by - July 07, 2017

So many more exciting things have occurred since I posted last week’s Part I (read it here)…

I now have my flights and travel insurance booked, woo hoo! The two biggest parts that were left to book are now booked. Though getting from here to Norway was surprisingly an absolute hassle to arrange, whereas travelling back from Estonia was so straight forward. At least the flight home will (hopefully) be stress-free.

As I need to reach our ‘pick-up point’ in Norway by 6pm on day one, I needed to of course be on an early flight that would get me to Norway with plenty of time to bravely travel to the first stop. The flight is only 2.5 hours, but it's always safer to leave yourself extra time in case of language barriers or transport issues. This does however mean a 6.30am flight, the only other options were much later in the day and meant I would've missed the trip entirely.

A 6.30am flight does of course mean some over-night travelling just to get to the airport on time. Sadly living in Cornwall means that you're miles and miles and miles away from anything and everything, and whilst we can fly from Cornwall to the rest of the country the flights are never timed well enough to match up. So a long over-night bus ride it is. I’m now entirely grateful that I purchased a travel pillow (more on that later!).

I’ll be reaching Oslo on minimal sleep, if any, but as I’ll be so unbelievably excited I don’t think it’ll be a hindrance… until maybe 11pm and then I’ll crash entirely. But at least it’s all sorted and I don’t have to worry about how I’m getting back and forth. I did my very best to keep all of my travelling as straight forward but as cheap as possible, and I think it’s worked pretty well (aside from the lack of sleep, but we can live with that).

I'm getting really excited and am almost rearing to go. I've managed to buy/order everything I need, as well as arranging the flights and travel all within a week. Even I'm impressed! There are just two weeks to go, and I can now relax and learn a bit of the lingo, plus find a good exchange rate for Norwegian Krona and Euros.

I've already started storing all of my travel related items in the cupboard together so that I know where it all is when it comes to packing. No rummaging cupboards looking for lost items. I have picked up a few fabulous items of clothing that I'll be taking with me, so expect a travel clothing haul next week! I'm hugely excited about some of the pieces I'm taking. But for now let's chat travel gear...


The items I mentioned in Part I have all arrived, and so have a multitude of other bits and pieces that I’ve ordered since then. I'm actually really excited to be fully kitted out for this trip, all weather conditions included.

The burgundy waterproof coat isn’t as burgundy as I expected, it’s more a deep red-plum colour – but it still looks great. It has an elasticated waist for a ‘fitted’ look, and an enormous hood that tightens with a draw-string. The pockets are Velcro'd shut, which I keep forgetting and keep trying to slide my hands inside. I haven’t rain-tested it yet as typically as soon as the coat arrived all of the rain here stopped. I’m tempted to hop in the shower wearing it just to see what happens.

Waterproof coat here

The rose-gold metal water bottle looks great. It’s surprisingly sparkly too, woo hoo. Extra bonus! The lid twists on and off and is pretty similar to that of a flask’s, so I’m now wondering if it’ll also be suitable for hot drinks… fingers crossed. I’m all for water on a hike, but I wouldn’t mind a cuppa whilst staring at a fjord. Now I need to research the tea in Scandinavia!

Another item from last week was the selfie stick. This beast is truly a beast. I clearly over-looked the fact that it would not be compact, and it is in fact enormous... and extends ridiculously far. 49" inches far to be exact. It’s also covered in an array of buttons. I've had a little practice with it ahead of time, I'd hate to miss any hilarious group selfies because I didn't know which of the many many buttons to press. The only thing I haven't yet tried is attaching my camera, and I'll definitely run through that soon. I may even leave my compact camera attached to it permanently during the trip. The controls on the stick are all Bluetooth manageable, though the stick seems more suited to Android than Apple – after reading the mini manual the zoom features are only compatible with Android, which is fine I suppose as the whole intention of a selfie-stick is to achieve a decent distance before taking a selfie! I’ll also have to remember to set the timer on my cameras rather than using the buttons... though I think both cameras may actually have Bluetooth.

The pink walking boots I ordered are fabulous. I couldn’t love them any more than I do. The colour matches the photos on the Amazon listing perfectly, no disappointments there. They’re well-padded around the ankle, so fingers crossed for no ankle rubbing whilst walking. They’re also very warm, which will at least mean that I’ll stay toasty whilst sloshing around the Finnish glaciers. Oh, and they also have plenty of grip, phew! Unfortunately I won't be able to test these in the rain, but can always run them under water to test this.

Hiking boots here

Now on to the extra buys that I bought during the last week. As we’re due to have midnight sunsets, and exciting yet outrageous amounts of daylight, I immediately treated myself to a super cheap sleeping mask. You can find these on eBay for a matter of pounds (or pence if you don’t need one in a hurry). The mask I opted for is a silk-like material and isn’t too uncomfortable or bothersome to wear. I'm sure it will definitely come in handy, I'll just have to get used to wearing it.

I have also acquired a travel pillow. Topdeck’s list of ‘items to bring’ included a pillow case, and it turns out that this is because we aren’t always treated to bedding in our various types of accommodation. I now also understand why I have to take a sleeping bag. So, if we aren’t treated to bedding on every stop, are we even treated to pillows? My sleeping bag does have a built-in pillow, and I do remember it being somewhat comfortable, but just to be on the safe side I have purchased a soft, comfy travel pillow… in pastel pink… to match the boots… obviously…

Sleeping mask here  |  Travel pillow here

I will never ever go travelling without ensuring that my pricey electricals are well protected. I did have some small waterproof bags that I used when I went to Thailand, and though I didn’t need them they really did put my mind at ease. Sadly I’m sure I binned these as they were so cheap, but I have replaced them with a couple of upgraded items. Firstly I found a waterproof phone case, that seals along the top. This snuggly fits an iPhone SE (or iPhone 5/5S). Once in its waterproof protective case, my phone can happily sit in any pocket I choose to carry it. These can also be found for a matter of pounds on eBay. I would rather be safe than sorry, and for £2.19 I really don’t need to take the ‘my phone might not get wet’ risk. This annoyingly hasn't arrived yet, but is due any day now.

Because I’m taking two cameras, a compact and a bridge, and my GHDS ( …of course) I needed a second water-tight bag that was a little bigger, so bought a 5L waterproof bag that again seals firmly along the top. These bags are allegedly waterproof if they fall into water, as well as during heavy rain. Again, for £5.18 + 99p shipping there’s no point in really playing the guessing game, especially as there will be fjords, lakes, and glaciers along the route. This waterproof bag should fit happily inside my smaller rucksack whilst I’m moving about, and also easily slide into my larger rucksack at all other times. No pink this time! I found one in white. This particular waterproof bag also comes in a smaller 2L size, but there are plenty of options floating around on eBay. This also hasn't arrived yet, and I'm really keen for it to hurry up. I'm sure I've measured it all correctly, but I want to make sure that both cameras and my GHDs fit inside this and then collectively fit inside my smaller rucksack. Any day now. Any day.

Waterproof bag here  |  Waterproof phone case here

Another item, recommended by one of my fellow travelling companions, is a microfiber towel. Topdeck suggested we take a towel for day-to-day use, and one of the guys in my travel group have advised that microfiber towels dry in a far shorter amount of time. I HATE microfiber, but I also hate damp things… Microfiber towels can be a little pricey, but I managed to find one in grey for the grand total of £7.95. Not the end of the world as some are definitely far more expensive. This is another item that should hopefully arrive over the next day or so. I'm keen to see what it's like.

My last eBay find was a knitted hat, in grey (can you see a theme here?). As we’re expected to temporarily be in temperatures that could reach as low as -25 degrees Celsius I thought it best to acquire a knitted hat. Another sensible buy as this should help to keep me warm during days and nights when we’re surrounded by beautiful amounts of snow.  Now, this hat has arrived, but the sellers have vacuum packed it in a tiny bag. The wool has completely ruined, the knitted design totally flattened, and it looks far more purple than grey. Er! I'm in talks with the seller about this awful buy, so I won't be recommending a hat today. This also means that I have to find and buy a new knitted hat. The search begins. Again.

Microfiber towel here 

After my eBay spree (and these items above are definitely cheaper on eBay than Amazon, trust me) I headed back to Amazon. My first search was for a set of thermals to sit under both my pjs and my normal clothes. As my pj bottoms and my jeggings happen to be of the ‘skinny-fit’ variety, I had to find thermals to match. There are so many options on Amazon, and most of them are a tight fit. As I’ll only be in the freezing cold for a small number of days I decided that just one set should do the trick. I’m travelling with rucksacks so I don’t need to over-burden myself with so many items that I just won’t use. I learnt this lesson the hard way when I sent 2kg of clothes back from Thailand to the UK in 2011 - £50 later… The thermals are in black, and should do a decent job of keeping me warm whilst on the move or whilst I’m sleeping. I do tend to get pretty warm during the night, so we’ll see how this pans out. They are from Mountain Warehouse, via Amazon, and both the top and leggings are now a little cheaper on Amazon than when I bought them... all of 4 days ago... 

Thermal top here  |  Thermal leggings here

Sadly, and beyond annoyingly, I cannot find my smaller rucksack anywhere, and it’s bothering me so so much. I had a perfectly sized black and red one that I took with me to Thailand as a day to day bag, and I have no idea what I’ve done with it or where I’ve put it. I’ve spent days destroying my house and my mum and dad’s house (I did put things back in order again) looking for it. Failed attempt every time. I even stood there staring into cupboards hoping it would just appear. No luck. After a further failure of routing around the closest outdoorsy shops I decided to go back to faithful Amazon.

So many rucksacks these days come with a laptop compartment. I don’t need this. Stop putting them in every bag!! Have options! Or at least make this annoying feature removable. Velcro much?! After a good day of hunting I finally stumbled across a suitable bag at a wonderfully decent price, with raving reviews – and also allegedly waterproof. Win win.

The rucksack is 25L and comes in a variety of colours – grey, sapphire blue, black, and jujube red (let’s just call it burgundy). It was honestly a hard choice between the grey and the red, but I opted for the grey and it looks fabulous. The rucksack also comes in a 30L size, in all of the same colours plus a khaki addition. The 25L has a selection of useful pockets, whereas the 30L has no pockets but does have straps to hold a sleeping bag. The 30L also a zip at the bottom of the bag for you to have easy access to whatever you’ve put at the bottom of your bag, rather than reaching all the way from the top to the bottom - though there isn't much different in height between the two bag sizes.

If you aren’t keen on rucksacks and fancy something a little more fashionable but also still need something hugely useful, sturdy, and comfortable - this is your bag. It has netted padding along the back to not only sit comfortably along your spine but to keep the rucksack slightly elevated away from your back to allow a decent air-flow. It also has padded straps for extra comfort. These are two of the features I was striving to find in a new rucksack, as not all 'out doorsy' backpacks seem to have them. There are also two pockets on either side of the bag for water bottles, and a netted pocket inside the bag for storing items that you need/want within an easy reach. If I remember right there’s also a hole on the side of the bag for your headphones to safely slide through, allowing you to keep your technology safely in your bag. 

25L/30L Rucksack here

I’m pretty sure that’s it. I haven’t ordered anything else (that I can remember). I do very fortunately have most things from my previous travels, such as my larger 70L rucksack, a wind-up torch, sleeping bag, plenty of plug converters, a travel book to hold all of my travel documents, a travel diary with plenty of room to fill… and lots of other little things. Now I just have to sit back and wait for the last few items to arrive, test them all out, and get more and more excited about the big day! I have lists and lists of items that I need to take, and whilst I’m trying to pack as light as possible it does become a little difficult when you have two very different climates to cater for. Winter clothes get heavy! 16 days to go.

Claudia xo

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