How to Pack for a Trip to Iceland

Most tend to think about Iceland in extreme contexts.  And well it’s correct to a certain extent.  Because no matter the season you plan to visit Iceland, chances are it will be windy and temperatures will likely range somewhere between 28-55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Additionally, you may encounter gale force winds, it may rain, snow, something in-between or could be blazing with sunshine.  The best advice is to embrace the unpredictability of whatever the weather brings to you.  As it’s all part of the adventure!  However to help you prepare, today we share with you our How to Pack for a Trip to Iceland list!  …and if you have a sec, checkout our Iceland Wedding Planner Storefront on Amazon for more ideas you can buy right now!

Icelandic Weather Rules

As we alluded to above, you need to be ready for the weather in Iceland.  Roads can close with minimal warning and severe winds can easily turn snow into no visibility blizzards or insane sand storms.  Also, we often have sideways rain that goes even faster than your windshield wipers can go.  so make sure you checkout our local forecast and road conditions before you head out each day.  Typically, the months that have the most road closures is between November – March.  Outside of those months road closures can still happen but not as frequent.

Next, today we share a comprehensive list on How to Pack for a Trip to Iceland for any season.  Likewise, we will also provide some links to where we have purchased those items for ease of referencing and finding for you!  Feel free to share this with your loved ones and / or guests to ensure they do not forget anything!

Before You Go to Iceland

Iceland is an international destination.  First, you’ll need to make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your departure from Iceland.  Second, if you are not from the USA, Canada, or the Schengen area please check if you need a visa to enter.  Third, depending on how far away your trip is, you may want to apply for a 0% foreign transaction credit card to use while you’re here (or as you book your travel).  This tip could easily save you $100’s of dollars!  In fact,  favorites are as follows:

But be aware, not everywhere in Iceland accepts American Express.  For instance, it is mainly the larger hotels, stores, and restaurants.  A word of warning too, nowhere in Iceland is Discover Card accepted.

Next, when searching for flights from your home state or country, you’ll want to fly into our international airport: KEF.  Currently, there are 25 airlines that fly to Iceland.  Although, several only operate during the months of May-August.  For example, Delta and United.  And in our opinion, the most reliable is Icelandair.

A couple other favorites as you get organized for your trip:

Now on with the how to pack for a trip to Iceland!

Accessories for Your Plane Ride to Iceland

Likely, when you think about how to pack for a trip to Iceland, you may want to begin with the flight.  As no matter the class you fly to Iceland in, it’s nice to have the best and most comfortable accessories when you fly!  Here is a short list of our favorites that can easily pack into your carryon:

Packing Your Iceland Carryon Bag

For those of you that like to travel with a carryon bag in tow, this list is for you!  And for our Iceland wedding couples, please make sure your wedding attire is carried on!  Here’s how to pack for a trip to Iceland the carryon version:

  • Travel Folder (if you’re a visual planner or save on your phone):
    • Passport
    • Drivers License (if renting a car)
    • Day by day self-drive journey plan
    • Icelandair E-Ticket Itinerary
    • Car Rental confirmation
    • Iceland Hotel Confirmations (Note: Likely the wedding hotel is under the couples names).
    • Hiking GPS / GPS coordinates to offbeat locations or any Iceland hikes you want to do.
    • Any phone numbers you need.
    • Google Maps printed directions to each day’s adventures (in case the GPS fails at some point or you’re an over planner).
    • Iceland adventure / activity vouchers.
  • Carryon Clothing:
    • 1 Hiking outdoor friendly outfit incase your checked bag gets lost or delayed. So you can hit the ground exploring when you arrive!
    • Swimsuit
    • Extra socks
  • Other Carryon Items:
    • Medicines you may need while traveling or in Iceland
    • Anything important or valuable (IE, watches or designer shoes, etc).
    • Sunglasses
    • Any toiletries you cannot live without.
    • Above plane travel items.

What to Pack in Your Iceland Checked Bag

Furthermore, when you head to Iceland in any season, it’s likely many of the same items.  Why?  Because our tiny island in the North Atlantic sits in the Gulf Stream which means we do not have severe cold or hot.  Moreover, here is how to pack for a trip to Iceland for 10-14 days…

  • Outfits:

    • 8 Casual Outfits
      • Personal fan of hiking, sweater, or wrap dresses, because they are so versatile from day to night.  Prana is the best for everyone!
    • (2) Nicer Out to dinner Outfits (IE, Cocktail Dress, Dress Shirt, etc).
    • (2) Pairs of blue jeans
    • 2-5 Sweaters
    • (3) Short sleeve shirts
    • (3) Long sleeve shirts
    • (3) Thermal shirts
    • 3 Tee-Shirts
    • Ski Pants + Ski Coat / Parka (In summer months only bring if you plan on doing glacier driven activities)
    • 1 Pair of Waterproof Pants
    • 1 Waterproof Shell or Rain Coat (with hood).  Helly Hansen is our personal fave!
  • Under Garments:

    • 2-4 Smartwool Base Layers.
    • 2 pairs of leggings (fleece lined are our favorite!)
    • 10 pairs of light weight socks
    • 1 Pair of Sealskinz socks
    • 2-4 pairs of heavy weight socks (wool socks)
    • Pairs of yoga or comfy pants
    • Pajamas
    • 10-15 pairs of delicates (one for every day of your trip)
    • Swimsuit (if it wasn’t already packed in your carryon)
  • Shoes:

    • Rubber boots (Hunter are the best)
    • 1 pair of dresser shoes for dinner / dresser outfits.
    • Good hiking boots (check out Salewa).
    • Hotel shoes if you’re into that or gym shoes.
  • Miscellaneous Item Ideas:

    • Hooded sweatshirt
    • Warm knit hat (Smartwool makes some AMAZING ones).
    • Scarf or balaclava if you run cold.
    • Umbrella and/or heavy duty Poncho (Note: Icelandic winds rip apart cheap plastic ones).
    • Gloves (we love Sealskinz gloves)!
    • Sunglasses
    • Basic Travel Adapter 
    • Higher Voltage Convertor (to curling / straightening irons, etc)
    • Chargers to any electronic devices (IE, Camera)
    • First Aid Kit / Additional Medicines / Emergency Kit
    • Head Lamp and/or Flashlight (comes in handy during Northern Lights photos or exploring lava caves)
    • An empty backpack (for impromptu hiking).  Our personal faves is by Marmot or Osprey Day Pack).
    • Personal Toiletries (IE, makeup, soaps, tweezers, hairbands, nail file, hair brush, hairspray, deodorant, etc).
    • Curling Iron (but usually no hairdryer as all reputable hotels will have)
    • 2 trash bags (Think dirty clothes hamper).  Or you can go fancy and get laundry bags!
    • 10 sandwich size Ziploc bags (You’ll thank me later).
    • 6 gallon size Ziploc bags (Never know when you may need it).
    • Snacks or Food you want but Iceland doesn’t sell.
    • Tripod if you’re a photographer or want to try Northern Lights photos
    • Bottles of alcohol (or buy Duty Free on arrival).
    • Checkout this list if you’re embarking on an Iceland adventure wedding: How to Pack a “Go Bag.”
    • An appetite for adventure!

Things You Cannot Buy in Iceland

Believe it or not there are may creature comforts that as Americans we get use to having.  But they are not available in Iceland.  So please consider when  deciding on how to pack for a trip to Iceland including these items:

Beating the Missing Iceland Blues!

Okay so your Iceland trip ends and you’re already ready to come back for another adventure.  We don’t blame you!  But what are some things you can do to beat the post-travel blues?  Here’s a few ideas…

  1. Make a photobook of your adventure so you can relive it everyday!
  2. Enlarge some of your favorite photos to décor your home!
  3. Start planning your next trip here!

Lastly, hopefully this how to pack for a trip to Iceland blog post will be helpful to you as you plan and pack for your fabulous Iceland adventure!  Feel free to contact us with ideas on any items I might have forgotten to add to this Iceland packing list!  Otherwise we wish you safe travels!

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