I am writing to you today as I am flying home from a 12 Day trip to Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This is a delightful time to be in Scandinavia as there is almost 24-hour sunlight and usually mild summer temperatures. This year saw record-setting heat in Sweden and Norway as the temps rose into the high 80’s many days.
Here are my 10 tips when traveling to Norway and Sweden (I provided my Iceland comments last week)
#1 – You can travel without cash in Scandinavia –
Credit cards are the preferred payment for everything from taxi cabs to coffee houses. Some places will only accept credit cards for payment. Be sure to bring two credit cards as sometimes you might have trouble with one credit card being accepted but the other one works. Many stores do not accept American Express cards for payment. I used to always recommend to bring some local currency but the mass movement to credit card payment makes using local currency more pain than it is worth.
#2 – Hotels in Norway and Sweden are not up to American standards –
Many national and regional hotels in Norway and Sweden do not meet Americans standards. A four-star hotel in Norway would be 3 stars in the U.S. Rooms are small, bathrooms even smaller, and showers even smaller. They are hotel chains like Hilton and Sheraton that offer options American are used to.
#3 – Hotels have no air conditioning –
Many hotels do not have air conditioning and you will bake when the weather gets in the 80’s. Many of the hotels in Scandinavia were built when the summers never reached 80 degrees so they don’t have air conditioning. Your only way to cool your room is to open your window which also brings you street music throughout the night and makes it very difficult to rest. Be sure to ask the front desk for a fan for your room.
#4 – Shampoo is in a wall dispenser –
Many of us have gotten used to having small bottles of shampoo and hair conditioner at the hotel. Many hotels in Scandinavia have wall dispensers that are filled with bulk shampoo. My mamma always told me to never bathe with anything poured from a 55-gallon drum.
#5 – Don’t forget to put out a door sign to clean your room –
If the housekeeper does not see the sign on your door they will often just not make up your room that day.
#6 – No washcloths in the bathrooms –
Americans often bring their own washcloths when traveling to Europe and Scandinavia as not many hotels offer washcloths in their bathrooms.
#7 – Your dinner could last for 4 hours unless you ask for the check –
Unless you ask for the check they will not bring it. Unlike the U.S. it is considered rude to bring a check until you ask for it.
#8 – You need your room key to turn on the room lights –
Scandinavians take their energy efficiency very seriously and almost all hotels require you to put your room key in a slot inside the door to turn on the lights. When you leave the room and take your key all the room lights shut off. Many hotels around the world use this method to control energy cost today.
#9 – Great cell service even when driving through tunnels –
I could not believe it when I was riding a bus through a 5-mile long tunnel and never lost my cell phone connection for a conference call I was on.
#10 – The U.S. dollar is still the gold standard for tipping –
Almost everyone has a big smile when you tip them with USD. The dollar is still the best currency to have in your wallet around the world.
Bonus tip #11 -New European security rules limit access to websites using wi-fi-
I was surprised to find that I could not access several websites using wi-fi but was able to access using my cell service. Apparently, this is related to the new personal data security rules of the EU. I usually like to read my local newspapers from back home and my Wallstreet Journal when I am traveling along with Facebook.
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