Lessons from an Unprepared Traveller – My Trip to Oslo

It’s only a short trip. My mum writes.

The voice inside my head says ‘ugh’ and my thumbs type furiously in response.

It’s easy for you to say. You’re not the one lugging around 10KG unexpectedly.

I look down at my suitcase and close my eyes. ‘The journey sometimes, is more memorable than the trip itself’ I think, reassuring myself as I sit alone on the early morning train, disappointed and significantly tired already. With stupid decisions come their respective consequences.

There were a lot of things I expected, visiting my friend in Oslo, cold temperatures with heavy snow and sleeping on the floor of her student rental room. What I didn’t expect was that getting there would require most, if not all, of my physical strength and then some.

“Come visit me in Norway guys! Please? It’s super cheap and you didn’t come see me in Paris.” Sky says. Samina and I exchange devious looks. The feeling of spontaneity runs through our veins.

“Let’s do it.” We say to each other and within the week we book the cheapest tickets we can find.

We’re coming to Norway Sky! I message the group chat. We change the group name to include the Norwegian flag and have a momentary celebration through emoticons.

We were mostly excited because we managed to get such cheap flights but obviously cheap flights required sacrifices – like a flight with absolutely no on board entertainment and no complimentary food!

So, we’re booked for the middle of January, just before our final semester of our final year.

Such a responsible and entirely fitting thing to do as a student.

We had just over a month before our ‘great and spectacular five-day adventure’ to Oslo. We discussed all the things we could do when we get there, with the naive intention to plan and construct an itinerary closer to the time of departure. Only, as master procrastinators (and a ton load of REAL WORK to get on with), that was never going to happen.

A few days later we decide it would be wise to book our transport to the airport. I, being overly relaxed about everything allowed Samina to sort this out, who was clearly happy to, being quite different to me. So an hour after extensive research (on her part) we booked a coach to Stansted airport. Cheapest ones obviously.

Guys which airport  will you arrive at? Sky asks us, a week prior to departure.

Oh yh, we still need to check. Samina replied and then privately messaged me,

We haven’t even planned what we’re going to do yet.

4 days prior to departure.

Guys, have you checked in? Sky asked.

Are we supposed to [check in] this early?

Yeah, it says so on the website.

Oh shoot… Ok we’ll do it by tonight!

The night before departure.

Up until this point, I hadn’t gone on many short trips. I had travelled for a week at the least. Which is why the flight to Norway was different in many ways. The first being I could only take cabin luggage (which I had never previously done), second being, that the weight limit was 10KG max and finally there was the case of carrying a sleeping bag around.

The wise owl in me had the urge to purchase a new suitcase but my mum convinced me not to ‘waste my money’ as we had one lying around in the loft. When I finally got it down from there I began to wonder whether I had made the right decision, it looked weak and worn out. Apparently it was only 3 years old but the appearance screamed otherwise. I texted Samina who sent me a picture of her stylish, strong suitcase (also so much thinner than mine) who told me she had gone through hell and back to fit her sleeping bag in it. I wondered how she would fit everything else in it, if her sleeping bag took up most of the space. An hour later I sat on the floor, packed and ready.

“So, what airport was it that you’re going to again?”

“Stanstead mum.” I said for the fifth time.

“And you’re getting there by coach right? Where’s the coach from again?”

“Good question. I should probably check that.”  I logged on to my email and scrolled to find the ticket details. My face dropped. “Stratford.”

“Stratford?! That’s really far! What time are you going to leave then?” I thought for a moment. Our flight was at 11:55 and the coach would leave from Stratford at 8 so, that would mean… I dropped my head,

“6:30am” What have I done, I thought.

After a lot of conferring, my mum decided she would drop me off to the nearest station to save me taking the bus that early.

D DAY (Departure Day).

I awoke at 5:15. I’m not a morning person but the adventure ahead freshened me. Tired but willing, my mum drove me to the station. I got out of the car and grabbed my suitcase from the back, lifted the pull handle and waved goodbye to my mum. As I turned to make my way towards the station, something stopped me. I looked back hoping with all the power in me that it wasn’t what I thought it was. Suddenly the weight of the five layers I wore crushed in on me, the scarf around my neck tightened. The bag on my shoulder felt heavier and the god forsaken sleeping bag looked like it had grown.

The pull handle on my suitcase was broken.

Was it from inside me or did I actually cry a little outburst of disbelief? I can’t remember. When I finally got to Stratford and found that I had exited the station in the wrong direction with only ten minutes before the coach would depart I knew it would take everything I had in me, my damned suitcase and oh god! That sleeping bag, to get to Norway without breaking down.

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