So, planning is trip is probably the hardest part. It gets boring, sitting in front of a screen researching and reading blogs and experiences (if that is what you are doing over here, keep at it! it gets better and makes for an awesome trip), lists of must-do things, figuring out your itinerary and cutting corners (you have to cut corners because there is no way to possibly explore a whole country in 12 days).
The trick is to find those 2-3 key experiences you are not willing to miss and then plan around that. And that takes a lot of effort. For us, these must do things became:
- northern light hunting
- roaming around santa’s village
- snow hotel and glass igloos
- meeting friends in Helsinki
So our trip was pretty much planned around these. Our itinerary ran as follows:
- Day 1 – Reach Helsinki, reach Airbnb apartment, dump luggage, roam around
- Day 2 – See the city
- Day 3 – See more of the city (It’s a big city)
- Day 4 – Meet up and hang out with friends
- Day 5 – flight to Rovaniemi, go to arctic snow hotel, stay in glass igloo
- Day 6 – Santa’s village in Rovaniemi, stay the night
- Day 7 – Leave for Ivalo, pickup by aurora holidays and drive to Utsjoki
- Day 8 – Village tour + aurora hunting
- Day 9 – Snowshoe hiking + aurora hunting
- Day 10 – Husky safari + aurora hunting
- Day 11 – Leave for Ivalo, Flight to Helsinki, Night at the airport
- Day 12- Flight back to India
Wow, its so easy to write up your itinerary after the trip is over. In the planning phase this itinerary went through at least a 100 revisions for innumerable reasons. Flight schedules and availability, accommodation and costs, visa process and appointments, there are so many factors to consider. Looking back at some of our conversations during the planning phase, we realise how many compromises we made and how hard it all was. And so worth it!
This is also the part that takes the most amount of time, especially if you want to pick and plan each experience and each place by yourself without any professional help.
Luckily I had help from my friends; Pragnya, who visited Finland last winter; Tamas, who lives in Tampere and my Aurora Holiday host Tiina :). Pragnya is the one who gave me the inspiration for this trip. Tiina and me must have exchanged over a 100 emails over a course of two months and Tamas listed out all of his favourite places in Helsinki along with ratings for me to plan out the three days in the city.
A big shout out to all of you for all your help. Couldn’t have done it without you guys!