Ready for the Finnish experience? Let’s pack the travel bags!

Written by Matilda Carol Dok

I know you are excited about the idea of coming to the “land of a thousand lakes”, and by now you have gathered a few tips on how to survive in Finland. This article guides you on what is important for survival, and so it doesn’t mean you have to buy everything in it. Just select a few that you feel are very necessary. It is also more applicable to the non-EU students coming to Finland since most EU students experience similar seasons like Finns. You will realize that winter has been given much importance than the other seasons. This is because it is the longest season and can be depressing if one is not adequately prepared for it.

My first precautionary advice on shopping for this experience is, buy as much items as you can from home because Finland can be very expensive. But be careful because not all things you buy abroad will function in Europe, especially electronics. Also, not all airlines allow large luggage capacity. You should also check flight regulations to know what is not allowed to carry in an aircraft. Good earphones, a music podcast and neck pillow will do you justice for the long journey. Finns religiously keep time, so no matter what happens, do not forget to carry and adjust your watch! And oh, carry some love with you, a gift or two, for the person who will receive you in Finland. It warms the heart, you know!

Finland experiences four seasons. Autumn is cold, and winter is freezing harsh. But that is just before the beautiful Spring and wonderful summer! Summer is a free and playful season, so you need very light colorful clothes, cap, open light shoes and a water bottle because the heat can be dehydrating. Spring requires umbrella, raincoats, and waterproof clothes. In winter, you can freeze, get wet, or slide and fall on ice (I had a pretty fall myself! Everybody does at some point 😊 But it is all fun, believe me! (If you don’t break any bones of course 😊). The key elements are therefore wind and water resistance, warmth, and comfort. As Finns say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing! All you need is a “layer system” that will trap in your body generated warmth to keep you away from freezing. The most important parts to keep warm are your hands, head, and legs. Now, are your passport, visa/resident permit, IDs, and all travel papers ready? Let us see what can fit in those suitcases for an amazing Finnish experience! 😊

This is the longest season in Finland. Wear thick trousers with long-johns underneath, a thick woolen jumper, and a good snow proof coat. Gloves should be roomy with a warm lining. Headgear should protect the ears and face properly. In your winter list, consider a warm hip length hood that is water resistant, wind resistant, with an adjustable drawstring; a Parka or heavy-duty winter hooded coat of looser fit since you will wear several layers of clothing underneath; warm wool; bulky sweaters; light sweater; fleeces; long sleeved tees; short sleeved tees; thermal polyester tops; good shoes with Vibram-sole for walking on ice; shoe spikes; warm, well-fitting moisture-wicking socks; synthetic fabric gloves with a padded or double lining; “flip-top” glove; mittens (normally considered warmer than normal gloves); gloves for touchscreen use (since you will use your GPS a lot for navigation and also your phone for browsing and you don’t want to get your fingers frozen by exposing them to cold); sock liner for hikers; polyester ski pants; a wind resistant and multi layered hat; jeans; thermal stockings; silk balaclava; scarf; neck-warmer; waterproof shoes; boots; face moisturizer with sun protection; sauna gear; Waterproof Ski; jacket; Ski goggles; headlamp or flashlight.

Raincoat; Umbrella; Mosquito repellant; water resistant shoes; waterproof bags and allergy pills.

Regular pair of shoes; Undergarments like bras; Swimming/Sauna Gear; waterproof Sandals/Shower shoes; denim jeans; shorts; skirts; dresses; tank tops; skirts; hot-pants; light trousers; sleepwear; sports bra; sunglasses; Sleeping mask; jewelry; flats, walking shoes like casual sneaker.

This season sets in immediately after summer, so it is characterized by fluctuations in temperatures. It starts of warm and gets colder as September approaches. Carry light jackets; headlamps/torches/flashlights; warm sweaters; normal shoes; reflectors.

Good hygiene results in a happy soul and consequently a healthy body! Pack deodorant and fragrances; soaps; swabs; wipes; moisturizer; Chapstick; toothpaste and toothbrush; sunscreen; sanitary towels or tampons; face and hand towels; hairbrushes; cosmetics and haircare products; handkerchiefs; dental floss and medications.

Electronics, photography gear and general tools of entertainment
Finland has Type C or F European style two pin plugs for its electronics, so, carry universal travel adaptor plugs. Do not carry a 110v appliance since its electricity is 220 to 230 volts. Dual voltage appliances are recommended. Cold weather makes batteries die faster especially for gadgets not custom made for the European market, therefore, carry extra power-bank; batteries; normal chargers or car charger. Other things include Backpacks and day bags; unlocked smartphone; travel journal; cables; headphones; audiobooks; laptop or tablet; e-reader; memory cards, camera with spare batteries, tripod stand, selfie stick, lenses, case, strap; game cards; scrabbles; and most importantly, medical first aid kit. Carry all your travel and academic documents. They should be legalized and translated according to country specific requirements.
Finally, as earlier stated, Finland is an expensive country you know! 😊 Carry a few euros and your Visa electron card along, since you will need money to survive and it takes a while before you get your Finnish bank account. It is not fun to go hungry or homeless because you cannot access your money back at home! I almost did! 😊