Travel Hacking through Norway
Maximize your fun (and value) in Norway with Scott Meyer’s travel tips and expertise
By Christy Olsen Field, Norwegian American Weekly
Traveling in Norway is a lifelong dream for many Norwegian-Americans to see their ancestral homeland, but the sticker shock of Norwegian prices and the not-so-great exchange rate can be enough to deter people from traveling.
Enter Scott Meyer, a Norwegian-American from South Dakota with a love for Norway, travel and technology. He combined his experience as a tour guide in Norway and expertise in social media to fund and write an eBook titled “Travel Hacking Guide to Norway,” a guide that encourages people to experience the best of Norway with an affordable budget.
The dynamic 30-year-old is from Brookings, S.D., where he grew up in a Norwegian-American family. While studying political science and peace studies at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Meyer had the opportunity to study Norwegian language a little bit. He applied for a master’s degree program and Conflict Transformation at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway. After graduating from the University of Tromsø, Meyer stayed for an additional two years working as a tour guide and traveling all over Norway on a student’s budget.
His infectious enthusiasm and ease in talking in front of a group combined with passion for Norway made Meyer a natural tour guide. His first tour job was leading day tours to people who came to Tromsø to see the stunning natural beauty of the area.
“People came from all over the world – Germany, the U.K., Japan – to see Tromsø, and they are so blown away by the beauty and extreme light conditions. People will pay $10,000 to see the Northern Lights, and I got to enjoy it for free by living there,” said Meyer.
While he was in Norway, Meyer invited friends and family to visit him, but few took him up on the offer because of the cost of traveling to and within Norway.
“When you are working there, the cost is fine. It’s hard to be a tourist,” he pointed out.
When Meyer moved back to the U.S. in 2009 to co-found 9 Clouds with his brother – a social media consulting company that trains people and businesses to use digital media to grow their business – his experience in Norway was far from over.
“I was asked by many family members and friends about Norway, and I wanted to write something that I could give to people that would tell them what they would need to know about traveling in Norway,” said Meyer.
He decided to write a guide to “travel hacking” in Norway – experiencing the best of Norwegian culture, people and scenery without breaking the bank. Geared with his knowledge as a tour guide and experience as a budget traveler himself, Meyer wanted to provide useful information for people to maximize their time and value in Norway.
“Before I wrote the book, I decided to put my project up on Kickstarter – an online funding platform for individuals to get financial support for their project,” said Meyer. “Social media played a bit part in getting the word out: I put it up on my Facebook wall, and it just took off.”
It wasn’t just friends and family who supported the book project – after four weeks on Kickstarter, Meyer started receiving pledges from people he didn’t know, including one woman in Australia who wanted to go to Norway, and found his project through Google.
“Social media and the power of word of mouth made it possible,” said Meyer. “That kind of affirmation from people gets other people excited too.”
His book “Travel Hacking Guide to Norway” is an eBook that can be read on Kindles, iPads and as a PDF on any computer. The book provides links to website, travel timetables, event listings and more, ensuring that all the information is consistently up-to-date and current. In addition, Meyer will launch a website called TravelHackingNorway.com. This online resource will be a place to find Norwegian products, music, items of interest and more to help people plan their Norwegian adventure.
When asked about his favorite budget travel tip for Norway, Meyer came up with two:
“I love telling people to use couchsurfing.org. Hotels are super expensive, and you’re removed from everyday life in Norway. Couchsurfing is free, and you connect with locals who share their couch (or floor) for free. I went couchsurfing myself 20 or 30 times, and it’s a great way to meet people,” said Meyer. “Through couchsurfing, I went skiing with people, attended concerts, hockey games – you uncover this whole world. People are usually very generous, and you enjoy experiences you couldn’t imagine visiting a place on your own.”
The idea of couchsurfing can be rather intimidating for those who don’t want to stay in a stranger’s space, so Meyer offers another way to score free accommodations.
“There are so many festivals going on in Norway during the summers, and they always have a need for volunteers. A great way to get to the events and have lodging covered is to volunteer. I had a couple visitors come and volunteer at a music festival for a few hours a day, and they had all their meals and accommodations paid for. Think outside the box!”
For more information, visit www.TravelHackingNorway.com.
This article originally appeared in the Mar. 30, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.