We didn’t want to risk running out of gas for our heating or cooking, so as UK gas cylinders can’t be exchanged abroad, we’d installed Gaslow refillable gas tanks, which were brilliant.
In reality, we only topped-up the gas tanks once as we didn’t use as much as we thought we would. The electric heating mode for the Truma and Alde heating systems in the Pursuit and Autograph, respectively, combined with the thermal insulation of the Alu-Tech construction, was so efficient we could run the heating just on electric nearly all the time.
An unusual feature for us at the sites in Finland was that they all had saunas. Running out of a sauna and jumping into the snow is something you have to experience!
Finding a source of water to refill the motorhome’s on-board tank wasn’t always easy as, not surprisingly, all outside taps and hoses were switched off for winter. We got by using portable containers instead.
When it came to packing for the trip, we needed to ensure we could keep ourselves warm when out and about, and keep the vehicles moving and useable in any conditions. It’s meant to be best to wear lots of layers, rather than just heavy jumpers. It was our extremities which felt the cold first, so we got a lot of use out of our warm coats, hats and gloves, plus thick socks and shoes with decent grip.
The winter tyres on the car, caravan and motorhome were a legal requirement for most of the colder countries we visited. They were excellent and gave impressive traction on the snow and ice.
Several other items could have been essential if the weather had dumped more snow on us. We went prepared with windscreen washer fluid for temperatures down to -30, (hired) snow chains and tow ropes, which (thankfully) we didn’t need to use, and shovels. As it turned out, there were more fuel stations than we expected, all with well stocked shops, so we could have got more supplies if we’d needed them.
For travelling with a group like this, we found it extremely handy to have walkie-talkies (which we rented) so we could communicate easily without having to worry about network coverage, or the mobile phone bills!
We chose not to travel with lots of cash, but used travel cards instead which we could top-up electronically; however these weren’t accepted at a number of petrol stations where you had to ‘pre-pay’ at the pumps before fuelling, so we were glad we had credit cards as well.
The only thing we wish we could have taken with us was our children as there’s so much to see and do in Finland. They would have loved to see Santa in Lapland, experience driving over frozen sea, crossing the Arctic Circle and playing in all the snow. It just shows what amazing memories you can create by using your caravan or motorhome all year round.