Vikings are back. Well, I’m talking about the popular History Channel TV show. Whenever I watch this show I’m amazed at the spectacular scenery. Where is it filmed? Norway? Finland? It’s actually filmed in Ireland and Canada. Regardless, there’s something about the show that just makes me want to explore new lands. So, here are my 7 reasons you should travel like a Viking this year.
New discount Scandinavian Airlines are on a mission to pillage and plunder other airlines business Viking style.
Did you know that the Vikings were the original settlers of Iceland? Now I can fly there direct for $99 on Reykjavík based WOW airlines. This isn’t some firesale you click on and it’s gone. It’s been on their website for months. The cool thing about flying to Iceland is that you’re only about three hours away from Europe. This makes their flights to Europe very competitive. They have a cool calendar view on their website that shows you the cheapest day to fly. If I am willing to fly on a Tuesday, I can get to Copenhagen for $189. The tickets are one way and you’ll be paying some bag fees, so travel light, my Viking friend. Another airline up for some plundering and pillaging is Norwegian Air. They have some eye-opening flights out of some Northeast airports, like $69 to Martinique. Yes, that’s the French Caribbean, I might just like to hop on that flight and not look at a map. It’s only $69 from my local airport, I can’t get to Cleveland for that. They also have a one way ticket to London for $194. I also like that their flights don’t have ridiculous layovers or require much travel hacking. I purchased tickets to Paris (in June) for $700 round-trip that have a total travel time similar to major carriers charging about 60% more. I’ve put together a list of great travel hacking tools for low airfare here and here.
We will ransack your treasury and devalue your currency.
Over the past year, the US dollar has hit all-time highs, multiple times, against the euro and other currencies. When this happens US travelers can often find amazing deals. The breakfast buffet at my four-star $53 per night hotel in Mexico City set me back a full $4.25 with tip. For lunch I had the best sandwich I’ve ever had, portobello mushroom with avocado and swiss cheese and other secret sauces, along with a cold Mexican microbrew, that set me back $5.50.
Looking at the chart, you’ll see the strong dollar won’t last forever, it tends to bounce up and down like the stock market. I remember dark days back in 2008 when the dollar hit $.63 versus the euro. It’s worth close to $.95 now. That’s a 50% increase in bang for your buck. The time for exploration is now, the window is closing!
We will pummel high travel prices, invading foreign lands with modern technology.
Who needs crossbows, catapults, and Viking ships? Load up your tablet, smartphone or browser with travel apps that will let you invade foreign lands. I recently spent a week in Portland, Oregon without staying in a hotel, taking a cab, or renting a car and I crossed the country for $320 round-trip, all thanks to modern apps like AirBNB, Kayak,Google Flights and Uber. These are things that just work. The more you use them, the better you get at finding fantastic travel experiences for a fraction of the cost. You’ll even meet some very cool people along the way.
We will plunder your oil and gas reserves.
Not up for hopping on a plane? Gas prices are truly at all time lows especially if you factor for inflation. Jump in that car and take the Griswald family to a National Park. National Parks are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. They are truly a national treasure and deeply underappreciated. The National Park Service has all kinds of things planned to celebrate. So, if you want to stay relatively close to home, dial the clock back to 1959 and just go.
Make sure you stop at some cheesy attractions and spend at least one night in a motel with a neon sign and a kidney shaped pool out front. Grab an old film camera, take lots of pictures and get them developed at the drugstore. You will not forget the experience. Regardless of where you live, gas prices are cheap enough to cross the border into Canada. So go see our North American neighbors. The dollar is very strong there as well.
We will ransack the banks and make them work for us
Like most people, we get credit card offers in the mail daily. Most of them go directly to the recycle bin. I think I’ve even thrown away some replacement cards on occasion. The industry gets more competitive all the time. Last week I received two offers: one from American Express that included 100,000 miles; the other from Delta that included 60,000 miles and several others in the 50,000 mile range. If you have good credit and pay your credit card bills in full every month, you can really make banks work for you. If you travel, don’t just jump jump on any credit card offer that offer some free miles. Look for cards that pay 1½% or 2% value in points or cash. 1% no longer cuts it. These offers change all the time but here’s a website that keeps pretty good track of the latest and greatest travel hacking cards. One of the advantages of being self-employed is that you can choose your own separate credit card for business expenses and easily rotate through them, occasionally making sure you’re ransacking your bank as often as possible. Just remember never carry credit card debt. Pay your bill in full every month – that’s the only rule. Otherwise all the points in the world are just a waste of time because you’re giving it back in interest charges.
We are Vikings we are always at war. But less war than ever before.
Screw ISIS. There, I said it on the internet. Yes, terrorism is awful but if we let it disrupt our plans for our daily lives, we are letting the perpetrators win. Both of my sons have expressed fears about traveling to Paris and Athens this summer. In fact, after the Paris attacks, some fear crossed my mind as well. If we step back and look at the big picture, you will see that there’s less war in the world now than at nearly any time in history. If we look at the numbers, it is more dangerous to drive on the beltway than to jump on a plane to visit Paris. So, I will continue to ask my family to replace fear with curiosity and boldly venture to new lands like Vikings.
Navigate to new lands
We can have cheap fuel, airfares, and places to stay but if we don’t explore new places we’re missing out. New places don’t need to be exotic foreign lands. Sometimes it can just be about going where you are wanted, or maybe staying in a treehouse instead of a stuffy hotel room. To get started, check out the cool map on Kayak Explore and dial the price way back to about $300 and see what shows up.
Go forth, fearless Vikings.