I’m not an expert on Iceland, but I consider myself a seasoned traveler. So with that, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide a few suggestions that will make your trek to a fantastic country even more amazing.
- Bring the appropriate gear: My staple items that were worth their weight in gold – water proof boots, hiking boots, warm wool socks, a hat, gloves, winter coat, weatherproof shell, hiking pants, tee shirts, bathing suit, sunglasses, light rain jacket and pants. If you’re aiming to look posh and snag some digits while abroad, Iceland probably isn’t the destination your looking for. Be practical, but comfortable. I snagged my husbands LL Bean rain jacket and pants (probably weighed a pound at the most) at the last minute and I may have looked like a marshmallow on steroids, but I was dry and warm as we hiked along the sides of waterfalls. Most I passed along the trails were wet and wincing from the spray of the falls, the pouring rain and pelting winds. I was super stoked to return to our car, peel off my rain gear and be totally dry. Score.
- Adventure is out there! Whether you’re hitchhiking, renting a vehicle or with a tour group allow yourself to veer off of point a to point b mindset. You’re going to come across the weird pile of rocks on the side of the road, the epic volcanic mountain that takes your breath away or the middle of nowhere fish and chip shop that makes your stomach churn from hunger. Allow yourself to experience things you didn’t plan for. Go with the flow. Things aren’t always going to go as planned because nature happens. Iceland happens. That’s ok and it’s part of the experience. If you rent a car, get four wheel drive and take some of the off roads that can lead you to the foot of a glacier or to an old abandoned farm house overlooking the ocean. Getting out of the box makes the experience all the richer.
- Have access to a cell or mobile phone. I brought my cell phone and for a reasonable daily rate I could make calls, text, search the web and have access to my gps. I ended up using my phone more than anticipated and that sucker was a life saver when we locked our keys in the house of the flat we rented and had to make a call to our renter at eleven at night. It was great navigating us through the off the grid roads as well as Reykjavik. Even when we were hiking or off swimming in the hot springs it was comforting knowing if there was an emergency we could call home or a nearby hospital (not that we even knew where that was half the time, but it was a good thought☺).
- Hit a local swimming pool. Almost every town has at least one swimming pool and it’s a place where local kids and adults gather to frolic, zen and socialize. There’s a daily fee to take a swim, but it’s worth taking a dip at least once for the experience. There are usually a few different geothermal pools that range in temperature and some offer both indoor and outdoor pools. Before throwing on your suit, do note that it is required that you shower off in the nude pre-dip. Icelanders don’t care what you look like naked, so don’t think anything of it and embrace the geothermal waters!
- Iceland has pretty much whatever you may have forgotten. Whether it’s band aids, vitamins, socks or a selfie stick; if you left something at home more than likely you can find it in Iceland. Albeit, the cost may be more than what you would pay back home, but knowing that you don’t have to panic. Truly, most of what you have home you can pick up there. Kind of comforting☺
- The grocery store is your friend. Iceland is not cheap. Dining out can put a strain on your wallet very easily, but save your Kroner. Whether it be toting around cookies for a snack or picking up rolls and cheese for a picnic lunch there are plenty of ways to use the grocery store to your advantage. Plus, it’s always an experience to peruse the aisles of any foreign country you’re in and observe the local fare. It’s fun to go out and venture to different restaurants. There’s plenty of great food to eat! But when and if your wallet needs a break check out the grocery store☺ One of the cool things with having our own place during our stay was kitchen access. I had fun picking up fresh smoked salmon, Icelandic yogurt, rolls and local cheeses for some seriously yum meals. It’s an experience!
- Credit Cards – We hit the atm when we arrived, but in reality we didn’t come across any small shop, tour or restaurant that didn’t take a card. If you don’t have to deal with transaction fees I would recommend just going with a credit card as hitting the atm machine can prove costly with transaction fees.
- Do something epic- You’re in Iceland, it’s
awesome, do something to match that awesomeness. Everything is pricy in Iceland, but you live once, you’re there and some things are worth splurging on. We opted to do a puffin boat ride in Reykjavik and another at the Glacier Lagoon. Both were totally worth it. So whether you want to hike glaciers, whale watch or frolic with puffins allow yourself the opportunity to experience something new and amazing.
- Water bottle – Do bring a bottle with you. Everything I read said there would be water fountains everywhere. They were prevalent in Reykjavik, but few and far between after that. We filled up in the natural springs on hikes or hit the taps at restaurants. The water is awesome, but definitely not as readily available outside of the city.
- Car rental – If a car or rv rental fits in your budget I would highly recommend experiencing Iceland on four wheels. The freedom to explore, go off the beaten track and take your trip at your own pace is a great thing. Some of my most memorable experiences were going off our itinerary and taking paths that lead to some amazing sights. Obviously travel in summer verse winter is vastly different. If you are up for it, drive!
- Don’t be a butt head. Leave Iceland like you found it without candy wrappers, tissues or beer cans. If you have the ability to crack open your beer can or blow your nose you can stuff either in your pocket or your pack. Iceland is legit one of the most beautiful, untouched places I have ever seen and it deserves to stay that way. I found myself super frustrated hiking to a hot spring or through a valley and coming across a can of red bull or a cigarette butt. There’s no excuse to leave anything behind. Pick up your crap before you head out. The end.