At the end of last year, I made a bunch of New Year’s resolutions for 2020. As crazy as it may sound, I managed quite many of them (such as defending my thesis, yes!), including the plan to go camping for one night every month. Little did I know at the time that this would be the perfect idea for 2020, a year during which we stayed closer to home than ever before. Luckily, Sweden has this amazing “Right of Public Access” (“allemansrätten”): the right to explore nature as long as you keep it intact and follow the rules. And that includes being allowed to sleep outside in nature!
Even if I am a former girl scout (yes, I also sold cookies), went camping during summer vacations in my childhood, and had already camped many times in Sweden before, I had never committed to doing this all year round. As you might remember, the winter of 2019/2020 was unfortunately very mild, so our camping adventures were not that extreme weather-wise. Still, it was amazing to experience all the different seasons in places around Stockholm just from our tent. Putting up the tent on a pitch-black winter night and waking up to fresh snow. Welcoming the sun back mere hours after it disappeared on a short summer night. Watching the golden hour after sunrise or before sunset giving everything this brilliant hue. Seeing the northern lights just a short drive north of Stockholm. All these experiences were definitely highlights of 2020 for me!
Some people might of course get more out of a longer vacation, but you need time and money to do so, which is not always available. I am sure that taking these mini breaks away from the lab and my computer have helped keep my sanity in this stressful year and have allowed me to get back to work with new energy.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2021? Would you like to spend more time outside as well? Or do you have some other activity that you want to start doing regularly? Maybe setting the goal of trying to do this once a month will help you get started too!
All pictures by Jarda Zaoral.