Scandinavia Round-Up

Well, here we are at the end of our 2017 motorhome trip to Scandinavia. We’ve been away from home for 98 days and driven 7,929 miles….

Days and Mileage

We spent 4 days (539 miles) in the UK, travelling South to Dover via Brecon, Winchester and Chichester.

It was another 1,190 miles from Calais to Hirtshals in Denmark, with a total of 6 days spent in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, then another 6 days in Denmark.

We spent 27 days in Norway, driving 2,720 miles up to Nordkapp. From there it was back South (there wasn’t any other option at that point 😉) through the top part of Norway, a thin sliver of Finland, and then Sweden where we spent the remaining 55 days of the trip – adding another 3,480 miles.

Expenditure

Unlike many motorhomers, we only keep a precise note of all of our expenditure when the information is going to be useful to us at some point in the future. So last winter, for example, we tracked every cent we spent in the USA (where we will definitely be heading on some more motorhome adventures) but didn’t bother in Costa Rica (we don’t plan to be going back any time soon; there are just too many other destinations on our list!)

On this trip, we set off with Kampington so loaded up with food (heeding the advice from blogs like EuropebyCamper and Ourtour to pack for Norway as if we were going to the moon) that our food expenditure in the early part of the trip wouldn’t have been that meaningful – we were just buying bits and bobs of fresh food and stocking up in France and Germany with our favourite stuff from those countries that we can’t get in the UK.

We did keep close tabs on our expenditure in Norway and Sweden, knowing that it was going to be expensive but wanting to have an idea of just how expensive for future trips. We’ve omitted Kampington’s expensive Swedish medical bills (a fuel injector and a set of rear brake pads) from the totals below; Kampington has a separate annual allowance to cover those.

We spent a total of £3560 over 82 days, which equates to £1321 per month. Our “in country” spend in Norway was £1473 per month (a bit higher than we said on a previous post as we’ve since received two bills totalling £51 for Norwegian road tolls), and in Sweden it was £1105 per month (the cost of the ferries from Denmark to Norway and from Sweden to Poland together with our “in country spend” in Norway and Sweden are included in the overall figure of £1321 per month).

33% of the money went on fuel, 32% on food and drink, 12% on ferries and road tolls, 11% on tourism (entrance fees to museums etc), 10% on camp sites and 2% on odds and sods (the little necessities of life – a new bike tyre, a hosepipe attachment, socks etc).

Fuel: Diesel has cost us slightly more than in the UK (around £1.30 a litre compared to around £1.15 in the UK). The main reason we’ve spent so much on fuel is quite simply that it’s a heck of a long way up to Nordkapp and back.

The total cost given includes our spend on LPG, which was pretty negligible: £7-10 every 2-3 weeks, which is probably not much different than what it would be in the UK (the numbers aren’t big enough to induce us to check 😊).

LPG was incredibly easy to find in Norway. There are probably lots of companies but we just used LPGNorge as their website has a nice map showing you all their LPG stations and giving their addresses for Sat-Nav. The provision in Sweden was more fragmented but we had no problem finding LPG by just doing a Google search for “gasol” and the name of a suitably-sized town on our route (we bought LPG at Piteå, Uppsala, and Kristianstad).

Food and Drink: Yes, food and drink is eye-wateringly expensive in Norway. We only kept our food costs down by arriving fully loaded with everything we could possibly bring.

Sweden is a big relief after Norway; on average you’re looking at UK prices. Unless you want strawberries, that is, which are £4.00-£4.50 a punnet. We came across a roadside vendor by the car park at Gammla Uppsala doing a roaring trade at £1.50 a punnet. Those are the only strawberries we’ve had in 82 days….. 😟 There’s a whole list of items that we did without in Norway. Scurvy was becoming a real possibility by the time we left the country!

We did check blog posts by other motorhomers before we left that had helpfully provided a list of what individual items cost in Norway. We were lulled into a false sense of security on the tinned veg. front by noticing that tinned tomatoes aren’t that expensive (40-50p a tin). Figuring that tins are heavy, we didn’t take a huge stock. That was a Mistake 😬 Tins of peas were about £1.30 in Norway (£1 in Sweden) and even in big supermarkets, the offering is often limited to tomatoes, peas and kidney beans….. and sweetcorn if you’re lucky. A big stash of tinned veg. would’ve been a good idea…. Similarly, tinned fruit seems to mean pineapple. Given the cost of the fresh stuff, we’ll take a stash of tins next time….

In both Norway and Sweden, you have to go to a state booze shop (Vinmonopolet / Systembolaget respectively) to buy full-strength beer or anything stronger than that (you can get weak beer in the supermarket). We found plenty of Systembolagets, but Vinmonopolet can take a bit of forward planning.

The bad news in Norway is that the cheapest 3 litre (equivalent to 4 bottles) box of red wine in the shop was £33. In Sweden we got 3 litres for £16.50. Still cheap plonk but more drinkable than the stuff we got for twice the price in Norway. We couldn’t bear to think how cheap the same stuff would be in France….. 😱

This raises the question of the Norwegian customs limits, which are somewhat strange. Assuming that you don’t want to take in any tobacco (if you do you’re allowed less alcohol) you can take in one litre of spirits plus 5 litres of beer or wine per person. You can swap the one litre of spirits for 1.5 litres of beer or wine. Beer and wine are interchangeable despite the difference in alcohol content. So the alcohol-maximising thing to do is to bring a litre of spirits each plus 5 litres of wine. Many motorhomers do seem to take a chance and bring in more. We didn’t…. Having checked the duty payable on alcohol above the “free” limit, we didn’t want to risk having to pay duty plus, presumably, a hefty fine….  Needless to say we didn’t get checked…..

Ferries and Road Tolls: We spent £104 on four short ferry crossings in Norway (We fall into the 6-7 metre bracket). There are lots of these crossings, so the total cost really depends on the route you decide to take – we could have spent a lot more if we’d taken more time over our trip North and stuck to the slow roads up the coast.

We’ve had two road toll bills so far from EPC (you register online before entering Norway, then they email you the bills), one in mid-July and one in mid-August. There are lots of tiny charges, particularly around cities like Trondheim, and the period covered by the bills overlaps, so we’ve got no way of knowing whether that’s the lot or whether there might be a bit more to fall out of the system next month…. We’ve passed two toll signs in Sweden, but here you don’t register and they apparently just post out a bill. We have no idea whether we’ll ever be charged (can they get our address? Is it worth their while sending a bill for £5 to the UK given that it cost Mark £2 to send a postcard?). Time will tell…..

Our international ferries cost £159 (Denmark – Norway) and £96 (Sweden – Poland).

Tourism: Other than Nordkapp (£54), we haven’t found the entrance fees to museums to be extortionate. Many of the museums we’ve visited in Sweden have been completely free.

Camping: We don’t often stay on campsites (why would we, in countries where wild camping is completely and utterly legal?). We generally paid to spend a night at a marina every 10 days – 2 weeks. Laundrettes are non-existant in Norway and Sweden, so these are good places to get your washing done! At many marinas, use of the washing machine was included in the price 😀 We scanned the reviews in the Camper Contact app to try to figure out which marinas took this approach and which charged for laundry on top.

Our big camping cost was £168 for 4 nights at Bredäng Camping in Stockholm (£144 to stay plus £24 for laundry). That’s just how it is when you decide to visit a big city….. The campsite was absolutely fine and had good transport links right into the centre of town – what’s not to like?

The car park that many motorhomers seem to have used previously on Skeppsholmen disappeared from Camper Contact sometime between our deciding to visit Stockholm (on the assumption we’d be able to park there) and firming up our plans a couple weeks before arriving. We did have a look as we wandered around Skeppsholmen one day and it was firmly closed off and in the process of being dug up (the signs didn’t say whether it would be reopening as a car park in future….). We did see motorhomes parked along the front on the other side of the bridge across to Skeppsholmen, though the car park signage there was somewhat confusing and we did see two vans with £85 parking tickets on them but weren’t sure what they’d done wrong. Overall we figured that we’d taken the best low-stress option by just booking onto the campsite (we emailed to book a couple of weeks before arriving, having discovered that Skeppsholmen wasn’t an option, which was probably a good move as the place was definitely full throughout our stay)….

So, there you have it, that’s where the money went. Norway and Sweden aren’t the cheapest places to visit in Europe, but frankly who cares? They’re fabulous! We’ll certainly be back. We still have the South East of Norway including Oslo to explore (and we could easily spend some more time in the fjords), then possibly down the West coast of Sweden past Gothenburg and across the big bridge to Copenhagen and the parts of Denmark that we haven’t visited yet….

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