Oslo For Under £100?

by JP Morgan on July 11, 2011

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Considering Oslo is one of the most expensive cities on Earth, I actually wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull this one off without forcing myself not to eat.

However, my host, his friends and even a girl from CouchSurfing who I met for an hour to trade travel stories – all fed me. Frozen pizza, day-old baked goods, endless coffee, huge breakfast, dal soup and lots of fruit and veg.

I slept for free in a comfy bed at my hosts office in the center of Oslo city, showered and washed my clothes at his place too. [click to continue…]

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Hey America, We Still Love You

by JP Morgan on July 11, 2011

I’ve heard stories from travellers older than myself about how there was once a time that it was great being an American abroad. They say people used to be curious to meet you and they had a wonderfully positive attitude towards you.

Obviously much has changed since then. Everywhere I’ve travelled, I’ve had to overcome stereotypes ranging from the infrequent ‘God-loving-muslim-hating-oil-theiving-mass-murderer’ to the more common ‘annoying-idiot’.

For the first time, this weekend I’ve felt like those American travellers 25-50 years ago must have felt.

The first experience came as a bit of a surprise. I had asked someone if they were from the USA.

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At 11:10am, my flight landed at Rygge Airport, 100km south of Oslo.

Having sat in the first row and with no baggage to claim, I was first through immigration and standing out in front of the airport parking garage by 11:17.

It was a good spot, because both the cars leaving the pickup point and the ones leaving the parking garage had to pass by there.

I like to count things, so the moment I unfolded my Oslo sign, I started counting them.

1…2…3… This is funny.

4…5… Are they even seeing me? Of course they are… [click to continue…]

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Hitchhiking to Oslo

by JP Morgan on June 18, 2011

My next Hundred Holiday will be for three days and two nights July 9th & 10th, in Oslo, Norway.

After flight £36 and bus £14, I’ll have £50 to spend in Norway.

Although this trip will be one less day than my previous trip, it will certainly prove more challenging.

Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world and the current exchange rate between Great British Pound and Norwegian Krone isn’t really in my favour.

Not that I’d eat one, but at the current rates a Big Mac in Norway costs about £10 (US$16).

To make things even more challenging, I’m not flying into Oslo itself.

I’m flying into a smaller airport in a city called Rygge, which is about 2 hours by bus from Oslo.

The bus isn’t an option though.


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Here are the results from my first adventure with Hundred Holidays.

Ultracheap Travel Results

  • £22 – Flights
  • £14 – Bus (London)
  • £26 – Food
  • £13 – Tea & Coffee

Total Holiday Cost: £75 (US$122, EU€85)

Thus the total cost came in at £25 under my £100 budget for 3 nights / 4 days away. On my next trip I’ll probably spend more on the flight and stay one less day, so I can have more options on where to go.

Ultralight Travel Results

  • Showered x 3
  • Washed clothes x 1
  • Borrowed toothpaste, soap and shampoo.
  • No deodorant.

I started out feeling like I was forgetting my bag whenever I got up to leave somewhere, but then I got so used to not having a bag or anything at all with me that I left my jacket at the airport in Linz!

I never felt like I needed anything that I didn’t have with me (see photo) and I will actually shed a few items on my next trip.

No notebook or pen as the iPhone suffices. And I’ll bring one emergency credit card instead of two. This will leave me with literally an iPhone, charger, passport, cash, credit card, house key and a mini toothbrush. Don’t see how I could minimise that anymore!

I didn’t stink at all, but next time I may also wear my Vibram Five Finger shoes so that I don’t need to wear any socks. And I’ll probably wear an odor resistant synthetic t-shirt because it will be hotter out this summer and I don’t want to have to bring deodorant. I can borrow spray on deodorant from people wherever I can find it.

Overall I’m totally into the ultralight travel thing. It was such a free feeling to know I have everything with me whole having nothing with me!

I’m already thinking about doing a 2 week ultralight trip at some point, but probably outside the Hundred Holidays project.

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A Remarkable Man

by JP Morgan on June 1, 2011

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The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them.

This is obvious.

What may be less obvious is that the more time you spend with someone, the more you realise you didn’t know them as well as you thought you did.

My first impression of George was a guy who was victim of his own psyche, that through a few unfortunate experiences had thought himself into a kind of psycho-physiological suffering.

Venturing far from home is a challenge for him. He never leaves the house without a briefcase and sidebag full of drugs and devices to ward of panic attacks, heart troubles and allergic reactions. [click to continue…]

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CouchSurfers Unite

by JP Morgan on May 29, 2011

CouchSufing.org has 2.7 million members around the world.

That is a lot of couches.

Upon joining, despite whether you have actually surfed someone’s couch or not, you are officially a couchsurfer. You’re one of them.

And well, I guess I’m one of them too.

I actually joined many years ago when the site was just starting out. Evidently this gives me a bit of “couch cred”. (OK, I made the “couch cred” part up. It’s not that cheesy.)

They are budget travellers of course. Most not because they have to be – but because they want to be.

At anytime, as a couchsurfer, you may be either surfing yourself or hosting other surfers.

“CouchSurfer” is such a funny name. When my host was in the other room, I couldn’t help but stand on his couch and give a quick “surfs up” hand sign to the bookshelf who just stood there staring at me unimpressed.

These people not only host you on their couch, they act as your excited and helpful tour guides in their home cities. They even try to feed you a bit if you let them.

As an outsider, you would think that a host hosts and treats you well so that he or she can build up some credit to then cash in on other peoples couches. This might be partly the case, but actually the reward for hosting is more immediate.

For people like me (or ‘us’) who enjoy meeting and talking with people from different countries, if they don’t have the time or money to go travelling, they can have it almost as good by having the travellers come to them.

“I can travel the world without leaving my home,” remarked my host George. [click to continue…]

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Unexpected Expectations

by JP Morgan on May 29, 2011


The first time I ever left home on my own was in 1998 when I went to study at the University of Sydney. I had gone with a head and heart full of expectations, which upon arrival in Australia resulted in a mental and emotional shock so strong I almost turned around and went straight back home.

I remember standing in the phone box calling my parents, trembling with anxiety and with tears in my eyes.

“Mom, something went wrong. They don’t even have a place for me to live. I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

I didn’t turn back though.

Instead I met some other travellers and feeding off their strength was able to get it sorted. Over the following months I had some of the most unexpected and yet most cherished experiences of my life.

Despite this lesson, I still forget not to have expectations. (Or maybe its just impossible to avoid?)

And just like in 98, they are hardly ever met.

Somewhat insanely, not long after arrival in a new place, I never fail to ask myself “Why did I come here?” [click to continue…]

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The First 36 Hours

by JP Morgan on May 27, 2011

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It’s almost midnight on Friday evening and I’m sat in the corner of a loud cafe/bar on the main square in Linz, Austria. The Danube River is flowing under a bridge at the end of the square and rain is still coming straight down since about midday today. Let me catch you up on the last 36 or so hours.

The RyanAir flight went by like a blue and yellow carnival ride as I was heavily engrossed in an iBook about social networks.

Austian immigration smiled and stamped without a word and I walked hands in pockets straight by the conveyor belt carrying bags of stuff and between the sliding doors to the smiling face of my three meter tall couchsurfing host George.

“Do you want to go to my place first…or I guess you don’t have to drop anything off, so…” he was saying as we pulled out of the airport lot and onto a very German, smooth-paved motorway.

George took me straight to the lakes so I could see how each one was a different color, from neon turquoise to deep, deep blue. We went to a “beach”, which was really a green grassed park straight to the water’s edge dotted with lots of white skinned speedo and bikini’d bodies.

“We don’t really know these ‘sand beaches’ in Austria”, George explained.

On the way back to Linz, we stopped at ‘LandZeit’, a food and service stop on the side of the highway that people travel from far to because the food served there is first class and cooked on site from scratch. Even the waffle cones we ate the three scoops of ice creme out of were mixed baked and rolled there.

“If my body could do it, I would live off ice creme,” George told me.

“Wow,” he continued. “I’ve never seen anyone finish faster than me. Usually I’m always done first.”

“Yeah, well I’m an American. We’re good at that,” I responded. “You should see me eat popcorn. I use two hands.”

We stopped at a shop to get George’s favourite bread, a special recipe which would come to symbolise his charming peculiarities.

“Here’s your couch.” George said pointing to a futon with fresh linens piled on it. [click to continue…]

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Less is More

by JP Morgan on May 26, 2011

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The stuff in the photo above, plus my iPhone (used to make the photo), is everything I’m bringing for 4 days in Austria.

When I first started travelling I had a backpack that equaled me in both size and weight. I carried two weeks worth of clothes, books, gadgets, a laptop, boots and all sorts of random stuff I was sure I needed. Even a skateboard!

Since 1999, much has changed about how I travel.

You see, there are different kinds of travelling I enjoy, such as long distance bicycle touring, city hopping with a backpack, road tripping in a campervan and even relaxing vacations at posh resorts.

However, these new adventures are about minimalism.

Spend less, because I enjoy the challenge and the unexpected experiences that come with budget travel. I also hope to inspire others to get out there travelling further and more often as well.

Carry less, because I’ve learned there is a certain freedom that comes with shedding “stuff”.

As Wayne Dyer said in one of his audio programs “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

It’s a way of life really.

My hope is that these trips will help me to meet lots of interesting people, to improve my resourcefulness and to experience even more deeply that ‘less is more’.

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