What I packed for a trip to Greenland in June
As I've already introduced you to my trip to Ilulissat and Kangerlussuaq in a previous post (and narrated one of my trip's highlights: evening sea kayaking amongst the icebergs), there are a few technical topics I'd like to cover. For one: what on earth do you pack for a trip to Greenland in June? Secondly, does Greenland actually have warm weather? Here you have it: packing tips from a girl who managed a ten day trip to Greenland via Copenhagen with just a backpack.
Is summer a thing in Greenland?
Well, to start with, here's what my trip looked like in terms of timing:
- May 30 - train to Geneva, flight to Copenhagen
- May 31 - flight from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq
- June 1 - flight from Kangerlussuaq to Ilulissat
- June 7 - flight from Ilulissat to Kangerlussuaq
- June 8 - flight from Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen
- June 9 - flight from Copenhagen to Geneva, train to Bern where I stayed the night in the youth hostel (not the finest example of one)
- June 10 - train from Bern to my new house in Meiringen, where in a rare case of advance planning all my belongings were moved in and waiting
I'm not sure if the weather was typical for early June in Greenland, but I was never uncomfortably hot nor cold. I wore my light ski jacket every day in Ilulissat, but I probably could've got by with just a jumper a lot of the time. When researching my trip beforehand, I read advice from others that layering is key. I'd agree: pack enough layers and a waterproof and you're sorted. You should definitely be prepared for colder weather (especially if you're going on evening boat rides), but you don't want to be stuck with a really heavy jacket and ski trousers on a good day either.
My decision to pack light for Greenland
Now, I don't necessarily recommend you follow my lead and pack tremendously light. It's just the way I like to travel. I love being able to explore a new place with everything I need on my back. I like checking out of a room and knowing I don't need to find a locker for my bag, because it's light enough to keep with me.
There were also some disadvantages of travelling light in Greenland:
- I didn't really have any room to acquire and store souvenirs in my bag. Sorry guys, no whale tooth tupilaks for you this time.
- I flew from/to Copenhagen, spending a day here on either side of my trip. This complicated my wardrobe: while I was wearing winter clothes in Ilulissat, it was shorts weather in Copenhagen. As expected, navigating the city centre with a less-than-attractive hiking outfit and a ski jacket in tow wasn't ideal. I had prepared myself for any questions with a "I've been in Greenland, I'm not as stupid as you think", but of course this didn't happen. I'm guilty of overthinking things.
A rundown of what I packed for Greenland:
Most of the time I wore...
- Purple Salomon ski jacket (which wasn't too bulky or thick), with the following things stuffed in pockets:
- Phone plus charger
- Green knitted hat and thick woollen gloves with furry lining (e.g. not built for adventure sports in the slightest)
- Quattro small artist blank notepad and a pen
- Ankle-height Salomon hiking boots (bulky, so I wore these when travelling)
- Colombia black hiking trousers
- Black cotton leggings (I wore these most the time under my hiking trousers)
- Grey zip-up fleece jacket
On my back was...
- North Face Borealis backpack
- Nikon D3300 camera with 18-55 lens and 55-300 lens plus battery charger
- Small Nikon Wireless Adapter for uploading photos from camera to phone
- European adapter plug
- Clear plastic airport liquids bag, containing...
- A few makeup supplies: MaxFactor mascara, L'Oréal Touche Magique concealer, the rose-coloured Vaseline, Bobbi Brown powder and blush compacts (these two non-liquids mostly resided in my coat pockets)
- Travel-size toothpaste, toothbrush, small pot of moisturiser, suncream, insect repellent roll-on, deodrant, mini shampoo and conditioner, shower gel
- Sleep eye mask and earplugs
- Nike running leggings
- 5 x cotton t-shirts, mostly long-sleeved
- 1 x Zara thin navy blue knitted top
- 4 x thick hiking socks and 2 x thinner trainer socks
- Enough underwear for 5 days (thank you, apartments with washing machines)
- Kindle + charger
- Spare phone (I keep my previous phone lying around, so decided I might as well pack it)
- Blue thin Patagonia rain jacket (which spent most of the trip folded and stuffed under the elastic bungee cord on the front of my backpack)
Things I didn't really need:
- My airport liquids bag was definitely pushing its luck in terms of size. I know this might seem ridiculous for the standard traveller (who would've just checked in a bag), but by nature I am a bit ridiculous. So, when repacking throughout the trip, I thought I should have...
- Decanted some of my suncream into a tiny pot. While I used it fairly often, there was no way I needed the whole tube.
- Packed a mini deodorant instead of a full-sized one in a glass container.
- My navy thin knitted top. It creased too easily in my bag, wasn't a layer I needed for hiking, and looked too dark worn alone with black leggings. If you're travelling around Greenland like I did, doing a lot of hiking and outdoorsy stuff, you probably don't need to bring anything other than hiking clothes with you. The only time I felt underdressed was when passing through Copenhagen, but I'd probably feel like that on a good day.
Things I needed:
- Although I worried it would be excessive, I found it useful to have two pairs of shoes (one pair ankle height, the other more trainer-ish and flexible).
- I bought a merino wool Buff before my evening kayaking to keep my ears/neck warm, both when on the water and while hiking. It did an ideal job (much better than my knitted - read: ventilated - wool hat), so would definitely recommend packing one.
- My zoom lens. It's heavy and bulky, but I was glad I had it when hiking and spying on wildlife.