Travel Fail: Budgeting in Copenhagen Gone Wrong

When I was planning our trip to Norway for June of this year, we decided to tack on an additional four nights in Copenhagen, Denmark. Our cruise ended there so staying longer made chronological sense, but we also found that flying home several days later cost a lot less on Icelandair.

We had never been to Denmark before either, so I figured we would turn it into a little side trip to see what the country has to offer. From there, I set out on a journey to find lodging and things to do during our extra time. Unfortunately, finding an affordable way to enjoy Denmark wasn’t easy.

The High Costs of Travel in Denmark

One of the biggest problems of travel in Denmark is the 25% VAT tax added to purchases tourists make — food in restaurants, hotels, and rental cars, for example. But this problem was only compounded by the fact that prices in Denmark were already extremely high.

We ultimately wanted to stay in Copenhagen as our home base, and we wound up booking an Airbnb that was approximately $400 per night. But when you tacked on the 25% VAT tax, it was $500 per night. Worse, it was in a decent location but not very nice at all!

We booked a rental car for a few days on Expedia, which wasn’t that bad until you tacked on the 25% in taxes. But parking anywhere in Copenhagen was expensive and gas was pricey, too. I think the cheapest lot near us was more than $40, which is not terrible for a big city, but I still got sick of paying it on top of everything else.

Dining was also a problem, even though we took measures to save money on food. We rented an apartment so we could cook a few meals at home, but our rental didn’t actually have a functional kitchen. The listing withheld crucial information!

We did buy fruit and pastries for breakfast and we skipped lunch in favor of snacks a few days, but food was expensive regardless. When we went out to dinner at night, the cost of restaurant dining was exorbitant: $25 for a veggie burger and fries, $21 for a dinner salad, $7 to $13 for a beer, and $10 to $12 for kid’s meals. We did our best to keep costs down, but at a certain point, we just gave up.

One big splurge we made with rewards was the day we spent at Tivoli Gardens, a small theme park in Copenhagen. The cash price for four people with unlimited rides would have been $268 USD for a single day, but we paid with Chase Ultimate Rewards. And I was ecstatic that I could book entry into the park for the next day since I was tired of spending money at that point.

The Bottom Line

When we returned home from Denmark, I looked over our credit card bills to check for errors then paid our balances in full. I feel very fortunate that this budgeting fail won’t wreck our finances since we have a large emergency fund and we’re 100% debt-free (including having a paid-off home), but I am still not thrilled with how it all went down.

This just goes to show that travel budgeting failures can happen to anyone and even those who travel consistently. My only consolation is the fact I earned 3x points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve for all our travel and dining expenses. Since this trip was so expensive, those points added up fast.

Have you ever had a major travel budget failure? What happened?


[Image: Wikimedia]

Source: frugal travel guy

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