packing for the Collette Travel Northern Lights of Finland Tour

traveling into retirement; traveling post 50; boomer travel; luxury travel for over 50“We are hoping you might be interested in traveling on our Northern Lights of Finland Tour,” said the nice PR representative from Collette Travel last fall.*

OMG, you want to send me on one of your small group Exploration tours? Really, really, really? Me, me, me?

Should I set off to explore Finland and go in search of the Aurora Borealis? According to Condé Nast Traveller, the Northern Lights are supposed to be one of the wonders of the world. Ooh, ooh, ooh, it would be a great way to cap off my 60th birthday year.

Northern Lights of Finland Tour; Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights are a wonder of the world. (Photo courtesy of Collette Travel.)

Could I manage through a trip through the rugged terrain of Lapland? It would include a 3-night stay in the north of Finland. “Collette Explorations tours have many moments that you would be hard pressed to replicate on your own. They’re immersive and off the beaten path,” said the PR team at Collette Travel. Ooh, ooh, ooh, it’s so cold there. I’m a beach person. Not a skier.

Collette Explorations Tours; Northern Lights of Finland Tour

There will be snow in Lapland in October. (Photo courtesy of Collette Travel.)

Would I be able to overnight surrounded by wilderness in a glass igloo and lead a husky dog sled? “Since we’re traveling with such a small group (average of 15 travelers) we are able to have more unique experiences like sleeping in glass igloos, going on a husky safari, and more,” added the PR team at Collette Travel. Ooh, ooh, ooh, there are saunas in the log cabin. This is sounding more like my style of travel.

Collette Explorations Tours; Northern Lights of Finland Tour

Sledding with the huskies is on the itinerary. (Photo courtesy of Collette Travel.)

Would I, should I, could I?

“You’ll meet Santa Claus in his home. Embark on a reindeer safari with a local farmer. Mush your way to breakfast in a Finnish sleigh, and lead your own dog sled team,” continued the PR team at Collette Travel.

What’s that? I get to meet Santa Claus and maybe his reindeer too. Per Wikipedia, “in traditional lore, Santa Claus’s sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem, with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.”

OMG, I get to meet Santa and reindeers in the Arctic? How cool is that?

Santa Claus

I’m going to meet Santa Claus! (Photo courtesy of Freepik.)

Note the above photo was designed by Freepik.

Would I, should I, could I? The answer is YES, YES, YES! And just like that it’s a year later and this boomer girl  is going solo, leaving her boyfriend L behind – I did invite L to join me but he passed on the opportunity – and preparing for her first-ever (maybe not last-ever) adventure in search of the Aurora Borealis.

Collette Northern Lights of Finland Tour; Northern Lights

I hope my pictures of the Aurora Borealis will look as good as this one. (Photo courtesy of Collette Travel.)

Packing for the Northern Lights of Finland 

It’s going to be cold, cold, cold in Lapland as we head out on our journey, especially at night. I want to be warm, warm, warm from the crown of my head down to my pinky toes.

So what does one pack? Collette provided a suggested list of garments and gear. Plus, some of my skier friends gave extra recommendations to ready me for the arctic. Here’s the scoop:

I packed an insulated hat to keep my head warm, a face mask to keep my face warm, and a hydra-flask to keep me hydrated throughout the day and night.

packing for the Collette Travel Northern Lights of Finland Tour

My hat has an Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining to keep my crown comfortable.

I have a Northface knee-length down jacket and waterproof pants. Under the pants will be Omni-Heat leggings or Cuddl Duds velveteen leggings for warmth and softness.

Northface down jacket; waterproof pants; packing for the Collette Northern Lights of Finland Tour

My top layers include a down jacket and waterproof pants to keep me warm and dry.

My 90% down filled Norwegian jacket will act as an extra layer while I’m in Lapland and as a stand-alone jacket while touring Helsinki. I bought it in Norway while I was there last month. It’s a great jacket because it folds up into a tiny sack.

Rokk Norwegian Down Jacket

My down jacket from Norway is so light it folds up into a small sack.

I bought a few fleece tops and a sweatshirt to layer under the jacket with thermal underwear.

Packing for the Northern Lights of Finland Tour

I’m told fleece tops are good for layering with thermals.

I packed waterproof mittens and liner gloves, both have Omni-Heat thermal protective linings to keep my fingers warm. The gloves are touch screen compatible so I can use my camera and smartphone while out in the cold.

Packing for the Northern Lights of Finland Tour; waterproof mittens; touch screen gloves. Omni-Heat gloves

Waterproof mittens will keep my hands dry in the snow and the thermal gloves have touch screen capabilities.

Moving down the body, my toes are going to be nice and toasty in my new Merrell Thermo-Chill hiking boots. They are guaranteed waterproof and ready for some snow- packed mountains. The nice saleswoman at REI said she wore these boots when she went to Iceland.

Merrell Waterproof hiking boots; packing for the Northern Lights of Finland Tour

These waterproof boots are meant for walking in the snow.

Wool socks were on the list. I bought four pairs with fleece linings. Ooh, ooh, ooh, hope my toes stay warm, warm, warm.

Wool Socks; packing for the Northern Lights of Finland Tour

Wool socks will go under my boots.

“You better take hand and toe warmers,” said my friend S. Check, Check. On the case.

hand warmers and toe warmers; packing for a Northern Lights Tour of Finland

Hand and toe warmers are a must add-in for a trip to Lapland.

“Head,shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. And eyes and ears and mouth and nose, I’m ready to face the cold, cold, cold!”

What’s that? You want to know what else I’m taking?

Collette Travel advises taking a flashlight for when we venture into the darkness in search of the Lights.

packing for the Northern Lights of Finland Tour

I filled my flashlight with fresh batteries so will see in the dark.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, I couldn’t resist these reindeer pajamas. Maybe they will help me sleep or at least dream of Santa and his reindeer.

reindeer pajamas; packing for the Northern Lights of Finland Tour

I had to buy these cute reindeer pjs.

I thought a backpack would be handy as well. This polka dot one was cute. It’s going to act as my carry-on bag. Hope my back isn’t weighed down by all the stuff inside.

backpack; packing for the Northern Lights of Finland Tour

This polka dot backpack is filled to the brim.

Taking pictures of the Northern Lights

My new Sony DSC-HX80 Digital Still Camera is repaired (from it’s last trip when I accidentally dropped it and it broke — thankfully I had bought insurance and the Best Buy Geek Squad fixed it in time for this trip) and packed in a leather case along with a tripod. “It’s automatic. It’s easy to use,” said my son D. He showed me how to put the camera on the tripod. I’m not that good at all this technical stuff.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 camera

I bought a Sony Cyber-Shot camera to take pictures of the Northern Lights.

I practiced how to transfer the pictures to my smartphone over WIFI. I did it!

I practiced how to take a selfie. I did it!

Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! Our guide Chad just sent a note with a full page of instructions on how to shoot the Northern Lights. Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! There are 11 steps I need to accomplish and the first one is setting my camera to manual.

Will I be able to navigate the camera and take pictures of the Aurora Borealis? Don’t worry Judi. You got this. If not you’ll ask for help. 

Leaning into Lapland

As the time draws near. I’m setting aside my fears and am getting ready to “lean in” to each dynamic experience after another on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. There’s no holding back, I’m all in.

Be sure to like my Facebook page at Judi Boomer Girl; follow me on Twitter @judiboomergirl and check out my Instagram @judiboomergirl. This boomer girl is #leaningintolapland real soon.

Thank you Collette Travel for picking me, Judiboomergirl, to travel with you on the Northern Lights of Finland Tour.

Can’t wait to share my experience with each of you, my readers, in future blog posts. See you on the other side.


P.S. – If you have requests for Santa for this holiday season, leave a comment and I’ll make sure he gets them.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Collette Travel provided me with a complimentary press trip on their Northern Lights of Finland Tour. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.