Watch out Europe! Megan Pothier will soon be traveling on a plane or train near you!! I only warn because I am a nervous wreck on these modes of transportation (which then means not much fun for the person sitting next to me). However I have had a year to talk myself into this, so I am well prepared!! All I had to do was re-read my post on fear, do research on plane mechanics and train layouts, locate my security blankets and of course finally book my plane and train tickets, which I will now discuss.
You might think booking these things is easy. Maybe if you’re going to a big city yes, but for a small town, not so much. To start, there are no direct flights from Canada to Sweden (so it seems). So this potentially means a lot of connections and long layovers, but if you research well, you can find a good flight for a good price.
I considered many options for flying. Since I am nervous, this was of extreme importance for me. I wanted a large plane that was not too expensive, allowed multiple checked bags and carry ons, a power outlet for my computer, and a flight plan that was not too long or confusing. A big wish list yes, but I knew I would have to compromise with some things. When I did my research, many flights were 16-18 hours long with connections all over the place – New York, London, Germany ughhh. I really did not want to be going from place to place with the risk of having my luggage lost. So I decided to look into flying with Icelandair.
My family and I have flown with Icelandair in the past, and it was reasonably priced with a good flight schedule and a lovely staff and airport. The only stop (before your destination) is in Iceland, and it can be a long or short layover. Some people enjoy a long layover as they can go into Reykjavik and sight see.
When we went to Europe in 2011, we were only in Iceland for three hours so it didn’t allow a lot of time for exploring. It was a good experience overall, so I decided to fly with them again.
I found a great flight on January 1st to Stockholm, and it was a good price (around $1300 for return flight with insurance and taxes included). I decided to book the “Economy Comfort” class as it allows more baggage and has additional comforts such as spacious seating – (not that I need it, my legs are short), power outlets, and free food etc. The flight duration is around 9 hours which I am pleased with. I am only in Iceland for about an hour before I take off for Stockholm.
So that was great! I found a flight no problem, but my problems started when I tried to book a flight to Jonkoping. There are no flights the first week of January from Stockholm (I think it might have something to do with the holidays, and probably because it’s not a heavily visited location). Unfortunately the next available flight I saw happened to be on January 7th which would make me late for orientation, so I couldn’t book that.
So the best option I decided to take was to book a train from Stockholm to Jonkoping. I usually don’t mind taking trains, but taking trains in Canada is much different than in Europe. Way busier, stressful and everything seems rushed because there is so much traffic! Another stressful part of this adventure is that I have to connect to three separate trains. I am a bit nervous of this because I will have a lot of bags with me and I don’t want to miss my connecting trains. However I am approaching this with an open mind because I haven’t taken trains in Scandinavia so they might be better than trains I have traveled on in in France and Italy.
I booked both my flight and train with my travel agent at Maritime Travel, and I am very grateful to have her help. Many people find it easier to book online themselves, but a travel agent can be very valuable. My agent was able to find me additional discounts on my flight and train tickets, and she is also available by email or phone in case something goes wrong during my trip. If my flight is cancelled, I can call her and she can book me a new flight without me having to wait in line and communicate in a foreign language. Also, when you book through a travel agent it is a better guarantee that your payments and booking went through. My family and I booked a flight on our own one time and we were notified that our payments and booking were received when actually it didn’t go through! Another great thing about my travel agent is that she can give me my train tickets ahead of time so I don’t have to wait in lines to print off my tickets. It makes for a smoother and less stressful trip when you have everything ready. So I highly recommend a travel agent! They can help in so many ways!!
I was so happy once my flight and trains were booked! It felt like my trip was finally a reality! Now all I have to do is get on that plane and train and not freak out! If I’m smart, and pack light and am organized I know I will be fine. I bet you are wondering what happens when I arrive!?
When I arrive in Jonkoping, someone from the university will pick me up! All I had to do to set this up was register where and what time I would be arriving through the university’s website. After I am picked up I have no idea what will happen! I assume I will be taken to my residence, but I don’t even know which residence I will be staying at! I will know in time…but until then I just have to be patient! I only have a few weeks left until my departure and so much to do! (which you all will hear about in the next few weeks). Until next time… thanks for reading!!!