With Traveling Sauna Trekking Across America

By Annamaria Morrill

A Traveling Sauna is journeying through America this year as part of 100-year anniversary celebration of Finland’s independence. A white truck pulling a red sauna will visit many states, traveling across the entire continent. The trip started in Minnesota in January and will end up on the East Coast in time to celebrate Finland’s Independency Day on December 6th. The sauna will come to the Pacific Northwest in April including stops in the Portland and Battleground area.

Risto Sivula (left) and Jouko Sipila with the Traveling Sauna.

In December, Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence from Russia. The year is full of festivities in the mainland in Scandinavia as well as throughout United States. In the USA, there are about 650,000 Finnish Americans; the biggest communities being historically in New York, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, California, Washington, and Oregon. The Finnish immigrants have had a strong influence especially in Astoria, and many people with Finnish heritage still live in the area.  

Authentic Sauna Experience

The idea of the Traveling Sauna started when Minnesotan friends Risto Sivula and Jouko Sipila thought it would be a great way to celebrate the special year with other Finns across the country. The sauna, being such a big part of Finnish culture, seemed a perfect way to connect with others, and share Finnish traditions with all the visitors.

“Sisu,” as the Traveling Sauna was named, will travel through many states, covering over 10,000 miles. It will stop in scheduled destinations, visiting mostly Finnish communities, who are hosting local events. The sauna will be heated, and visitors will have a once in a life-time chance to experience an authentic, wood-heated Finnish sauna with temperatures about 170 degrees.

The sauna has an authentic wood stove. 

The comfortable temperature is about 150-170 degrees.

The sauna’s dressing room area is designed with Finnish modern style

 “Vihta” is a made of birch tree brunches 

A traditional sauna has a “kiuas” (a stove) with rocks in it. Throwing water on the rocks produces a hot steam. Many people enjoy using “vihta,” (a bundle of birch branches with leaves) while using a sauna. The secret is to hit the body with wet “vihta” which helps blood circulation. Saunas are very relaxing, and are especially enjoyed in cold winter months in Scandinavian countries. In Finland, with about 5.5 million residents, there are about 2 million saunas. In cities, they are often built inside the apartments. In the countryside, they are mostly separate outside buildings, ideally, located next to the lake.

The Traveling Sauna leaving Minnesota

The Traveling Sauna visiting in Arizona.

Visit the Sauna or Follow on Social Media

The Traveling Sauna is an official mascot of the Finland 100-year festivities and has many sponsors supporting the yearlong project. The journey is widely promoted and followed on social media. It can be found on Youtube “Traveling with Traveling Sauna” or on the blog More information about the sauna, the complete schedule with a map, and many pictures are provided on the official website 

Route of the Traveling Sauna 

The closest North West locations are Portland, and Battleground and Seattle in Washington state. The Traveling Sauna will stop in these cities in the beginning of April. See more details from the website. Merchandise, including t-shirts, hats and birch tree seeds for making the “vihta” are sold at the events and online to support the project.  

The sauna on wheels is built to represent Finnish modern design with clean lines and toned colors. Big windows provide views outside, while visitors enjoy the heat from a wood stove. The sauna was built and donated by Finnish-American company TyloHelo, one of the world’s leading sauna manufacturers.

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