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A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension.”—Oliver Wendell HolmesVolvo novelty shop

This summer, my family and I had the opportunity to take a trip of a lifetime. The 1st of July, we packed the whole gang, along with Lisa’s parents, into a Scandinavia Airlines 747 and traveled for three and a half weeks in Denmark.

‘Course the problem with a “trip-of-a-lifetime” is that once taken, your brain picks up things. The trip stretches you. You learn things. You might even become a bit savvy. And having done it once, you can’t help but begin to work out how you might do it again—which, of course, means that the whole idea of the trip becomes less “once-in-a-lifetime-ish” and more “let’s-do-this-again-ish.”

The tricks you learn along the way the first time around, make the second trip all the easier.

Today I want to share one of those tricks, because this is one of those almost “too-good-to-be-true” deals. If you’re considering a trip to Europe anytime in the near or even distant future, you need to know about this.

Because learning about the Volvo Overseas Delivery program is pretty cool. But experiencing it completely blows your mind.

Introducing Volvo Overseas Delivery

Old Volvo

I actually first heard about this program 13 years ago when I met my wife—a cute Danish chick. Growing up in New Brighton MN, her parents planned trips to Denmark every 5 years or so and each time stayed for a minimum of 4 weeks. Between friends and family, they know just about everyone in the country. So their modus operandi is to stay with people they know, thus virtually eliminating all expenses for room and board and drastically slashing the cost of food.

Smart.

But one of the smartest things they did was participate in the Volvo Overseas Delivery Program. Today, Lisa’s parents are both 80 years old. So, for them, this is nothing new. And it’s nothing new for Volvo either. They’ve actually been doing this since 1956.

But before I get too far into my story (and an honest effort at photojournalism–mock me if you like), the basic deal works like this: You purchase your Volvo here in the states at any Volvo dealership. You test drive, pick out a model, color, all the special features you want, the whole bit. Then you just pick it up at the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden. Simple, right? Except:

  • You also get 2 free (yes free) round-trip airfare tickets on Scandinavian airlines.
  • Approximately 8% savings off the U.S. MSRP.
  • Airport pick up
  • One free hotel night in Gothenburg.
  • Fifteen day European Car Insurance coverage, including Swedish temporary registration.
  • A complimentary lunch at the factory
  • A factory tour (we missed out on this as the factory was shut down for “summer holiday” when we were there).
  • Free shipping of your Volvo back to the dealer at which you bought the car–after you’re done driving it around Europe, of course.

All that comes on top of (or below, depending on what metaphor you’re using) what you’re already saving by not renting a car while you are over there. I mean, if you’re going to Europe anyway, and you have to buy a car anyway (I know those are two big “anyways”), this is a complete no-brainer.

Here’s how it went for us:

Tired TravelersAfter a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago, through customs and then another eight or so hours across the ocean, we had a long layover in Stockholm before finally catching a flight to Gothenberg. I can’t remember right now how many hours we had been travelling by then, but by the time we stumbled off the plan, we were all running on fumes.

That’s why it was so nice to see two professional looking gentlemen holding signs that said “Petersen Party,” my in-laws name. These were Volvo chaufers, who helped us load up our luggage and wisked us off to our hotel.

This was big. It meant that we didn’t have to then find a cab, or rent a car, try to navigate foreign roads, and eventually end up in a car wreck. So we all got a good meal and a great night’s rest much sooner than we otherwise would have.

The next morning a different couple of Volvo employees, driving two cars (there were 6 of us with luggage remember), picked us up around 8:00 and took us to the Volvo factory–located in a place affectionately called Volvo City.

initial volvo paperworkWhen we arrived, we were welcomed to place our bags in a locked locker room as a very professional employee went over all the paperwork. The car was paid for in full when we arrived so she just went over warranty, insurance, licensing, and roadside assistance information while I knocked back a few complimentary capachinos and took pictures.

That’s Conrad, Lisa’s dad, in the picture. Notice the I “heart” Denmark jacket.

Next, another employee brought our (ok, Conrad’s) shiny car from the factory to a sort of pickup/inspection/showroom.

volvo inspection

volvo hood inspectionHere, the same gal that went over the paperwork now went over every inch of the car, explaining all the in’s and out’s and answering every question as she went. You know, stuff like how to work the winshield wipers, pop the gas cap, and fit my two daughters in the fold down backwards seat in the very rear. You’d be amazed at the shear number and types of questions a couple of 80 yr olds can come up with.

Suffice it to say, she was very thorough.

She then welcomed us to take the car out for a drive on their test track (just outside the driveway) so that we could get used to it a bit before taking it out on the roads of Sweden.

We were the first customers to arrive at the factory around 8:30, but other couples and families soon began rolling in–all getting the same treatment. The woman that chauffeured us from our hotel explained that she kept very busy picking up and driving Volvo customers from all over the world. She said it’s common for her to bring 15-25 couples/families a day to the factory to pick up their new cars.

She also said that car manufactures in Europe, and specifically Volvo, are doing very well–unlike their American counterparts. She said Volvo thas grown from 1500 employees to 5000 within the last 5 years she’s been working for them.

For a small-town boy from northwestern Wisconsin, I can’t begin to tell you what a fascinating experience that was. But for my in laws, this is old hat. This is actually the tenth Volvo they have purchased in this way. And to hear the deal, I am having a hard time coming up with an excuse not to make my next car a Volvo.

Two free return trip airline tickets, one hotel room, a discount on the car, and don’t forget lunch.

I’m going to shut up now so you can check out some of the pictures.

more kids at volvo

Check out this cool spot for kids to hang out and play while the adults are huddling around boring paperwork, or downing capachinos and taking pictures.

Dreaming of our next volvo
How about this cool toy Lisa found?

Girls in the back of the volvo

My girls totally dug their seat in the back.

Lunch at (and on) Volvlo
I know there’s no such thing as a “free lunch.” I know Conrad actually paid for this when he bought the car. But still, this was pretty good meal.

This reminds me. . . after we’d finished the meal, and the table had been cleared, and we were kind of waiting around for something (I can’t remember what), and the girls were checking out the Volvo novelty shop, Emma remembered that she’d forgotten her retainers at the table–and that she’d committed the cardinal sin of kids with retainers.

Instead of just putting them on her plate, or the table, so anyone who saw them could easily distinguish the expensive orthadontic devices from mere table scraps–she’d wrapped them in a napkin.

Of course, when we returned to the table, they were nowhere to be found. But the people in the kitchen were happy to help us dig through the garbage.

This story has a happy ending. We found them both–but still, there were a few tense moments. Emma felt terrible. Frankly I was proud of her for realizing they were missing before we got on the ferry to Denmark.

Directions from Friendly (and hot) Volvo employee

It’s sort of hard to tell from this picture, but you know that stereotype about Swedish women–that they’re all, um . . . how do I say this . . . HOT? It’s true. So much so that it’s a little weird. But, as Dave Barry would say, I’m not making this up.

Anyway this is a picture of my beautiful Danish wife (and her dad) getting directions from just one in a million cute Swedish girls.

Proud volvo owners
The proud owners: Conrad and Margaret with their totally sweet new wheels. Notice the car top carrier. This is how we managed to carry luggage and six people in that car for three and a half weeks. Volvo loaned it to us at no extra cost.