Preparing for a Trip to Denmark!

In the blink of an eye, it’s already nearing the end of the year! It feels like I just went to Australia, and now it’s almost Thanksgiving…

My sister is studying in Copenhagen for the semester, so I went to visit her for a week at the end of last month. Before I put up any posts about what I did there, I thought it’d be great to share how I planned for this trip and some information that will be helpful to know before arriving in Denmark!


Plane Tickets

About a month before my flight there, I discovered that I had purchased Economy Light tickets by accident. I should’ve known because they were such a good deal…

Anyways, this meant that I had to pay extra for both seat selection and any checked baggage - for my Swiss Airlines flight there, this was $60 USD for the first bag. On top of this, there were very strict requirements for personal items and carry ons for Swiss Airlines - you’re allowed a personal item measuring up to 40 x 30 x 10 cm (15.7” x 11.8” x 3.9”) and a carry on measuring up to 55 x 40 x 23 cm (21.6” x 15.7” x 9”) and weighing up to 8 kg (~ 17 lbs). Though honestly, I don’t think anyone gave a crap. I saw a bunch of people with larger personal items and carry-on bags, and no one batted an eyelash.

I decided to pay for the seat selection, which for me was a worthwhile purchase because I always need to pee like every hour and would rather not have to wake people up to get out of my seat. I had 4 flights total round trip, and I paid for seat selection for 3 out of 4 of those. The fourth flight was only 2 hours so I didn’t think it was necessary. I paid a total of around $150 for 3 aisle seats (you can pay to choose a center seat too, but why…).

Because I spent so much on seat selection, I decided to be stubborn and not pay extra money to check in any luggage. I embraced the challenge to pack as minimally as possible while still being able to create a variety of cute outfits. Additionally, it was a great way for me to limit my travel spending. I didn’t end up buying too many souvenirs, but my bag was really heavy, so thankfully on the way back I was able to pack a few larger items (like my second pair of shoes) into my mom’s check-in luggage, since I’ll be seeing her in LA soon for Thanksgiving anyways.

Lodging

I stayed in a hotel my first night there and then Airbnbs for the rest of the time. The hotel I stayed at was Hotel Kong Arthur, which was approximately $180 USD when I booked it. I highly recommend it - the vibe is very cozy and modern, and the staff are very kind. It’s also very convenient, less than a 10 minute walk from Nørreport Station. They also are supposed to have an amazing breakfast, but I chose not to eat the restaurant this time.

Despite the wonderful hotel though, I definitely preferred staying in the Airbnbs. My parents booked an Airbnb near the University of Copenhagen for the week, and I booked one for our overnight trip to Odense. The Airbnb in Copenhagen had a washer/dryer, and both places had functional kitchens, which was great. Eating out is not a big part of the culture there, so I appreciated being able to eat breakfast while getting ready in the morning and stay in some nights and cook dinner rather than eating at a restaurant for every meal.

currency/credit cards

Definitely do not bring too much cash. My sister kept on emphasizing this, so I thought only bringing the equivalent of $200 USD for myself for a week was a good amount. This was still too much - I think $100 USD per person for a week is already plenty. With the exception of small food stands, every single place we went to took credit card, and some places were even card only.

Also, definitely set up a PIN for your credit card. The PIN wasn’t really necessary at stores, as they would just request a signature, but the ticket machines for public transportation often times did not take credit cards without a PIN. And definitely bring a VISA or MasterCard - most places in Europe do not accept American Express.

TRANSPORTATION

First of all, it’s important to note that ride share apps like Uber and Lyft are banned in Denmark. There are taxis available, but they’re very expensive. Most people either bike, use scooters, take public transportation, or just walk.

I only walked or took public transportation for the whole trip. My parents and my aunt had more luggage than me, so they took taxis to and from the airport. I wouldn’t recommend it though, because it can take longer than public transportation, and can cost 10 times as much.

There’s a few different day passes you can buy for public transportation within Copenhagen, but as we were mostly walking, we decided to only buy tickets whenever we needed to. The ticketing system is a little confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually a very easy system to follow. In Denmark, you buy tickets based on the number of zones you’re traveling through, not based your exact destination. For example, from the airport to Nørreport, the station closest to my hotel and my Airbnb, I was traveling through 3 zones, so I bought a 3 zone ticket. If you’re buying tickets at the ticket machines, which are red and abundantly available near any station, you don’t have to worry about this. With the ticket machines, you can enter the destination station, and the machine will tell you how much to pay. You can also buy one ticket for multiple people at once. Regardless of how you buy your tickets, make sure you buy the correct number of zones. Tickets are checked very often on the train and metro, and if you don’t pay the correct amount, you will be heavily fined.

Apps to Download

My sister recommended 2 apps for download, Rejseplanen and Mobilbilletter, to make navigating the buses, metro, and trains a lot easier.

Rejseplanen is a trip planner app - you enter your starting point, destination, and optionally your time of departure, and it’ll tell you which routes at which times you can take and how many transfers each route has. The app will even tell you which platform to take and how many stops your route has. This app definitely came in handy and made the logistics planning for commutes a lot easier. The app is not just limited to Copenhagen either - you can plan trips to further places, like Odense, Fredericksborg, and even to Sweden. There’s also a web app as well if you prefer not to download the app.

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Mobilbilletter is an app where you can buy tickets in advance. I only ended up using this once, since it seemed like it was only for individual tickets, and I was traveling with 3 other people. It saved time since using this app meant that I didn’t have to stop by the ticket machine and could just hop right on whichever metro or train I was taking. The link I have here also has more information on the public transportation in general and about the tickets.

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My ticket when I was leaving for the airport.

My ticket when I was leaving for the airport.

Packing

For my luggage, I brought my old Kipling duffle bag, that just fit Swiss Airline’s requirements for a carry-on. I had initially been planning to bring my carry-on suitcase, but it was just slightly over the allowed dimensions, and the duffle bag was lighter anyways, so it’d be easier to stay under the weight requirement. However, after lugging this duffle around airports and the half mile from my hotel to the Airbnb, I’ve decided to retire it and invest in a better carry-on bag. I’m writing this a few days after getting back from Copenhagen, and my shoulders are still hurting from lugging that 15 pound duffle around. I’ve decided to invest in the Cotopaxi 35L travel pack, which has built in packing compartments, and most importantly, it has backpack straps so my shoulders won’t be aching for days after my trip.

For my personal item, I brought my Fjallraven Kanken backpack. I’d been meaning to invest in one of these for a while, and I finally decided to get one before this trip. I had wanted a mini initially, but I wanted to be able to use the Kanken for work too, and the mini couldn’t fit a 13” laptop. I got mine in the color Autumn Leaf, which goes well with most of my clothes :)

Clothing

As part of my efforts to be more organized with my clothing and to monitor what I actually wear in my wardrobe, I finally caved and bought the app Stylebook, which is, by the way, probably the best $3.99 I have ever spent. I’ll be writing a dedicated post to review the app, but in the mean time, I can show you here how I use it to pack my clothing, shoes, bags, and other accessories. Stylebook has a Packing feature which allows you to create packing lists for individual trips:

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Within the packing list, there’s sections for: (1) the name of the packing list (Denmark, October 2019 in my case), (2) Contents, which includes the subsections Clothing (items from your Stylebook closet), Looks (any looks you’ve put together for the trip), and Text Items (items not in your Stylebook closet), and (3) Notes and Tags (here, I just have the average high/low temperature and days of rain for October). If you scroll to the bottom of the list, there’s also a packing checklist, shareable infographic, and printable checklist.

All the clothing I brought - see end of post for links

All the clothing I brought - see end of post for links

The looks I came up with sans accessories, bags, and shoes

The looks I came up with sans accessories, bags, and shoes

I knew it was going to be a bit chilly, so I packed a bunch of layers to stay warm and also to be able to mix and match for a variety of outfits. I came up with 16 different outfits from the items on my packing list but excluding bags and accessories, and I probably could’ve come up with more! Honestly though, I underestimated the cold and also got a bit sick, so I ended up wearing a similar outfit every day (thank goodness for laundry at the Airbnb) for maximum warmth and even borrowed a couple of warm items from my mom. I plan on going to Scandinavia during fall/winter again in the future, so next time I’ll definitely know to pack warmer than I think I will need.

Beauty/toiletries

I’m generally a pretty minimal packer, except for when it comes to beauty/personal care items. However, this time, especially because I knew European airports were especially strict about liquid limits, I really kept the skincare/makeup I brought to a minimum. I didn’t bring any soap, shampoo, or conditioner because I knew the hotel and Airbnbs I would be staying at would have them.

I kept my skincare to a cleanser from Jessi + Co, Wildcare Palo Santo Hydrosol, KORA Organics Noni Radiant Eye Oil, my holy grail Leo Oil, an Acure sheet mask that I got as a gift with a recent Thrive Market order, and a travel size Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. Makeup was minimal too - I brought my Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, Glossier Stretch Concealer, bareMinerals Mineral Veil Setting Powder, Ilia Essential Face Palette in Winter (summer palette linked), Colourpop shadows in Ritz, Virgo, and Taurus, a mini Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara, Glossier Boy Brow, and Glossier Vinylic Lip in Disco.

Reusables

I’m making efforts to be more sustainable in my everyday life, and I want to carry those efforts through my travels too. Since I had minimal packing space, I wasn’t too keen on bringing my Keep Cup (which I love) or my one-liter Nalgene with me, both of which I use regularly for my coffee/tea and water but are bulky. I found two products: the Que bottle (20 oz) and the Stojo cup (16 oz), both of which are collapsible, which is perfect for traveling. I don’t generally like buying things just for travel, but I’ve already gotten use out of both of these even in my day-to-day. I used my Que bottle every day, since in Denmark tap water is drinkable, though I didn’t end up using my Stojo cup at all since we mostly made coffee at the Airbnb. I also brought a couple of Baggu reusable bags, which came in handy whenever we went grocery shopping.

Electronics

I brought my phone, of course, as well as:

  • A power bank to charge my phone and Bluetooth earphones on the go! I got mine from Amazon, from the brand Anker. It’s relatively lightweight and amazingly has 4 charges before it runs out of power.

  • My Kindle, though I only really read it for like 5 minutes throughout the whole trip…

  • My film camera (is this an electronic? haha…) - my friend recently helped me develop my disposable film pics from last year, which motivated me to start taking film pics again. I just bought a cheap film camera, the Pentax Zoom 90 (around $30) off of Ebay.

  • Earphones - I had initially only brought my Anker Bluetooth ones, since I was traveling with family and thought they’d be nice to have if I wanted to watch my own videos or listen to music on my phone. I also ended up picking up a cheap pair of earphones that I could use on the plane. I never know if the ones they offer you on the plane are disposable or not, but I figured if I had my own I wouldn’t have to worry about that.

Miscellaneous

My sister’s host family graciously invited us to their home for dinner. I brought some local coffee and chocolates as a thank you gift. I had originally bought local jam, and then stupidly realized later that I wouldn’t be able to bring it if I’m not checking in luggage 🤦🏻‍♀️

Other miscellaneous items:

  • First aid kit (mainly meds/supplements, like Tylenol, heartburn meds, melatonin, and my birth control)

  • Travel adapter (a must for countries with different voltage than the US!)

  • My Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban - I had previously criticized the price on this hair towel, but after trying some other ones, I’ve come to realize that the cheaper ones just aren’t as good. I decided to pick up another one during the Sephora sale this month.

  • Small towel - just in case my Airbnb won’t have enough towels for the whole group.


Hopefully this proves helpful to those of you traveling to Denmark! Next up in this series I’ll be writing a couple of posts about the locations I went to in Denmark (and Sweden!) and some more travel tips and recommendations :)


Items from my packing list

1) Whimsy & Row Evelyn Top in Tan / 2) Lisa Says Gah Mia Lounge Set in Moss / 3) Kotn Fitted Turtleneck in Black / 4) Kotn High Neck Tank / 5) Madewell Classic Straight Jeans in Lunar Wash / 6) Abercrombie & Fitch Pleated Midi Skirt / 7) LHLL Joggers (black) / 8) old Steve Madden combat boots / 9) New Balance X Reformation 574 Sneakers / 10) Fjallraven Kanken Backpack in Autumn Leaf / 11) Poketo Minimal Tote in Black / 12) Donegal Kent Beanie in Coziest Yarn / 13) One Six Five Beaded Hoops / 14) Amano Studio Zodiac Medallion (similar) / 15) Mejuri Pearl Hoops / 16) Madewell Geometric Stack Statement Earrings (exact color no longer available) / 17) Sézane Joe Small Hoops / 18) Rains Long Jacket in Blue / 19) Madewell Caldwell Double-Breasted Blazer in Desert Check / 20) NAADAM Cashmere Ribbed Sweater Forest Green

Note: I decided to sell my Madewell jeans. I love them, but they were just too short for me, and I didn’t notice until I was wearing them every day in the cold-ish Scandinavian fall weather. I’ll probably re-purchase in the tall inseam in the future though when I’m ready for a pair of black jeans again.

travel, denmarkCathy Liu