Carry-On Iceland Packing List for Summer | Women
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Packing for summer in Iceland is tricky. Iceland's summer is a bit unlike the rest of the world. The average temperature is around 10ºC (50ºF), but the temperature hasn't reached above 22ºC (71ºF) in Reykjavik in 10 years. You will likely experience all four seasons in a given day, and all types of precipitation throughout your trip. In late June, it rained all but one day, snowed and hailed. There were dangerous winds that closed whole regions of the country to travel by van. Yet, there are the rare days with completely clear skies and an intense sun that will never set. Being prepared for any and all weather can be difficult to fit in a small carry-on suitcase.
We spent 11 Days in Iceland but only planned for 6 outfits. Halfway through our trip (in Akureyri), we made sure to book an Airbnb with a washer and dryer. Iceland has absolutely no self-service laundromats. There used to be one in Reykjavik that closed down recently but might reopen in a different location. Therefore, your options are either to pack for the full amount of clothes you need, get an Airbnb with a washer/dryer, pay for someone to do your laundry, or do it by hand in the bathtub.
You want most of your outerwear to be both water and wind proof. Heavy wind and rain are daily occurences. While out exploring, you cannot just wait for more pleasant weather. You want to make the most of your time in Iceland, which means getting rained on. Additionally, several of the hikes or walks to the major sights you will do will involve crossing streams or wading through mud. A good pair of waterproof boots will keep your socks dry and your feet warm.
2 Heavy Sweatshirts
2 Light Pullovers
4 Long Sleeve Shirts
2 Pairs of Leggings
3 Pairs of Normal Socks
1 Set of Pajamas
The most important thing to know when dressing for Iceland: Layers, Layers, Layers! Bring clothes you can easily layer together. The morning might be freezing with intense rain and winter, warranting a heavy sweater under your jacket. However, by midday, the sun might come out of the clouds on a hike and you'll want to strip down to a T-shirt.
One day, I even needed to wear long underwear under my hiking pants. Additionally, if you plan to snorkel/dive silfra, long underwear is required under your drysuit (as well as 2 pairs of wool socks).
A swimsuit is also a must! Icelanders love to bathe. There is a pool (heated, of course) in every village. You also can't miss the famous Blue Lagoon.
Gear & Electronics
Laptop (Macbook Pro)
Drone (DJI Mavic Air)
Iceland is gorgeous. It would be a disservice to not capture it, whether that is by photography or videography. We brought a DSLR camera, a drone, a GoPro, and of course our phones. I also brought my laptop and SD card reader to transfer pictures and videos as we went. We took over 6,000 photos and video clips while we were there –– far more than would fit on memory cards.
We were out for 10-12 hours at least each day and needed a way to keep our electronics charged. We brought 2 portable batteries that charge our phones and airpods. We also brought a car power inverter that charged all of our bigger devices (drone, laptop, gopro). This was a lifesaver. If we had forgotten to charge something the night before or something died while out, we were able to fully charge it while driving.
For our GoPro, we use a floating hand grip. It is extremely useful for holding onto the GoPro while filming and also to use while swimming.
Passport & Travel Documents
To save money, we bought groceries and made food for practically all of our meals. We went to the grocery store every 3 days and kept groceries in a cooler bag in the car between each new Airbnb. All of our Airbnbs had a kitchen with a fridge, hot plates or microwave and all of the kitchen equipment you would need. For lunches, we had picnics at whatever sight we were at midday. Reusable bamboo utensils were needed to make our PB&Js. We also brought granola bars from home to eat for breakfast. Iceland had all the same granola bar brands we were used to, but at twice or three times the price.
Watch me Pack it all:
Get a good carry-on suitcase. Ours are only $45, a lot cheaper than most you can buy. They have withstood 6 international trips in the last year and still feel as good as new. In Iceland, you will likely need to repack every day at each new spot you visit. Get a suitcase that is easy to use and can withstand a beating.
While driving the Ring Road, you will likely be staying in a new place each night. Packing cubes are helpful to quickly find the clothing you need for the day. They also save a lot of space in your suitcase.
Another tip for saving room is to roll your clothes instead of folding them. Rolling clothes tight saves space and prevents wrinkles.