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Lapland: planning the perfect trip

Magical, breathtaking, cold and expensive - Lapland in four words, according to Mumsnetters. If you're lucky enough to be going, chances are you'll only do it once - so read on for tips on making the most of it.

1.  Be realistic about who is coming with you

Alas, Lapland isn't really suitable for babies - the sub-zero temperatures aren't great for really little ones, and in fact many tour operators recommend that visitors are over four. 
Of course people in Lapland have babies - but they're generally better set up for the cold, and won't have spent a year saving for the trip, only to discover that the poor mite wails every time he or she is taken outside (and the majority of activities are outside). 

2.  It will be blimmin' cold - and dark

In December, daytime temperatures generally range from 0°C to -20°C, but it can fall as low as -40°C during a particularly cold spell. It will be dark too, with what is best described as a dull grey light between 10am and 3pm.

"The temperature really does vary - it's been -28°C and -2°C in the same week. Please don't underestimate the cold - if you're doing all the husky/Santa's house activities, the kids will be sitting around at times outside, especially on the dog sledding. And once they're uncomfortably cold there's nothing you can do about it, so try to avoid it at all costs."

3.  Know where and when you're meeting the Big Feller

Santa is, of course, the main draw on a trip to Lapland - so do make sure you find out what the plan is for the big visit. On some trips Santa meets all the children at a dinner; others organise a one-to-one family meeting, either at the hotel or at the end of a Santa safari. If you're booking an organised tour, check exactly what is offered - you don't want to find yourself at the end of a 100-strong queue like those at your local garden centre.  

4.  This is not the time or place for a LBD

It's going to be cold and snowy obvs - so pack accordingly. There might be a 'gala' dinner included in your package, but don't bother taking your best frock and heels - jeans and a sparkly top or pashmina will be fine. If you're travelling with an operator they should provide snow suits, boots, socks and gloves for the activities, but you'll still need some of your own clothes for layering up.
"We took lots of layers, including thermal vests, long johns, thermal socks, balaclavas and ski gloves - plus those hand/foot warmer things. Inghams gave us all-in-one snow suits and boots, and we were never cold - on warmer days we would actually undo the zip at times."

5.  Plan ahead for fussy eaters

Along with traditional Lappish food (reindeer, fish and berries), you'll find international food in most hotels and restaurants - but do bear in mind that it will have been imported, so choices might be limited. Pack your own snacks to keep the family well fed - cereal bars, chocolate, crisps, fruit and so on.

6.  Excursions are pricey - but, you know, 'once-in-a-lifetime' and all that 

Snowmobiles, husky/reindeer-drawn sleigh rides, ice-karting, northern light-spotting - there are, naturally, plenty of festive activities available. If you're on an organised package trip you should have several included within your itinerary, so double check what's offered, and plan and budget for any extras.

"The excursions are hideously expensive - but I will always remember riding on a husky-drawn sledge in the dark, cuddling my daughter and seeing a shooting star."

7.  You can D.I.Y - or let a tour operator take the strain

You can arrange your own visit flying in via Helsinki, or take a package trip with a tour operator like Santa's Lapland, Thomson or Newmarket Holidays. Some operators offer day trips, but these are very long days - so if you can stretch to a few nights away, do. A package with a tour operator should include activities and a meeting with Santa, but check carefully what is and isn't included.  
"After looking at a lot of the companies, we went with Santa's Lapland (Esprit) to Saariselka this year for three days. It was AMAZING. I cannot speak highly enough of the company. It was properly beautiful (close your eyes, imagine Narnia).  The whole thing was so extremely well done." 

8.  And if you still need convincing...

"There's a special window in every child's life where the magic is REAL! Before all the children at school ruin the magic, they can have a once-in-a-lifetime brilliant experience."

Last updated: over 2 years ago