Welcome to Hel, Part I

For those thinking about being a true adventurer like I am, might I offer the following guide? If you follow these simple tips, you’re bound to have a vacation like no other.

1. Prepare.
What is it they tell you in Girl Guides? That’s right: Always Be Prepared. In the modern era of travelling, this means not filling up your phone with notes of witticisms you come up with in the middle of the night and pics of your cat, so that you have enough storage room for offline maps, English – Another Language dictionaries, and apps that help you buy transit tickets.

As you embark on your trip to another city (let’s say, for example, you are heading to Helsinki from Stockholm), make sure you’ve got the following loaded up:
- offline map
- Google directions to get from the airport to your hostel
- a Finnish dictionary (with pronunciation)
- your boarding pass
- a transit ticket to the airport

Great! You’re ready to go.

Oops. You’ve turned the roaming off on your phone, because the carrier is charging you $5/MB. Okay, at the train station, turn it back on temporarily to buy a transit ticket.

Oh no! It doesn’t work? Didn’t you renew your international plan last night? You did? Did they confirm? Yes? Then why isn’t it working?

I’m not sure what to tell you. Try buying a ticket at the counter from the guy. Hurry – you’ve got to make it to the platform in 4 minutes, because the next train doesn’t come for half an hour.

2. Don’t yell at your phone.
Try not to get angry at your phone while on the train, because nobody is awake at 3 am in Toronto, and you probably won’t get any service. Try to remember how people travelled in the olden days.

3. Print your boarding pass at the airport even though you have one on your phone. I don’t know why. Just do it so you don’t keep getting sent back.

4. Print your baggage sticker.

4a. IMPORTANT: ATTACH BAGGAGE STICKER TO YOUR BAG BEFORE PLACING IT ON THE CONVEYOR BELT.

4b. When the bag is torn from your hand and rocketed down the conveyor belt with no tag, DO NOT FREAK OUT.

4c. Also, do not get ON the conveyor belt to chase bag.

4d. Try to remember what bag looks like; this may be the last time you see it.

5. Find a lovely Norwegian Air host to help you with your predicament. She will assemble a team of no fewer than four people to retrieve your bag and will also take you back to cool places that have guys with braided beards operating luggage elevators.

6. Always carry two Advil on hand to pop when you get a migraine from the above scenario and can no longer see.

7. Apologize profusely for “being a fool,” while secretly wondering why the directions tell you to first place the luggage on conveyor belt before scanning ticket, without mention that bag is setting off on adventure of its own.

8. Trust that very nice Norwegian host will track down bag and send it your way.

9. Clear security. This should be no problem, since you have nothing left.

10. Eat lunch. Try to keep more than a piece of bread and one slice of cheese on hand, but it should get you through.

11. Begin online chat with Bell representative who will claim they cannot look up confirmation numbers. Don’t take it. Keep bugging them until they get you back online. *Also, don’t let the chat prevent you from boarding the plane on time.*

12. On the plane, search “sauna” on your offline map.

13. Kiss your bag hello when it returns to you on conveyor belt in Helsinki. Or wherever you landed. It doesn’t have to be Helsinki. This is really just a “for instance” scenario.

14. Upon checking into hostel, go immediately to the sauna. Do not attempt to make up your bed with frustrating duvet cover, or do anything else while hungry and tired. Go to sauna and eat some dinner.

May your travels be as smooth and carefree as mine, friend.