To the Arctic Circle and Beyond: How to Travel as a Student

It’s reading week, or, as it’s called in Finland: ski holiday! I opted for the Finnish interpretation this year, swapping the library for a trip to Lapland. Twelve hours of travelling later, I’m blogging on a cow farm 6,224 km from Toronto, 891 km from Helsinki, and 75 km North of the Arctic Circle. How did I get here without demolishing my piggy bank? Read on to find out!
Two calves lick each other’s faces in a barn
My neighbours here in Lapland
1. Travel with a Friend My friend Aline and I are a case study of “two heads are better than one.” Aline used her experience traveling in Europe to find our cow farm lodgings, and to ensure we booked the best train tickets. I used my Canadian Cold Weather Expertise™  to advise what clothes to pack. Sharing things from lockers, to accommodations, to food also cut down our costs. Besides being cheaper and of course safer, travelling together is FUN! Aline and I will forever share a bond over spending twelve hours on a fully lit train overnight. We also got to bake cookies, cross-country ski and feed baby cows together, which made the train ride totally worth it.
Claire and Aline smile with thumbs up, sitting in two seats on a busy train
Aline and I at the beginning of our train journey. How innocent and optimistic we were.
2. Bring and Make Your Own Food Trying new food is one of the best parts of travelling, but you don't have to eat out all the time. Aline and I saved about 150 euros by passing up the option to buy meals at the hostel, and buying our own groceries to cook for the week. We used our leftover food, and inspo from Malavika’s post about snack hacks for commuters, to make snacks for the train. Our smorgasbord was both cheaper and more appetizing than cold, stale, train sandwiches. Saving money on everyday food freed us up to splurge on special treats—like fresh milk from the cow farm, to eat with our homemade cookies!
A scone sits broken in half on a plate, in front of a glass bottle of milk
We ran out of cookies for the milk, so we made scones!
3. The Internet is Your Friend... ...but only one of many friends! If we made a bibliography of our research for this trip, the diversity of sources would appease any Prof. We used “primary sources” (aka our Finnish friends), to learn about places to go and when to visit. When we used the internet, we  used multiple websites: for accommodations, airbnb and Hostelling International; for transportation, trains as well as multiple airlines. Once we narrowed down our options, we called, emailed, or visited in person, to ask about details, including student discounts. The extra effort was definitely worth it.
The sun sets behind trees. In the foreground is a farm field with a fence across it
One of the beautiful sunsets on the cow farm
I know I’m lucky for the opportunity to do such a big trip, but even a day-trip or weekend getaway with friends can be a great way to escape the grind of U of T and Toronto in general. Whether it’s a trip to Ottawa or Montreal, or an afternoon escape to High Park or the Brickworks, I hope you find time to explore the world around you!      

1 comment on “To the Arctic Circle and Beyond: How to Travel as a Student

  1. Yes! To getting out there and venturing into new experiences. It looks like you have some handy tips and resources for doing so. Thanks.

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