Moving to Lapland can be quite a change even for Finns. Let us give you a heads up so you know what is waiting for you here. We created a short survival guide with tips for the most common challenges ahead!
1. The Amount of Light
In Lapland, during the summer there’s a period when the sun doesn’t set at all. It is a natural thing to ask, how a person can sleep during the constant daylight?
The basic reply to this question is the same in Lapland, as it is elsewhere in the world: “On your back with your eyes shut.” It is true though, that continuous daylight can lead to restless sleep. It can also make you wake up many times overnight. For those who have difficulties with sleeping, blackout curtains can be a life-saver. If you plan to sleep outdoors consider buying a sleeping mask.
Lapland is large. Here the distances are very seldom counted in blocks but rather in hours. The distance between the southern border of Lapland and the northernmost part of Lapland, Nuorgam is 622 km. It means that Lapland covers almost one-third of Finland.
But no matter how far you have to travel, it simply just feels different because of the breathtaking scenery you drive through. Along the way, you only have to deal with that kind of traffic jams, where a pack of reindeer is involved.
We strongly suggest that when you travel in Lapland you don’t wait too long before filling up your car again with petrol. Be prepared that if you find yourself in the need of car assistance, it might take some time till they arrive. So keeping some warm clothes and a sleeping bag in the trunk is always a good idea.
3. Getting to Know People
People of Lapland are easy to approach. Don’t let it surprise you that some of them can be quite straightforward. They might give you their honest opinion even if you don’t ask for it. Still, it shouldn’t keep you from getting to know them.
Someone said it once, that in Lapland, a middle-aged man has the best chances to meet new people through buying a hunting card. Whether it is true or not, everyone (including middle-aged men) can try to find new acquaintances from having hobbies. In Lapland, we have a vast choice of them.
If you don’t know what to pick, feel free to try whatever seems interesting to you. Sports clubs often struggle to recruit enough members. Therefore they are always happy to greet new, even inexperienced members in order to keep their club alive. So if you have always wanted to try ice hockey but it wasn’t available in your home country, here you can fulfill your dream. Go ahead and give it a try!
4. Asking for Help
In Lapland, speciality stores are not opened around the clock. Sometimes the need of help catches you by surprise. In such cases, it’s quite normal to ask for help from passers-by or someone in your neighbourhood. The Facebook groups in the city where you live can also be useful. People living here understand that not all problems need to be solved alone. Just remember, that the need for help works both ways.
5. Cloudberry and Other Berries
We are passionate about berries, especially cloudberry. By the way, you should give it a try and taste it! Still, if you go for a berry picking trip, finding any is not the main point. The silence of the swamps and the forests, the feeling of large space around you while soaking up in the light. These are the things what charge up your batteries for the upcoming winter. Even if you don’t find any berries eventually.
Although berry picking is not a difficult thing to do, still, you need to respect nature. Gear up with proper equipment, always know where you are heading to and remember to charge your phone before your trip.
One would presume that polar night (called kaamos in Finnish) is the time of darkness in Lapland because that’s the time when the sun doesn’t rise at all. In the southern part of Lapland it lasts only for a few days. But in Utsjoki, on the northern border, it lasts for two months. The truth is, the only really dark period here is the end of autumn. During those few weeks, before the snow arrives and its white blanket illuminates the landscape again, coping with darkness can be hard.
But there’s no reason for panicking. This is the only phase of the year when there’s nothing much to do and see in Lapland. You can easily kick off that bad feeling what darkness can cause. A good way of doing it by meeting up with friends. Enjoying the long night sleeps or tucking yourself into bed with a good book also helps to get the good vibes back.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” You can often hear this saying in the Nordic countries. It’s especially true here in Lapland. We also would underline the importance of using layers of clothes with proper material. The weather in Lapland is actually quite easy to dress for, it’s cold, but usually very dry. When it comes to outdoor clothing, remember these two things:
1. Don’t use rubber boots during winter because it’s impossible to keep your feet warm in them.
2. Cotton is bad, wool or 100% polyester is good. Wool baselayer keeps your skin dry.
The everyday clothing of people in Lapland might look a bit sporty for the newcomers’ eyes. But after stepping out into the -20°C on a lovely winter morning, you will quickly learn to appreciate long underwear. Soon you will feel that there’s nothing more beautiful than your ski pants what protects you from pretty much everything that can hit you during the very cold days of winter in Lapland.
8. Snow Removal
In connection to snow removal, there’s one rule above all: Don’t wait! Playing the waiting game might work in the capital city area, in Southern Finland, but definitely won’t in Lapland. It’s not likely to happen that some warm breeze arrives to let you off the hook by melting the two meters tall snow wall piled up in front of your house.
Good news is that here people know everything about how to deal with a large amount of snow. Just keep your eyes open and watch your neighbors to learn the tricks of snow removal. Think of it as a good workout. If you are diligent, you can grow some muscles by the end of the winter season. And unlike your gym card, it’s completely free.