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The Ultimate Summer Break, Scandinavian Style

by Linda Åkeson McGurk |June 4, 2018

Are you living your best friluftsliv? Loosely translated as "free-air life," it's the outdoor complement to the cozy Danish concept of hygge — and it just might flip your otherwise over-scheduled summer on its head.

Where hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is all shearling slippers and cuddling in front of the fireplace, friluftsliv (pronounced FREE-loofts-leave) encourages skipping barefoot across a dew-kissed field any chance you get. And Scandinavians know how to do it right.

little girl in teepee

Try these traditional Scandinavian friluftsliv activities to fill your summer break with as much fresh air as possible:

  • Make a daily habit of going for a walk in nature or just around your neighborhood without any agenda. Turn off your phone, or put it in airplane mode.

  • Eat as many meals as possible outside — at a sidewalk café, in your own backyard or at a local park. Bonus activity: try making bread on a stick over an open fire.

  • Build a home for the fairies in the woods, park or backyard using materials (leaves, flowers, acorns, feathers) you find in nature.

  • Celebrate the summer solstice by picking seven types of flowers and putting them under your pillow. According to Scandinavian legend, the person you dream about that night is the person you will marry — sweet dreams.

  • Forage for flowers in the woods. Or, have the kids help plant window boxes with herbs and edible plants that they can tend to over the summer.

  • Sleep under the stars, either on a camping trip or just outdoors on a back porch.

  • Pluck dandelions, link them together and make a crown.

  • Beat the crowds and take a refreshing morning dip in a lake, ocean or pool.

  • Walk barefoot, as often as you can.

Once you start living the "free-air life" of friluftsliv you'll be hooked, even if it takes some practice to pronounce it. So, kick off your shoes, grab your dandelion crown and head outdoors for a Scandinavian-inspired summer that's closer to home.

Linda Åkeson McGurk

enjoys friluftsliv by cooking over an open fire and sleeping under the stars with her two daughters. Author of There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Happy, Resilient and Confident Children, and she also writes about connecting children with nature on her blog Rain or Shine Mamma.

The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article.