This is our first trip cost report, but we’ve been keeping detailed spreadsheets of our travel spending for years, logging every single purchase – literally every cucumber, gelato, and bus ticket, so I figured it’s time to start sharing that info.
This is the most variable cost, but I’ll share anyway. I flew from Boston and Aaron flew from Riga, Latvia. My flight was a multi-city round trip from Boston to Helsinki and Copenhagen to Boston on Delta/KLM in Economy. It cost $530.95 (booked with Chase points, so free for us). Aaron’s flight, a one way from Riga to Helsinki on Finnair, cost $60.11. We went on to travel through Europe for two more months, so I count my round trip flight towards the whole trip.
To get to Lapland after landing in Helsinki, we took an overnight train to Rovaniemi, the biggest city in Lapland. Our round trip ticket in a private cabin with an in-suite bathroom cost $394.91. We paid the higher end of the ticket price because we booked last minute. If you book early you can get a much better deal. We also paid a few euros to store our bags in a locker at the train station while exploring Helsinki for an afternoon before boarding the train.
Rental Car & Gas
When we arrived in Rovaniemi the next morning, we picked up our rental car with Alamo at the train station. Our 4 day reservation cost $187.23 and gas cost about 90 euros. This will be higher now as gas prices have gone up and is highly dependent on where you drive to. We rented a fuel-efficient car (not an SUV) and drove just over 330 kilometers to Inari without too many detours. We didn’t buy rental car insurance, since it’s covered by our credit card.
We stayed four nights at Wilderness Hotel Inari for $433.12, including breakfast which was so filling we could skip lunch. There was no need to book any tours to see the Northern Lights. We simply walked down to the lake and enjoyed them all alone. October is Lapland’s low season as it’s the rainiest month in Finland, so accommodations are much cheaper than usual.
We drove back to Rovaniemi and returned to Helsinki on the sleeper train, where we boarded a ferry to Tallinn, Estonia for $8.11 each.
Grocery store prices were about the same or lower than in Boston, and dining out was cheaper. For example, salmon and potato gratin (a common Scandinavian dish) at a grocery store hot food bar cost 6 euros or so, and dinner for two at our hotel was 35 euros – really quite reasonable. A bowl of pho at a nice Vietnamese restaurant in Helsinki cost about 10 euros.
We spent $1,105 on the big ticket items on the ground in Finland, and $607 getting in and out, plus a little more on snacks and dinners.
All in all, we spent just shy of $600 per person to see the Northern Lights, plus 35,000 Chase points for my roundtrip flight to and from Europe.