Honeymoon Couple Survives Six Natural Disasters

Posted Apr 6th 2011 11:00 AM


honeymooners natural disasters

Svanstrom Family

Stefan and Erika Svanstrom of Stockholm, Sweden, managed to encounter six natural disasters on their recent four-month honeymoon – including flooding in Australia and the devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

They didn't set out to do that, of course, Stefan, 38, tells AOL Travel News, but he and Erika, 32, did learn a life lesson: "Always expect the worst and hope for the best. And be prepared for anything!"

The couple, traveling since they met in 2007, has visited 16 countries including the U.S. For their honeymoon, they started planning in early November, leaving plenty of time to explore, Stefan says.

They got married Nov. 27, and headed off a week later, traveling with their infant daughter.

The trip of a lifetime was made possible because Stefan, an economist, had a nice severance package from a job he had left, and Erika, a foreign affairs policy advisor for the Swedish parliament, was on maternity leave – their daughter is now 10 months old.

Svanstrom Family

"We had only a ticket from Sweden via Munich to Singapore and the return from Melbourne via Beijing to Stockholm. The other flights were booked as we went along, mostly on low-cost airlines in Asia. We also booked most of the rental cars and accommodations along the way," Stefan says. Most of their stays were in hostels.

"Our plan was to get a lot of sun and beach-life early in the trip, and experience nature and culture later in the trip. Some of the destinations were chosen for the diving, as we are both keen to go scuba diving."

Svanstrom Family

The honeymooners encountered their first disaster right after they left Sweden, in Munich, where one of Europe's worst snowstorms delayed them for a day at the airport before they flew off to Singapore.

"After that we had a very nice month in Thailand, with no major disasters. In Bali, we were caught by the monsoon rains, which of course is a part of the season in January," Stefan says.

Off to Australia, in Perth the Svanstroms narrowly escaped bush fires.

Svanstrom Family

"In Cairns, however, we had our first major disaster experience, when category 5 Cyclone Yasi had us being evacuated from our hostel to a nearby shopping mall while waiting for the storm to pass," Stefan says. They ended up sleeping on a cement floor with other evacuees.

A few weeks later, the Svanstroms and their young daughter were visiting friends in Brisbane, "where the (massive) flooding had just passed leaving devastation on the river banks downtown."

They were at the airport waiting for a flight to Christchurch, New Zealand when they got a call from worried relatives advising them a 6.3 magnitude earthquake had struck the city.

"We ended up in Auckland, and drove down to Christchurch where we only were able to see the airport due to the devastation in the city center," Stefan says.

"Next stop was Japan, where we experienced the earthquake of 11 March while eating lunch in Asakusa in northern Tokyo. It was quite a shocking experience."

The Svanstroms had a nice and calm visit to China, before returning home late last month.

Throughout their disaster travels, the newlyweds learned to "stay calm and to stick together when bad things happen," Stefan says, important lessons in any marriage.

"I also think that every crisis that you survive makes you stronger, and the bond between us has grown with every challenge we've met," Stefan says.

The experience was also quite humbling, he adds.

"Although we've had some bad luck, we still have our lives. Our thoughts are with those who couldn't escape these disasters. In the end, we are very fortunate to be alive."

The Svanstroms do plan to continue their travels in the future, Stefan says.

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What have YOU been smoking Ken?

April 07 2011 at 3:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You've never heard of a Hostel?

April 07 2011 at 3:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jeez, people! If that couple can afford to travel like that, more power to them. And so what if they took their child with them? Sounds to me like very well off responsible people. So what's wrong with that? If you have a problem with it, you're probably just jealous and not happy with your own life. Maybe if you weren't sitting around commenting on other peoples lives so much you could make something of yourself and you could travel like that too.

April 07 2011 at 3:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm willing to bet that all the petulant comments here are from Americans, who don't grasp that the rest of the world (including, in this couple's case, Sweden) offer extended year-long maternity and paternity leaves, plus paid loooong vacations. And Scandanavia consequently comprises some of the most productive countries on earth, not to mention the happiest and healthiest populations. Americans continue to grouse and grumble instead of realizing that, for example, it is everyone's right to have universal (Scandinavian-style) healthcare and maternity leave and paid vacations that are better than the two impoverished weeks Americans are granted. And stop screaming 'socialism' whenever someone offers a vision of a life-enhancing society.

April 06 2011 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

typo under third picture "hostel" should be "hotel"

April 06 2011 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jimmy's comment
Nancy B

Given the context, I believe hostel is correct.

April 06 2011 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Excuse me while I go get these people a tissue........

April 06 2011 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i have no idea why people keep bring up the baby. so what if the couple was on their honeymoon with their baby? u ignorant people are acting like the bringing the baby on the trip caused the disasters. who are you to judge what they do? its not your life so stop being stupid

April 06 2011 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Honeymoon? Wait a minute...there's a kid with them in the photo. A four year honeymoon isn't a honeymoon, it's another disaster.

April 06 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

they must have a lot of money to be able to exit work for a prolonged period of time.

April 06 2011 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to leon's comment

I think it was easier for you to get through these disasters because you are still in the stage of passionate love. I have been married 42 years. For sure I would have thought "this is it for us." My last ten years of marriage have been worse than all your disasters put together. Enjoy being home safe and sound and enjoy your baby.

April 06 2011 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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