Lapland – my once in a lifetime!

Around the Apukka Resort – Rovaniemi

Anyone that knows me, knows that taking the boys to Lapland was literally my ultimate lifetime goal! I’m obsessed with anything Christmas and the magic of Lapland was something I dreamt about us experiencing together.

Last year I sat down and wrote out my life goals, Lapland of course was on there as a once in a lifetime trip (lets face it, it’s not cheap). I became consumed with research, research, research, determined to find a way to afford the trip of our dreams! I mean as I have already said, this was a once in a lifetime trip for us and I wanted everything to be exactly as I wanted, even if it made the experience even more expensive. I knew I wanted to take the boys whilst they were young enough that they still fully believed in the the man in red, so I decided that 2020 was the best year so not to interrupt with schooling too much.

I started looking at packages to go for December 2020, with the intention of putting a deposit down in December 2019. I knew I wanted to meet Santa, to stay in a glass roof cabin near a lake (with the best chances of seeing the Northern Lights), to go snowmobiling, Husky sledding and on a Reindeer sleigh ride. The quotes I received were in the region of £6000+. There was no way I could afford that and I wasn’t prepared to let go of anything on my list, if I was spending thousands it had to be perfect. I had joined a Lapland holidays Facebook group and had seen a few people talking about going DIY (removing the travel agencies and building the package yourself, albeit stressful but definitely doable).

With my attentions turned to DIY I spent weeks scrolling the internet, looking at different sites to book flights, accommodation, transfers and excursions. I managed to get the price down to around £4500 for December 2020. I sat down to work out money and affordability, as I still had to think of clothing and spending money. I then returned to the Facebook group for other money saving tips to see if there was anyway I could reduce the cost further, it was then I saw some conversations about last minute bookings for January 2020 . This got me thinking, I returned to google to search last minute, DIY deals. This was it, I managed to reduce my entire trip to half the price I was originally quoted:

  • I booked flights with easyJet leaving 12th January, returning 15th January 2020 for £668.90 (this included £7.50 bistro vouchers each on both flights, selected seats and 2 x 15kg hold luggage).
  • Our flight going left at 6:30 am, so with living approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes away from the airport I decided it made sense to stay at Gatwick the night before. For parking at the airport and a nights stay at the Airport Inn Gatwick, it cost £76.50 (+ £7 payable at the hotel for their overnight parking).
  • I used Expedia (think Nectar points and Expedia points) to book the accommodation. We got three nights at the Apukka Resort in one of their glass roof Aurora Cabins for £900.97 including breakfast. I also paid the hotel 60 Euros directly for transfers to and from the Airport.
  • I bought all of our thermal tops, leggings and socks and snowsuits, gloves and boots from Mountain Warehouse during a massive Black Friday sale. With everything half price or more I got everything we needed for £289.11!

I booked all of our excursions through TripAdvisor (I’ll tell you more about them below and obviously prices change regularly):

I had heard that Finland is expensive (which it is. 5.50 Euros for a 500ml bottle of Pepsi!), so for the four days I took 600 Euros. But because our excursions all included food and drinks, and our hotel included breakfast, I actually came home with 330 Euros! So including Diesel and the Dartford tunnel crossing the trip all in cost less than £3000.

Aurora Hunt, Barbeque and Photos

Photo taken by Alex at Record Travel

This was our first excursion, as we landed in Rovaniemi around lunchtime, I booked this for our first night. From start to finish the guide Alex was amazing! He made such an effort with my boys to make it really fun for them and to ensure they enjoyed it too, which they really did! Alex and his team picked us up from our hotel and took us out to a lake with other tourists. They had a fire in a wooden Kota going to keep us warm, which is also where they barbequed our sausages and served us the famous hot berry drink! They explained the phenomenon that is the Northern Lights and went around taking photos of us throughout the evening. Unfortunately we didn’t see the lights, not that night or for the rest of our trip, but hey that’s just an excuse to go back. We did get some lovely photos of us, and I loved watching the boys speak to and learn about different cultures. Lapland is unlike any other place I have visited in terms of mixed nationalities of tourists. On every excursion we met so many different people from different places all around the world, it was fantastic!

Happy Trail morning Husky Safari

I booked this in for our first full day there as I thought the boys would still be tired from the day before travelling and the late night Aurora hunt. We got picked up from our hotel along with other tourists around Rovaniemi and taken to the Bearhill Husky farm. Like on the Aurora hunt the staff were amazing with the boys, so patient with us taking our time getting changed into their suits, and Tommy being a pickle of wearing something that wasn’t his. Once suited up we got onto a sleigh and enjoyed roughly 45 minutes on a sled pulled by a beautiful team of their dogs. As the dogs started pulling Tommy looked round at me with pure joy, love and wonder mixed into one, and all I could hear was Noah repeatedly saying ‘I love it’. They stopped half way to allow for photos and the views were literally incredible. After the Husky ride, we were taken into another Kota to warm up around a fire, given gingerbread biscuits, sausages and more hot berry juice! Finally we were taken back to our hotel to rest.

Arctic Delight – Visit to Santa’s Village and Snowmobiling to Reindeer farm

I booked this excursion for our last full day as this was the excursion with the most going on. It started by us being picked up from our hotel in the morning and taken to the Safartica office in the city centre, there we met others on our excursion and were taken to The Santa Claus Village. We had a few hours there to look around, we started off by seeing Santa and having our picture and video taken with him. After that we took a stroll around, played in a park and picked up some souvenirs. We met back up with our guide Rachel and the rest of our group for lunch and was taken to a hotel in the village for a buffet (included in the tour price). After lunch we were picked up and driven to another office where they keep their snowmobiles. From there we were suited up, the boys then got on a sleigh pulled by a guide and I got on the back of a snowmobile with another tourist driving. Half way we stopped (the scenery was breathtaking) and we took photos and then switched drivers, driving that snowmobile was definitely the highlight of my trip and a memory that I will cherish, it was AMAZING! The boys clearly loved it too as I was told by another in the group that they could hear both boys in the back of the sleigh shouting ‘Go faster!’. We then continued onto the Reindeer farm where we were taken into a Kota for a traditional arctic crossing ceremony. After, we were taken on a sleigh pulled by a Reindeer and had the opportunity to take pictures before being taken inside for a fire, cinnamon rolls and (you guessed it) more hot berry juice. We received our Reindeer driving licenses (which apparently expire after five years) and were told more about Lapland and Reindeers. Finally we drove the snowmobiles back to the office (I drove all the way as the woman I was with said I was the better driver) and we got changed, to then be taken back to their main office to receive our arctic crossing certificates and be taken back to our hotel. Rachel was also fantastic and Tommy fell in love with her! Such friendly people out there.

This trip taught me a number of things:

  1. My children obviously only get on my nerves, everyone kept telling me how amazing they were and well behaved, so I must be doing something right.
  2. I’m seriously lucky to have such awesome little dudes, they literally loved every second of it and didn’t complain once. I did worry they might find it a bit much being so young still, but they were fantastic and would have stayed outside in the snow all day if I’d have let them. I realise taking a 3 and 4 year old might not work for every family, a lot of children would have moaned, but my little troopers made the most of it and didn’t waste a second of fun.
  3. I worried about the flight for no reason, again they were as good as gold.
  4. I’ve realised how important it is and how much I want to travel with the boys so they can experience different cultures.
  5. It was worth every single penny! We have come home with the most amazing memories and photos that we will cherish forever.

The only thing I got wrong was thinking this was ever going to be a once in a lifetime trip, TAKE ME BACK! I literally have fallen in love this year, and it was with that magical place. We can’t wait to go back, obviously we need to renew our Reindeer driving licences as well!

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