While we were preparing to travel to Iceland, we noticed that there were few books on travelling there with a family. Nor was there much on the internet…so we thought we would share our thoughts about how it went down. Things we did right. Things we would have done differently had we known better. I’m going to start with the basics.
#1) Hostels rock. They are the way to go with kids for sure. Iceland is the kind of place where you have to book your hostel ahead of time no matter what, so you might as well book a couple of months in advance and get a private room. You can usually get a room big enough for 4 people(sometimes more). Sometimes there is a private bathroom as well–but this is rare. The hostels here were clean and the kitchens were generally well stocked. You will need hostel sheets as they are too expensive to rent. In Reykjavik, we LOVED the city hostel where we stayed. It was right next door to the pool which became an essential component to staying awake as we struggled with jet lag They had a lovely breakfast which most people actually seem to participate in. This made the kitchens quite empty and easy to use. I have heard that the Downtown Hostels in Reykjavik are more ‘party’ type hostels…and, having seen their location, I am guessing that the crowd is younger and hipper…thus, probably enjoy the nightlife more than we are able to with our two young kids.
#2) Upgrade your car. As in most of Europe, cars here are small. We upgraded from the basic model(we passed on the 4×4 as it nearly doubled the basic price). We are glad we did as we discovered that there is no way you would have fit the luggage for a family of 4 in a basic model(the trunk of the car is nonexistent in this model–if you had one child, you could maybe manage with putting luggage on the other half of the backseat). We minimized our luggage and had two suitcases and one duffel bag plus my camera bag and our trunk was packed to the max.
#3) We got an iPad sim card for $20 and used that for internet instead of our iPhones. This saved us a tonne of money and headache. It was lovely to have fairly consistent 3G service to check maps, find restaurants, etc. (not to mention blog) in a place where finding internet access can at times be difficult. We just wanted to give a shout out to the phenomenal people of Iceland who helped us find the right sim card(you must go to an actual cell phone store and not a convenience store…no matter what anyone tells you). Icelanders are so incredibly friendly-one gas station clerk called around and found a place for us to go. Once we got to the right store and the sim card was in place, the website was entirely in Icelandic so the friendly clerk there spent 20 minutes getting it up and running for us. Lifesavers
#4) It’s colder than you think. We weren’t really prepared for how cold exactly. The average July temperature is +17′C or so…but it is quite humid and windy so it feels much colder. Bring a good shell that is waterproof. Bring layers(even if it is summer). Bring gortex pants(when it rains, at least when we were there, it rained sideways). Bob needed a toque(winterhat).
#5) Blue Lagoon. They tell you to put conditioner in your hair before you go in(and to leave it in). Do this. Put in LOTS. The water is very hard and Georgia’s hair was really wrecked from it. We conditioned it a bunch of times as soon as we could and that made it better, but I wish I had done a better job at putting in lots beforehand.
#6) Skyr. When you go grocery shopping, pick up lots of this for breakfast. It’s like yogurt only more awesome. My kids ate it by the bucket load. So yummy.
Hope this helps anyone who is searching the net about travelling to Iceland with kids. Check out my photography blog for lots more pictures. They will slowly be trickling out…as will advice.