Over the past year, I like to think I've become somewhat of a packing guru. I've become a master at deciphering the difference between something I might need, will probably need, or will definitely need, and I rarely overpack. Before we left for Iceland, though, I was kind of stumped. Everything you read says something along the lines of, "prepare for the inevitable" or "if you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes." This kind of advice can lead a person directly toward what I was trying to avoid: luggage stuffed with four seasons' worth of options.
I was struggling. I reviewed the forecast every single day up until the day we left, and it always fell in that maybe warm/maybe cold category (somewhere between 45-55 degrees). Was the sun going to break through the clouds and make it feel like mid April, or would there be winds that made the real feel closer to 30? It was anybody's guess, except that, in this case, it was actually mine.
Fortunately, after spending a week on this tiny island country just south of the Arctic circle, I can now say we packed well. Actually, we nailed it, and considering we only brought a single piece of mid-sized Samsonite luggage for both of us, that's an accomplishment.
The luggage we've been carrying for most of the past year now is from Samsonite's ECO-Nu line, and we love it not only for its "performance" on travel days, but because it's made from 100% upcycled plastic bottles. It's lightweight, has four wheels, fits in the overhead compartment, has this nifty top zip "secret" pocket where we can stash our chargers, passports, and phones for easy access, and the zippers have put up with their fair share of overstuffing and still zip perfectly (why do so many other luggage zippers seem to work less well after just a few weeks?!). We've had a lot of people reach out to us in the recent and distant past asking how to incorporate more environmentally-friendly practices into their traveling (because traveling in and of itself isn't great for a person's carbon footprint). This is a small, but (we feel) significant way to take steps towards being a more planet-friendly traveller.
I read a quote recently that said, "Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value." I LOVE this quote, because it takes a really negative thing like plastic pollution and it spins it into a new, creativity-inducing light. What can we do with plastic? How can we make what's trash today, an asset tomorrow? I love that Samsonite is thinking along those same lines, and putting those thoughts into action, and I'm hopeful (confident, even) that the next ten years or so will see more and more consumer goods made from recycled plastic. So there, that's my shpeal. Back to packing!
So what did we bring, why did it work, and what would we reconsider bringing next time?
You know that when you go to Iceland, unlike a lot of other places, you're going there to be outside, in the wilderness. There might be a couple of museums, and the city of Reykjavik is definitely worth stopping in at, but all in all, it's an outdoors trip, so it's more about dressing for comfort (i.e. warmth) than style. Here's what we brought, each:
1 pair of hiking boots 1 windbreaker/raincoat/jacket 2 sweatshirts 2 pairs of leggings/ jeans 4 pairs of socks 1 long sleeve base layer 1 swimsuit 1 towel 1 hat 1 water bottle
Not a very long list, but again, in Iceland, you'll care more about living in your favorite comfy coat than wearing your way through a daily-alternating wardrobe. To be honest, I could probably have brought only one sweatshirt, and Porter could've gotten away with a single pair of jeans. Also, when you're camping or living in a camper, changing and digging through a bag is kind of an annoying activity, so you'll always be left wishing you brought less.
One thing I would definitely add next time, though, especially if you're going not quite in the peak of summer, is some kind of headlamp or lantern for at night. Polarized sunglasses are also a must once you drive through the ice-ridden far south (lots and lots of glare on the roads down there, people!) Also we brought a whole lot of snacks...like five pounds worth. Clif bars, Welch's fruit snacks (I LOVE them), pita chips....you name it, we brought it. We did a big Costco snack haul a few days before we left knowing that Iceland has a reputation for being (ridiculously) expensive, and also just wanting the camping comforts of our favorite brands of trail mix and snacks. We were very, very glad we did this and honestly probably spent less than 200 dollars (including gas) the entire time we were in Iceland because we packed and brought along most of what we would be cooking. Obviously, if you're looking to splurge a bit more while you travel, this isn't a super necessary step, but I do know a lot of kids our age head to Iceland in fear of the price tag that comes with it, and if you have access to a cook top in your camper it's an incredibly affordable option.
Sidenote: skip the umbrella. Icelanders (like Dubliners) will laugh at you. It is usually way too windy to keep an umbrella unbroken for more than a couple of minutes. A windbreaker with a hood is a much better option.
So there it is, our official Icelandic packing guide. Hope this was helpful and hope you've enjoyed learning more about renewable energy these past couple of weeks. On Wednesday we're going to be talking about the negatives of non-renewable energy over on our stories. Hope you'll tune in!
Anna Lisa & Porter
*Thank you to Samsonite for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts & opinions remain our own.