Chasing the elusive aurora borealis is, more often than not, perceived as costly and maybe not fit for solo travellers and itinerary planning can be a bigger headache than a hangover after a night of partying. This is article is to totally change that perception.
I travelled to the North Pole solo, I planned my own itinerary, did my own research on how to take photos of aurora borealis, booked my own airline tickets and lodging and started to save up for the trip for 6 months in advance. And I did it!!! I saw the elusive aurora borealis dance across the cloudless starry sky for a few minutes! Talk about crossing a lot of items on my bucketlist.
It wasn’t that hard to plan the itinerary. Abisko, Sweden wasn’t that difficult to reach. It wasn’t that cold. It wasn’t that expensive. So how much did the trip to chase the aurora borealis really cost?
Depending on where you are coming from, getting to your destination of choice could be the most expensive item on your budget. Check on cheap flights at least 6 months before your planned travel dates. Research on the cheapest European city to fly into. I flew from Singapore to Copenhagen, Denmark and took another cheaper transfer from Copenhagen to Kiruna, Sweden via http://www.flysas.com/en/sg/. My total round-trip flight cost was around $1100.00.
For the land travel cost, my train travel from Kiruna city center to Abisko was $14.00. The taxi cost from Kiruna airport to Kiruna city center was around $20.00.
You need to research which location to experience the aurora borealis is the cheapest and fit for solo travellers. If you’re outside the EU zone then the cost maybe pricier for you than others. I chose Copenhagen, Denmark as my entry point to Europe because I wanted to see a bit of Copenhagen and to visit my relatives.
I bought my travel insurance from World Nomads. My average daily cost for coverage was USD 8.00 a day. Travel insurance should always be a part of your travel planning. Be smart about being an independent traveller and get covered before you leave home.
For the lodging cost, I chose to book my stay with cheaper accommodations. I opted to stay in a backpackers lodge, which was cheap, clean and decent. For my 5D4N stay with Abisko Guesthouse, I only paid for $388.00 for a single air-conditioned room with a bunk bed and closet plus a very cute room slippers made out of recycled materials.
Clothing and Gear Cost
Being from a tropical country and now based here in Singapore, which summer stays on for 365 days a year, I didn’t have any single piece of winter clothing, much less clothing that will help me live through -5 to -30 degrees below zero. I had to shop for everything and thank God for online shopping! I went crazy shopping for the following;
- a durable and dependable down jacket with hoodie (invest in this one!)
- a couple of long sleeves thermal inner wear ($19 at Uniqlo)
- a couple of bottom thermal inner wear (also from Uniqlo)
- a couple of long sleeve t-shirts
- a fleece jacket ($9 at AliExpress)
- 2 thick wool socks
- 2 thin wool socks
- 1 winter ski gloves
- 1 thick bonnet with lining
- 1 beanie (cute one for photos)
- 1 thick scarf, I got the one that can double as a blanket during my flight
- 1 winter ski pants, the waterproof one ($40 at AliExpress)
- Grabber Hand Warmers
- Columbia Women’s Cold Weather Boots
- SanDisk Ultra 64GB microSD memory card (for extra, just in case)
I spent no more than $400 for all the above items. I already had an old camera and a GoPro HERO3+ so no need to buy one.
Activity and Tours Cost
I only booked one activity for my entire trip, the Aurora Hunting Tour on Snowmobile. It cost about $230.00 to join this activity. I wanted to make sure that someone local can help me with my aurora watch plus it would be cool to ride on snowmobiles on the snowy mountain slopes of Abisko at night! Overalls, winter boots and hot steaming goji berry tea is included. Added bonus? The new friends I met on the tour and their funny anecdotes on their previous aurora hunting trips in other countries. I proudly shared with them that this is my very first aurora hunting trip and felt very lucky that I saw it on my first try.
Daily Expense Cost
Luckily the lodge that I booked for my stay was directly across a local supermarket. It was the only supermarket for the entire town of Abisko. Not surprising since the town had only 100 population. I bought everything from the supermarket, chips, tea, chocolates, beer and microwave dinner. For my food expenses I didn’t go over $100.00
A photo posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on
For camera rentals, if you do need one, you need to shell out at least $50 with the tripod included.
My total cost for chasing aurora borealis is around $2500.00. Expensive? Oh definitely. But that feeling, standing under a cloudless starry night sky, in the middle of a clearing of a frozen river, on a brutally cold, freezing December, then I saw the aurora borealis dance for about a few minutes? Priceless.
Here’s my previous post on more tips when hunting for aurora borealis. If you liked my post, sharing it is very much appreciated, well sharing is caring!