Ocars Norway

Chapter 1 – My Artic Circle Road Trip Diary

Chapter 1 - Part 1 of 3


Here in this blog you will find my honest thoughts, feelings and experiences for the first chapter of ‘I Quit My Job to Live in My Van and Travel’ story. Chapter 1 is my artic adventure which transformed from a tough beginning to an exciting and joy full journey, travelling through the uniqueness of the artic’s environment, wildlife and meeting fellow vantravllers. 


If you would like to see a breakdown of costs (fuel, food etc) and my bucket list of things to do and see, go to Norway Must See List and Costs.

Scandinavia Road Trip
My Artic Road Trip

13th of July 2022

My dog (Jamie) and I drove onto the ferry in our camper to travel the 12 hours to mainland Europe from Hull, UK. It was the start of my European vanlife travel and adventure which had no end date. We booked into our room, and I left Jamie in the cabin with his diner whilst I ventured to the main deck.


Later in the evening after some food I sat in the bar. I looked around the lounge and saw families, groups of friends and couples full of energy as they were kick starting their holiday. After a short while of observing I was suddenly dealt with a wave of nerves and unease.


Prior to this moment I had worked a 6 months’ notice period feeling confident, certain and excited about the bold decision to quit my job and travel full time in my van. Not once had I felt the slightest of unease. Yet here I was, in the final hour as the ferry sailed away from the port feeling anxious and asking myself ‘what the hell am I doing, leaving all my friends and family again to spend a vast amount of time on my own?’


As the night went on and my nerves grew, I phoned a good friend for some moral support.

‘You are inspiring others Emma’ she tried to reassure me, ‘and there are lots of people following your journey.’

I got off the phone and felt the wave of anxiety turning into a tsunami. I had not given thought to what other people would think if I cancelled my travel plans, I suddenly felt even more pressure. There was only one solution now, I went to the bar and ordered a double whiskey with ice. After it disappeared in less than 5 minutes, I ordered another. Twenty-five minutes and three double whiskeys later, I took a calmer version of myself to bed.

14th of July 2022

I arrived the next morning in the Netherlands, it was beautifully sunny with record temperatures. Although my anxiety had quietened it was still creeping under the surface.


Having spent almost 2 years living in the Netherlands during Covid times I had decided to stay in The Hague for 10 days before making my way up to Scandinavia. I planned to meet up with friends and do some of the things Covid never allowed me to do whilst I lived there.

Now I am not usually a fan of crowds but it was truly heart-warming to be with many people enjoying the beaches, being relaxed, happy and living freely. Having been in isolation and curfews during my time living in the Netherlands, these 10 days gave me the opportunity to say goodbye to the Netherlands chapter of my life in an enjoyable and positive way.


For more information on what outdoorsy things you can do in the Netherlands see  8 Fun Things to Do in the Hague

25th of July 2022

After a socially busy time in the Hague, I was ready to set off on my journey to the artic circle and all of my last-minute nerves had been replaced with excitement. Having already travelled the south of Norway in 2019 I wanted to skip the south and get to the North as quickly as possible. The journey would be 1,993 miles and take 40 hours of driving through Sweden and Finland. The roads in Sweden are good condition and the landscape is flat making it the fasted route to Norway’s highest point the Nordkapp (North Cape).


I drove through Germany, Denmark, stopped at a friend’s house in Halmstad (Sweden) for three days (shout out to Ricky P for letting me use his house 😊) then I continued my journey North. Unfortunately, I lost my car key somehow at the campsite in Denmark but luckily, I had a spare key.

Swedish House
Ricky P's House, Halmstad Sweden

6th of August 2022

Today was the day I reached the Swedish artic circle; I was thrilled and excited to be passed the artic line milestone. About 30 minutes passed the sign I saw an albino reindeer, how lucky I felt to be driving through such beautifully remote landscape observing its unique wildlife.

Albino Reindeer, Artic Circle Line Sweden

7th of August 2022

Now, people that know me know I can be quite clumsy, disorganised and some friends may even say ‘careless’ but I like to think of that last one as ‘risk taker’😊.

Having these personality traits have gotten me into a fair few predicaments in the past and today was no exception.


It was around 8am in the morning, I locked Jamie in the van to set off on a 6-mile run with my van key, phone and headphones. After running three miles deep into the forest I turned around to run the three miles back. At this three mile point my headphones rang out of charge (here is the disorganisation) so I took them off and put them away in my back trouser pocket. I was super happy they had died as I heard a pack of wolves howling in the distance on my way back. I stood still to listen for a few minutes with a huge smile on my face before carrying on.

Forest in Sweden

One hour and six miles done, I approached my van, thirsty and looking forward to a cold drink. I reached into my back pocked but I couldn’t feel my key. ‘Please don’t let this happen’ I said to myself out loud. I fumbled around my empty pocket three times in the hope it would magically reappear. I had only the one pocket and there was no key. It must have fallen out, maybe at the 3-mile point when I put my headphones away, I thought.


My mind was racing about this conundrum I gotten myself into. I couldn’t even smash a window for the spare key, it was lost in Demark somewhere and I was hours and hours away from civilisation. I took out my phone to google for roadside assistance, but I had 2% phone battery…. ‘Shit’.


I reviewed my options, option 1. turn my 6-mile run into a 12-mile run in the hope I find the key on the second lap of the route or option 2. wait for a car to pass by and ask for help. After 10 minutes of not one car passing by and my stress levels ever increasing, I decided to take action. I peered through the window to check Jamie was ok and I set off running again. Round two.


A mile in (I cannot be sure because my Garmin also was dead), the torrential rain started. The rain itself was not a problem but I was worried about the insect repellent being washed off as it was the only thing standing in between me and the savage knott biting flies aka the evil forest fairies, who by the way I’m allergic too.

As I had no means in measuring the distance digitally, I was remembering the terrain I covered previously, and I was pretty sure I was at the 3-mile point and still no key. I was going over a plan B in my head, I was envisaging smashing the window to get the doggo and hiking back to civilisation to get some help but, I hadn’t given up yet. In complete desperation I carried on running slowly, scanning the ground. I could feel the bites itching now, as the evil forest fairies were having a feast on my back.


I was just about to give up and turn around when ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph’ I shouted, the key was there, laying on the ground in plain sight. Feeling a huge wave of relief and joy, I bent down to pick up the key celebrating like Golem when he took his precious back from Frodo.

I stood for a moment as I could hear the wolves howling again. On an endorphin and an emotional high I took a moment to reflect on how I had got here, in the deep Swedish forest under the pouring rain, on my own, listening to wolves howling and been eaten by forest fairies. I felt a little proud how far I’d come from home.


Two hours, thirty-six knott fly bites and twelve miles covered, I opened my van, gave Jamie the biggest apology, downed a can of coke and carried on North.


A couple of weeks later I bought a lock box to leave my key outside my van whenever I am doing sports, this I can highly recommend.

8th of August 2022

This was the day I drove though Finland and over the border into Norway. I had arranged to meet with a fellow van traveller and his dog Chester in Alta, Norway.


Work based personality tests have always shown that I am 50% introverted and 50% extroverted. For me this makes complete sense as I can gain energy from spending time with people but equally, I can feel drained when spending time with people. It really depends on how much I have been socialising vs how much alone time I have recently consumed. I always try and maintain a healthy balance which is right for me. For example, I know I thrive on alone time in remote places, I feel energised, happy and relaxed but two weeks is usually my limit. Two weeks+ with no real human connection for me can start to affect my mood and loneliness kicks in.  


Recognising this I knew I would want to meet some like minded people on my journey. So a few days earlier I had posted in a Facebook travel meet up group to see if anyone crossing paths would like to hang out in Northern Norway. This was more successful than I expected, and I would recommend doing this if any solo travellers would like to meet other likeminded people. I connected with dozens of campervan travellers and locals, and this is how I found Jan and Chester. I met with Jan and Chester in the evening. A German guy, with a Dutch name, who spoke English in an American accent and drove a bright green van called Fiona. I knew this guy was going to have a story.


Jan and I travelled North in convoy the next day to reach the most northern point in Europe, the North Cape.

Jan, Chester & Fiona

Emma & Jamie’s adventure to be continued……………..


Part 2 coming soon.

Future content to come …

Chapter 1 – Artic Circle (Bucket List) My Artic Bucket List

Chapter 2 – Portugal (Learning to Surf)

Chapter 3 – The Alps (Learning to Snowboard)

Chapter 4 – TBC


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  1. Pingback: Highlights, Itinerary & Costs of a Norway Road Trip - The Way to Venture

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