Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The US to Sweden – Travel Rules

I’ve made the trip from the US to Sweden and back a few times now. I’m starting to get good at it. Not great, but good. I am in Sweden now; I wouldn’t want to get too cocky. All those trips though have made me kind of sensitive to the things that go on around me. And so, because this is the internet after all and there is no better place to rant about things that no one asked you about, I present to you a few travel rules. Feel free to leave your suggestions below.
  1. Leave your cowboy hat at home. This isn’t Texas. You aren’t Wyatt Earp. And you are only validating stereotypes. You don’t need to leave your American-ness at home. You do need to leave your cowboy hat at home. Don’t think you can check it either. It will not travel well. Just leave it be.
  2. Brush your teeth. Take a shower. Wear deodorant. This isn’t necessarily Swedish or American, it’s just polite. While I might find foul smelling things entertaining in short bursts, being stuck in a flying metal tube with your smell is not entertaining. At all.
  3. Leave your bible at home. Or at least in your bag. I get it, you’re religious. Fine. I’m not. And neither are the Swedes. So when you walk off that plane clutching your bible as if it is God’s gift to the written word (see what I did there?) you aren’t fitting in.
  4. Wear comfortable clothes. I know the Swedes look as if they just stepped off the latest fashion runway and I just told you to leave your bible and cowboy hat at home so you would fit in, but let’s be honest, you’re going to be on a cramped airplane for several hours, don’t get dressed up. Comfort is style.
  5. Do not complain about the locals before you arrive. The locals are on the plane with you. They speak English. In fact, use some of that time on the plane to maybe talk to a local. Or at least try to learn the word for hello (hej pronounced like hay) or thank you (tack pronounced kind of like tack but with a soft ah sound for the a).
  6. The US is not number one. It’s pretty great, and I moved back for a reason, but it’s not number one. Or maybe it is. But whatever it is number one in your shirt is unnecessary.
  7. Use your inside voice. You are inside. In fact, you are inside a very confined space.
  8. And finally, if you really are the stereotypically fat American just buy two seats. I know. This makes me a bad person. But I think we both know that you will be more comfortable and so will I. While I enjoy the warmth of a snuggling person next to me as much as the next guy, your uggghhhh spilling over the arm rest does not count.
Welcome to Sweden. And rules to live by.

P.S. Don’t wear fanny packs. Ever. No matter who you are or where you’re going.

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  1. Haha Americans with cowboyshats and a bible under their arm. Do they really exist in real life?

  2. It really irks me when people dress up for flights, ridiculous. And it makes me look even worse! Though I have to say that in my eyes Sweden's fashion for women these days is not much more than wearing big comfortable bags of cotton so...

  3. This is a great one. My thoughts are:

    The no cowboy hat rule applies even in the U.S. Unless you are involved with the rodeo or happen to (unfortunately) sing country music...

    I agree with the comfortable clothes, but an effort can still be made nonetheless. No need to look like you just rolled out of bed.

    The inside voice would apply on the plane and basically every other public place in Sweden.

    As to the fanny packs, that might be the smartest thing you have ever said. I say burn them all.

  4. I forgot to add:

    Go ahead and practice being Swedish while not bothering people with chit chat for the entire flight. Most ppl just want to sleep, read, or listen to music. Let them.

  5. i wish i knew this before i went to indian exuburance maybe shocked people little...
    but as one wise guy are exotic..the swedes dont mind....

  6. And do remember that if you drop something in the airport, train or other travel station..NO one will help you pick things up. This is not the swedes being rude, but rather the opposite. If they help, they consider that a judgment that you are not capable of handling your own things. If they don't well, then, you look like you fit right in......

  7. @Tomáso
    Yes, American's with Cowboy hats and bibles in tow DO exist...not been to the midwest much huh. Not only religious people - bible in tow, but a church just about on every block..if not two or even three.

    Not that I personally mind, one's faith is a great and wonderful thing, but my Danish/German ancestry takes the position of, "no need to broadcast" and quickly turn if someone wants to discuss or convert you. Religion and politics, bad conversation pieces. Sure fire way to get into a lovely "stupid American" argument. After all, Sweden is the best and wisest country in the world! (ah-hummm) From my stay's in Sweden, great rule to practice, you offend no one. Not bad to apply in the USA either. If they try...gee, look at the time...

  8. Just in case you have British readers ... fanny pack = bum bag aka marsupial pouch. Never looked good in any language I think!

  9. Love your blog, keep this magic coming ;)

  10. So while we are on the subject of wearing comfortable clothes on airplanes, what is wrong a fanny pack? So they might not be high fashion but they certainly are practical and make it a lot less likely that you will lose your documents or have them stolen.

  11. fanny pack = bum bag??? That made me laugh at my computer screen.

    Also, dont get so drunk that you feel it is acceptable to sexually harass the person net to you. Especially if that person is me.