What should I bring?
- Travel insurance.
- Bed linen. If you have some extra space in your luggage it will save you money. Hostels may charge 5-10 euro for renting bed linen and sleeping bags not accepted.
- Sunglasses (not in December to January). Strong sun in combination with a winter landscape can make you snow-blind.
- Discount cards. Such as VIP Backpackers, Hostel International, and student ID. They can save you some money.
- Small backpack. Good on the bus and on shorter walks.
- Winter shoes. It's important that there is enough space for thick socks and that you can move your toes, if not your feet could freeze.
- Warm winter clothes. A winter jacket is a must. Jeans can work out if you use long underwear, but we do recommend warmer winter trousers. It's important that you bring extra clothes since you can't get out in the cold with wet clothes. Many companies, which organize dog sledge tours etc also offer their costumers suitable clothes, check this when booking.
- Padlock. While this area is extremely safe and crime rates are low, we still cannot control the behavior of other people on the tour, or those staying at hostels along the way, so a padlock is recommended.
- CD's to play on the bus.
- Waterbottle. It is very important to stay hydrated and drink regularly during the day. Tap water is safe and good to drink.
- Food. There will be food stops but you can pack it already from home.
- Tour program and a good guidebook.
What luggage to take?
You are allowed to take 1 item of big luggage: a suitcase or a bigger backpack; and 1 item of smaller luggage: smaller backpack, handbag. Note that you must be able to walk with all your luggage (!). Some of our hostels/camps don’t have proper parking and thus we need to get there via foot.
What are the Northern Lights and will I see them?
Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis as it's called in Latin are nature's most beautiful night light show. The Northern Lights are defined as a colorful light phenomenon, which shows itself when charged particles, protons and electrons, carried by solar winds hit the upper part of the Earth's atmosphere. There is no guarantee that Northern Lights will appear. The biggest chance to see this phenomenon is on a dark clear night, a great distance from the lights of the city and in the far northern parts of Scandinavia. So it's best to fill up a thermos, dress warmly then sit and wait. According to ancient Asian beliefs, a person who has seen the Northern lights will live happily until the end of his life.
What about a sauna?
The sauna as its known in Finnish or bastu in Swedish is an old tradition in Northern Europe but can also be found elsewhere in the world. Visiting a sauna is something Scanbalt strongly recommends. Everybody does not sit in the sauna naked and in many cases, men and women use it separately. If you don't feel comfortable being nude in company wrap a towel around you or wear a swimming suit. Rolling around in the snow or a quick dip in a lake are nice breaks from the heat. Dive in the water also with your head to not get headage in the morning. Bring a bottle of water (necessary to drink regularly) and a cold beer to enjoy to a maximum.
Is there any daylight during the winter?
On one hand, yes, but you will not see the sun directly. Think of how blue the sky is when the sun just sets at night, that is the blue of the sky during the brightest part of the day. From December to January it's only light for a short time of the day in the far north. Clear nights the stars lighten up the landscape and the snow makes it lighter as well. In Lapland, it's still wintering climate in April but then its very light and only a month to the Midnight sun sets in.
How cold is it and isn't it dangerous when its -20 Celsius?
It can be if you expose yourself for risks, but there is no reason to. The key is to dress warm and use layer upon layer principle. This is especially important when going on walks or activities such as snowmobiling and dog sledging because the wind makes it much colder than the thermometer shows. Use oily lotions or coconut/bamboo oil to protect your skin, also apply lip balm. To stay warm, your feet, hands, and head need to stay covered to not let your body heat leave. You can find more info under the "What to bring" chapter.
What are the Sami people?
The Sami people (Laplanders is the old name) are the indigenous people of the far north and their culture is certainly one of the most interesting things to experience in northern Europe. In many cases, Sami tourism can be very touristy. Scanbalt try to give the travelers a true and nuanced picture of the Sami people and their situation. You find more info about the Sami in our "Travel guide".
Can I bring skis and will we ski?
Check the itineraries to see if you get the possibility to snowboard or ski. If you want to bring skis send us an e-mail so we know and can plan for the luggage space.
Is it worth the money to sleep in The Ice Hotel?
We all appreciate different stuff and don't have the same amount of money. The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi (Sweden) is a world attraction and one of the very highlights of Scandinavia. So visiting the place is definitely a must, but sleeping there is an added bonus if you have the cash. One obstacle is that you need to book very far in advance, please visit http://book.icehotel.com/en/accommodation . If you book yourself in the Ice Hotel, please inform Scanbalt Experience.
What about food?
Everybody has different eating patterns, tastes and budgets when it comes to food, so it is difficult to satisfy everyone. Therefore, we usually let the passengers bring or buy their own. On all tours, Scanbalt will lend camping cooking gear or there will be shared an equipped kitchen to cook and eat. We make stops for food shopping or you can pack your food from home. You will find more information regarding food under each tour description and from the tour managers. If you booked Christmas or New Years Eve package, there is one dinner included.
Prices and currency
In Sweden, you can pay only with Swedish krona but credit cards are widely accepted. Be prepared that Swedish prices are higher and if you travel from a cheaper country, it could be better to pack the food with you. If you booked some optional activities, please be aware that some needs to be paid only in cash and only in local currency - check each activity for more information or check with your tour manager. There will be ATMs on the way to withdraw the cash or exchange it before the trip.
In Finland, you can pay only with Euro but credit cards are widely accepted. Be prepared that Finish prices are higher and if you travel from a cheaper country, it could be better to pack the food with you. If you booked some optional activities, please be aware that some needs to be paid only in cash and only in local currency - check each activity for more information or check with your tour manager. There will be ATMs on the way to withdraw the cash or exchange it before the trip.
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