Nordic Road Trip Plans and Preparations

Nordic Summer Road Trip Plans, Sweden still unplanned. 3 month trip, can't wait!

The North is calling again!

On 27th April we are embarking on an adventure I’ve dreamed of for a few years.

We are heading to Denmark and Norway for a three-month trip where we hope to drive up to the Arctic Circle then down into Finland before crossing to Sweden and looping back to the UK.

This was a route we hoped to do last year but house sitting bookings limited the available time and we had the amazing trip to Shetland instead.

To be in the far north for midsummer is the idea, to experience those magical White Nights where the sun never sets.

I’m not entirely sure where we’ll be for actual Midsummer: either Norway or northern Finland.

Nordic Road Trip Plans and Preparations

The map above looks like the trip is well planned, but those dots simply show an idea of the route we’ll take. We shall roam with a loose idea but no firm plan, hence Sweden is completely researched as yet.

I’ve filled Google Maps with little gold stars of places and things I’d like to see, with the help of Pinterest, blogs, vlogs and guidebooks. So far, Norway is the most starred country I’ve researched, Finland is coming nicely along.

The only fixed dates at the moment are three ferries: the return ferry from UK to the Netherlands and the ferry from Frederikshavn, Denmark, to Oslo, Norway.

We have four days to drive from Hook of Holland to Frederikshavn and I’d love to go via Aarhus, as I’ve read quite a few blog posts raving about it!

This won’t give us much time in Denmark, but hopefully we’ll have enough time on the return to see a bit more, I’d really like to see Copenhagen in the summer as it was swooningly beautiful in winter.

Copenhagen on a budget

I am super excited, not least because I’ve never been to Norway and I’m pretty sure it is going to blow my mind!

I’m also looking forward to properly living nomadically in the van again. We have been living in it over the winter (well, I didn’t for my 5 week jaunt to Finland in January), but it has been mostly stationary – on a campsite for much of the beginning of the year, then on our friend’s drive recently.

This static time has given us a good opportunity to prepare the Thundertruck for this trip, to make a few tweaks and changes.

Demountable Camper, Truck Camper

Thunderstruck on an interisland Ferry

Preparing the Truck Camper for the Nordic Road Trip

We’ve attempted to lighten the load somewhat, to take a bit of strain off the pick up.

We’ve removed the bike rack – and the bike – off the rear of the camper and we’ve finally got around to removing the heavy and unused satellite dish from the roof.

This satellite dish has been replaced with a small and lightweight roof-mounted 4G WiFi antenna, that should hopefully make it easier to keep connected on the road.

We’ve gone through our belongings to remove anything unnecessary and unused. It’s amazing how easy the stuff adds up, all the little things you collect even when you try not to – I’m sure we don’t need both a cafetière and our beloved AeroPress for making coffee!

Last summer we upgraded the old solar panel with a flexible lightweight modern one and found it to be extremely efficient. Often it would fully charge the leisure battery then all the excess sun-power would go to waste so Chris has spent the weekend trying to make space for a second leisure battery to maximise this free power.
Truck camper leisure batteries

This has added weight though. These batteries are super heavy, but as there will be 24hr daylight for a good part of the trip, this should give us plenty of power for our electronics. The solar panel works even with overcast sky and a second panel that is on order will be fitted before we set off.

Not carrying a bike means we don’t need to have all the obligatory bicycle paraphernalia with us either: no bulky helmet, lock etc. The bike had been bent in a prang, which we’ve never gotten around to fixing, so pointless taking it with us.

Our gas system (for the stove, fridge and heating/hot water) runs on LPG (it’s a Gaslow system). Research has revealed that LPG is not available in Finland. We will have to fill up as near to the border as we can in Norway and try to make it last for the entire 4-5 weeks we shall be in Finland.

Chris has ordered a connector so that in an emergency we can buy bottled gas. This wouldn’t be ideal though, as we’d then be stuck with a non-exchangable bottle, plus we have nowhere to put it! We shall have to be frugal with our gas use.

Truck Camper

We’ve replaced our camping chairs as they were old and damaged. We only used them a handful of times last summer, such was the weather! They’ll have to live in the pick up as we used to strap the old chairs to the now removed bike rack.

Other bits and bobs we’ve done in preparation for this trip are ordering enough eco toilet tabs to last the trip so we don’t need to try to source them; checked we have all the legally required things for driving in all the countries we plan too – high vis vest, warning triangles, etc; organising insurances for travelling abroad; and gone through our food cupboards.

With just over three weeks to go, the countdown has begun!

Pin it for later:

Nordic Summer Road Trip Plans: Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Chasing the White Nights of Midsummer.

Try these posts:

Unexpected things I love about living in a van after 5 years of van life!

6 Ways I’ve Made My Truck Camper More Homely

Homes With Wheels: My Life In Campervans From vintage VWs to the present day.

Our New Tiny Demountable Camper Home Introducing our Truck camper before we moved into it.

6 Ways Shetland Will Amaze You! Puffins, perfect beaches, astounding geology…

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

If you have any tips, ideas, and recommendations, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

26 Responses

  1. Eric says:

    Hello Rachel,

    I just stumbled across your website and I like it. I figure you must be somewhere in Norway by now. I made a somewhat-similar journey up north in 2001, but counter-clockwise.

    In case you’re curious and have a map I drove 8000kms in one month: Rotterdam – Hengelo – Nordhorn – Hamburg – Flensburg – Kolding – Odense – Roskilde – København – Helsingør (where you went to see Kronberg Castle) – Helsingborg – Jönköping – Hjo – Göta Kanal – Karlstad – Åmål – Göteborg (in riots, because American president was not welcomed by protesters) – Jönköping – Stockholm – Sundsvall – Luleå – Överkalix – Pajala – Kitilä – -Pokka (almost 100km unpaved road) – Inari – Neiden – Kirkenes – Storskog – Grænse Jakobselv – Kirkenes – Neiden – Tanabru – Ifjord – Lakselv – Alta – Olderdalen – Lyngseidet – Breivikeidet – Fagernes – Tromsø – Fagernes – Nordskjobotn – Andselv – Narvik – Skarberget – Bognes – Mo i Rana – Steinkjer – Trondheim – Dombås – Lillehammer – Oslo – Fredrikshavn – Ålborg – Århus – Kolding – Flensburg – Hamburg – Cloppenburg – Hengelo – Rotterdam.

    One month was too short and the car I had back then was too small to lie straight, but I just dealt with having to crawl in there and roll myself up like a baby before I could sleep. I had so many beautiful experiences, I cannot list them here; I’ve got other things to do.

    Yet I would recommend ‘driving until the sun goes down or you feel you are too tired to drive safely. You can only enjoy the midnight sun if you let your bedtimes float with the wind. I almost burnt my skin, sitting by a lake, at 1h15 AM in the night! Now I laugh about it, but I was shocked to meet an elderly German couple who went to bed at 22h (that’s 10PM to Anglo-Saxon folks) and got up at 6h AM in the morning, every day, even in Lappland and Finnmark. What’s the point of paying 3000 Deutschmarks to rent your camper van, if you sleep away the stunning views of the sun, passing low above the northern horizon?

    Everybody wants to go to Nordkapp, at the Magerøya island. When I was around there, the wheather was very bad. The tunnel to Honningsvåg was still a toll tunnel and the fog was getting thicker, so I decided to skip my trip to the North Cape. Only this week, I found out that North Cape is even not the northernmost point in Europe, not even in Norway. Just read Wikipedia and you will find out. The North Cape is ridiculously expensive to get to, but very popular among camper van people. Your luck: the tunnel is no longer a toll tunnel.

    You should Google the places I mentioned before. I just started answering you, because I want you to know that I did not find any LPG between Luleå and Tromsø. So before you drive further south into Finland, you may want to fill up with LPG in Luleå. When in Luleå, please take the time to see Gammelstad (the old town).

    In Sweden, I’ve not been into the mountains. I stuck to E4, because I had to have LPG, to be even able to afford my trip. If I would do it again, I would take a bigger budget and consider rafting down a river. My next trip north would also be counter-clockwise, but through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and back home through Sweden. Have you considered taking the ferry from Finland to Estonia?

    Happy travels!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      That trip sound incredible, I’m glad I have a big bed in the truck though, I don’t sleep well in car seats! I don’t think we are going to do Nordnapp, maybe do some hiking nearby instead.
      The whole point of doing the trip at this time of year is to experience the midnight sun, so I won’t be sleeping though it every night!
      Thanks for your tips regarding LPG, we are hoping to get LPG in Alta, Norway, before we head into Finland from the top – we’ve done a lot of research about it. What will be will be!
      We have debated taking the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn but I think we are going to go Turku to Stockholm and loop back towards UK through Copenhagen – Germany – Netherlands.

  2. Sari says:

    Me and my sister Heli (she is the one who loves baking) would love to welcome you at our Keltainen Talo in Pälkäne! We could try baking some of our best recepies together… It would be lovely to hear from you!

  3. Your trip is looking so fantastic! It seems that everywhere I look, everyone is going to the Nordic Region. Me too!
    I’m only going to be able to go for a few days here and there, but three months is going to be exciting!

    ‘Can’t wait to read all about it!

  4. Sounds so exciting – Norway is so up there on my wishlist and that coastline is going to be epic. Could I ask what you used to make your fabulous map please?

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Hi Suzanne, it’s going to be a long winding journey for sure!
      As for the map, I bought a map of Europe from Vector Maps and cropped it for north countries. Then changed colour in Photoshop and added the dots for the route. Finally, I gave it a paper finish and text in Picmonkey!

  5. Lauren says:

    You’re going to love road tripping around Norway. My best friend is from Tromsø (actually Bardufoss, but it’s quite small) and now lives in Oslo but my first trip to see her in summer 2009 resulted in driving from Tromsø (saw the midnight sun — make sure you’re there around June) down to Oslo taking a very similar route you are — fell in love with the country right then! Been back about 10 times since (mostly only Oslo and Tromsø) — so excited for you!! Good luck and have fun!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Wow 10 times! Thanks Lauren! We shall definitely be in the very far north for June as I now need to be in southern Finland by the end of June/beginning of July. I’m very excited to experience the midnight sun!

  6. Keri says:

    How exciting! Sounds like there’s a lot of work to be prepared for a trip like this, but what an adventure! Look forward to following your journey, have an amazing time!

  7. Meghan says:

    You trip sounds fantastic. Again, I can’t wait to follow along through your photos. A summer Nordic trip has always been a dream of mine!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      It feels like it’s been a dream for so long now it’s almost surreal that it’s happening in just a few weeks from now!
      Stay posted for all the photos!

  8. Jodie says:

    I am so super excited for you guys to do this trip, I am going to be following along close probably with far too much envy! Have the dos amazing time ! x

  9. Sounds like you’re super organised! What a thrilling trip to look forward to, can’t wait to see all the photos and things you discover

  10. Miriam says:

    We are super excited for you both, what a dream trip!! I’m going to give you suggestions, I hope you dont mind?

    First is to use the app – I don’t know if it came up in conversation at Blogstock however it’s what we used for our trip over to London and the travelling in Wales. It’s a free mapping app, which works off-liine!!! It’s based on open source mapping site openstreetmaps.

    You do need to download each territory you plan to travel through while you have a good connection, we had to download both Wales and England for our trip. Once the map is downloaded check for updates when you have good wifi, separately from updating the app. The app has improved a lot this year with walking tracks added in most places. It’s easy to bookmark places and organise the bookmarks into folders. It can give voice instruction however as we had each other as a co-pilot we didn’t use that facility and cannot speak to it’s effectiveness.

    You can import other map and gps files into it, I recen’ty played with importing from, I had to save my file to the sd card on the phone then I could open it with and save the bookmarks there.

    The second suggestion is because you’ve upgraded your off-grid system. Have you ever tried cooking with an induction hob? We bought ours in Lidl or Aldi, can’t remember which and a one ring hob is about £40. It’s quite effective as it uses a thermostat to regulate the electric use and only heats the area in connection with the pot. If you are curious I would suggest using it plugged into a watt meter to monitor it’s use and get an idea of whether it would be useful on the trip to augment your gas usage. You will need pots/pans that work with a magnet, it’s great for our old cast iron pan as that also retains a lot of heat cutting down on the energy used. Of course you’ve been busy reducing weight so this might not be an option but I thought I’d mention it as you will have long bright days with lots of energy still coming in when your batteries are charged.

    Enjoy the trip planning and we look forward to seeing your journey through the blog.

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Miriam!
      I’ve heard a lot about, we used a similar app a few years ago called OSMand. It showed where were were on the train across the Gobi desert, and what speed we were travelling, very cool!

      Yes, weight is a major issue for us, and a cast iron pan is a definite no-no! The induction hob sounds like a great gadget though, and I think if we were meat-eaters it would be really useful. We shall be dining on speedy stir fries I reckon. So long as we can charge camera batteries and phones then we are happy bunnies, if we need to survive on sandwiches for a week or two then that’s all part of the adventure.

  11. You’re going to love Norway!!! It’s amazing. I have been there only once, and it was probably something like 20 years ago (oh god, I’m old!) when we were touring in the Nordics with a caravan with my family, but I still remember how stunning it was! I definitely want to revisit as soon as possible. And thinking of Finland, you need to add a star on Koli!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Kiitos Saana! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see Norway. Sä et ole vanha, believe me! 😉
      Koli is most definitely starred, you have totally added that star for me. And Aulanko of course!
      I’ve just been on your blog and it looks great! Seems strange not having any Finnish on there though, although it looks really clean and easy to use! I can always click Suomeksi if I need to practice translating stuff 😉

  1. July 17, 2016

    […] on a summer road trip of Denmark and Norway. In this post she describes in fascinating detail how she kits out the van for such an […]