The Scandinavia recap continues today! After our quick stop in Oslo, we hopped on a short one-hour flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we couldn’t wait to finally see all of the sights in Denmark’s capital city, and call the vibrant Absalon Hotel our temporary home away from home!

A Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon Hotel

History

The Absalon Hotel is one of the oldest family-owned hotels in Copenhagen, founded in 1938! At the time the hotel opened, there were only 11 rooms. Since then, the hotel has expanded quite a bit and now has 161 rooms and suites.

A Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon Hotel

Location

The hotel is about a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport and 5-minute walk to the train station – and is in a fantastic location for visiting Copenhagen! Just about everything we did was within walking distance of the hotel – the farthest out we were was probably a 30-minute walk.

The Room

We had a bit of a hiccup with our room after checking in. Being winter, it was freezing outside so we were looking forward to warming up for a few before heading back out to explore the city, but the heat wasn’t coming out and our room was an icebox. Maintenance came to take a look and said since it was an old system it would take a couple HOURS for it to warm up. We asked to switch to another room just in case it still wasn’t working when we got back because moving all of our belongings late night after a long day of travel was the last thing we wanted to deal with! It took jumping through quite a few hoops and almost two hours until we were finally switched to another room, but alas, we were and it was a much better room!

Our room was very spacious, which was great, since we were already starting to acquire a lot of things from our travels! We absolutely loved the color scheme – so bright and fun – especially in the winter, when things tend to be a little more grey than usual. We also loved the fruit plate and welcome note the staff had left for us!

A Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon HotelA Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon HotelA Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon Hotel

My favorite part of the room was the bathroom because it had the coolest mood lighting feature in the shower! It was such a nice added feature, now I want to install one in my shower at home!

The brand of soap, shampoo, and conditioner was new to us, but we really liked it! I also really liked that everything was in a jumbo dispenser, so you didn’t have to worry about running out of anything!

A Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon HotelA Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon HotelA Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon Hotel

Service + Amenities

Breakfast was included in our room rate, so we were able to enjoy another big European-style breakfast buffet! These are especially great because you eat so much you’re really fueled up for all of the walking and exploring for the day! Plus, each table had their own carafe of coffee. Yes, please!

 

A Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon Hotel

The hotel also has an incredibly helpful concierge, who can point you in the right direction for dining out or seeing attractions (you can also purchase tickets directly from the hotel), and can even help decipher your train ticket written in Swedish (the only time we really ran into a language barrier issue during our entire time in Scandinavia)!

Final Thoughts

Despite the bumps we hit on day one of our stay, overall, we really enjoyed The Absalon Hotel. I do wish the management was a bit more proactive in resolving the issue (I was the one chasing a resolution), I do want to give a major shout-out to the maintenance man on call who went above and beyond to help get the problem fixed and even brought us a couple cappuccinos for the inconvenience once we got settled into our new room!

It’s close proximity to the train station was incredibly helpful for our early morning train to Stockholm, and the famous Tivoli Gardens and shopping areas were a quick 5-10 minutes away by foot. Plus, the hotel has won numerous awards, including TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice, Small Danish Hotels, and the World Luxury Hotel Awards!

A Stay at Copenhagen's Absalon Hotel

Want to know more about the Absalon Hotel? Visit the hotel’s website or follow along on Facebook and/or Twitter

Stay tuned for more on Copenhagen next week!

I received a discounted rate for this stay. All opinions are my own.

I first learned about the Global Entry program a few years ago from a few coworkers who travel frequently for business. After taking my first trip overseas or “across the pond,” I witnessed what it meant to be a member of the program and knew it was something I wanted to invest in – especially after researching more details on Global Entry.

Why travelers should invest in global entry

What is Global Entry?

Global entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol program for pre-approved, low-risk U.S. citizens traveling back into the U.S. from a trip abroad. It allows you to go into a separate lane for expedited access through customs, which can save you quite a bit of time! While it benefits international travelers greatly, there are also benefits for people who travel domestically as well.

Benefits of Global Entry

The main benefits of Global Entry are simple. Shorter wait times! Nobody enjoys long lines, am I right? 

Domestically, members get to go through the expedited TSA Pre-Check lines, where you can breeze through without having to deal with taking your shoes off, laptops out of your bags, etc. 

And internationally, when returning to the U.S., you’re directed to a kiosk to handle your check-in to the country yourself and just show your printed pass to the customs officer before breezing along to the next checkpoint. This is especially helpful if you have a connecting flight you’re worried about catching! 

The Global Entry Approval Process

To apply, you have to fill out a detailed form on the Global Entry website with information like travel history, address, birthday, social security number, job details, etc. You also pay a $100 non-refundable application fee at this point, which also covers your membership for five years, if you’re approved.

After 1-2 weeks, you’ll receive notification that you’re “conditionally approved,” provided all of your info checks out. Then you’re able to access the appointment calendar, where you can schedule a date/time + airport that works best for you. Note that most airports are booked out pretty far for appointments and not all have weekend availability. 

The in-person appointment takes less than 10 minutes! You meet with a customs agent who goes over your application and takes your fingerprints for the fast-track kiosk you’ll use when coming back through customs post-international trip.

Another week or two later, you’ll get your official Global Entry card, which you bring with you when traveling. It also contains your “known traveler number,” which you can add to your airline profile to ensure you get TSA Pre-Check for domestic flights (at participating airports).

Cost of Global Entry

To apply for (and become a member of) the program, you pay a $100 non-refundable fee. For comparison, you pay $85 to be a member of TSA Pre-Check. A $15 difference to include an expedited line for international travel?! Yes, please!

Final Thoughts

Becoming a Global Entry member is hands down the BEST travel investment I’ve ever made. At the $100 price point, this program is incredibly affordable, since it’s good for five years, which means it comes down to $20 per year. 

I officially became eligible to use Global Entry benefits at the end of May (2016). While I only took one big international trip last year (and therefore only used global entry once), I flew on about a dozen domestic flights, where I was able to take advantage of TSA Pre-Check, which is the greatest thing ever, especially when you’re dealing with long security lines!


Are you a member of the global entry program? What travel destinations are on your radar for the year?

It’s officially tax season in the US. I don’t know about you, but I’m already thinking about all the things I plan to put my return money toward this year, including some of these! But at the same time, I’m wishing I could just opt out of taxes altogether and have all the extra money year round. Anyone else?!

I recently read that the average tax return is nearly $3,000! That kind of blows my mind since my return never seems to get anywhere near that range, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to take advantage of any and all deductions I’m eligible for to increase my tax refund. I’m sure I can’t be the only one, so I’ve rounded up five deductions to help you increase your tax refund!

5 deductions to increase your tax refund

Education

Are you in school or taking some non-degree seeking courses to expand your knowledge? You can deduct up to $4,000 in tuition-related expenses if you’re a student or up $2,000 per year for any skill-developing classes you take! And if you’re paying off student loans, that interest you’ve been paying is also able to be deducted (up to a certain amount)!

Your Home

This is one of the biggest reasons I’m excited to become a homeowner this year! If you own a house, you’re able to deduct your mortgage interest and property taxes, which are pretty big expenses! Also, if you make energy-saving improvements to your house, you’re eligible to deduct up to 30% of the total cost of installation!

Charitable Donations

Cash donations are a more obvious tax write-off, but did you know you can also deduct items you donated, such as clothes and furniture? And while you can’t deduct anything for volunteering your time, you can deduct travel expenses for your commute to the volunteer location! While you’re starting to do your new year/spring cleaning, be sure to get receipts from the charities you donate to and save them for next year’s taxes too!

Self-Employment/Remote Job

If you own your own business or work remotely, you’re able to deduct home office expenses, including a portion of your rent/mortgage and utilities. Additionally, if you’re a business owner, you can deduct subscriptions, office supplies, books, technology, travel, and any other expenses that help you run your business.

Childcare

Parents – if you paid a daycare, babysitter, camp, or any other childcare expense for a child under 13, you’re eligible for a deduction of up to 35% of your care expenses up to $3,000 (1 child) or $6,000 (2+ children). I don’t have kids but I do know childcare is pretty pricey so this is a great one to take advantage of if you can.

IRS-Humor

I hope this info has been helpful for you in taking advantage of all of the tax deductions available to you! Please note that I’m not a tax expert by any means, so if you have questions specific to your case or are unsure if you’re eligible for a certain write off, I highly recommend reaching out to your accountant or consulting a tax expert!

Do you take advantage of these tax write-offs? What do you plan to put your return money toward this year?

May the odds be ever in your favor of a high tax return!