How do we travel?

Since I have a profound fondness for driving (not necessarily fast) because it allows you to view more of a country or region, it was clear that driving would be it.

Multiple routes are available:

  • Brussels – Stockholm: driving via the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and then onto the ferry/cruise to Turku. 1835 km driving + 11h of boat
    • Alternatively there is the option to use the boat from Kapellskår to Naantali, an island near Turku. 1930 km driving + 9 h of boat
  • Brussels – Travemunde: driving via the Netherlands, Germany and then onto the ferry to Helsinki. 600 km driving and 30 h of boat
  • Brussels – Kallo: driving via the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden. 2875 km of driving.

To be fair, I have to add the flying routes.

  • Brussels – Helsinki – Turku
  • Brussels – Stockholm – Turku
  • Brussels – Kittilä

So while I prefer to drive, Nina flies most of the time. Comfort and time being the main factors. But I can tell you that the full drive from Brussels to Lapland (or back for that matter) is genuinely long and tedious. As much as I love the driving through the nordics, the roads are very monotone also.

So when we travel, except for the weekends, we take along our dogs and cats. The dogs have a fully equipped trailer, and the cats travel in a large cat-cage in the trunk of the car. Once on the boat the cats join me in the cabin, while the dogs stay in the trailer and get attended by every 4 hours. They get loads of deck space. They are sleddogs, so not used to come inside at all.

When we drive, we stop every 2-3 hours to give the dogs a stretch. This slows us down, but also ensures our rest too.

The ferry/cruise boats between Stockholm and Turku are surprisingly cheap compared to the Germany-Sweden/Finland ones. Tallink-Silja and Viking often have promotions with prices as low as 25 Euro per passenger. Finnlines is pricier on the Germany-Helsinki route. But that saves you a lot of driving and fuel. All the boats have all kinds of entertainment onboard, restaurants of course, but also tax-free shopping, casino, wellness etc.

Total cost depends on your vehicle, type of fuel, route etc, but in our case it doesn’t make much of a difference. Time difference is +-2 hours only between the routes, and while the Travemunde-Helsinki boat is much more expensive, we save a lot of gas, are able to rest and the dogs have a comfortable trip too

Flying is a lot less hassle of course. Living so close to Brussels Airport does have its advantages, but downside is the price. Brussels means EU, and the tickets to Helsinki are at least 200 EUR. Most of the time it’s cheaper to fly to Stockholm (SAS) and then hop with a prop plane to Turku. Bumpy 45 min but worth the risk! Other option is to fly out of Amsterdam, but that adds a 1-hour train ride.

During the winter season there are direct flights (charters) from Brussels to Kittilä. Early booking is required. Other option is to fly to Kittilä via Ivalo with Finnair, but not cheap either.

So you can see why we drive with our family and dogs…

Schedule permitting, I prefer driving nighttime. Less traffic, calmer, more fluid driving. And a lot less traffic jams! Mostly Germany in the South-West has some very dense traffic, and lots of roadworks. Always present, and they have a knack for making them long. Literally 10-12 km on narrow bands split out is no exception.

I can’t put a finger on it but once in Finland, the stress of driving is gone. I know, there’s a lot less cars driving, and 5 cars at a red light could be considered a traffic jam, but rarely somebody will cut you off, overtake you on the last second, speeding is limited to 5-6 km/h, and burning a red light is not done at all. Yes, the fines are steep but the mentality here is very different. And when the herd is calm, all individuals are calm…

The last leg up North, is usually split in two. We leave the Turku area as early as 8 AM, and try to make it to the Oulu or even Tornio region by night. AirBnb is our best option, but we need sometimes to negotiate a bit for the dogs. They stay outside all the time, summer or winter, but need some space and a small backyard won’t do.

The second day we follow mostly the Tome River, which is also the Finnish-Swedish border, until Kolari, and then inland to Kallojärvi.

Coming up: blog entries about the boat trip, arriving at the cottage, hiking in Lapland, …

Full trip via Travemunde-Helsinki (Finnlines) ferry

7 thoughts on “How do we travel?

Add yours

  1. Hello.

    Very interesting reading! I am Finn and we have made three road trips to Germany from Helsinki. We have also visited ,Luxemburg, France and Liechtenstein, but mainly Germany. Ships from Helsinki to Germany are expensive – I agree.

    When you are in Finland, take care of traffic cameras. In the north there is no need for Traffic cameras, because reindeers take care of them. Drivers flashes cars’ headlights if there are reindeer on the road or beside them. Slowdown in these cases. I guess that you will not have any problems, because one of you is Finn. We are now on vacation and our trip 783 km lasted 11 hours.

    Drive safely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the reaction. One of the first things Nina told me when we visited in Finland was to mind the cameras. I spent quite some time in winter in Lapland in the 90ies but didn’t have much time then (or need) to mind the cameras. Plus driving across Finland with a big van and trailer with dogs isn’t very inviting to speed in winter. The reindeer… yeah, I’ve had some surprises. Nowadays I use the app porokello on my phone. When I hear the numbers on the radio about reindeer and moose accidents… Where are you travelling to this year? We will be in Lapland this year mid-august till end of September, and then again for Joulu of course!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hello.

        This summer we visit eastern / northern part of Finland. we have on western side many times. Now we are at north of Taivalkoski and tomorrow Kemijärvi, then Kuusamo, one night in Iisalmi and home to Espoo.

        When you drive to the north, have you ever spent a night in Oulu at Nallikari? Nallikari is our favorite place. We had few years ago a second home in Oulu during 2½ years.

        One of our favorite places is Muonio, We spent one week there and from we made day trips around the regions. I have made many posts presenting Lapland.

        Have you been in Rovaniemi / Arctic Circle in winter and met Santa or have a reindeer ride? If not then here is the Arctic Circle:

        Reindeer rides and Santa

        In Oulu:

        Reindeer race 3

        Stay healthy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nice trip indeed. At one point we considered buying a place in Kuusamo, but we preferred a place a bit more remote. The house we were visiting was part of a lähistö, too close. Oulu is more or less our mid-point. If not for the baby , in Summer we could do it in one go. Winter’s too hard with the trailer. One of the places I’ve spent my winters before training dogs was Muonio. Loved the remoteness. It’s one of our current search spots for a bigger house. Although I’d love to live lake- or riverside In the “head of the lady”. But realism also tells me that as long as my job will be requiring me to travel a lot, staying closer to a commercial airport is required. Been to Rovaniemi a few times, this year’s summer trip will be the 34th time crossing napapiiri! Visited Santa, the obligatory picture etc… Every year I watch Joulupukin kuuma linja from my in-laws’ house in the morning. I really like the whole big Christmas event. And definitely prefer celebrating it in Finland over Belgium. Safe travels! (And one day I hope to race also with a reindeer…)

        Liked by 1 person

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