Iceland: The Birth of an Idea and Packing ESSENTIALS

Step One Break Away from Normal

In 2016 my now husband, Chris, and I decided to forgo our typical family Thanksgiving events and head out on an adventure. That year we traveled to Red River Gorge in Kentucky, stayed above a shower house, and ate Thanksgiving dinner provided by a local pizza place.

To some, this probably sounds absolutely absurd. For us, it was one of the best Thanksgivings we have ever had.

This past Thanksgiving we decided to try it again.  In our household we do everything in neat Excel spreadsheets, so we made a sheet comprising a “short” list of destinations we wanted to go to. My portions of the list included countries where the temperature was warmer than Chicago, our hometown. Chris and my friend Chelsie both thought Iceland was much better. I was outvoted. 


Cost Effective Travels  

Getting There

I am all for travel but definitely not for a trip that breaks the bank. Once we decided to head out to Iceland, we put a flight watch using Google Flights for the dates we were going to go and then waited. Chris and I each spent ~$430 on round-trip tickets! We used Icelandair, and they were pretty legit. We did look into WOW air, but decided all the baggage fees would add up to virtually the same price.


As a side note, apparently, Icelandair has something called an Icelandic Stopover. This essentially is where you can extend your layover in Iceland for up to 7 days and then continue onto the rest of your trip. I wish we had known about that ahead of time.


It is definitely cheaper to camp in Iceland, BUT it legit was winter there and I hate being cold. To try and minimize costs, we decided to use Airbnb while we were there. Our total for three people was: $761. This roughly translates to $32 a day. Not Bad! If you want to know which Airbnbs we loved or need help finding one, please DM us on the Gazettour Instagram!


During the summer months, there are two cheaper options available. The first is using the bus transportation system that takes you along the Ring Road. And the second is to hitchhike, which is actually pretty popular. 


Winter in Iceland, gives you limited methods of transportation beyond renting a car. We used Guide to Iceland to help us rent transportation. Our 4X4 SUV was ~$400 for eight days. and we personally did not have any issues with the staff though we saw one group having a small meltdown. The rental company requested to have a credit card on file… something that the group did not have. Not sure what happened to them but hopefully it worked out!



Saving money in as many areas as possible while we were there was important to us. Using grocery stores and cooking all our meals made for saving money and eating well. We also limited our alcohol consumption (alcohol is CRAZY expensive in Iceland) and focused on the natural wonders that were free or cheap to the public. 


We did splurge on a few things though since travelling to Iceland in the winter again may never happen. We budgeted for the following guided adventures:  (1) snorkeling in Silfra, (2) Glacier Hike/ Ice climbing tour, and (3) Dog Sledding.


What to Pack

Traveling with just a carry-on, the following items were my ESSENTIALS for warmth:

  • Down Jacket
  • Patagonia Better Sweater
  • Rain Coat
  • Under Armour base layers
  • Mittens
  • Outdoor research thick gloves (needed for ice climbing)
  • Rain pants
  • Thermal Bottoms
  • A few pairs of thick legging
  • As many Smartwool socks that I could fit into my back
  • Winter hat
  • Buff (
  • Something nice to wear when we were not adventuring outside.


Iceland is both windy and cold. It feels like the wind never stops blowing, and our primary goal was to block the frigid breeze. We used rain jackets we had on hand at all times to help us with this. We used that same technique on our legs using rain gear to block the cold wind as well. Overall, I believe we packed pretty solidly and recommended this or any other clothing which is well suited as a wind block.

Time to Go!


 Guest Content: Jamie







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