For two weeks we were on the roads, from Munich to Kiruna and back to Skåne, where I then stayed with my daugher for two months. A magical time that allowed me to take so many beautiful pictures and capture our memories on SD card. Let me share a few thoughts and pictures from our crazy road trip to Northern Sweden!
In 2020 I decided to participate in the Fjällräven Classic, to have a reason to finally deal with my chronic pain issues. And it worked. To get there we took the car. I am not much of a plane traveler, and it would not have made any sense, since this week-long hike quickly turned into the idea to leave Germany behind for three whole months. (Also, I love my car, it’s a 20-year-old Honda, and it has taken me everywhere!)
Why we left Germany for three whole months
One of the reasons for that was that in Germany life had become much harder for families lately. Everything was still on hold for kids, i.e. forbidden or covered in bureaucracy or under conditions that I did not agree with and did not want to support.
Sweden however took exemplary care of their younger kids (compared to Germany at least) and I have simply been intrigued by how they handled the pandemic situation. How well they communicated many things as compared to how it was handled here. That drew me towards Sweden, I admit. But it was not about that. That was just what kicked it off initially.
Moreover, we had no daycare for three months (daycare in Munich is a hot mess). In consequence, I could have stayed here—with basically nothing to do for my kid and me. Or leave. So I left.
It could have been any country, anything with hiking opportunities and a beautiful landscape. However, I had already stayed in Sweden in 2020, and so it came kind of naturally to me. A friend then offered me their cottage at a very good price, and so everything just fell into place somehow.
From the seemingly crazy idea »barely a realistic thing to do« of staying there alone with my kid, the thought rapidly morphed into a beautiful dream of silence, freedom and nature. And what can I say? I’ll always be a dreamer.
Leaving Germany is always magical
Whenever I cross into another country, it is always this magical moment for me. This feeling of complete and utter freedom. In 2020 and 2021 maybe even more than ever—although I think that if you are a visitor, a guest of the country, it is your responsibility to behave even more careful and considerate in these times, I’m just talking about the freedom of driving, being on the road… if that makes sense. I also have that when I am on a train, and sometimes even in the Munich S-Bahn.
Especially if there is a sunset or sunrise. It is so absurd and romantically overdriven. But I just like to give into that feeling of »everything is possible« and »I could just pack up all my things and go anywhere« even though I know it’s not true. I think it is okay to dream the dumb dreams as well. They are just a way of the brain to be creative. Why not let it do its thing?
The planning of our road trip to Northern Sweden—all the way from Munich to Kiruna
Since we had done this a year ago already, but just to the cottage in Skåne, we came prepared pretty well. Last time we drove until Hannover, this time we made it to Kiel. We stayed at one of the cheapest hotels there (B&B). They have awful breakfast for the price point, but it is clean and the personnel is very friendly. (If you know a better alternative, enlighten me in the comments!)
Flauschi loves hotels. It’s always very exciting for her. From Kiel we drove all the way to a small commune in Sweden, slept there for one night in a trailer that friends (the same people that rented the cottage I later stayed at to me) provided for us for free (thank you!!), and then from there we made it to a camp ground (totally forgot the name). And after that, we arrived in Överhörnäs, where there is a beautiful camp site with a stugby (little cabin village).
This was a lovely place and I made a whole video about our stay there. It especially felt good since we hadn’t showered in a while and we felt super sticky. And yes, I know, if you do a long distance hike you stink. But isn’t it still the coolest to be able to have one last nice warm shower before? Especially if you’re on your friggin period like I was?
Luckily though, I was almost done with that bloody sh_t when the Classic finally started. Oh boy, what a blessing! Changing a cup in the woods is doabe (done it before, will do it again). Totally. But it’s not like I’m »Oh yeah, please! Give me cramps for my first ever long-distance hike, yeahhh!«, right? So I was happy, the red curse was early this time.
Anyway, we were initially planning on just going to camp sites along the coast road up to Kiruna, but as I felt pretty bad and we were also super tired, we decided to do it the easy way and rent a stuga from that day on. It was the right decision and I recommend it to anyone who is doing this for the first time. Especially if like us, you maybe want to do the Kungsleden or Fjällräven Classic, it just makes no sense to deplete yourself of energy in advance. This hike is not to be underestimated.
Calming down and letting go of frustration
After all, this road trip or better the whole journey, it was about leaving Germany behind. At least for me. It was the beginning of three months of a drastic change. And it was also a healing journey. I don’t like that word, because there are so many fake »healers« and medically uneducated people out there using this and other terms out of context and in the weirdest situations… In fact, I am not on good terms with the whole self-help bubble sometimes. But I simply can’t find a better word for what I have experienced. It was healing.
The whole trip, the fact that from one day to another I could leave that country behind. The country that did not value my kid, that cut us out, for no reason. To go to a place where I met so many nice people, where I was welcomed in the warmest way. That alone was such a huge privilege and I will be forever grateful.
The video I linked above, my kid likes to watch it as well. She, three years old, can tell how easy everything was and how good it felt. Kids know when you are stressed out, and they can feel when you relax. And if it was for me, we would have stayed. But I have so many things to finish here, so many lose ends. I can not leave just now.
I did however learn that you don’t have to stay in one place, if you don’t feel safe and appreciated there. You don’t have to stand still just to not stand out and be left alone. You don’t have to crouch down because of some hateful mainstream. No matter what makes you feel stuck, this world is so big. There is most definitely a place where you can feel home.
For me, I have no idea if that is Sweden. It feels much like it, and in many ways Sweden is even similar to Germany. However, that is such an important decision, it has to depend on the fundamental feeling of being at home and feeling safe. That is what makes a place your country. I feel the same way about France even though right now I really don’t want to be there. And I think there are probably a lot of places I would just love to live in.
More even, I keep finding myself in this carousel of thoughts where I wish I could be travelling forever and never settle down. It is so odd. For such a long time what I wanted seemed to be a nice apartment. Just something that didn’t feel like a makeshift. Like undone and never good enough to be cozy. But now it feels like this does not even exist. As if feeling at home means that you have to like the country, but also rest within yourself, your personality, values and past. That’s what I want.
Anyway, I want to close this with a few tips, if you are planning on doing a road trip to Northern Sweden yourself, especially if you want to do it with kids.
Tips for your road trip to Sweden with kids
- take a break every 2-3 hours at least, if you have a small child (3-5), and more often if the kid is a toddler or baby (there are recommendations for the overall time babies should stay in a car seat, and I have to say, I agree with those; leaving a baby in a car seat for long is not good)
- the most amazing hack is a cool pad under the butt! It’s like one of these amazing anti-pressur ulcer mattresses we had in the hospital, and they can really help if your kid has a little bit of soreness (and that is something you might not be able to avoid completely with such a long trip!)
- bring a large food box with your own food (fast-boiling noodles, kitchen utensils, pasta sauces and cereal); food is expensive in Sweden, and after a day of driving going on a shopping tour will be the least thing you want to do. I recommend stacking up on freeze-dried milk! There are some really good brands nowadays and it will be a delight to have a milk coffee in the morning (vegan alternative: almond mousse)