next trip! How do you do it? It is a near-impossible task for me to know about the exact amount of money that I need to keep aside for travelling to any destination. Suggestions from the internet and other travellers prove to be futile for me, as each of us has a completely different list of interests and pocket size… and what proves to be “budget” for one may not really qualify for another. So here’s the ‘F’-word which remained my personal thumb rule for my 5-day trip to Copenhagen.
Frugal: Careful in the use of money or food (Cambridge Dictionary)
My idea of budgeting revolves around frugality, and an attempt to get the worth of every Rupee (or Krone in this case) spent. Money in the bank account is only as good as the purpose for which it is being used. I do not believe in skimping on experiences or purchases that really call out to me, but at the same time, I am quite conscious of where my money is going. There is no point travelling all the way to another destination and missing out on valuable experiences for a few extra bucks. Making sure that I get the value of my buck is what I try to keep in mind.
So here are my 5 Notes-to-Self for a “budget” trip.
(1) Bucket-listing the right way
Prioritise quality over quantity. Always! There are many museums and tourist spots that may be recommended to you for a variety of reasons, but travelling to each one of them takes a lot of time and money. So do your research, pick destinations based on your interest and spend quality time there. The idea is to not go by anybody else’s bucket list and end up spending time and money on things that you don’t really enjoy. Make you OWN bucket list. Hopefully, this way, the money that you do spend will be absolutely worth it. In Copenahgen, while I did spend my time and money at places like Reffen, Tivoli Gardens, some restaurants and more, I skipped out on some of the most popular tourist “attractions” like the palaces and boat ride which did not hold much appeal to me personally.
(2) Travel like a local
The first thing that I did after landing in Copenhagen was to buy the transport card for the duration of my trip. (Thank you Archita! Best advice) For a cost of 300 Danish Kroner (plural of Krone), I had unlimited access to the trains, metros, buses and ferries. This was not just practical, it was also a LOT of fun because I love to commute standing on the deck of the ferry (a habit that I picked up from my Goa days) and unlimited rides in the ferry meant that I enjoyed taking this amazing water-transport to even places that were within walking distance. Fun fun fun!
(3) Grab it while it’s free
The walking tour of Copenhagen was at headliner in yesterday’s blog post where I share my Top 3 Experiences in Copenhagen. But what I perhaps didn’t mention yesterday is that this tour was chargeable in a “pay what you like” format. (More reasons to love it, right?) Several museums are also open to the public free of charge on certain days. Look them up and try to incorporate it into your travel plan.
(4) Location, location, location
Copenhagen has some of the COOLEST hostels in the world, so deciding that I would stay in one was an absolute no-brainer. I ended up choosing Bedwood Hostel in the Nyhavn neighbourhood. At roughly 3000 Indian Rupees per night, it is still not a cheap option, but the location makes up for it because living in Nyhavn is the equivalent of staying in Connaught Place in New Delhi/ near the Gateway of India in Mumbai/ in the centre of the Main Bazaar in Leh… you get the gist of what I mean. The closer you are to the city centre, the easier it is to simply walk to several places, or connect via public transport. A vibrant neighbourhood also means that a step out of your chosen accomodation immediately puts you at the heart of all activity and you do not need to go far seeking experiences. I have spent uncountable hours just walking around Nyhavn in Copenhagen and the same is true for many other cities that I have experienced. I have always ended up discovering something new in every outing, which makes my evening worthwhile, at no extra cost!
While accommodation in a central location generally comes with added benefits such as a variety of options for eating out, this did not seem to be the case in Copenhagen. Almost every eatery on that lane in Nyhavn is possibly part of the most expensive restaurants in the city. In this case, I decided to explore beyond the immediate areas, go into the inner lanes to discover some interesting low(er)-cost eateries. I’d either eat out or pack something for the evening. Food means different things to different people - some people travel simply to have the best of cuisines because THAT is their thing! But for me, hitting the supermarkets was also a great idea, especially in an urban culture like this one where the shelves offer a wide range of sandwiches, pasta, salads and baked goodies. A lot of people at my hostel were also cooking their own meals. And these meals were not just sad cup-noodle meals, but they were getting their own groceries and cooking up eggs, pasta, sautéed vegetables and more!
My total expense came out to be close to Rs. 5,700 per day in Copenhagen.
This is pretty decent for me. I am overall super content about having done this trip without a feeling of being broke and stressed afterwards.
I suppose Frugality is not just something to be practised while on a trip. After I saved up money to travel to Bhutan within months of starting my first job in 2016, simply by taking the bus instead of cabs for a few months, I figured that it’s a game of prioritising. It’s about deciding what you’d rather save for or spend on. A frugal way of life will look different for different people. For me, personally, it has changed over the past few years, the numbers have shifted completely. Frugality is not a static number or a one-size fits all, it’s a way of life and like all things in life, its meaning keeps changing with time.
Some facts about the Danish Krone:
The krone (in Danish dansk krone, plural kroner) is the official currency of Denmark and is subdivided into 100 øre.
On the day of writing, the conversion rate for the Danish Krone (DKK) into Indian Rupee (INR) is 1 DKK = 10.36 INR = easy mental maths.
The word ‘Krone’ comes from ‘Crown’ and it is very common to hear people using the English word while speaking to non-Danes.
And my favourite bit:
The coins (in denominations of 50 øre and 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 kroner) are different in their size, weight and some of them have a hole in the centre – making them look like donuts. This is to enable the visually challenged citizens to easily differentiate between the coins.
Good Danish design really permeates every aspect of life. Cheers!