Room at Castle in Stockholm, with baby bed, chair and picture.
BY DORIS TRUHLAR
My friend and I recently took a wonderful two-week trip to Scandinavia, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
Usually, I travel with my husband, but his schedule prevented a lengthy trip. So, when my friend called me earlier this year, after we hung up, I said to Bob, “Do you think she would travel to Sweden with me?” She was inquiring about Alaska. Bob and I have traveled there three times and are considered “experts” by some people.
My husband said I should call her back and see whether she would like to travel to Sweden to visit a friend who was a foreign exchange student with my family in Missouri when I was 16 and 17 years old. I did. The result is that we went to Scandinavia for two weeks.
The best travel “tip” I have is to be flexible. You cannot possibly anticipate everything that could go wrong, and you need to be ready to change your plans when necessary.
My friend’s best tip is to bring really comfortable shoes, because there is a lot of walking when you go to Scandinavia.
Other tips for travelers – abroad or in the United States:
Doris Truhlar (left), with her friends, Britt Inger and Olle Stendahl, who was a foreign exchange student with Doris’ family in 1963 and 1964.
If you can’t find your cuticle oil, a small pat of butter (available in any restaurant) works as well as olive oil or any cream made for nails.
It’s “normal” to lose stuff. The “misplaced” items likely will turn up when you unpack.
Less is always better. I said this when lugging a huge (really big) suitcase all-around France in 2004. This time, I had to have my Swedish friend ship a bunch of stuff back to me. Slow learner.
If “less is better than more,” you probably need at least four changes of clothes for a two-week vacation (you can rinse things out in the sink). I have only taken a three-week vacation one time in my life, a few years back, so don’t know how much clothing you need for such a long trip. On the longer vacation, there was a washing machine available to use.
If you’re thinking of traveling with someone other than your spouse, you better know them well, especially if you’re sharing a room. It’s not so important if you are not going to be in the same small space.
When traveling with someone else, spouse included, you do not have to do everything together. It is probably good to do some things separately, If you are in a safe place. (I wouldn’t go somewhere that is not safe.)
It is always a good idea to research in advance where you are going.
Travel agents can be a huge help. We used a travel agent. If there is a written itinerary, take a copy along.
Having an electronic book reader is really a savings on suitcase space, If you are someone who reads all the time (I read two books on this vacation). I did take a book on Scandinavia. (Wish I’d taken books on Scandinavian birds, trees and flowers, although many of the same birds and plants grow there as here.)
Tiny houses on top of retail stores in Stockholm
At the smaller hotels where we stayed in Scandinavia, the hotel/motel rooms often are tiny. Some are so tiny that one can hardly get around the bed. When booking, you may want to ask how big the rooms are. There rarely are bathtubs in smaller hotels/motels. Only one tub on our trip. We found that “hostels” were not as nice as hotels/motels.
The alarm on most cell ‘phones is plenty adequate. Don’t need to bring a travel alarm unless you are not bringing a cell ‘phone.
You will need a convertor or adapter for most Scandinavian locations. Travel stores can be a big help.
Copy your passport. Take the copy with you.
There is a spray on the market you can put on wrinkled clothing, and it magically eliminates all the wrinkles. (In my view, this is probably the end of ironing.)
There are tons of beauty shops in Scandinavia. Fewer nail shops.
Always bring an emery board or nail file. Other “must take” items include clear nail polish (even if you have your own natural nails), scissors (amazing how often you need these), hair spray (hair products generally), and one extra credit card. I did not write any checks while on this vacation. If you run out of something, in Scandinavia there generally are plenty of places to pick up comparable items.
You probably are going to end up checking at least one bag, even if you got a special, reduced airline rate. Plan accordingly. The airline we went on charged $100 (each way) for our checked bag. We still saved money. Take things in your carry-on or purse without which you would be greatly inconvenienced (such as any medicines).
Bring an extra, collapsible bag for purchases. (We bought holiday gifts. My holiday shopping is done for this year.)
It is possible for a small daily fee to get a special rate for international ‘phone calls. I consider this absolutely the best advice ever. (Talked to my husband every single day, and also to my office. My ‘phone company only charged $10 per day, cheap for someone who must stay in touch.)
Farm in the Danish Alps
Some people are just naturally neat. Others (me included) are kind of messy, which is definitely not a sign of bad character, but just something you’re born doing. (Every time I saw my travel partner open her suitcase, I felt like a big failure.)
Cell ‘phones generally take great pictures. If, however, you are a photographer, by all means take your pricy camera and its attachments. Try not to drop your cell ‘phone in the toilet (as I did). If it accidentally lands in the toilet, fish it out as quickly as possible. If your ‘phone is in a case, you have a much better chance of saving it (again, as I did). If you drop it in the toilet, soak it in some uncooked rice. Don’t carry your ‘phone in your back jeans pocket.
In summer, it is now hot everywhere, even Alaska, so you probably don’t need a warm coat. In some places, it rains a lot, so bring a rain slicker if you mind getting wet.
Take notes. You don’t have to keep a journal, but notes are a big help for the next trip.
There are probably many more tips, but these are the ones that I took notes about while in Scandinavia.
Happy travels! My No. 1 recommended travel destination is the Galapagos Islands.
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