Hidden away at the top end of Europe lies an unspoilt, magical winter wonderland where daylight is scarce for part of the year and reindeer outnumber people five to one. Santa Claus takes residence here, enjoying...
A trip to this part of the world has been the top of many people’s bucket list and is becoming more popular due to the craving for snow many Brits can’t quench at home. Although many websites can provide you with tips on the best places to stay, cheap flights and thrill-seeker excursions, there seems to be a lack of personal ‘tricks of the trade’ tips from someone who has spent considerable time in Lapland. So, after spending the last six months working as an Outdoor Instructor for Transun’s supplier, I have put together my top five tips for a trip to Lapland.
1. Lapland is cold
Yeah, I’m sure you’re thinking you could have worked that one out on your own, right? Wrong. During the months of December and January, temperatures in Lapland can drop below -30 degrees (the coldest day we experienced this season was -42 degrees). This is not something to joke about and if you and your family or friends are not prepared, you will waste your valuable holiday time in this beautiful region. Mittens, thermal base lasers, hats, thermal socks, fleeces… these are all essential to a trip into the Arctic Circle. Transun will provide you with thermal snowsuits and boots, but you must ensure that you are kitted out with the right gear underneath. Thermals must be the first layer that you put on. If there is any layer of clothing between your body and the thermals, the insulating properties will not work and there will be no point in wearing them. This goes for socks too, thermals must always be the first layer. Children are not as adept at regulating their body temperature as adults and tend to spend more time playing in the snow. Ensure that they are kitted out with the right gear before they go outside and bring a backpack full of extra layers and hand warmers every time you leave the hotel.
2. The Northern Lights are not a guarantee
Whilst Transun’s holidays take you to idyllic locations for witnessing the magnificent Northern Lights, it is called Aurora Hunting for a reason and it is luck dependant. Download the ‘Aurora’ app before you arrive and use this, along with the staff’s knowledge to predict which night to stay up hunting. Sometimes this means peeling yourself away from the hotel bar around midnight and sticking your head out the door to check for a starry sky. Or it can mean setting your alarm at hourly intervals through the night to ensure you don’t miss the elusive light display. Top tip - leave your snowsuit, boots, hat and torch by the door so you can jump into them at short notice. You don’t want to be the only guests not to see the lights because you were searching for a missing boot!
3. Pack mittens instead of gloves
Although Lapland doesn’t tend to be windy, activities such as snowmobiling and husking mushing will generate a wind chill of their own, therefore you must ensure that you are dressed appropriately. As gloves have separate sections for each finger, they allow the wind to swoop down in between each digit and suck the warmth from them. Mittens prevent this and enable you to keep all fingers together within the insulated padding, keeping you warmer for longer in the sub-zero Arctic conditions. Please note - Mittens are fine to wear when driving a snowmobile and are actually encouraged by most guides.
4. Camera batteries and Arctic temperatures do not mix
Imagine cuddling up to one of the extremely friendly, fluffy huskies that have just guided your sleigh through the sparling, snowy landscape. You reach into your pocket to take the ultimate selfie, only to find that your phone has died. So instead you grab your backup camera, but the same thing has happened. The cold has wrapped its icy fingers around the batteries and drained any charge they had, rendering them useless. Not ideal! But there is an easy solution… hand warmers. Using a hairband, secure an activated hand-warmer to the back of your phone/ camera and place into the nearest pocket to your body for a fully charged battery when you need it most.
5. Try everything
For most people, a trip to Lapland is a once in a lifetime experience… so make the most of it. Leave the comfort of the hotel and explore the local area, book yourself into the cross-country skiing school, have a family toboggan race, try your hand at mushing your own team of huskies, relax in the hot tub after an active morning snow-shoeing. Whatever it is that draws your eye when you look at the brochures or see advertised at the hotel, do it. I never once had a guest tell me that they regretted an activity they booked, only the ones that they didn’t book. Who knows when you will be in this part of the world again, so make the most of this fantastic snowy wonderland whilst you are here.