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Fairy Travels

Creating an Adventurous Life For Your Family

It’s commonly assumed that a person’s adventurous side comes to life when they’re younger, and then, once they have children, they settle into a life of responsibilities and quiet joys. While this might be true for many people, it’s not as if it’s a force of nature that everyone must bow to. It is possible to have a life filled with adventure, even if you have three children and a full-time job. Want to know how? Check out our tips below.

Ask For More From Your Weekends

woman hiking with child in carrier

Pic Credit: Pexels

Life will give us what we ask of it, so why not ask for more? If it’s an adventure that you seek, then make the most of the weekends. You’re given two full days to live life to the fullest, so don’t settle for a couple of days pottering around the house. Instead, see what’s possible. What this will be will depend on your interests and where you live, but whatever and wherever that is, you’ll almost certainly find something fun and exciting going on near to you. It’s all about having a can-do attitude and mustering up that little bit of energy that’s required to make things happen.

Trips In the Outdoors

We spend so much of our time in urban areas, that we tend to forget that the bulk of the UK is rural. Indeed, only around 10% of the UK is built on — that’s all the roads, shops, homes, everything. So there’s a lot of land to discover! The outdoors can give us virtually everything that we seek, including an adventure. So why not look at taking a trip to one of the beautiful corners of the UK for a weekend of camping? You’ll need a few essential camping supplies, and a reliable car that can handle rural terrain; if your current vehicle isn’t up to the task, then take a look at Reed Autos and find something more suitable. You’ll find that a few days spent in the outdoors can provide a level of adventure that city-life just can’t provide. 

Adventurous Holidays Abroad

There’ll be times when you want to go on fun family holidays: the question is, what kind of holiday will it be? While there’s plenty of fun to be had by taking a trip to a sunny destination for a week of fun on the beach, that’s far from the only option. If you’re looking for adventure as a clan, then take a look at visiting those destinations that are more off the beaten path, or that have adventure running through their veins (any mountain area, for example). Another option is to look at alternative trip options, such as those offered by Workaway or HelpX. You can meet interesting people from all over the world, learn a new skill, and all-around find yourself in interesting and adventurous scenarios, without even trying.

Incorporate the above tips and adopt an adventurous, ‘anything is possible’ attitude, and you’ll find that your family life is filled with plenty of memorable and exciting moments. 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

How to Enjoy a Day Trip to Oxford

Oxford is a great destination. It is small, walkable, and full of history and beautiful buildings. It makes for the perfect day trip for those who live nearby in the Cotswolds, London, and other surrounding areas. So book those train tickets, get in early, and follow this guide for the ultimate day trip to Oxford: 

Start with a Breakfast at a Café 

Oxford has a thriving café culture so enjoy it first hand by fuelling up with breakfast once you get in. You’ll need the energy! 

Follow Up with a Walking Tour 

A great way to learn about the town and the university is by taking a walking tour. You’ll get your bearings, learn about Oxford, and of course, see some great buildings and sites. 

Some top walking tours to look into: 

  • Oxford Castle District 
  • Bodleian Library 
  • University Church of the St. Mary the Virgin (you can go up the tower for great views!) 

Have a Quick Lunch at a Fan Favourite 

There are many great cheap eats in the city, thanks mainly due to its large student population. You’ll be able to find Thai favourite nedsnoodlebar.com, plus pubs, pizza places, and so much more. Stick with something fast and cheap and delicious for lunch, because in the afternoon you’ll want to explore more of the university on your own time. 

Explore the University 

The University of Oxford is huge, and many of its colleges are available to explore for tourists. In fact, most of the colleges are even free to enter. 

Free Entrance Options

oxford

Pic Credit: Pixabay

You will want to check in advance before visiting these free-to-enter colleges because though they don’t require payment, some may ask you to notify them in advance that you are coming, or book to attend one of their tours. You will also often be asked to donate to keep the tours going, so feel free to give what you can! 

  • All Souls College 
  • Corpus Christi College 
  • Exeter College 
  • Harris Manchester College 
  • Hertford College 
  • Keble College 
  • Kellogg College 
  • Lady Margaret Hall
  • Lincoln College
  • Mansfield College
  • Nuffield College
  • Queen’s College 
  • Somerville College
  • St. Anne’s College
  • St. Catherine’s College
  • St. Edmund Hall
  • St. Hugh’s College
  • St. John’s College
  • St. Peter’s College
  • Wadham College
  • Wolfson College
  • Worcester College

Paid Entrance 

There are only eight colleges that have entrance fees, but compared to what you might be used to, these college prices are very affordable and usually include lower ticket prices for concessions. 

  • Balliol College (£3) 
  • Brasenose College (£2) 
  • Christ Church (£7 – £10) 
  • Jesus College (£2) 
  • Merton College (£3)
  • New College (£5)
  • Oriel College (£2)
  • Trinity College (£3)

Appointment-Only Entrances 

Though you can visit these colleges, and will often be able to visit them for free, you will need to book an appointment to enter.

  • Green Templeton College 
  • Linacre College

    oxford

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

  • St. Antony’s College
  • St. Cross College
  • St Hilda’s College
  • St. Stephen’s House
  • Wycliff Hall

Best Colleges for Your Day Trip 

That’s a lot of options! You won’t be able to see all of them in one day, so to help you choose the best of the best, here’s the roundup of the top five: 

  1. Christ Church
  2. Trinity College
  3. The Bodleian Library 
  4. Exeter College
  5. All Soul’s College 

With so much to do and see in Oxford, you can go for a day or a week and still have so much to do and enjoy. 

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

I Had a Car Accident: What do I do Next? A Handy Checklist

I Had Car Accident: What do I do Next? A Handy Checklist

Staying Calm After a Car Accident | Car Accident Tips | An Post InsuranceWhether it’s a nudge in a car park or a more serious crash on the road, many of us will hear the squeal of brakes and the crunch of a bumper at some point in our lives.  Thankfully, most car accidents involve no more than some scuffed metal and a bruised ego or two, but they do make for a stressful experience. Being prepared can help you avoid panic and get the best result from a difficult situation.

Based on An Post Insurance’s many years of experience working with Irish motorists, they’ve put together a handy checklist to keep in mind should the worst happen when you’re behind the wheel.

First things first

If somebody is injured, call the emergency services straight away. If not, you’ll still need to contact An Garda Síochána, as they need to be informed as soon as possible after an accident, and definitely within 24 hours if the crash injures a person or animal or if your car is stolen or damaged. Apart from the legal requirement to contact the Gardai, they’ve also seen plenty of accidents before, and will be able to help guide you through the process.

Keep your cool

It’s easy to get flustered and perhaps even angry in the event of an accident, but it’s important that you don’t get into a conversation about blame and don’t accept responsibility – you don’t want to make an off-the-cuff statement you might regret later.  Try to stay calm and polite – even if it means counting to ten several times over!

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A couple of hours in London with kids

For the last two years as part of our Lapland adventure we had to transit via Gatwick airport in London and due to the exceptionally early flight we end up staying in an airport hotel the night before. However following our incredible 2019 Lapland adventure we have decided we want to go back again in 2020. However this time we would like to spend a couple of hours in London as part of our 2020 trip.

london ferris wheel

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Ever since I was a kid London holds a sense of magic for me. We had been before kids, actually to celebrate my 21st many moons ago, but haven’t been with them so hopefully we will change that in 2020. Given the vastness of the city and so much to do. I decided to reach out to my fellow bloggers for some tips and highlights to make our limited hours as productive as possible.  However I must say at the very top of my list is a visit to The Apollo Theatre London I know my kids would go wild to see Horrible Histories there. I think most of us have heard of The Apollo so would love so much to see a show there.

So what do my fellow parenting bloggers recommend for a few short hours in London?

The boys are ages 7 and almost 5 so these recommendations do reflect the ages of the kids so do bear that in mind!

  • First up Typicalmummy.co.uk suggests the Harry Potter studios and I must admit while I know my oldest will really love this, I would too.  Ella refers to it as one of the best family days out they have had which is quite the review.
  • Next The Incidential Parent gives us a great insight in Kidzania. This is actually already on my pairs radar having see it on a YouTube video some time ago. I can really see the appeal of this for kids as its set up like real life simulated play areas
  • Laura from Threelittlezees.co.uk gives us a whistle stop tour of a day out in the London Bridge area, one of their highlights was the Shrek Adventure which looks very cool.
  • If off the beaten track is your preference then deepinmummymatters.com has you covered with her top picks for families that aren’t the typical London attractions. London being the tourist hotspot that it is this could be a fantastic list if you want a more chilled look at London.

Whatever you decide to do on a London trip one this for sure is try to catch on show. There are many family friendly shows available on best-tickets.co.uk.

If you do have any further tips for London in December drop them in the comments below.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

A weekend in Luxembourg with kids

cobbled street

Pic Credit: Mamma Fairy Blog

No surprises here – another Ryanair bargain flight and we were off to Luxembourg at the end of January.  Having got good flight deals on Gothenburg  and Eindhoven I was very excited to add another country to our travel list. I booked the flights end of November for January at €9.99 each. It was a very short pleasant flight around an hour and half long which was perfect for a weekend break.  We landed in Luxembourg around 7pm to really dense fog, I literally could not see the bus stop when we stepped out of the airport!!

The first thing you will notice is how clean everywhere is. The airport was immaculate. We jumped on the bus number 29 which departs outside the airport main door straight to the city every 15 minutes and takes about 20 minutes.  Again so efficient. We were very lucky as the bus stopped quite literally outside our hotel door.  We couldn’t wait to get a visual of the city but the dense fog and pitch dark meant that would have to wait until the morning.

Where we stayed

cobbled street

Pic Credit: Mamma Fairy Blog

We stayed at the Novotel Luxembourg Centre which claims to be a family friendly hotel and hand on heart it was one of the most family friendly hotels we have ever stayed in.  It is evident from the moment you check in.  There have a fussball table in reception and my kids were hyper about the next bit… a kids corner with an xbox. It was just perfect for us. I would be very remiss of me not to say a special thank you to Caroline on reception. The kindness and professionalism show to us was some of the best we have had in all the hotels we have stayed. She had endless patience with the kids and their questions and xbox requests and so much knowledge on things to do locally.  I hope Novotel realise what a gem they have with Caroline.

The room we had comprised  a double and sofa bed  – again ideal for our needs. The breakfast was really and I mean really good. The kids were borderline obsessed with the pancake maker and pretty much hogged it the entire breakfast each morning! I find a good breakfast when you are travelling really sets us up for the day of exploring. Thanks to the Novotel for the lovely personalised welcome to our room, absolutely made our day.

Temperatures hovered around zero and it was quite damp so kids were glad to have their Reima  which was kindly gifted to us for our Lapland trip.

What we did

Luxembourg is a stunningly beautiful city, the old buildings and walls and narrow winding streets. The fog was still pretty bad making visibility quite poor so we decided to head walking to get our bearings. Interestingly the old fortification walls of the city are designated UNESCO  sites. Its not hard to be wowed by the contrasting architecture. The old walls are just stunning.  The city also very uniquely have over 17km of underground tunnels (Bock Casemates)  which unfortunately were closed during our stay but can be accessed at two points in the city. The kids are begging to go back just to see the tunnels.

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Our Lapland 2019 Adventure

I have written this post so many times in my head but couldn’t grab the time to give this post the justice in needs.  We first visited Lapland in 2018, following this I wrote my Lapland DIY post which has consistently been in my top 10 read posts which I think it a testament to just how popular it has been as a destination.  In 2018, our youngest wasn’t well and added to that we have limited snow. I felt I needed to go back to experience Lapland in all its snowy glory.  So on the day of the EasyJet Winter sale release, I set my alarm and for £17.99 each way we were off to Lapland again!

Where we stayed

As with last year we stayed at Santa Claus Village. My kids just love it here. I know its expensive but for us there is just some sort of magic there. Wandering around the village when the tour groups of gone, playing with kids in the neighbouring chalets. Its almost like exactly as how id imagined it would be.

Breakfast each morning was at the Christmas House restaurant. We had drinks a couple of evenings in the Three Elves Restaurant and a dinner another evening at Santa’s Pizza, both on site at Santa Claus Village .  We loved the Three Elves but wasn’t 100% on Santa’s Pizza. It was manic and you got your chips first and then pizza and burgers were cooked to order it seemed and arrived 20 mins later.

We had a standard cabin which has a double, a double sofa and a little kitchen which was perfect for us.

What we did

Where do I even start. We packed so much into the 4 night visit.  I know this sounds so cliche but it was magical.

Huskies

  • We visited Husky Park located at Santa Claus Village. We did the 500m husky in -8 temperatures which was ideal length for the boys (ages 4 and 7).  A total bonus for us was the the husky hugging – oh-my-god. I was in love. We saw the most adorable pups.  We loved this experiences and could clearly see the love, care and attention the dogs get at Husky Park.  Kids absolutely loved this experience and cant wait to see their favourite dog – Batman again

Reindeer 

  • Also located at Santa Claus Village is Santa Claus Reindeer We didn’t get to experience a reindeer ride in 2018 so this year we could not wait to do this. We arrived at 10am and it was really quiet, no queuing so we were straight on. We did 2 on each sleigh and it was breathtaking. It was quite bright and the snow glistening as we were leisurely pulled around the woods.  Definitely a memory I will cherish.

Elfs Farm Yard

  • I understand Elfs Farm Yard  is a new edition to Santa Claus Village and we were very excited to give this a go. This for us was a very surprise hit. How many people can say they skied across the Arctic Circle on traditional  Lappish skis or feed reindeer on the Arctic Circle. This place is very deceptive, there was so much to do. We cooked hot dogs (available to buy in the on site shop), we skied, we fed reindeer up close and personal, we used sledges up and down the man made hill there. We waited for the sun to set and sat around the fire pit chatting to other families. Magical and in terms of prices in Lapland, so reasonable. A true hidden gem not to be missed, definitely a surprise highlight for us.

Kids Snowmobiles

  • This was top of my kids wish list particularly the 7 year old. From September onward he stalked accuweather to see if there would be enough snow this trip for him to go on snowmobiles. He was not disappointed. He spent time each day at the Wild Nordic kids track at Santa Claus Village and just loved it. I have to thank the very lovely 2 female staff members who were incredibly kid to my pair, im sorry I didn’t get your names.  This was such a good option as it was contained, felt very safe for the kids and the kids felt they were getting independence. Just brilliant and I think if im honest the snowmobiles even topped Santa for my oldest!!!

Snowman World

  • Snowman World opens each year in early December, its also located at Santa Claus Village. It consists of the Ice Restaurant and Ice Bar and the “winter zone” the winter zone consists of a pretty epic snowtubing slides. There was also a separate smaller one for kids which was ideal for my pair. They must have went up and down a million times! We enjoyed a drink in the Ice bar we didnt do lunch this time but hopefully on our next visit.

Santa Park

  • Santa Park is located 2 km from Santa Claus Village and is all located inside which can prove a nice days respite from the cold. This was my youngest favourite morning. There is loads of cool activities to do here, crafts, gingerbread decorating, ice bar, train ride, crossing under the Arctic Circle, visit Santa and the highlight for all of us I think was the elf show. Its on a number of times during the day and its quite mesmerising. We had lunch at the buffet there while watching the show. I think the location in a underground bunker really adds to the charm here. We got there for the opening and it was nice and quiet. We took the bus between Santa Park and Santa Village which was ideal. There are large cloakrooms to store your winter gear also.

Pilke Museum

  • We were kindly gifted Culture Passes which offer entry to the top 3 museums in Rovaniemi. Its €20 per adult and €15 for children over 7 and under 7s free.  We had decided to spend a morning have a nosey around the town and make use of the card. In the end we only made to Pilke as we has so much fun in the snow at Lordi Square and also at the Irish Bar!!!  We decided on Pilke which is the forestry museum as boys really love this type of thing.  Its beautifully laid out, relax, lots of different activities. I found it so interesting learning all about sustainable forestry. Another ideal way to spend an afternoon out of the cold!

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Eindhoven with Kids

We wanted to go on a short city break over the October school mid term however, I left it a little late to book. A couple of hours on Skyscanner, €120 lighter we were off to Eindhoven with the kids  on a Ryanair flight. I knew very little about Eindhoven apart from the football team PSV and its links to DAF and Philips.

Ryanair

Pic Credit:TheMamma Fairy Blog

Eindhoven has become known for its close cooperation between its universities and industries. In terms of industries Eindhoven is known for its biomedical and engineering research fostered in the main but its high tech Universities. The city of Eindhoven works hard to develop and grow its intelligent community credentials. As a result of these efforts, the Intelligent Community Forum (“ICF”) named the Eindhoven metro region one of the top-21 intelligent communities in 2008 and one of the top-7 intelligent communities in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, the ICF named Eindhoven the Intelligent Community of the Year.

One of the things that struck me most as we came into land in Eindhoven is how much green space there. I don’t know why but I didn’t expect that at all. The airport is located only minutes (8km) from the city which is brilliant couple with the flight over just over an hour long, making it the ideal city break destination.

Where we stayed

sky view Einhoven

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

When we started researching Eindhoven there were lots of accommodation options from chain hotels to boutique hotels to B&B’s. I used booking.com and got an excellent deal at NH Collection. it’s a five star hotel, in the centre of the city with stunning views from the breakfast room an another floor up again for Vane Sky Bar.

The room itself was plenty big for the four of us an spotlessly clean. The breakfast was plentiful an that view. I could have spent hours staring out the window. The night we arrived the lovely Rik at Vane made us some seriously impressive cocktails. I do have to compliment the staff here, it was busy with the early after work crown and our family was made so welcome.

There are some cocktails on the menu at Vane designed by the World’s Best Female Bartender Tess Posthumus. We were there quite early in the evening and didn’t try the food here but I can imagine it gets very busy at the evening progresses. Its uber trendy and the panaromic view of the sun setting over the city is a lovely way to chill after an evening sight seeing.

What we did

daf museum einhoven

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Our time in Eindhoven was short so we left it up to the boys what they wanted to do. It’s funny their own choices really do sum up themselves. The oldest wanted to go and visit the PSV stadium and the youngest the DAF museum. After a huge breakfast we headed first for the DAF Museum which was about 15 minutes walk from the hotel. This building is so deceptive. It looks small from the outside but once you get inside it is anything but. It’s fabulous, we began with a coffee over looking the vehicles and my youngest was hopping on the spot with excitement to get exploring.

The first thing that struck me when we walked in was that the place is immaculate, the vehicles are immaculate. It’s so well done inside, from the vehicles arranged in key milstones, the square with its own pub, to the top floor with a huge array of cars from the 1920 onwards.

The week we were there, the DAF museum were putting the finishing touches to their new exhibition spaces extending to over 1,100 square metres. We had a sneak peak and it’s a great addition brining the next phase in DAF’s history incuding trucks from the 1990 and 2000’s.

My boys truly loved this museum, its was right up their street. The Dada Fairy was equally enthralled being in a similar business himself. Our entrance was kindly gifted however at €9 for adults and €4 for kids age 5 up, under 5 free, this is a very good value and I can see why it is regularly ranked top of Trip Advisor ratings in Eindhoven.


PSV Tour
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Lapland – new for 2019

log cabin

Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Last year we went on what was supposed to be a once in lifetime trip to Rovaniemi, Lapland. It so magical and captivating that we have decided to go back again this year. In conversation with Visit Rovaniemi I asked them was there any new activities/ restaurants for 2019.  They very kindly sent me on all the new activities etc which I though might be helpful for return visitors like ourselves.

New Accommodation:

  • Happy Fox: Happy Fox Suites
  • Apukka Resort: 17 new Aurora Cabins, 3  Lappish Komsio Suites.
  • Forenom: Forenom Serviced Apartments Rovaniemi Valtakatu 35, 96200 Rovaniemi.
  • Sky Hotel Ounasvaara opening after renovation as a 4 star hotel.
  • Nova Skyland: New apartments
  • Santa Claus Holiday Village: 14 new Family Suites, each suite fits 2 adults + 3 children.
  • District Rovaniemi: Yurt accommodation.
  • Arctic Dreams House: Private Luxury Experience in Ranua. Wikkelä Villa all inclusive –stays.
  • Snowest Travels: Villa Snowest, Villa for 16 persons (420m2) https://www.snowesttravels.com/villa-snowest/

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Gothenburg with kids – A weekend visit

At the end of August we visited Gothenburg for 3 nights. It’s a city that wasn’t really on my radar up to that point but the lure of €9.99 flights from Ryanair made it very appealing! So with very little research I pressed book and we were heading to Gothenburg!  Gothenburg city is the largest non capital city in the Nordics and is located on the west coast of Sweden. It took just over 2 hours from Dublin which is perfect for a city break with kids.

Where we stayed

hotel receiption

How stunning is the reception of Gothia Towers Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

There are a myriad of hotel options available in Gothenburg and it was hard to narrow the selection down. With it being a short break, kids in tow we knew we needed a central location.  We fell for Gothia Towers. This hotel is the largest in the Nordic region with a staggering 1,200 rooms, 8 restaurants including  Heaven 23 located on floor 23 with impressive views over Gothenburg.  The hotel comprises of three interlinking towers covering a vast 180,000 square meters.  Its hard to miss the swimming pool literally overhanging the street! Be warned if travelling with kids its ages 16 up for admission.

I would not normally be a fan of these big hotels however between the location, the services and the Trip Advisor rating we decided it was hard to pass this one.

Breakfast views at Gothia Towers Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

The location can’t be beaten it is located across from Liseburg which is a beautiful amusement park which has been open since 1923. Its also within walking distance of Avenyn which is the main street in Gothenburg. Both close by and within the hotel complex there are many options for food and drinks.

We had a family room with two double beds and 2 bathrooms which more than met our needs it was really big and spotlessly clean. Breakfast each morning was served on floor 29 which the kids really loved. Breakfast was so tasty and plentiful and really did fill us for the day. There was a great selection of breads, hot food and cold meats.  We tried two of the onsite restaurants and one of the bars:

  • Heaven 23 – located on the 23rd floor known for its cocktails and its world famous shrimp sandwich. We had a late lunch here and while we didn’t sample the cocktails we did opt for shrimp sandwich and it really was spectacular. Drooling just thinking about it again.
  • Ristoria – We had pizza here the night we arrived as the kids were starving and we thought best to get them feed before we head out exploring. Kids enjoyed it. Ours was just ok nothing overly exciting for the prices for example the kids was around €10 and adults mains were around €25 each.
  • Twentyfourseven – We had some very tasty cocktails the night we arrived at this lovely lobby bar while the kids played away at the kids play spaces at reception.  A great idea making it enjoyable for us and for them!

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Grand Opening of Christmas 2019 – Lapland

snow on cabins lapland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

When I was a child I dreamed of going to Lapland, as an adult I always assumed such a trip would be so far out of reach so I pushed it to the back of my head. Fast froward 2018 when my childhood dream came true, we visited the stunning city of Rovaniemi, Lapland  it was everything we hoped and more. I learned so much from our first visit and really only scratched the surface of this beautiful place that we have decided to go back for 2019. We are all super excited and going for longer this time to experience all that Rovaniemi has to offer.

I recently saw on Visit Rovaniemi that the Grand Opening and start of the Christmas season is scheduled for 10 November at 4pm.  Per their website,

Santa Park entraceLapland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

the Grand Opening of the Christmas Season is an annual and traditional event  that starts the Christmas season in Rovaniemi. The event begins at 4 pm at the central square of Santa Claus Village. The elves and local artists put on a festive concert that culminates in Santa Claus’ speech which officials opens the Christmas Season.

The event is free of charge. The celebration is organized by Visit Rovaniemi. Its also live streamed on their Facebook page so whether your going, planning a trip or even just a Christmas lover its well worth checking it out.

 

For anybody thinking of going ive pulled all my post below and im always happy to answer questions via comments below, DM or across social.

  • Lapland on a budget – our how to guide – here
  • Dressing for Lapland – here