Norway is not only one of the most photogenic countries in the world, it is also one of the safest. Minimal corruption, one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and low levels of income inequality almost guarantee an incident-free vacation. Combine that with the breathtaking views, and you have the trappings for a dream vacation.
However, this beautiful country is also somewhat unregulated; you can easily find yourself outside the lines and in an unsafe area because there may not be the same boundaries and protective guardrails that we (as Americans) are accustomed to. The Norwegian Search and Rescue (SAR) lists the rugged topography and harsh climate, with extensive unpopulated areas on land and long distances at sea, as their number one safety concern. If you plan to visit this Scandinavian jewel (and you should), here are some ideas to keep in mind.
One way to avoid navigating two-lane highways or a vehicle breakdown in the middle of nowhere is to take advantage of Norway’s public transportation system. Public transportation in this country is reliable, safe, and the recommended way to move around without having to rent a car or worry about being isolated. Additionally, a ferry trip down a fjord is a scenic way to get from point A to point B while maximizing your travel time.
Distances can be deceiving; driving from Oslo to Tromsø is similar in distance to driving from Jacksonville, FL, to Philadelphia, PA. Additionally, the weather can be unpredictable - winter tires are required from November to April. If you plan to drive, take emergency water, food, radio, and blankets (in winter). Having a map is vital in areas where GPS may not work. Finally, double-check that the spare tire is inflated before heading out on any cross-country drive.
Hiking is a major pastime in Norway, with some major selfie spots all over the country such as Trolltunga (voted by Huffington Post as the scariest selfie spot in the world). Hiking is fantastic in Norway; however, if you plan to hit the trails, know your limits, especially if you decide to head into an area where there is no cell service. Are you able to handle yourself in the event of an emergency or an unplanned night alone in the woods? If you are not experienced, do not stray too far off the beaten path without a guide or an experienced hiking partner.
If you have some serious adventures lined up or are heading into the remote areas of Norway, there are ways to ensure a safer experience.
Let someone know your full itinerary before you leave. SAR teams have a much greater chance of finding you if they have a solid starting point to begin their search.
Call a lifeline: GPS satellite messenger devices can send out emergency calls and provide your location to rescue services from anywhere you can establish a line of sight to the sky. You can also rent satellite phones for the duration of your trip.
Pack for the unexpected: Plan to survive a night or two extra if you had to. This does not mean you need to load yourself down with gear - you might not be comfortable, but you will survive.
If you are planning a trip to Norway, RoamRight’s travel insurance packages include adventure travel options, a perfect idea for any off-the-beaten-path vacation.
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Former travel disaster, now a serial traveler, travel safety advisor, and author of The Travel Safety Handbook. Poster boy for learning from others mistakes. Now I provide travelers with the tools to focus on their travel goals; I advise business travelers,prepare study-abroad students and equip families with the knowledge to return home successful with memories that will last a lifetime, not horror stories. Follow JC on his blog at Travel-Safer.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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