by - June 30, 2017

I honestly can’t express how excited I am.

I haven’t been on holiday since I visited Tunisia in 2014, and I haven’t been travelling sine I toured Thailand in 2011. I am hugely excited. I’ve booked a two week travel around Scandinavia… and I leave in three weeks!

I’ve been feeling hugely low and lost lately, and so I came to the conclusion that it’s time for a bit of ‘me time’ far far away from work and my day to day norm. I’ve had a lot going on in the last 8 months and now that it’s all come to an end I feel like exhaustion has hit me all in one go. I’m not one to openly talk about how I’m feeling, or to share much emotion in any way, but I can honestly say I’ve been feeling as though I’ve wasted a handful of years. I haven’t seen any of the things I’ve wanted to see or done half of the things I've wanted to do in my mid 20's, I’ve not ticked anything off my bucket list… and I’m such a creative, imaginative dreamer. Being cooped up in a boring reality that does nothing but deliver bad news with very sparse showers of laughter is really not the life for me.

When I travelled Thailand it was just me, a rucksack, and some Baht (Thai currency) for two months. I grew so much as a person, realising truths about myself, what I liked about myself, and what I thought I needed to improve on. I feel like I’ve gone through a whirlwind of crazy, unforgiving change in the last 8 months and now need to find ‘me’ again. It’s definitely time for an expedition. When I decided to travel Thailand I saved as much money as possible, quit my crummy retail job, booked a flight, and said see you later. This time I don’t have that luxury as I now have my home to pay for, so I’ve gratefully opted for two weeks of travel around Scandinavia.

The trip travels through Norway, the Arctic Circle, Finland, and finishes off a boat-ride away in beautiful Estonia. It’s called the ‘Scenic Scandi’ trip, and is hosted by Topdeck. My friend travelled around Europe with them a year or so ago, and so when I explained to her that I’d been struggling to find the perfect beach holiday that wouldn’t over-charge a single person (have you tried to book a holiday as one person? It's a small fortune!) she suggested I have a look at Topdeck.

Immediately I took a peek at their website, spied their ‘Russia and Scandinavia’ packages, saw the words Scenic Scandi’, and in less than 24 hours I was booked, paid for, and rearing to go.

The only downside I experienced was the huge difficulty in being able to contact them. My friend had no issues with this, but whilst spending hours and hours trying to get through to an advisor I was informed that they were presently super short staffed. No problem, it happens. However I saw that their availability online was booking up pretty quickly. All options said “contact us”, but the dates I wanted were still green for go. However. When I did finally get to speak to Nick (with a beyond beautiful voice. Have you seen Coyote Ugly? Sounds just like the hottie Ozzie. No joke!) he surprised me with the line ‘there’s only 1 space left for the whole year’. Well. It wasn’t the date I wanted, and I did turn it down. I’d already re-jigged all of my remaining holiday at work for the dates I wanted, of which were clearly still available on the website. Argh.

So within an hour, and multiple messages to multiple friends, the resounding response was ‘JUST BOOK IT!’ So I did. And here I am. Busy sorting flights, transport, thermal underwear, and waterproofs… alongside shorts and vest tops. With less than 4 weeks to go. Crazy.

Having travelled before I already have the enormous rucksack, the backpack, the thermal sleeping bag, plug adapters, a first aid kit, and a handful of other handy tools I’ll need to take. Thankfully Topdeck have a list of recommended items on their website, so I took a peek at this. Hilarious. It’s a combination of summer gear and winter gear. The trip consists of visiting areas where the temperature will either be 18-20 degrees c, or -25 degrees c. Can’t wait. So earlier in the week I scrolled through an enormous amount of waterproof coats, hiking boots, and other things I don’t ‘need’ but thought were brilliant ideas. Luckily I live in rainy Cornwall so will more than likely get the chance to test the fabulous burgundy, cinched at the waist, waterproof coat – fingers crossed it really is waterproof! The pastel pink hiking boots will definitely need to be worn in too. I don’t fancy strolling around the mountains with painful blisters. I’ll do a review on the items when they arrive, you know – just in case they’re total pants, or totally amazing.

SS7 Women's Raincoat, Burgundy, Navy, Sizes 8 to 16 (UK - 12, Burgundy)

I do have a selfie stick, but I decided to up my game and buy a selfie stick that would also hold my cameras, and comes with a million buttons. I’ll definitely have to test this out before I go as I don’t want to miss brilliant selfie moments because I pressed the wrong button on the stick. Eye roll. I also decided to really look the part (you know, because a burgundy coat and pale pink boots weren’t enough) and bought myself a rose gold metal water bottle. I’ve heard good things about them, and I really don’t love drinking out of plastic bottles, so hopefully this is a win win. We will be travelling between hot and cold, so at least the metal bottle will keep my water at a cool temperature the whole way.

I still have a few more things to buy. I have the summer stuff down, but will definitely pick up a few items from last week’s TOP SUMMER PIECES blog post (you can read it here). I also still need to make sure I’m kept warm when we hit the cold, the freezing, and the ‘so cold my nips might fall off’ weather. Thermals are next on my list!


So let me tell you a little about the trip itself. It’s 15 days of travelling around Norway, Finland, and Estonia on an air-conditioned coach… that apparently has wi-fi. Oh yes. Plenty of opportunity for me to check in everywhere on Instagram and Facebook #sorrynotsorry. There will be 45 other travellers, and then me, literally number 46 – the last to book. Everyone will be between 18 and 39 years old as that’s what Topdeck is all about, which is great because at least there will be people my age. I should hopefully make at least one friend, woo hoo!

As I booked so last minute I did get £194 off, but the trip still cost me a whopping £1100 – a lot more than I wanted to spend on my original plan of an all inclusive beach holiday. I was planning to spend no more than £600. Hah. This 'Scenic Scandi' tour includes all the travel once I reach the country, all the accommodation, and all of the meals. I still have to arrange and book my own flights and transport to/from the airport in the UK. I also have to arrange just one trip from the airport in Norway to the first stop on the travel tour... thank goodness for Google maps!

Luckily flights seem around £145-£160 each way, so not the end of the world. Hopefully. This will more than likely be a once in a lifetime trip, and it’s certainly a HUGE tick off my travel bucket list, so definitely worthy of the hugely hefty credit card bill... and I kind of have to book the flights now that I've booked the trip. Sometimes you have to just close your eyes and jump, otherwise you won't experience the wonder that's sat there waiting for you.

So, once I've made my way to Norway and then travelled the hour on foreign soil to the first stop, we get to learn all about Vikings, see the Arctic Circle, stop off at Santa’s workshop, gawk at oodles of wild reindeer, see lots of beautiful mountain ranges, stop off at a glacier, make a pit stop at ‘Hell frozen over’ (no joke), make the terrible choice to jump into an ice bath, relax in saunas, and much much more. It’s all about the scenery and I so honestly truly cannot wait to see it all. Cameras will most definitely be at the ready.

I don’t think I’ll get to see any northern lights, and that will be a huge shame if I don’t (though an excuse to go back in winter one year), but I will get to see an impressive midnight sunset. As I’m going at the height of their summer, the further north we go the shorter the night will be. In fact, we’ll be getting less than 3 hours of darkness most nights. Sleeping mask, check!

I’m definitely going to learn a bit of the basic lingo, even though I’m aware that they’re far more up on their cultural and educational know-how in Scandinavia than I am, and so I'm assuming a lot of areas will more than likely speak English. I love immersing myself in new cultures, and I definitely love to know a few key words and phrases, it can be really helpful at the most unexpected moments. I don’t however think I’ll be indulging in tasting whale or reindeer. Eep.

For the 14 nights we are due to stay in a variety of accommodation, including 3 nights in a hostel and the remaining 11 nights in cabins. All but one stop will be in multi-share rooms with at least 3 people, and all of the rooms are single-sex so that you don’t feel uncomfortable, though I’m not bothered either way. Guys can often be kinder. Either way, how exciting! It's going to be like a two week sleepover... and I am really hoping I get to share with some hilarious, fab girls who don’t mind a late-night giggle or heart to heart. It would be great to come away from the trip of a lifetime with a few new bffs.

All that's left to do is book my flights, book the transport to/from the airports, and book my travel insurance. The big, important parts will then all be sorted, leaving me to shop for a few mini items here and there. Ahh! 23 days to go!

Claudia xo

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