Return to travel: taking the stress out of flying to or from Stockholm

It’s been a long time since many of us have thought about flying. The pandemic has miniaturised our world and cut many of the cords that bind us to family and friends. 

Return to travel: taking the stress out of flying to or from Stockholm
Photo: Getty Images

But Sweden’s Foreign Ministry recently lifted its advice to avoid non-necessary travel, which has been in place since March 2020. Whether you’re part of a family with kids desperate to see their grandparents, a single person who has been cut off from friends and family overseas, or an entrepreneur who needs to see investors or clients, this could be the perfect time to travel again.

Indeed, passenger numbers have hit the highest level since the start of the pandemic, with more and more people returning to the skies. According to Swedavia, which runs Sweden’s major airports, air travel continued to recover for the second straight month in August.

If you’re now ready to fly again, here are some essential tips, presented in partnership with Arlanda express, for making your experience easier and less stressful when going to or from Stockholm. Travel is meant to be fun, right?

Ready to fly again soon? Find out how you can save time and stress by planning your journey with Arlanda express

1. Being prepared means being Covid-prepared. 

The last thing you want is to book your flights but be turned away at the airport for not having all the requisite documentation and certificates. For instance, the EU Covid certificate is now available, which should be sufficient for travel within the EU and to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

If you’ve been vaccinated, you can download your digital vaccination certificate if you have an approved form of Swedish e-identification, such as Bank ID. However, it’s still important to check all protocols related to Covid-19 for your airline and destination in terms of testing, masks and any local restrictions or recommendations. 

2. Check the basics if it’s years since you’ve flown

Have everything ready the night before you travel. This is always good advice but perhaps especially now. If you think you know where your passport is but haven’t checked, go and find it right away. Not sure of the terminal? Or the precise departure time? Give yourself some peace of mind and double check!

If you feel fully prepared the night before you travel (at the latest!), all you have to worry about is the actual trip, not where all the essential documents (or downloads) are. 

3. Get to and from the airport fast!

One way to suck some stress out of the travelling process is to avoid busy roads when you’re on your way to the airport. You may feel it could be better to avoid any roads. You really don’t want traffic snarls eating into your travel time. 

Depending on where you live and your circumstances, it might be wise to invest in the certainty that rail travel can offer. If you choose to take Arlanda express, you can ensure you know exactly when you’ll arrive at the airport. You can also be sure of getting a good seat to enjoy the views as you speed north out of Stockholm, perhaps while enjoying a well-deserved cup of coffee.

Travelling to Arlanda by road can come to seem like a long journey, as it’s 40km or more from many parts of Stockholm. Arlanda express takes only 18 minutes to transport you from central Stockholm to Arlanda. Just 18 – not 40 or 60. Upon your return from Arlanda, you’ll want a little calm – not trouble finding a taxi, more traffic delays or finding there are no parking places within 10 minutes of your home. 

This is even more vital if it’s not only yourself you need to think about. If you have children travelling with you, they travel for free on Arlanda express until they turn 18. A family of five, for example, can travel to or from Arlanda for just 379 Swedish kronor – or less than 76 kronor per person. If it’s just two of you, or you’re travelling with a few friends or colleagues, there are still deep discounts available.

Want an affordable and enjoyable journey? Check out the full range of Arlanda express ticket options and prices now

Photo: Arlanda Express

4. Don’t forget your entertainment for the plane

One of the unheralded joys of preparing to travel is assembling your array of entertainment for the journey. If you have an e-reader, buy yourself a couple of e-books; if you have a tablet, download a new TV series or a couple of movies you’ve been meaning to watch, and if you have access to Spotify or a digital audio player, download some tracks from that artist you’ve been wanting to check out.

Or, if you just want to relax, make sure you have your noise-cancelling headphones, a travel pillow and a book packed in your hand luggage.

5. Think ahead when travelling with kids

Travelling with children means you have to be extra well-prepared, even as restrictions are being relaxed. For example, you could book an early morning departure, as these flights are usually less full and far less stressful and they depart when the airport isn’t as crowded. 

Also, dress the younger kids in loose layers, preferably without buttons, studs, or anything that could prevent a sudden, last-minute dash to the bathroom – there are rarely laundry facilities in airports. And when you pack, make sure items that need to be removed during the security check are easily accessible.

You could also start your journey in a way that’s bound to get your kids tingling with excitement – a 200km/h train ride with Arlanda express. 

6. Make conscious choices

Are you a conscious traveller? Do you feel guilty about your carbon footprint? This may be the very best reason to avoid taking a car or taxi to Arlanda. Instead book a ticket with Arlanda express, whose trains are operated 100 percent on green electricity that carries the “Good Environmental Choice” label.

This means the electricity is derived from renewable energy sources, such as hydropower, wind power, and biofuels. Did you know that, apart from actually cycling to Arlanda (try doing that with kids!), taking the train generates the lowest emissions. It’s the best practical way to travel from an environmental perspective.

If you’re thinking of flying again this autumn or winter, start planning ahead: find out how choosing Arlanda express might save you time, stress and even money

Member comments

  1. Very nice to say so, but Arlanda Express stop running trains well before the last flights arrive at Arlanda Airport. And if you have a late flight which might arrive on time for the last train, then it’s still risky to book a train, as planes are often delayed. It happened to me once: I had bought a ticket for the Arlanda Express, but it was useless, as the last train had already left by the time I arrived at the railway station.

  2. I flew from Arlanda last July. It was an awful experience. Took hours to get though all the stops, check in and customs, endless lines. So many people!

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images