A collection of random thoughts on traveling to Iceland - what to pack, how to prep, and other things to know:
- Pack hella layers and some good (preferably waterproof) hiking shoes. Bring your snow pants and a good parka if you're going in the winter. The Blonde Abroad has a good post on how to pack for a week in Iceland. I found it hard to pack for London and Iceland without overdoing it, and then regretted not bringing more for the couple days we were actually in the Icelandic climate. Check the weather ahead of time!
- There are plenty of places to pick up cold weather apparel and accessories there if you need anything. 66 North and Geysir are probably the biggest Iceland brands.
- The Icelandair stopover feature is awesome, but I really think the best of Iceland would take more than a couple of days to see. I'd recommend doing 7-10 just to Iceland, but if you're wanting to do the stopover, 5-7 days is probably good.
- Plan to do a lot of driving and walking/hiking. There are dozens of tour bus options available too, but it's nice to do things on your own time - and again, the best of Iceland is off the beaten path.
- Do your research and map your itinerary (or at least know where you're going) ahead of time.
- Our rental car company (Enterprise/Alamo) had the option to rent a wifi device for the car, which was super clutch. I was expecting to rely on offline Google Maps and the kindness of strangers to get us places, but it was nice to have wifi in the car to help get us to our next destination (and to keep you all updated on Snapchat, of course. :P)
- The Icelandic krona (their currency) is only a fraction of the dollar, but everything is really marked up there. It is an island, after all. I exchanged some currency ahead of time and used it for small purchases like paying for the public toilets.
- Learn some basic phrases. This is kind of a general travel rule but came in handy in Iceland more than in London for obvious reasons. English is spoken almost everywhere in Iceland, though, so no need to worry if you don't know any Icelandic.
- Airbnb had a ton of options in Reykjavik, and I'm sure in other parts of the country too. If you haven't tried Airbnb yet, here's a $35 credit to get you started. It's such a great alternative to hotels and hostels!
- We did not see the Northern Lights while we were there, but since we were only in town for a couple of days, we didn't really seek them out either. There are a ton of tour options and guides to help you find them if you do want to see them. Be prepared to bundle up and exercise a lot of patience while you wait!
My Top 5
Articles that helped me:
- The Blonde Abroad's "What to Pack for Iceland" (her Iceland archives are all great)
- Inspired by Iceland - their video series is a fun way to get familiar with Iceland
- A Guide to Driving Iceland's Golden Circle - Expert Vagabond
- Exploring Iceland - Colin Murtaugh for Moment
- Safe Travel - a helpful site for planning your trip, especially if you're driving or camping
- Your Handy Guide to the Northern Lights - Visit Iceland
- http://www.road.is/ - for up-to-date road condition updates and closures
- Golden Circle basic driving route (print-friendly) - I Heart Reykjavik
- Northern Lights / aurora forecast
- Iceland - Conde Nast Traveler