9. SPECIAL COVID CONSIDERATIONS
1. GETTING TO FINLAND
Q. What’s the best airline to take and best way to fly into Finland?
A. Usually people book their flights based on price and loyalty programs. Cost will be different depending on where you are flying from. In any case, note that this tour starts and ends in Kittilä with most flights arriving from Helsinki (although there are direct flights from other cities).
Q. Will I be met at the airport upon arrival in Kittilä?
A. Airport transportation from and to Kittilä is included in the cost of the tour as long as you arrive the day of the tour and depart on the last day of the tour. We are not able to arrange transportation outside of those dates.
Q. Do I need a visa to enter Finland?
A. Residents of many countries do not need a visa to enter Finland. You can read more about whether you need a visa and about getting a visa here.
Q. If I want to arrive prior to the start of the tour or stay on beyond the last day, can you book additional hotel nights for me?
A. If you plan to arrive into Finland prior to the tour start date or depart after the tour’s last day, we can make some hotel recommendations for you, but you will get better deals by booking them on your own either through a third-party booking site or directly with the hotel. Note that there is not much to do in Kittilä, so you may want to spend additional time in Helsinki or elsewhere.
Q. What is the best way to depart after the tour?
A. Currently, there are departure flights out of Kittilä at 9:00 a.m., 1:40 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. The recommended flight for our tour group departs Kittilä at 1:40 p.m. on January 20th. Breakfast will be served that morning and then transportation to Kittilä will leave the lodge at or just before 11 a.m. to catch the flight.
If you would like to leave on a different flight, you can take a taxi to the bus at Äkäsklompolo and take a bus to the airport. Or, you can take a taxi directly to the airport (recommended), which is 45 – 60 minutes away.
2. WHILE VISITING FINLAND
Q. How fit do I need to be to participate in this tour?
A. You don’t need to have experience in any or all of the activities. However, to get the most out of this active adventure, consider having a base fitness level where you can hike about 4 – 5 hours a day for a few consecutive days.
There will be one or two guides available for each activity to help teach us (if need be) and provide feedback and guidance.
Q. Will bottled water be readily available on the tour?
A. Bottled water is not included at our request – we encourage you to bring your own reusable bottle for the tour. Bottles can be refilled at our lodge or at restaurants during your time in Finland.
Q. What kind of food should I expect on the tour?
A. We will have breakfast prepared by a private chef at our lodge each morning that will include a variety of baked goods, fruit, eggs, porridge, meats and cheeses.
Our lunches will include a combination of packed lunches (sandwiches, for example) and meals out at wilderness cafes and local restaurants.
Dinners will be mix of food prepared at our lodge by a chef, meals at nearby restaurants and a special evening where we cook our own food at an outdoor firepit.
There will be lots of meats and cheeses available (and other options for vegetarians, as well).
Expect to find lots of tea and coffee available, but if you are a decaf drinker, consider bringing decaf Starbucks VIA, your own ground decaf coffee or your own tea bags as decaf can be more difficult to find.
Q. Do you recommend any special vaccinations for this trip?
A. There’s nothing you need specifically for Finland. However, you’ll want to consult with a travel doctor for medical advice.
3. LODGE INFORMATION
Q. What’s the name of our accommodations?
A. Our lodge information is listed on the tour itinerary, but we usually don’t have this confirmed until right before the tour (in case there are any last-minute changes). We will provide this information a couple of weeks in advance of the tour start date and we encourage you to leave this with family and/or friends in case of an emergency.
Q. Does the lodge provide shampoo and conditioner?
A. There is shampoo and soap in all the bathrooms but if you need conditioner or have favorite products, it’s best to bring your own travel-sized versions.
Q. Are there hair dryers at the hotels?
A. Hair dryers are available at the lodge.
Q. Are my items safe in my room?
A. Yes, each of the rooms will have a lock on it and the lodge itself will be locked when we leave. If you have any valuables that you are concerned about, we recommend bringing a luggage lock to secure your luggage zippers together with valuables inside.
No one will be in the lodge other than our group, the chef and the chef’s helpers.
Q. If we choose to do our own thing, does the lodge have fat tire bikes or back country skis that are included as part of staying there, or would we have to figure out all of that ourselves?
A. There is not any equipment at the lodge, but you are welcome to rent your own equipment in Äkäslompolo. Our Lapland guide may be able to provide some guidance on where to rent once you’ve arrived. Note that there won’t be a guide available for any other activities outside of the itinerary.
4. ACTIVITY INFORMATION
Q. Is there relative access to cross country skiiing trails from the lodge (distance, access walk or ski)?
A. It’s approximately 200 meters to the start of the cross country ski track from the lodge.
Q. Will skis/boots/poles be included in the cross country skiing option on Day 6?
A. Yes, everything is included.
Q. Is there a cross country trail map of the surrounding area?
A. Here’s an online map https://ladulle.fi/en/yllas and you can buy one at Yllas. Our Lapland guide will also have one to share.
Q. How often do the trails get groomed?
A. Often enough. Every day if needed.
Q. Is there a pass we have to buy to use/access the trails?
A. No, this is free.
Q. What is the rating scale in Finland for cross country trails?
A. Yllas area is one of the best places for cross country skiing in the world. This time of the year there are 100kms + of groomed classic and skating trails and from March to April, over 300 kilometers.
Q. What is the terrain around where we are staying – flat, rolling hills, varied, etc. (ie. rating scale)?
A. Undulating, but around the cabin there are lots of good options for beginners = blue rating = more flat. Red is intermediate, black is steep, where the guide doesn’t take people to cross country ski.
Q. Are there recommendations of where to rent skis and poles? If we want to get our cross country skis and poles delivered to the lodge, where can they be left?
A. Our tour guide will handle the rental pickup and drop off for you. We can get the cost and best way to pay for this.
Q. Will skis/boots/poles all be included if we rent equipment on our own?
A. Everything is available, it’s up to you if you want to bring items with you – say your own boots.
5. PACKING INFORMATION
Q. Is it OK to have more than just a carry-on for the tour (in other words, checked bags)?
A. Given that you’ll be required to have extreme cold weather gear, you will likely need to check a bag.
For international flights, note that some airlines have a strict weight limit for carry-on bags, so even if you have a small bag, you may be required to check it due to its weight. And if you have any additional flights within Europe that are booked on low-cost carriers, they may have weight restrictions for carry-on and checked luggage and may charge a premium if your luggage is over their weight limit.
Q. How should I dress/pack for this trip?
A. You’ll receive a full packing list for the tour that will help guide you. You will not need any dress clothes per se as we will not being going out anywhere that would require them. If you don’t already own extreme cold weather gear and don’t want to purchase it for the trip, there is an option to rent gear for the week of the tour.
Q. Does the rented winter suit replace ski pants and puffy coat?
A. The winter suit is for the non-exertion activities. You’ll want full protection during those times that you are outdoors (more protection than you’ll get from your own puffy coat, etc).
Q. Do I still need shell pants and shell jacket if I rent the winter suit? Do they need to be extra large to fit over ski pants and puffy coat or just over base layer?
A. Yes, you will need shell pants and padded pants for an outer layer during activities. Shell pants are OK for 14 degrees F and warmer. Colder than that, you’ll need padded pants. The shell jacket will keep your outer layers dry in the snow.
Your outer layer (shell pants or padded pants depending on the temperature) will go over your base layer (long underwear). The idea is that you’ll need some kind of protection from snow/wet/cold over your base layer.
Q. Do you recommend a puffy coat with hood for extra warmth or no hood because it would be in way (and we will bring a separate hat)?
A. Either way works.
Q. Regarding the jackets, coats, shirts, do I need all listed or can I cut some and get by with only one or a multi use option?
A. Make sure you have all the items to keep you warm (puffy coat and wool layers), but you don’t necessarily need to double up on them.
Q. Do I really need two pairs of long underwear, fleece jacket, puffy coat, shell jacket along with the rented suit?
A. You don’t “have” to have two pairs of long underwear. You’ll just really need to be on top of keeping these dry. And it’s nice to have the option of a heavier and lighter weight pair, but not required. The fleece jacket will come in handy, puffy coat you’ll definitely need and the shell jacket will keep your outer layers dry in the snow.
Q. Should the thin warm shirt as under layer be thin wool long sleeve t-shirt or synthetic to wash and dry overnight? Can I use a thin synthetic long sleeve t-shirt I have?
A. It’s best that these are wool, long-sleeved shirts. You can get away with having one of these if you stay on top of keeping it dry for the next day.
Q. Do I need buff plus a balaclava?
A. This will depend on you. The balaclava is going to keep your entire head and face warm and may come in quite handy. The buff protects your neck. You can wear a wool hat but your face will still be exposed.
Q. Are ski googles necessary?
A. These will be pretty important. If we have a snowy day, they will work much better than sunglasses. I found this to be the case in Antarctica. They were super important to keep the falling snow from my eyes and upper face.
Q. What sort of power adaptor do I need?
A. Finland uses what’s considered a type C power plug. It should look like this>>>
Q. Will I need a converter for my electrical devices?
A. You will need a converter for any devices unable to handle 220 (hair dryer, curling iron, etc.). Most electronics these days (such as a laptop and iPad) have a built-in converter that protects the device from power surges.
Q. Can I use my cell phone in Finland?
A. There are a few ways to use your cell phone in Finland.
First, consider buying an international data plan from your provider. Most providers offer an international data plan where you purchase a certain amount of data and have a month to use it. You can use it for maps, internet, phone, texting, apps, etc. You could also use a day pass through your provider, usually $10/day
Second, you can simply turn your data roaming off and only use your phone when there’s WiFi. If you require regular access to the internet, you could purchase a hotspot such as a Solis Skyroam which provides you a personal WiFi connection.
Third, if you have an unlocked phone, you could buy a local sim card and use a data plan on the local network.
Q. Will the cold weather affect my cell phone in Finland?
A. The cold weather is going to cause any of your batteries to die quickly (cameras, phones, etc). When outside, it’s imperative that you keep your electronics in a warm(ish) spot: close to your body; tucked inside a sock with a hand warmer, etc. And plan to bring extra batteries as a back up.
Q. Are ATMs available?
A. There will definitely be ATMs in Kittilä, but there may not be access to one other than that. You can, however, use your debit/credit card for any purchases at restaurants like drinks or souvenirs during lunch and dinner (the cost of all meals is included in the tour price).
You’ll want to let your bank know in advance that you are traveling so they don’t deny usage of your card thinking it’s a fraudulent charge.
You’ll also want to find out what, if anything, your bank changes for international ATM withdrawals. If it’s based on each transaction, you’ll want to take larger amounts of money out rather than making numerous small withdrawals so as to limit the charges.
Q. How much money should I bring with me?
A. We get this question a lot, and it really does depend on your spending habits. Because you’ll be able to use your debit/credit card for purchases, you likely won’t need much (if any) cash in hand. Having said that, bringing some small bills to tip waitstaff if you like is fine.
8. WANDERTOURS TRAVEL DETAILS
Q. Do I need insurance for this tour?
A. We do suggest that all tour participants acquire travel insurance, but we do not require it. We have now partnered with Travel Insured International so that you have ability to purchase “cancel for any reason” insurance. We HIGHLY recommend travel insurance (no matter who your provider is) to protect your travel investment from any possible issues. Although we are technically not requiring it, you will be asked to sign additional paperwork acknowledging the risk of traveling without insurance.
Q. Is there a schedule for installment payments?
A. We don’t have anything formal set up, but you can definitely send in payments on your own schedule. Some people send in monthly payments while other people send in payments when it’s convenient. You might consider talking to your bank to send regularly scheduled checks until the tour is paid in full by the final payment due date.
Q. Will I receive a refund if I have to cancel my participation in this tour?
A. Once you have paid a deposit, there is a cancellation fee if you cannot join us. The cancellation fee depends on the tour and how far in advance of the tour you cancel. Our refund policy is covered in our Booking Terms and Conditions and is also outlined on the Registration Form that you’ll receive within 24 hours of registering with a deposit.
Any refunds will be sent by check within two weeks of our receiving written notification of your cancellation (email notification is fine). We will respond via email and ask for confirmation of your mailing address for any refunds. Address must be confirmed within six months, otherwise expect forfeiture of refund as we close out our books at that time.
Q. Will you be sending an updated itinerary with our overnight accommodations so we can leave it with folks at home?
A. Yes, you’ll receive the hotel information as well as emergency contact information one or two weeks before departure (note: it is subject to last-minute changes).
Q. What’s the emergency contact info that I can give my family?
A. About two weeks before your departure, you will be given a cell phone number for your tour escort and someone in-country employed by our local tour operator.
9. SPECIAL COVID CONSIDERATIONS
Q. Will I be required to have a negative Covid-19 test result to join this tour?
A. At this time, you will not be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result in order to participate in our tours. And Finland does not require a negative Covid-19 test either.
We will provide you with all entry information in advance so you will be prepared.
Q. Do I need to have a negative Covid-19 test to return home?
A. Some countries may require a negative Covid-19 test prior to boarding your return flight home. Usually this is no more than 72 hours prior to boarding the flight. Alternately, in some cases, you may show proof of having recovered from Covid-19.
We will do our best to keep you apprised of this situation but, ultimately, it is your responsibility to abide by the mandates, laws and recommendations put forth by your country’s government. If a negative test is required, we will make time in the itinerary to get tested to ensure that everyone has their results before departure.
Q. Will masks be required during this tour?
A. Masks will not be required during the tour. If, however, you find yourself with any symptoms that are associated with Covid, we ask that you mask up for the protection of others.
There are still inherent risks with traveling while Covid-19 is actively occurring and one’s health cannot be guaranteed by WanderTours.