Don’t over think it.
Iceland is the land of Fire and Ice and unpredictable weather.. The best thing you can do is study the weather a few weeks before you go. Get ahead of the rain or the storms. It’s as simple as googling these keywords “WEATHER ICELAND MARCH” etc. We went in January which is the winter which means wear warm clothes. There’s no mystery there… you’d do the same if you were visiting NYC or Chicago in the winter months, so pack accordingly. There was a storm that hit the country a few weeks before we arrived that shut the country down. Armed with this information and that there was a strong possibility of another occurrence I bought travel insurance.
Get Travel Insurance
I suggest travel insurance as a practice for travelers in general but it’s especially important when going to Iceland. I’ve read so many times where folks were disappointed because their excursions were cancelled, flights cancelled or hotel stays were jeopardized because of these cancellations. Know this.. it’s not the end of the world and better safe than sorry. Don’t risk your life or the life of others for a tour, it’s not worth it. Here’s a tip to navigate the process
A.- When booking tours/excursions ( most people book in advance anyway), ask the operator what is there policy for inclement weather such as a storm? Whats the refund policy for weather related emergencies that are out of your control? How soon can you expect a refund? What if I can’t make it the next day because I’m flying home that day? Get answers up front
B – The same with hotels find out what the policy is for cancellations that are due to weather? One would think that a fellow Icelander/ hotel owner would understand the nuances of the weather but I’ve read a fair amount of times where owners refused refunds.
C- Secure your bookings with a major Credit card therefore if need be you can dispute the charges through them.
D – If you booked with Airline miles ask the Travel insurance agent does the policy cover Redeposit fees. (most airlines even if they allow you cancel your booking charge a fee ( $200) or so reclaim your miles). Not all travel insurance policies include this option so be sure to ask. Here’s a snippet from the policy I used for my Iceland trip and a second week in Finland which was based on $5400 (the total amount spent for 2 people) ***WHAT I LOVE THE MOST is the 75% money back guarantee to cancel for ANYREASON ***
- Don’t Sweat it…
While it’s disappointing to fly over to Iceland ( for some its a once in a lifetime trip) and not get to see “EVERYTHING” you wanted.. don’t sweat it. Stuff happens! Enjoy what you were able to see. The Northern Lights are not predictable… there are so many factors that contribute to seeing them or not. The bad news is you might have missed them but the good news is you can always come back and try again. So often we get so laser focused on seeing that one thing that we lose sight on the great food, the amazing people and all the beautiful things we did see. Life isn’t over because you didn’t get to see the Lights, I’m sure it was still an amazing trip, celebrate that!
The Blue Lagoon is a big topic of discussion. To go or Not to go? My personal stance was this… I may or may not ever come back to Iceland so I’m going to go because it’s just one of those once in a lifetime things you kinda just have to do… and SURPRISE … it really was great and we had an awesome time. Don’t get caught up with all the mishmash.
A – Yes you MUST shower 1st before getting into the lagoon ( I suggest bringing a wash cloth and your own soap) although soap and conditioner is provided.
B – Just bathe already… who cares if you bathe with your swimsuit on or NOT? I promise NO ONE IS WALKING AROUND POLICING YOU! It’s strongly recommended to bathe fully nude for your sanitary protection and the protection of others because unlike the States where all public pools and hot tubs are loaded with Chlorine and chemicals.. the Lagoon isn’t. Think of this way.. if you know you aren’t fresh and aren’t willing to get “freshened up” what if everybody did this? The water would be disgusting and gross, so before having a raging fit or debate over getting clean think about how you’d honestly feel splashing around in someone else’s funk who felt the same as you or didn’t bathe prior.
C – Towels are provided AFTER you are done playing in the lagoon. They aren’t provided prior so as a tip… bring your own so you can dry off after your initial shower.
D – Opinion: don’t waste your money on upgrading for a robe and slippers… just bring your own.
E – Yes, the Blue lagoon is “expensive” but heck so was the price of getting to Iceland so just factor another $100 in and enjoy already!
Another MILLION DOLLAR question is about driving in Iceland. Listen, whether it’s windy, rainy, snowing or sunny.. DRIVE.. Take your time and just do it. The law requires all tires to be studded in the winter which helps with skidding and sliding. OPINION: the best way to see a country is to self explore. Oh, the many wonderful things you’ll see along the way is amazing. While it might seem “scary” for the budget conscious is it really that affordable to pay high prices for organized tours that whisk you away within minutes of arrival so that you can keep a premade schedule? Yes the car rental process can be overwhelming with all the insurance and do’s and don’ts but I’m so glad we didn’t give into the opinions and fears of others a rented the car. Again, take your time… if you don’t get to see “everything” on your well thought out list It’s OKAY! Pad your vacation with a few “off days”… you can use those days to circle back if need be.
- Just insure the darn thing (Understanding insurance options)
Speaking of rental cars and the “mystic” about the process. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Just get the max insurance and call it. It’s one of those it is what it is things. Unlike in the states where something minor like a chipped windshield isn’t the end of the world.. In Iceland without insurance protection that “minor crack” could cost you upwards $500 out of pocket and trust me YOU’RE GONNA PAY IT! or even worse the wind blowing your door backwards.. I’ve read where people had to pay $2000 for this happening. While none of the insurance protections cover this incident there’s a really simple easy FIX… Park in the direction of the wind so that it’s hard for you to open the door versus the direction of the wind where when you open the door the wind takes over and blows it open. You see somethings you can control and minimize damage.. but there’s nothing like peace of mind.. even if the coverage is expensive and will just about double the cost of the rental. Just do it!
- Everyone has an opinion
Use common sense. If you think you need to buy crampons buy them. Get that coat, buy those boots get that insurance. Not everything is for everybody. What words for some may not work for others. Do what feels and seems right for you and your situation. Do you really need waterproof vs water resistant shoes depends on what you plan to do. If you think you’ll be splashing around in water at the waterfalls get “waterproof”. There is a difference.
- Sharing is caring
If you’re on a budget or a light eater this tip is for you. I noticed fairly quickly that food portions are pretty generous. We quickly decided that we would share plates and if we weren’t full we would just order more food. ( we never had to). Oh, and did I mention the food was delicious!
Did you find these tips and hints useful? Share your experience in the comments we love hearing from you! Be sure to subscribe and follow us on Instagram @randmlyrasheeda