For Chris and I it’s becoming a trend, trading the scorching hot beach holidays for the more cooler of places, choosing adventure and the outdoors over cocktails at the poolside. Iceland has appeared on both of our bucket lists for as long as we can remember, dreaming of standing under a clear sky, wrapped up in numerous layers of thermal clothing , witnessing the Aurora Borealis in all of its colourful glory. And what better time to leave the drizzly ties of the UK in November, the month being at the height of Northern Light sightings and to explore a country unlike any other in Europe.
We never believed that a trip to Iceland would be so affordable and yet so easy to plan. With flights from London Gatwick to Reyjkavik priced at only £120 return each, we could not turn down such an opportunity. We turned to Air BnB for accommodation, seeking a private apartment in downtown Reykjavik,only ten minutes by car from the airport and close to the city centre. Priced at £60 a night, this stunning modern apartment with a hot tub, outstanding reviews and offering a ‘home away from home’ feel couldn’t be more fitting for our stay throughout the trip. The apartment also offers parking for our rental car, a must have when visiting Iceland, costing £60 for our 5 day stay with pick up and drop off at the airport itself. It couldn’t be more simple!
Packing for Iceland
Getting to Iceland is the easy part, however what to pack and what to wear proves more difficult. As we are both hiking virgins and seem to choose fashion over comfort, trading our Vans for hiking boots and double denim for double waterproofs, we had a lot of researching and purchasing to do! The number one item on my list was of course a comfortable pair of waterproof hiking boots. These are a necessity that you cannot scrimp on, unless you are buying second hand like we did. Trying on boots in hiking stores was a good place to start, sussing out brands that offer the best protection for the harsh icy terrain, weatherproof when caught in many a rain shower and of course comfortable and warm to prevent too many blisters. I was fortunate enough to find a second hand pair of Berghaus Explorer Trek Gore-Tex Walking Boots which retail at £130 for a mere £20 on eBay.
Secondly, a full set of waterproofs, as other bloggers have pointed out, are a must. Being caught ill-equipped in sporadic rain showers is a scenario we hope to avoid which is why we have gone the extra mile to arrive well prepared. I borrowed a Berghaus Delta Waterproof Jacket, which is a lightweight addition with roll away hood and hidden inner pockets. Futhermore, I acquired a pair of Peter Storm Waterproof Trousers in Blacks which totalled at £20 in the sale. Lightweight with numerous pockets, these trousers will easily slide over the top of leggings or jeans with gusseted ankle zips to keep the lower legs and feet dry.
Thermals & Fleeces
With a relatively small budget and minimal knowledge on thermal clothing, we opted for the cheaper option. Sports Direct offer Campri Thermal Tops at a discounted price of £8.25 with a further saving if two are bought together. The same being said for the Campri Thermal Leggings, the two sets are advertised as ski thermals which is reassuring given the below freezing temperatures we may face in potentially snowy conditions. A Mountain Warehouse Fleece was the final item to complete the near Arctic outfits, a lightweight and extremely warm addition with a 4.5 star rating online. Completed with thermal socks, a wooly hat and a thick scarf; I feel prepared to tackle this sub zero holiday head on!
Camera & Tripod
With the chance of witnessing the Northern Lights and being amongst the beautiful Icelandic scenery, a DSLR and tripod are next on the list. As Iceland will be like no other country I’ve ever visited before, I am planning on documenting as much as I can and utilising the long exposure settings to capture the Aurora Borealis in all of its glory (fingers crossed!)
A backpack is essential, waterproof if possible, to carry any essentials needed on a day trip. We will be packing cameras, snacks, vegan packed lunches and of course our waterproofs and spare clothes if the weather takes a turn for the worse!
These are a necessity not just for the hot tub at the apartment but for taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon! It may be ice cold on land, but taking a dip in the geothermal spa will keep our bodies warm for hours.
Now Iceland isn’t the most Vegan friendly place in Europe. With the main delicacies being smoked lamb, a yoghurt-type-cheese-type-thing called Skyr, a whole lot of fish and meat soup, I may find it a little difficult. As always ,being a well prepared Vegan is key for travelling abroad. An abundance of Nakd Bars, Dates, Peanut Butter and couscous or Puy Lentil sachets are on the ‘to buy’ list and sussing out Veg friendly restaurants before hand is always wise. To my surprise, the top budget restaurant in the ‘Top 10 Iceland’ guide by Eyewitness Travel is a vegetarian eatery specialising in gluten and sugar free delicacies! A must try!
All that is left to do now is print off the boarding passes, pack our suitcases and pop on our thermals: Iceland we are coming for you!