September 23rd, 2017

What to pack for Iceland

We just got back from a week in Iceland.  I read a lot of blogs before we went, and packed accordingly.  Here's the feedback I wish I could give my past self.

Great ideas of things to bring

  • Rain pants. I almost didn't pack these, planning to just rent a pair for our glacier hike.  It rained SO HARD several days. I saw many tourists in soaked pants. I bought a used pair from REI on ebay and they were perfect.

  • Rash guards, like these from Lands End.  These pack small, don't wrinkle, and can give you another layer to keep you warm and keep something you might want to wear more than once from smelling.

  • Snacks. A lot of time, when it came time to eat lunch, there was no place nearby, or we weren't very hungry, because of the filling breakfasts served at most hotels.  I brought cashews, almonds, Jif to Go, Nutella to Go, Clif bars and Kind bars.  We didn't end up using the Jif, but I still think it was a good idea.

  • Collapsible water bottles. Iceland has wonderful water and it seems a crime to buy bottled water that comes in single-use plastic.  I'm packing this for future trips.

  • Eddie Bauer daypack. This packs down small and tucks in your luggage. I used this every day, and now plan on taking it everytime I travel.

Things I wish I would have brought

  • Dry phone cover.  I used my phone in the rain, and later the volume icon started going up and down on its own.  It's finally stopped, but I'm pretty sure it's water damaged.

  • Lotion. We stayed at nicer hotels, but not a single one stocked lotion.

  • Water-resistant shoes. I bought one pair of sturdy shoes and another pair of tennies. When I wore them around Reykjavík they got wet enough that my dark socks actually dyed my toes.

Things that were a good idea that I didn't actually use

  • Headlamp

  • Binoculars

Some things I figured out

  • We got a GPS with our car but it seemed a bit out of date. It did not have our built-in-2016 hotel. It also had an Icelandic keyboard, but we had an English guidebook that has an approximation of the Icelandic, since the letters are different. The words are all long and look alike, at least to me. Twice our GPS had a different idea about where to go than the right one. We started using Google Maps on our phone as a supplement to the GPS.

  • If you think you might need to go to the bathroom, do. Restrooms are few and far between. There's actually a category of Youtube videos devoted to tourists deciding to go to the bathroom in public places. And don't bitch about paying a dollar to go - it costs money to put them up and run them.

  • It's probably a good idea not to let your tank get lower than half.

  • Know the pin for your credit card. You need to enter it on the gas station pump

  • Icelanders are pretty hands-off. They don't baby you. If there is a warning sign, heed it. Don't step over the rope to get a better picture of the 200-foot waterfall.