What to pack when you’re travelling to the arctic

Packing your life away for six months in the Arctic

How do you pack for six months in the Arctic while restricted to two bags?

Looking at my pile, I have designer gumboots, Felco pruners, sunscreen (three kinds), garden gloves, winter boots, snow pants, two jackets, three hats, snowshoes, winter mitts . . . it doesn’t matter how many times I refold, squish or sit, it is not going to fit.

I re-read the baggage limits four times and have decided I am simply going to be over – I figure everyone who flies north must do this. There is nothing here that I am willing to go without . . .

Fast forward two days to the Air North counter: Sheena with one large suitcase (marked heavy), blue backpack (marked heavy), computer bag and carry-on (rather large). Even after the surrendering of the bug spray – which I heard is a must-have – I am still over by 40 pounds and an overweight carry-on bag . . . but they were very good about it.

After I got on the plane, I realized everybody must be over their limit as this was first time that I had ever been on a plane where the empty seats were filled with cargo and bags.

The flight was smooth, although I admit I am a nervous flyer. We spent the night in Whitehorse, which is lovely. Early in the morning we headed up to Dawson City, then Old Crow and finally Inuvik.

Highlights of my flight to the Arctic

  1. 1) Standing in the airport in the morning reading on a TV screen that the temperature in Inuvik was -29°C, I thought they must have forgotten the decimal and that it was probably -2.9. No, I was told. It was definitely -29. My recent daily checking at 5 p.m. had told me to expect an average of -4. A temperature of -29 was not what I had planned for – would my clothes and boots be warm enough????? Had I thought this through properly?????
  3. 2) Flying into Old Crow  with its dirt runway – do airplanes have mud flaps?
  5. 3) The tundra, where the ice roads and frozen rivers looked like ribbons of silk woven through the earth – amazing!
  7. 4) The food – Air North has great service with food and tea every single flight!