Visit Sweden instead of Iceland to see Northern Lights for cheaper, says expert

Heading to Sweden instead of Iceland to see the Northern Lights, and to Zimbabwe for an African safari holiday, are some of the top ways to tick activities off your travel bucket list – for a fraction of the cost, according to an expert.

Seeing the aurora borealis, spotting animals in their natural habitat, and visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York, are among the top travel wish list activities for Brits.

And other dream trips include driving Route 66, exploring the ruins of Pompeii, and going to Disneyworld in Florida.

However, 71%, of a poll of 2,000 holidaymakers, revealed that the cost of these trips holds them back from ticking things off their lists – with the average adult having 16 destinations or activities they are desperate to see or do.

Thankfully, help is at hand – as a travel money guru, from card firm FairFX, has shared his top tips for visiting these sought-after travel hotspots, without breaking the bank.

Jack Mitchell, who has been helping travellers find the best deals for foreign adventures for over a decade, has advised visiting Sweden to see the Northern Lights – instead of pricey Iceland, where many tourists flock to see the phenomenon.

The little-known, snowy town of Abisko, in the north of Sweden, is one of the best spots to clearly witness the natural phenomenon between September and March – without the eyewatering accommodation costs compared to Iceland.

Those seeking the Northern Lights on a budget can make further savings by hiring a car and downloading free apps to discover the prime locations – as opposed to forking out for a tour and a guide.

For travellers wanting to embrace their wild side on an African safari, heading for the south of the continent in the low season, from December to March, is where the best savings can be made compared to the east.

Jack highlighted Zimbabwe as a great alternative, as the country offers very competitive options for travellers, as well as access to many of the essential safari animals.

And while New York isn’t often associated with a budget break, the Statue of Liberty can be experienced for a pittance – with free ferry tickets included with the purchase of most tourist discount passes around the city.

To see even more of New York cheaply, the NYC Ferry connects five boroughs and has a route from Midtown West to Staten Island – where you can get stunning views of the Statue of Liberty – from as little as $4.

And to make spending money go further, Jack highlighted museums with weekly free or “pay-what-you-wish” hours – like Frick Madison on Thursday afternoons, Guggenheim Museum on selected Saturday afternoons, and the Jewish Museum which is free every Saturday.

Jack said: “Despite feeling the pinch amid the cost-of-living crisis, the nation’s passion for travelling and exploring the world hasn’t been subdued.

“But for any traveller, no matter what their budget, doing the legwork about the destination is essential to making your money go further, and enabling you to tick off entries on your travel bucket list.

“Whether that’s discovering the local hacks, or just getting the most competitive rates with your travel money, it all goes a long way to making lifelong memories without breaking the bank.”

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The research also found Europe is the most popular continent for travellers to tick off items on their bucket lists, followed by North America and Asia.

Beaches, wild nature, and mountainous regions were the top types of destinations jetsetters want to explore.

Movies and TV shows give holidaymakers the most inspiration when it comes to adding more to their lists, with 34% seeking advice from family and friends – while 27% have been inspired by social media.

But despite 67% reporting the cost-of-living crisis has had an impact on their travel plans, 53% have still managed to tick off an item within the last year.

And on average, travellers are hoping to experience two more of their dream locations within the next 12 months.

In an attempt to keep these costs down, 41% are trying to book their getaways further in advance, and 35% are committed to exploring discount breaks.

Meanwhile, 24% of those polled, via OnePoll, are spending longer researching travel currency to ensure the best price.

Jack, from FairFX, added: “With so much to see and do across the world, it can almost feel like an impossible task compiling a realistic travel bucket list.

“And for many it can seem daunting trying to see as much of it as possible – but if there’s a will, there’s a way, and it’s encouraging to learn how these determined travellers are exploring options to go on adventures within budget.”


  1. See the Northern Lights
  2. Go on safari in Africa
  3. See the Statue of Liberty in New York
  4. Visit the Colosseum in Rome
  5. Drive Route 66
  6. Swim in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
  7. Take a gondola ride through the canals of Venice
  8. Explore the ruins of Pompeii
  9. See the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland
  10. Go to Disneyworld in Florida
  11. Visit the Great Pyramid of Giza
  12. See Mount Fuji in Japan
  13. Walk along the Great Wall of China
  14. Visit the Taj Mahal
  15. Have a ride in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon
  16. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge

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