Workation in Sweden

Thanks for popping in — it is so great to have you back (again). 🙂

This is to all my friends, family and fellow travellers, who seek to find some travel inspiration.

Let’ dive in with a quick re-connect to #axelgoeswild in 2017 and what has happended since then…

Wow, it’s more than five years since I was lucky to travel the world. Following the trip, I published a book about my experiences and learnings. I thought there may be valuable insights for people seeking inspiration but not having had the chance to go on such an adventure yet. The book is available globally on Amazon — see links at the bottom of this page.

Today, my homebase is Augsburg in Germany, which is very close to Munich. Interestingly, I’m working in tech again. Since Nepal in 2017, I have been travelling but not written about it… I checked out some nice places like Mindelo (Capo Verd), Eastern German, Safaga (Egypt) several trips to Torbole (Lago di Garda, Italy) as well as Tarifa (Spain) — often for Windsurfing. Plus some international business trips. But only the latest trip to Sweden and Norway inspired me to write again. I was thinking… why is that?

…Well, after some reflection, I think it’s about the way of travelling. There are some differences which make my mind start reflecting. So how do I travel right now.

It’s two weeks “workation” in Sweden where I met old friends. Then about 3 weeks annual leave in Norway. So I’m not completely detached from working as I was during the world-round-trip. But, what is giving me more inspiration this time?

I think, the real secret of travelling is to not act as a tourist. You’d rather be — in fact — a traveller. There is nothing I really pre-book, every day is spontaneous and flexible. I give a shit about a clear plan or schedule. I’m just following some rough ideas and the flow. I can explore what comes around the corner. And I’m talking to people a lot — which is easy and almost needed because I’m travelling alone and as a human I must socialize. I’m deemed to have  conversations with locals and other travellers. And it feels great to share stories and learn from each other — get to know other travellers and locals as a person and listen to their travel experiences and tips. Those conversations trigger reflection a lot. For those who know me, I’m more the introvert person (gaining energy from being on my own), but when travelling alone I really enjoy reaching out and talking to people around me.

This time, I’m travelling by car and tent which gives me full flexibility. Camping is allowed everywhere in Sweden and Norway (they call it “Allemansrätt”). A car is good to have because it rains a lot in September and a car is always a dry place to dry wet stuff. Definitely a downside going by car is the fact you have to drive it and that these breaks during bus/train/flight in enjoyed during the world-round-trip are missing. Public transport breaks provide you the time when you are forced to wait. That time is very valuable to do some reading, collect ideas, plan the next few days, edit pictures and certainly meet new people. To complement flexibility, obviously I’m carrying my world-round-trip backpack and hiking shoes to explore the countryside, mountains and nature …and stay out there overnight.

In this post I’d like to share some travel tips and personal travel reflections with you. I hope you may find inspiration for yourself. So let’s dive into part 1 of 2, the first two weeks workation time.

Homebase Augsburg, Germany to southern Sweden

After the car was packed with working and camping equipment, I decided to start a Hypermiling challenge. Hypermiling is a more slow way of travelling, pretty stress-free. Well it takes some concentration to apply techniques for reduction of fuel consumption. In a way: It’s easy to drive fast and use a lot of fuel, but it is difficult to drive a 3.0 liter engine in a 5 Meter (16.4 foot) long vehicle with less than 4.0 l/100 km (above 50 miles a Gallone). The first 900 km (660 miles), until I reached the ferry on island Rügen in northern Germany, I managed to go with 3.8 l/100 km*. Considering the environmental impact of this vs the environmental lifetime impact of electronic vehicles I think that is quite acceptable.

Working on the ferry going from Sassnitz, Rügen, Germany to Ystad, Sweden
Working on the Road, in a café in Lund, Sweden

I made it back to Lund, Sweden the city where I used to study Entrepreneurship more than 10 years ago. Lucky enough, Hilde from the program and her family kindly hosted me at their home. It was so fantastic to meet again I’m very thankful for the re-connect with inspiring conversations and great Swedish food. Thank you for providing a lovely space to pitch my tend! Doris will become a football superstar one day! 😉

The next day, Alex, who is also a colleague from the Lund University program, invited me for a nice Swedish fika in their garden in Helsingborg little north of Lund. It was great to meet the children and share some stories. It is wonderful how energising it can be to share time with old friends you have not met for several years but you always come back to the trust level when you last met — it is just magical. Hilde and Alex with family, Thank YOU so much for spending time together — I really ejoyed it and highly appreciated the meet ups! You have a home in Augsburg any time. 🙂

Greetings and thumbs up from Sweden 🙂

Heading north, north, north in Sweden

In Helsingborg I jumped on my car and hit the road to get some long distances rolling towards north. I camped at a nature camp site surrounded by forest, lakes and rocks as well as another camp next to a beautiful big lake. Driving, driving, driving — I could never have imagined how many trees and lakes there can be. Alex from Helsingborg was talking about Sundsvall and some hunting trips one could do there so I stopped by — but only for a chill-out tea. 😉 …back on the road quickly towards Umea further north. On the way there was this huge Högakustenbron bridge where I spent some time relaxing and talking to an old and very good friend on the phone. The next day, a short 4 day working week was calling and I wanted to stay at a nice small cottage to have a productive and rain-protected environment. I found this very beautiful place via Airbnb just next to a lake, checked in with a nice Swedish land-lord and ended the day with a jump into the crystal clear lake water and playing my Bolivian classical guitar at the lakefront.

Charging my notebook inside the boot on a Jackery
Nature campsites… wilderness 😉
Cup of tea and relaxing in a nice café in Sundsvall
The road …and millions of trees
Högakustenbron bridge

Then I managed four days of full productive working. I took these short breaks — like a smoker but without a cigarette — instead, having a look at this beautiful lake and countryside. It was massively energizing and motivating. I was surprised myself how much I managed to accomplish . 

Lovely cottage at the lake to work for the week
On the lakeside for an evening play on my Bolivian world-round-trip guitar
Checking emails in the morning

Friday after work, I got behind the steering wheel again and headed north-west to a stop-over camp-site in Slagnäs. During some research that week, I found there is this beautiful national park Pieljekaise. The 440 km hiking trail Kungsleden “King´s Trail” is crossing through there. This area is one of the lowest populated areas we have on the European continent. You drive like 10 km and then you see one house following 10 km of road with only trees and lakes again. The national park is easily accessible on foot from a small village called Jackvik. You know, this village is pretty far out for European standards: They have a supermarket, but the parking area is gravel only. 😉 It’s like 60 km to the next village and 60 km to the Norwegian border. Here, I felt right. After I checked the weather forecast, I packed my world-round-trip backpack with equipment for my first overnight stay out in the wilderness ever. Facing some rain, I put on my hiking equipment with rain protection and off I went into this adventure…

Kungsleden trail in Jäckvik

Kungsleden guided me through the forest, bushes and over rocks and creeks. The rain was getting more heavy. When I entered the higher altitudes, apparency of nature change into steppe and strong winds were added to the rain. It certainly required some additional effort to walk against the wind. I was very glad I had the right clothes on. After some hours, when I reached the border of the national park, I was looking for a hollow spot to set up my camp and cover the tent a little bit from the heavy wind. The soil was soaked with water which made finding a spot even more challenging. The wind was much stronger than forecasted, I’d say around 45-50 km/h (30-35 miles/h) which is a pretty strong breeze. I thought, “What is the wind going to do during night, I don’t want to get blown away if the wind picks up.” So I pulled out my mobile and logged into 4G (Scandinavia, you are a paradise for digital natives with high speed everywhere!) to check my favourite weather app “Windy”. I knew my tend can manage up to 60 km/h (40 miles/h) when set up in the right direction towards the wind. As the wind shall rather decrease later, I decided to stay, checked the compass and aligned my orientation towards wind direction… and started to settle down. I was aware, when setting up my tent now, I should by no means let go the tent into the wind but always hold it strong and fix it thoroughly to the ground. I pulled out the tent fro mits storage bag and the tarpaulin was aggressively waving in the wind. Oh fuck, I need a stone to knock in the pegs. 🙂 …found it — Peg 1 into the wet soil, tent adjustment to wind direction, peg 2, peg 3 — survival secured for the night! Pushing the tent pole inside and adding some more ground connection ropes and pegs. And there it was, my shelter. I put my backpack inside and jumped in myself. Only now, I realized my underwear was completely soaked in water — big learning of the day: Always carry change underwear. 😉 The stove and thermal mat shall help me to get warm and dry some clothes. Also it was time for dinner. The tent was hit by massive rain and shaking in the wind. Quite likely, some angry reindeers and bears were waiting to catch me later in the darkness later, I thought. 😉 Oh dear, in fact, the thought of being out there alone is little scary but knowing the backup online connection made me feel safe. I thought, how lucky I am the night is still very short up here in September: Sun-set 22:16 pm, sun-rise 3:35 am. I slept like a baby.

The next morning welcomed me at 5.45 am with a fantastic view out of the tent into the wilderness and partly blue sky. The valley was covered in clouds. I started this Sunday slowly with some porridge and avocado and then packed my things to start the hike up to the top of Pieljekaise inside the national park. I was drinking fresh water from the creek and enjoyed a beautiful hike. A group of 5 reindeers grayed in the fog. When they heared me they ran away. However, these animals seem to be very curious. They came back checking out who is walking there in their territory. It was so beautiful to watch them.  

Good Morning 🙂

I followed Kungsleden back in the direction of the car, however the creeks had levelled up massively and turned into rivers after all the rain. I was stuck when I found the bridge leading back to Jackvick was taken away and a crossing through the heavy and deep waters and rocks was really not an option. I talked to another hiker half an hour before and he was talking dizzy English about a detour he took. I called the local hostel in Jackvick to get some more clear advice and then started my way through the woods down the river where they had another bridge built for snowmobiles that covered one half of the water stream. The other side was still kind of tricky with heavy waters. I’m not a fan walking barefoot through water I must say. With all the exhaustion in my bones after the hikes, I decided to relax and get some new energy and inner balance do the dance over some rocks visible under water. I got prepared. I was clearly thinking through my steps and movement in my mind several times,… concentration,… and off I went into the procedure. …Reaching the bank on the other side with almost dry shoes. Nice baby, some adventure done! 😉

What a beautiful flora, with all the soil soaked wet

Mushrooms in massive size

Let’s hit the road for stunning Norway

As I was on a road trip I went back to the car and moved on westbound to Norway driving one of the most beautiful scenic passes I’ve seen — especially because of the low sun light giving the nature full colour and this mystic but alive appearance. I had booked another Airbnb at the Valnesfjord between Fauske and Bodø in Norway. Arrived there, the landlord welcomed me and we had a very warm conversation in his beautiful holdiay cottage that he rented out. He was extremely nice, helpful and kind. When a storm was coming up, I fired up the fireplace, got cosy and watched the waves walking down the fjord. 

Road from Jäckvik to Norway
Donwhill in Norway

The holiday cottage was great for working for 3 days before my annual leave would kick off. The first evening I was very lucky as I had gotten an invitation from my landlord to visit him and his family and a friend at their home in Bodø. It was great to meet locals and spend a nice time socializing. I was given some advice how to go fishing. In Norway, everyone my go fishing in salt water for own demands. The next evening I took the fishing rod, which was kindly provided by the landlord, and I wanted to try my luck. Last time I went fishing was when I was 7 years and I never caught a damn fish. “I’m going to catch a fish”, I wrote to my family on WhatsApp. I walked down to the seashore, casted the fishing rod and tried different speeds to reel the lure. It was fun, like a little workout, but I had no luck. After more than 1 hour and casting the fishing rod at least 100 times there was some resistance once more and I thought fuck, the hook got stuck in some bloody seaweed once more. But then I was able to pull and felt constant resistance. I reeled in the fish slowly under constant tension of the fishing line. And there it was — a fish in the air hanging on my fishing rod, not too big, not to small. With the advice from my Norwegian friends in mind I applied a technique to take away life of the fish — not the most professional result but I sward next time I would do better. The fish may forgive me. It was probably the most fresh and tasty fish I ever ate. Thank you nature!

Sunset at Valnesfjord

Three days of working in Norway were over. I really very much enjoyed this way of travelling and working at the same time. I felt very energized along the way and most interestingly I was highly productive at work. The first week were 4 days working and the second week 3 days — which I think should be kind of the way to go in that context. There is no reason for a normal weekly rhythm like working 5 days and then spending only 2 days exploring a country.

Now, I may dive directly into further adventures and continue the road trip in stunning Norway. Thank you for your interest and reading here. Hope you found some inspiration to travel or may do a workation yourself if you have the abilities.

The next blog post will be about annual leave and full time travelling this beautiful county of Norway.

Your #axelgoeswild of 2022

About the guy.

Asking One Question: A Novel about Traveling the World & Finding Meaning and Happiness

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*All right, if you went down to the foot note you are probably as nerdy as myself, or just interested in reducing fuel consumption. Some more details: The 3.8 l/km were achieved maintaining full comfort and safety of the car. So the air conditioning, all illumination, downhill engine and the HiFi system was running at all times. My car is also not really coming with the most fuel efficient thin tyres. Actually, I’m pretty sure if you pull out all the stops you can get it down even lower, like 3.4 l/100 km. Some of you might remember I drove a VW Golf over the alps to Venice, Italy and back home with ony 3.2 l/100 km in 2012. If you want to learn more about fuel economy check out this page — the tips are a good start.

2 thoughts on “Workation in Sweden

  1. Lieber Alex, ich bin begeistert über deine Reiseberichte und freue mich, wieder von dir zu hören.
    Liebe Grüße Maria 😘

    1. Liebe Maria, für deinen Kommentar und dein Interesse ein herzliches Dankesehr. Ich freue mich wirklich sehr darüber! Bis ganz bald!

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