May 14, 2024 5 min read

My Lessons Learned From The Aurora Borealis

I contribute my first solo trip to Norway as my first big adventure. Norway was also the first travel lesson I learned that taught me to how to handle things.

Photo of Aurora Borealis taken in Norway
Photograph of the Aurora Borealis in Tromsø from Angela Allas

I've always been a traveler at heart. I dreamed of seeing faraway places and experiencing new cultures since elementary school. My mother was also a traveler, which filled my sense of wanderlust that much more. In 2015, I decided to take my first solo trip to Norway.

It's a safe country for females, and I found an incredible deal I couldn't pass up. I had visions of Norwegian Flords and many historic villages along the water. I also had my eyes set on seeing the Aurora Borealis.

Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon that occurs. It occurs because of charged particles launched along Earth's magnetic field. The particles collide with gases in Earth's upper atmosphere.

This event displays some of the most beautiful shows in the sky. The only drawback is the show is at night and only late at night. My goal was to see them in Norway. It was a bucket list item and a lifelong goal of mine.

Planning My Trip

I had booked my flight to Norway. The trip would last three weeks. I planned to spend just two nights in Tromsø. Tromsø is nestled well within the Arctic Circle. That is what makes it a prime hot spot for tourists. It's also known for its high occurrence of Northern Lights sightings.

It's also home to the world's most northern brewery, a spot that has been around since 1877. I had my hostel booked and my flights to Tromsø ready.

Journey To Norway 

Oslo is the capital of Norway, and it's the first city most travelers fly into. I spent five nights here. I explored places such as the Oslo Opera House and the Viking Museum. I was in Norway on my first solo trip and took the time to appreciate everything.

Norwegians are fun to be around. The country has so much to offer. Sadly, it was time to leave Oslo and take my flight to Tromsø. After all, I did come to Norway to see the Aurora Borealis. 

And Then The Bad News

While in Oslo, the weather was sunny for only one day. The clouds rolled in and snowed the rest of the time. Snow in Norway is beautiful. Clouds put a dent in my plans. One needs clear skies to see the northern lights in all its glory. I hoped that the weather fared better in Tromsø than in Oslo.

I was gravely mistaken. The weather was worse up north in the Arctic Circle. Upon arrival, my hostel said I had a 5% chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. And here I experienced my first reality of traveling. Nothing goes according to plan. So many questions went through my mind. "What do I do?" "Should I wait it out and hope for the best?" "Do I leave early and come back?" I came to Tromsø from New York City. I would hate to miss this chance.  

The snowstorm in Tromsø
Snow in Tromsø

Making The Most Of The Experience

Dumbfounded, I called my significant other as he was back home in New York. I told him about the 5% chance of activity and about the snowstorm that was going on. I explained how the weather was putting a dent in my plans. I needed advice. The feeling of my lifelong dream not happening was the worst. The weather showed no signs of the snow stopping for another week. 

He told me, "Just wait it out. You don't know what's going to happen." What the hell was he thinking? I'm having a major anxiety attack right now. Nothing is going according to plan. Of course, he can say that. He's not here trying to achieve a dream. 

This advice isn't just a traveling lesson I needed to learn. It's also sound life advice. You don't know what's going to happen. Unexpected things happen all the time. That's the part I love about traveling. You learn to deal with the unexpected. You can't hide from the things that upset you. Learning how to handle events is part of the journey.

Just Wait It Out

So, I did. I went to a local coffee shop and scrolled through my social media. That was some of the best coffee I ever had. I periodically checked the weather. Also, I decided tomorrow I was going to change my plans. I wasn't going to stress over this. The weather is the weather. No one can change the weather. 

But luck must have been on my side the next day. The snow had stopped, and the clouds started to disperse. Could waiting it out have worked? I walked to the local tourist office to enquire about taking a tour to see the lights. The snow had made many people cancel their tours for another day. I booked a tour for that night.

Capturing The Moment

I learned that photographing the Aurora Borealis is an art in itself. My tour guide had ten years' experience in finding the northern lights. He told me that tonight's show should be a big hit. He wasn't lying. The group got spectacular photographs. We stayed out till 4 in the morning. The group enjoyed the show that nature put on for us. 

I now get to say I've seen the Aurora Borealis in Norway and achieved a dream of mine.

In Reflection

I contribute my first solo trip to Norway as my first big adventure. I had only traveled with my family or significant other before. I was 25 years old and traveling alone to a foreign country.

Since that trip, I've taken many others. I've traveled as a solo female, and now with my husband and two toddlers. Norway, though, has always held a special place in my heart. It's because it was the first time I dealt with something that was a huge dilemma.

Traveling has taught me to be calm under pressure. Traveling has also taught me to be flexible. To be prepared to change things when I have to. I can now change my travel plans without a care. I now know that I can still see and do what I want. Many hurdles while traveling happen, but you can overcome anything thrown at you.

Even though anxiety can overtake you, deep breathing and thinking through things helped me through the tough times. These are the lessons learned from exploring the world.

I now teach this to my toddlers. I've taken them while traveling to other countries. I want them to learn to embrace change and to love traveling. It's also part of why I started my travel blog Treks On A Budget. To show families the realities of traveling.

My blog also shows others how they can travel on a budget. All my toddlers think is "If mom can learn to handle the big things, so can I." 

Thank you for reading and make sure to subscribe. We're constantly exploring new destinations and share our stories, tips, and the beauty we discover along the way.

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