Money

Currency while on land

The village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Travelling to one of the most remote places on Earth requires a little bit of forward planning for cash withdrawals and budgeting. Your route will dictate what currency you'll need, and how much.

Major credit cards are widely accepted in every country in the main tourist areas and cities, and ATMs are prevalent in most major towns. However, make sure you stock up on cash before travelling to more remote areas.

Your card provider may charge you at a higher rate for making payments or withdrawals while abroad, so it may be worth checking these tariffs before you leave.

Depending on which countries you will be passing through, you will need different currencies:

  • Norway - Krona (Norwegian)
  • Denmark & Greenland - Krona (Danish)
  • Finland - Euro
  • Canada - Canadian dollar
  • Russia - Rubles
  • Iceland - Krona, however it is almost a cashless society. ATMs are available in towns and PINs are required for purchases.
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To avoid any extra charges at ATMs, consider getting a currency card which you pre-load credit onto.

Budgeting & tipping

During a voyage

USD or Euros are accepted and you will have an onboard account which is settled at the end of the trip.

If you wish to tip your guides, $10-$20 USD per person per day on board is appreciated.

It's very much at your discretion, however, there are some very dedicated guides and other staff – such as chefs, waiters and waitresses, cleaners and receptionists – who really go the extra mile to make your trip as amazing as it can possibly be, and it's nice to reward them.

This is usually collected just prior to the end of the expedition and can be paid on a credit card. If you pay in cash, it’s very often an anonymous payment, but credit card anonymity is less easy.

Preparing for the Arctic

Specialist guides enhance your learning along the way

On land

Travelling to the Arctic can be expensive. Expect to pay around $100-$150 USD per person per day for food, drink and transport. A further $150-$300 USD for fairly basic accommodation (and much more for luxury!).

Norwegian Arctic: Service charges and tips are included in restaurants and taxi fares, but if the service has been great 5% tips are generally appropriate.

Canada: Similar to the US. Generally, you can expect to tip around 15%-20% in restaurants and between 10% and 15% on taxi fares.

Greenland: Tipping is not expected, however, due to the scarcity of visitors and the opportunities to raise income it is especially appreciated if you have received great service in either a restaurant or from your guide.

Iceland: Service and VAT are always included in the prices so tipping isn’t required. Rounding up the bill or leaving a small tip for good service is appreciated but not expected.

Russia: It is customary to tip in restaurants and cafes, usually around 10%, but on other services it is optional.

Staying healthy

The Arctic may be one of the most remote places on the planet, but help is still on hand if you need it. A little preparation can also go a long way to ensure you stay fit and healthy during your trip, and are able to enjoy everything the Arctic has to offer.

Cruising & seasickness

Watch your ship navigate the pack ice

Cruising off the coast of Spitsbergen

There is a qualified English-speaking doctor aboard all vessels who is available to help with any minor ailments, seasickness or other issues. However, the onboard medical equipment is limited. Any passengers taking regular medication must bring their own supplies.

In the event of a serious medical emergency, the captain and expedition leader will decide on the best course of action.

Seasickness

Seasickness can be a real problem for some. Whether it takes you one day or five to get your sea legs, a few quick tips can help the journey pass more smoothly.

We recommend drinking lots of water and eating small amounts regularly. There are some good anti-seasickness remedies that can really help, including tablets, patches and wristbands. Be aware that some brands of anti-seasickness tablets can make you feel very drowsy. Different people react in different ways, so it's worth taking time to do your research.

To prevent seasickness, our recommendations are:

  • Be well rested and avoid drinking alcohol the night before hitting open waters
  • Try eating ginger, dry biscuits or green apples
  • Avoid a fixed view, such as reading a book
  • Look forward and not towards the stern

Other less scientific approaches that we’ve heard along the way include not showering for the first two days (based on the principle that it’s not good to be without an outside view) and mixing your ginger with brandy.

Fitness

While being fit isn’t a prerequisite to travelling to the Arctic, being in good enough shape to get the most out of the daily excursions will increase your overall enjoyment of the trip.

Being able to get on and off the rubber zodiac boats is crucial. A crew member will always help you get into and out of the zodiac, with a 'sailor’s grip' on your arm to provide stability. You must ensure that you have your hands free, so stow all cameras and walking poles. You can take them out against once you are securely seated. You will need to be flexible enough to take a deep step into the zodiac and for wet beach landings, you will need to swing your leg over the side of the zodiac and step down into the water. This becomes second nature after a few landings.

Preparing for the Arctic

Other essential information