The True Cost of Chasing Aurora Borealis

Cost of Chasing the Aurora Borealis
Cost of Chasing the Aurora Borealis

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?

Travel 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.

Travel Insurance

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.

Lodging Cost

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.

#aurorahunting #swedishlapland #snowmobiles #abiskonationalpark🌲⛅ #abisko #sweden #northernlights #travels #wanderlust

A video posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on

 

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

Lunch.

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.

Lastly…

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!

http://justtravellingsolo.com/hunting-for-the-aurora-borealis-heres-how-not-to-be-disappointed/

 

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  1. Reply

    This is a brilliant guide – so comprehensive. But why not necessarily fit for solo travellers? You did a fine job 🙂

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 8, 2016
      Reply

      Others percieved it that way, that since you are travelling in unfamiliar destination that it may be difficult to travel to alone.

      I did it solo! I travelled to Abisko, Sweden, the North Pole, solo and I was fine. I hope with this article, I encourage solo travellers to chase Aurora Borealis too!

  2. Reply

    What a fabulous experience! I’d love to see the northern lights – and will happily dig out my thermals.. or go on a shopping spree at Uniqlo.. to get myself set up!

  3. Reply

    Woooh! Pretty pricey…but at the same time, an experience like that is pretty priceless!!! This is high up on my must do things!

  4. Reply

    $2500 is definitely an amount of money I can’t afford right now (I’m still a student) but it’s really helpfull to know the price. I’ll want to see the Northern lights once in my lifetime and will start saving for it once I start working. Thanks for sharing your honest travel experience!

  5. Reply

    Experiencing the Aurora Borealis is a big dream of mine; but I always thought that it’s perhaps not that easy to organize. Thanks for posting so many useful tips. Now I can see that it is actually quite doable. I’m definitely bookmarking this for later.

  6. Reply

    Whoaaa…i think i may have to give this experience a miss for now. It’s a bit too expensive at the moment but it’s definitely an experience I would love to have done one day. Thank you for producing such a comprehensive and honest report 🙂

    • Jo
    • May 9, 2016
    Reply

    Ah when I read articles about the northern lights, it inspires me to go NOW! They have been on my list for months now and they have slowly creeped up right to the top of my bucket list. My own apprehension is cost (of course a big factor) AND the freezing cold – The max it goes in my hometown is like 0 degrees. I have never been in sub zero temperatures before (Well, max was perhaps -2 in London) – So thats a big cause of concern but one day – eh!? 🙂 Plus, they say you “might” sight them in summer too – long shot!

  7. Reply

    $2,500 is worth the trip of a lifetime, I’d love to chase the Aurora Borealis with my family as well. The good thing is that since we’re New Yorkers, we always have winter gear, so we probably will save on that note. How fantastic this trip sounds!

  8. Reply

    What an incredible experience that must be! This is a great guide for anyone who is lucky enough to go. I especially like the clothing and gear guide. There’s always something I’m forgetting. I was actually surprised it wasn’t more. If you watch your budget, that’s a good price for such an experience.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 11, 2016
      Reply

      Exactly! I’m glad you find it helpful and informative. It was really an awesome and jaw dropping experience for me. One that I didn’t mind spending money on. Truly will stay with me for a lifetime!

  9. Reply

    This is beautiful! I love all the tips and the packing list. I’m honestly surprised it’s not more expensive.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 12, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you and you find it helpful! Thanks for dropping by too and visit again soon!

  10. Reply

    I’ve always wondered how much it actually cost! Thank you for being honest and giving a comprehensive breakdown of it all. But you’re so right. Experiencing one of the world’s most beautiful phenomenons is completely priceless. If I had the choice between the Aurora Borealis and a Prada handbag, I’d pick the former. 🙂

  11. Reply

    I’ve heard people that have flown with Norwegian instead of SAS and it has been a little cheaper, but yeah! nothing in Scandinavia is actually cheap, so I think this guide is amazing because it does not really lie about that fact!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 12, 2016
      Reply

      Hahaha you nailed it right on the head! Travelling to scandinavian countries is not cheap! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  12. Reply

    This total cost is a bit shocking for me! Especially that I’ve have lived for 5 years in Finland, I’m sure you can do it in much cheaper, although flights to Europe are quite pricey. But I’m happy that you liked it! 🙂

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 12, 2016
      Reply

      I envy you, being from Finland. It’s really a lot more expensive since I am based in Singapore. And for some reason, flights from Singapore are pricier than in most cities! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

    • Nam
    • May 12, 2016
    Reply

    Thank you so much for putting out all the costs – I am actually dying to see the Northern Lights and this guide will definitely come in handy.
    Experiences > Money 🙂

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 12, 2016
      Reply

      Yep, as they saying goes, you should invest on experience more than on material things. The experience and the memories will stay with for the rest of your life! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  13. Reply

    Omyyyyy it is expensive but like you said I’m sure it was worth every penny. It’s on my bucket list 😍😍😍

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 12, 2016
      Reply

      Yep, the payoff is priceless. The memories and the photos will stay with you for the rest of your life. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  14. Reply

    It’s definitely an expensive proposition, no matter where you head, but so wonderous! I’d love to experience them one day.

  15. Reply

    Thanks for all the info, this post was super helpful. I would love to see the Northern Lights one day!!

  16. Reply

    It definitely worth that price! Seeing this magic of the nature is one of my dreams

  17. Reply

    I’m glad you were able to see it on your first try! I have made two trips and missed out both times. My dad got it on his first try in Alaska! But hey, it’s still on my bucket list and I look forward for future “aurora hunting” trips – love that term.

    • Ann
    • May 16, 2016
    Reply

    Awesome, This has always been on my bucket list. Inspiring as well as comprehensive.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 16, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you Ann for your nice comments. I hope you make the trip soon because it is simply badass and awesome! Thanks too for dropping by and visit again soon!

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