Iceland: What to Bring


I’m a notorious overpacker. Even as a flight attendant I will go on a three day work trip and come home with two outfits I didn’t even touch. But hey, what if there was suddenly a cute boy in first class that wanted to take me on a fancy dancy dinner date?? (This has yet to happen to me, for the record.) But I like having options. Being prepared is never a bad thing. So with that, I’d like to share some suggestions on packing for a few days in Iceland.


First things first. Now you may think this sounds silly. “Of course you will need something to pack in, Kate.” Yes I know. But the point is that either would work in Iceland. Unlike a Europe backpacking trip or trek to Machu Picchu, you will be with your car majority of the time. No lugging around bags for hours- you can leave them in the car! If you’re thinking of investing in a good travel backpack, do it! It will change your life. But it is entirely unnecessary for an Icelandic road trip.


Personally, I believe strongly in snacks. I do not leave the house without a snack in my purse. For real. It’s better for everyone really. Anyhow, you will be glad that you packed some snacks because everything in Iceland is ridiculously expensive. Eating out every meal is not practical, even if you are a billionaire, because everything is so spread out. Restaurants are few and far between. I was very glad to have the snacks I brought from home, but I also supplemented at the local grocery. We kept a couple bags of chips in the backseat and snacked as necessary. Truth be told, the seat behind the passenger’s seat was used as the pantry. Would recommend.

Reusable Water Bottle

The water in Iceland is spectacular. So fresh and you can drink it straight from the tap! Their water comes straight from the springs and nobody has a water heater. It’s just straight up hot spring water which I love. I filled up each morning at the hostel or Airbnb and had water for the day without having to spend money on bottled water. It’s also nice to have in the airport as you can take it through security empty and easily find a filling station. You will want to stay hydrated with all the walking!

Light Layers

Let’s talk clothes people. You may be tempted to pack straight up winter clothes. I mean, they call it ICEland. But the weather is volatile. When we were there in August the forecast was between 45-55 F. At one point I was in a heavy sweater, coat, and hat (which I was very glad to have, even if only for a couple hours of the trip). Two days later I stripped down to my tank top on our hike across a black sand beach. You will be glad to have layers. I typically wore a tank top with a light pullover and coat. Athleisure is your friend. You will be doing active things and then sitting in the car for hours on end. Comfort is key!

Rain Jacket

This probably falls under the layers category, but it’s too important not to get it’s own heading. There are scattered showers almost everyday in the summer. You will need your rain jacket for rain purposes, but you will also need it for waterfall purposes. I’m sure you’ll be chasing some waterfalls and those things are frickin powerful. There’s mist everywhere. Especially at Seljalandsfoss where you get to walk behind the waterfall! You will freeze if you don’t have a good rain jacket.

Hiking Boots

Nonnegotiable. You can try tennis shoes, but I promise you’ll regret it. Remember that waterfall mist and those scattered showers? Everything is wet. And precarious. So just invest in the boots. Some days we walked more than others. One day we had over 20,000 steps which I’m v proud of. P.S. Don’t forget good hiking socks. Your feet will thank you when they are dry and warm.


You know you don’t want to miss out on the natural pools or the Blue Lagoon, but a swimsuit can easily be overlooked when you a packing so many other winter clothes. Do not forget! The Blue Lagoon was other wordly and definitely worth the visit. You may also want to take a towel. We did not, but it would have been nice to have after taking a dip in the natural pools. Otherwise you will basically be drip drying before you get redressed and hike your way back to the car.


Also related to the Blue Lagoon is conditioner. Somethin weird happens to your hair there. They claim it’s a build up of silica (the compound that gives the lagoon its color), but suffice it to say that your hair feels straw-like. Thankfully they provide special conditioner when you are at the lagoon and we left the next day. But our hair was lookin a lil rough to say the least. If you are tryna get that perfect Iceland pic for The Gram, I would suggest bringing along some conditioner to tame those luscious locks.


Your American plugs are not going to work in Iceland. Take an adapter if you want to charge your phone at night. Unfortunately, I am accustomed to staying at hotels on flight attendant business and I forgot an adapter completely. Fortunately, our car had a USB outlet where I could connect my phone charger while we were driving all day.

Hot Spot

This is something we rented from our car rental company, Blue Car Rentals. It was a total lifesaver! Without it I’m not sure how we would have navigated the country. It was also comforting to know that we had some way to contact other humans in case of emergency. The cost was $12 per day which I thought was very reasonable considering that we did not have an issue with service at all. I would HIGHLY recommend getting a hot spot for your time in Iceland. It also let us connect to Instagram so we could post on our stories. As they say, pics or it didn’t happen.

Bonus Items

These tips and tricks are just because I like y’all. Not essential to the trip, but they may make it more enjoyable. Firstly, did I mention how windy it is? Take some chapstick. How about all the driving? If you’re light sensitive like me, you will require sunglasses. Something I haven’t told you about is how the Icelandic people over heat their buildings. You’d think that they’re accustomed to the cold, but that is not the case. Everywhere we stayed was entirely too warm to sleep comfortably. Be sure you take something light to sleep in. Otherwise you will wake up in a pool of your own sweat. Guaranteed.

Wow oh wow. That really turned into a whole thing. If you are still reading, congratulations you will be very prepared for your trip to Iceland. If not, I won’t hold it against ya. Just come back soon to read more about our adventures and lessons learned!


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