We’re heading to Iceland with our baby and toddler next month. We have heard about Iceland’s jaw-dropping scenery, rugged terrain, numerous wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities, and that it’s cold no matter when you go. We can’t wait to experience a new country, its culture, and unique environment. Well…when I say “we,” I really just mean Ryan and I. Johann, our 2-year old, knows that we’re going somewhere on an “airpeen” soon to “ike.” We mentioned that we will do some hiking when we get there, and he loves to hike. Arya, our 6-month old, doesn’t seem to care, but she’s generally up for anything.
We weren’t actually planning to go to Iceland this year. However, we had saved up for a trip somewhere. An acquaintance had shared pictures from their trip to Iceland, and when a recent search showed cheap flights from Seattle to Reykjavik we booked it. Everything else fell into place quickly. Now, we’re in the trip planning phase, which I personally find almost as exciting as the trip itself. I’m poring over maps, reading up on places to explore, things to see, do, eat and drink. I’m pretty excited.
We’ll spend ten days in Iceland and, rather than try to see it all, we want to explore just a couple of areas really well. We also want to make time and space for our little ones to nap, play, and to just be, well, little ones. We found a guesthouse at one destination and an apartment in the other that are more affordable, spacious, and a bit more homey than hotels. They both have either private or shared kitchens where we can cook our own meals – a huge bonus since food is expensive there. We booked a rental car for part of the trip and can’t wait to drive around seeing the countryside and tiny fishing villages at our own pace.
We’ll be there in May, when the average spring temperature will be the 40s and 50s (Fahrenheit). We’ve been told that the weather can change on a dime, which means being prepared. We normally travel light, and don’t want to have bulky bags so we’ll be layering up!
Our son has enough base layers and insulating layers. He recently started sporting this awesome waterproof coverall to get a little extra rewearing time on his clothes (we’re outside a lot, rain or shine). But we still need to scrounge up some layers for the baby. She won’t need much since she isn’t crawling yet (one reason we chose to go on this trip now). New parents – if you’re reading this, take note: there are many advantages to traveling with babies before they are mobile!
So how do we pack lightly for Iceland with a baby and a toddler?
In our travels over the past two years, Johann mainly rode around in the Ergo carrier. Now he walks, and the baby rides in the Ergo. We thought it wise to borrow a second Ergo from a friend for this trip. It packs down easily and we can use it if we need to hustle to catch a flight, or if we do a longer hike and Johann’s little legs get too tired. Other than the carriers, and a daypack that we use as our diaper bag, we’re playing around with what exactly we need to bring.
When we went to Spain, Johann was an eleven-month old baby, and Ryan and I got away with just taking backpacks! No stroller or suitcases or anything. Even when we went to Germany and India last summer, I thought we struck a great balance between what we brought, what we decided to leave home, and what we bought locally (diapers!). Now we’ve got two in diapers, and will need enough clothes to cover all of us for a seven-hour flight and at least three days. Cold/weatherproof clothing, accessories, and hiking boots are heavy and take up so much space. Yikes! That’s already a lot of stuff.
Is it even possible for two adults to backpack around Iceland with a baby and a toddler? I suppose anything is possible. But this sounds crazy even to me. Still…Ryan and I often reminisce fondly while looking at pictures of our backpacking trip through Spain. That was one of the best things we did as a (then) new family of three. It made the unknowns very real. We felt released from the fear and anxiety about international travel with a baby, and knew it was possible to travel light, too. Not easy, but certainly doable, rewarding, and memorable. It challenged us, convicted us, humbled us, and made us better parents. Now we’re deternities to do the same for our new family of four.
Stay with me over the next few weeks as we figure out how we’re going to do Iceland with a baby and toddler!
How do you decide what to bring and what to leave behind when packing for big trips?