What to pack when travelling in Iceland.

I am totally besotted with Iceland and I was recently chatting ahead of a trip about what to pack for travelling there. It depends greatly on the time of year you are travelling and so it is worth thinking ahead and planning any items you might need. I have travelled in the winter months when temperatures drop and so this brings some more specialised items in to play. I’ll also make some suggestions about photo kit to pack too and if you’re interested in learning how to photograph the aurora borealis, I’ve written a separate post about this which I’ll link to at the end of this post!

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When travelling in Iceland in the winter months it is important to be prepared. It is cold but I’ve never felt that it is too cold to cope with because of the items I’ve taken with me to weather-proof against it! We’ve travelled for 2 weeks and took enough clothing for a week and booked airbnbs that had washer dryers so we could wash everything part way round and save on packing room!

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Clothing packing list:

  • Thermal base layers – leggings to wear under trousers, long sleeved thermal tops
  • Quick dry trousers and long sleeved t-shirts – I avoid jeans as they take ages to dry if they get wet and that is when you’ll feel the cold.
  • A fleece for your top half
  • Double socks – normal cotton socks and thermal socks on top
  • Waterproof, windproof trousers – these make such a massive different to cocooning against cold winds
  • Waterproof, windproof jacket – even in -30 deg c, a thin but weatherproof jacket is all that you need to keep warm as the layers do their work
  • Waterproof wind proof hat & gloves
  • Earmuffs – if you’re like me and feel the cold in your ears!
  • Waterproof hiking boots – I wear these on the plane to save suitcase room!

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Accessories packing list:

  • Crampons – if you’re going when snow is on the ground, basic crampons like these (click here) give you super human powers to walk on sheet ice…..I have a crippling fear of falling but with these on I laughed in the face of any slippery surface!
  • Hiking Sticks – these were a blessing, Mark and I use one each and it just gives you so much extra balance when you’re walking with cramp ons or out in strong winds and on ice. Its a winning combo, even if you do look like an artic explorer!
  • European plug convertors – all of the plugs are euro there.
  • Charging gangway – some hotels and airbnbs had limited sockets and depending on how many devices you take it helps to get lots on to charge and also reduce the number of plug convertors you need.
  • Speaker cable – a lot of hire cars have ports you can play music through so get your playlists at the ready as music really enhances the experience. For me, Coldplay’s a Head Full of Dreams and Magic will forever be an Iceland sound track and transports me right back there!

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Camera packing list:

  • Your camera/cameras in a waterproof bag
  • Lenses – the widest lens you own & the fastest lens you own, if these two combine that is great for photographing aurora
  • Charger/Chargers – you will need to charge while you’re there as the cold drains batteries faster
  • Remote triggers – if you are shooting the aurora it is good to have a remote trigger to stop any camera shake affecting the shot
  • Extra batteries – I totally recommend buying more batteries for your camera, as mentioned, the cold drains them and there would be nothing worse than epic aurora arriving and no power to capture it!
  • Tripod – to capture the aurora you need to have the shutter open for a long time and have the camera super still for this
  • Laptop & hard-drive – depending on your level of photography, I can’t sleep without backing up my images in multiple places and I like to edit a few and share as I go, so travel with these
  • Extra memory – this place will blow your mind, so make sure you can be snap happy and have enough memory cards
  • ND filters – if you want to photo the waterfalls with motion in them you’ll need these and tripod to slow things down enough in the daytime.

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If you’d like to know more about how to spot and capture the aurora borealis you can see more on my post, click here. My next post will look at what to expect when arriving in Iceland, along with some hints and tips to set you up for your travels!

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