You know I am a confessed  late packer and I would travel luggage-less if I could, but when I was getting ready for my last trip to Iceland, the team at Kayak asked me to post what was going in my bags. And I went nuts.

The basic packing list for Iceland

Ok. You know it is pretty simple: Iceland = cold = warm clothes. Northern lights = photos = camera. But is it just that simple? What about all the “what if…” and the “why not…”, you know, it’s a pretty big island, Iceland.  And you’ve already seen all you can do in only 48 hours in Reykjavik. So what to pack?

The basic packing list for Icelandic winter includes:

  • warm underwear and lots of layers
  • comfortable waterproof winter shoes
  • rain jacket or waterproof jacket that is windproof
  • camera with extra batteries, extra SD cards and a tripod or similar
  • charges and plugs (plug converters if you are not from continental EU)
  • gloves, scarf, beanie (you can buy it there too)
  • lip balm, moisturizer, prescribed medicines

Not a big deal, but is it enough? What if….?

What you didn’t think you might need

While all the above are pretty obvious for many reasons, here is my list of what ifs that you might as well want to pack in your bag (and why)

1. swimwear

It’s winter and there is lots of snow, but as you have already read here and here, there are lots of hot springs (both cheap and “premium”) across Iceland that you will want to enjoy. You can always rent one or buy it there.

2. extra pair of hand gloves

Well, I’m not used to really cold weather and I ended up using two layers. One pair of gloves technology-friendly so I didn’t freeze my hands while using the phone or the camera and the other really warm ones for just walking around.

3. sunglasses

They go on every list for summer travel to Iceland, but you will find them useful if going for a roadtrip since the sun is always low and might hurt your eyes.

4. something to read

With only 4-6 hours of daylight, you’ll find plenty of time to read, sleep, chat with friends, make new friends… There are a couple of bookstores in Reykjavik and they are proud of their authors. (And have another interesting ration fact: 1 in every 10 people in Iceland has published a book)

5. something to write / draw on

Beautiful sites make you want to stop and take your camera for a picture or two. But you can become more creative and start drawing your own travel diary. I did try, you can check it on my instagram account.

6. snacks

You don’t need to carry your own snacks to Iceland, but you should seriously take some with you if you are heading out of Reykjavik. You might not find many places to buy them once you are on the road.

What to pack for Iceland roadtrip

7. passport and other IDs

While you won’t need your passport if you are visiting from the Schengen area (your ID would suffice), I always find it useful to avoid long queues in European airports (thanks for the automated passport controls big brother.)

Other nice things you might find useful are an international driving license (I prefer it to my local ID, the picture is better and everyone knows what it says), business cards (you never know who you might meet on your way) and the insurance card.

8. carry on batteries / chargers

Cold will make your phone/camera/other use a lot more energy than usual. While you won’t be checking your facebook as often, it is always nice to have an extra battery at hand.

9. torchlight

Some recommend it for northern lights photography and others just so you know where you are stepping. It won’t hurt carrying one with you, just in case.

10. sunscreen

No, sun won’t be up a lot, but UV rays are still damaging and snow is proven a good light/UV reflector. Plus, most sunscreens are good for to protect you from wind and cold damage.

11. empty water bottle

I have told you before, Iceland has the best water and it would be a waste of money to buy bottled water. So carry a bottle with you and refill any time you want fresh water.

12. no coins/no bills wallet

Iceland kronas are fun to carry around with you, but most things you’ll pay with your credit card (food, supermarkets, gas, activities…) and many others are free.

13. small backpack

Even if you are going on a roadtrip, which means you can carry everything you need in the car, bring a small one. Most activities are outdoors and it might be nice to take a bottle of water and snacks with you.

14. non-outdoor wear

Maybe fancy a night out in Reykjavik? Bring something nice that doesn’t take much room our of your luggage. You might not go to the Opera but you could go to a nice restaurant or just clubbing, and you wouldn’t do that on your hiking boots.

15. a map

Ok. maybe not a map, but an idea of where everything is or what you want to do. You’ll find some mini-guides and maps at the tourist offices (for free).


So this is what finally made it to my bags.


What would you pack? Did I miss anything?


This post has its origin on the #KayakHacksIceland challenge, where Kayak invited 7 travel bloggers from across Europe to visit Iceland on their own and tell their own personal experience. Each blogger has designed her/his weekend in Iceland with total freedom, using Kayak to choose every aspect of their trip (dates, hotel, activities…) With only one thing in common: 10 challenges to overcome with the help of Kayak as a travel planning tool. The result? 7 different visions of Iceland – 7 different trips to Reykjavik. You can watch all the pics of the challenge and the participants on Instagram, or follow the trips with #KAYAKHacksIceland