January 21, 2014

Ay, Krona! The Hen's Guide to Surviving Sweden

Hens on Ice has flown to Sweden! I was nervous to venture here in January, knowing that harsh winters turn me into an angry bird. But peck on wood, my feathers have survived the cold thus far and Old Man Winter has been gentle for Scandinavian standards. But far worse than cold, dark days here is the cruel, frigid currency called the krona. For the US dollar user, there has been nothing kind about the krona to dollar conversion rate. Sweden is more than Ikea and meatballs - it's expensive!

After spending $22 on a chimichanga, I vowed there had to be a better way. At that rate, I was a few chimichangas away from blowing my paycheck in 48 hours. As I've spent more time in Sweden, I've compiled some tips on surviving the krona on a US dollar paycheck.

Get in there!
1. Gorge on the free hotel breakfast and bring a big purse. No matter how tired or hungover you may be, you cannot pass up a free meal in this land. Swedish hotel breakfasts are bounteous smorgasbords and cost nothing extra. Pile on the bacon, fried eggs, fruit, and carbs. If this goes well, you'll waddle out of there and survive almost until dinner. European breakfasts also typically have sliced meats and cheeses, so make a sandwich for "breakfast," then "accidentally" wrap it in your napkin and drop it in your purse. On your way out, bump the fruit bowls and make sure multiple apples and bananas "fall" in. Be "clumsy" and avoid eye contact with hotel staff. Woops!

2. Sleep. It's easier to avoid hunger and spending money while unconscious, so take naps, and hopefully you'll wake up again when it's breakfast.

Only kind of expensive.
3. Fast food is your new friend. While I typically try to keep McDonald's to a minimum while in foreign lands, sometimes it's necessary. Throw the stigma of eating McDonald's abroad out the window, because anyone who guilts you for it has never been to Scandinavia. But to avoid spending $15 or $20 on crap, look at the value or promotional items, and only buy them... lots and lots of them. 4 McNuggets for 15 kroner? Buy 6 (or more) 4-piecers and call it a day. Don't let them rob you into buying a 20 piece - it costs more and you only get one box. Cheeseburgers 15 kroner? Get 6. Don't give in to the meal "deal." Just buy the item on sale in ridiculous quantities.

4. Grocery shop. This may seem like common sense, but I hate grocery shopping and avoid it at all costs. Now, I can only afford to avoid it at most costs, and these Scandinavian costs are too much to avoid it. But I learned I can make meals out of buying just 3 different food groups - a carb, a meat, and a cheese. Throw is all together and it's a meal.

5. Turn a meal out into 3 meals. If you are in the situation where you must order a $22 chimichanga or hamburger, have a few bites to keep from passing out, and put the rest in a to-go box. Have a few bites for your next meal, and the rest for the next. That $22 meal just turned into 3 meals for $7.33 each. Sure, $7.33 still sucks for a bite of chimichanga, but you can always fill up on tap water.

6. Tap water is the drink of choice. Ordering alcohol or soda with a meal needs to be a faint memory of the United States, just like the women's suffrage movement or cassette tapes. After the meal, go to the liquor store so you can drown your sorrows with a $30 box of wine.

Scandinavian summer.

Keep reading! I also did things in 2013.

1 comment:

  1. What a handy guide! I'm printing this and tucking it into my passport just in case :)