Iceland – How To Pack For 5 Days Full Of Adventure In A Carry-On
I am a habitual over-packer when traveling, I always like to have multiple outfit options especially when the weather is all over the place like it is in Iceland. This trip I decided I didn’t want the extra baggage and only let myself pack the absolute necessities. As a fashion blogger, this was SUPER hard for me! I usually bring a ton of clothing to shoot for the blog but I reminded myself that this trip wasn’t about the clothes, it was about the experiences. So for our 5-day trip, I decided that I was only bringing a carry-on suitcase and a backpack and it was 100% the right decision.
Carry On Suitcase and Backpack:
I’ve traveled all over the world with different brands of luggage over the years but nothing was quite as handy as the suitcase and Coastal backpack from Ricardo Beverly Hills. The suitcase made packing super easy plus it even came with a Tile tag so that I would be able to track my luggage if it were to get lost/stolen. The roller wheels made it easy to get around the airport and when traveling from hotel to hotel.
While I loved the suitcase, the backpack was really what came in super handy. I am not a very organized person, I’m actually quite the opposite, but this Coastal backpack from Ricardo actually kept me organized during my trip from start to finish. They really thought of it all when designing this backpack. My favorite part was the secret compartment where I was able to hide my wallet, passport and iPhone. There was a ton of room in the main compartment with a few pockets for sunglasses and gloves and of course an area where you can keep your laptop secure. I had to do a little work while I was traveling, so bringing my laptop was key. There is also an awesome zippered compartment with a ton more storage from the outside, I’m honestly obsessed with the Coastal backpack! I kept my toiletries, camera and an extra pair of shoes in my backpack when traveling from destination to destination but I also loved that I could also unpack it easily and use it for day trips when we needed to carry a few things. Another great feature was that it had a slot on the back where I could secure it on my suitcase for easy travel around the airport. Seriously, these two bags made my trip go so much more smoothly!
How To Pack For Iceland:
You probably already know this but be sure to wear your largest items on the plane. You have to get creative if you want to bring along all your winter gear. I wore my parka, my winter boots and my largest sweater on the plane. It got a little toasty but I wore layers underneath so I was able to shed them easily. There was no way I was going to be able to get my coat and my boots in my suitcase, so this was really my only option. I could have brought a larger suitcase but with as much bouncing around as we did, having extra baggage would have just weighed us down. I rolled up each item and strategically packed it in my Ricardo Arris Carry-On. I love rolling my clothing because it keeps everything wrinkle free but also helps you pack more in tight spaces.
Having the right footwear is key when traveling through Iceland. You will need to bring a pair of insulated/waterproof winter boots for expeditions on glaciers, ice caves, snowmobiling, waterfalls etc. I also recommend bringing a pair of comfortable sneakers or hiking boots that you can adventure in but also that you can wear when hitting the town for a casual dinner in some of the smaller towns. I also brought a pair of leather insulated boots that I could wear out in Reykjavik but that also would be functional for exploring. Scroll below for a few pairs of shoes that I recommend bringing with you.
If you plan on being adventurous during your trip to Iceland, which I assume you will, I recommend bringing comfortable layers that you can build on. I brought a few pairs of my favorite Lululemon leggings with me because they are super comfy, flattering and they are so small that they are easy to pack. I think I ended up wearing leggings the entire time and put on a pair of jeans once for dinner in Reykjavik. You should also pack a pair of snow pants if you plan to explore glaciers, waterfalls, go snowmobiling or anything where snow is involved. A winter jacket with a hood is key because it can get bitterly cold and blustery in an instant and you will be kicking yourself that you didn’t bring your warmest coat. My Canada Goose was an absolute lifesaver, it got me through the snow adventures and even when we got soaking wet behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The weather can be pretty unpredictable, so you should have clothing for all weather! I packed a few long sleeve shirts, 2 sweatshirts, 3 sweaters, a T-shirt to sleep in and a tank top to work out in. Don’t forget a bathing suit for the Blue Lagoon and the other natural hot springs you might find along the way. The only thing that I regret not packing was my raincoat, which would have come in handy when visiting the waterfalls.
You don’t need a ton of products when traveling to Iceland. Most of the hotels, apartments and guesthouses we stayed in had nice soaps, shampoos, and conditioners to use while there. They also had hairdryers everywhere we went, so that was helpful when packing. I did pack my hair straightener so that I could either straighten my hair or use it to make loose curls. But if you have long hair, I recommend going for braids when the conditions are unfavorable. It’s easy and always looks cute in photos! I only brought a few basic makeup and hair products with me which was the right call because you don’t need to be super done up while hiking around Iceland.
This is probably the category where I had the most difficulty when packing. I have a couple different cameras and lenses and I wanted to bring them all! I ended up deciding on bring my Sony 6500 because it’s compact, lightweight and great for traveling. I knew it wouldn’t get the shots that my Canon 6D would capture but I also didn’t want to lug around a 6 lb camera and various lenses. My Sony did not disappoint and even caught the Northern Lights on Auto! Absolutely incredible! You should definitely consider bringing a good camera because the photography opportunities are unreal but know that I captured some of my favorite photos on my iPhone, weirdly enough!
You will also want to bring 2 international adapters, an external charger and your phone charger. The extreme cold weather did a number on my battery and it was dying at almost every stop. So I recommend bringing your external charger during day trips and charging when you are on the road.
I also highly recommend renting a portable Wifi device when you get to Iceland. It kept us connected pretty much the entire time, which meant we could navigate to our destinations, text, surf the web for spots to hit in each town and post videos and photos to our IG stories. We also took time to disconnect a bit to take in the beautiful surroundings but once we were back in the car, we looked forward to sharing our experiences with our family and friends.
What You Need To Bring Home:
I always love picking up local things for my husband, family, friends (oh and for myself too) while traveling so it’s always a good idea to leave a little room for souvenirs in your luggage. When in Iceland, I definitely recommend picking up an Icelandic wool sweater for yourself. But beware, some of the sweaters that they sell in the gift shops are only “designed” in Iceland and they are actually produced in China. I lucked out and found a wool shop on the side of the road when traveling from the Golden Circle to Vik. The sweaters were handmade on the farm where the wool was sheared. I even got to meet the designer who hand knitted my sweater, pretty incredible! I also picked up an angora hat with a big pom on it because I have been wanting one forever so it was a good opportunity for me to splurge on one! Gifts that are great for family and friends are the Icelandic Sea Salts, Brenavin Liquor, and skincare products. The kiddos will love the hatching puffins and the Tulip cartoon dolls. Everything in Iceland is EXPENSIVE, including souvenirs, food, drinks, gas, pretty much everything! So be sure to account for that when planning your souvenir budget!
I hope this post was helpful in planning your trip to Iceland! And if you were on the fence about going before, you should get off of it immediately and book your ticket! It was an experience of a lifetime that I will cherish forever.
I’ll be sharing more posts about what to do in Iceland soon, so be sure to check back when you start planning your itinerary!
This post was sponsored by Ricardo Beverly Hills but all thoughts and opinions are my own.