Traveling to Iceland with a Toddler

I shared everything we did in Iceland, but I wanted to share a few tips about traveling to Iceland and specifically traveling to Iceland with a toddler.  All in all, I would say it's a great place for a toddler if your kid can handle the car.  My husband helped out to come up with 10 tips we learned this time around.  

Reykjavik with a toddler
  1.  Schedule a flight to coincide with bedtime or naptime.  
  2. Load up the iPad. We are pretty middle of the road when it comes to watching videos on devices, we try not to use it too much, but when you’re on the plane or on a road trip, you just might need it to get you all through.
  3. Keep a change of clothes at the ready at all times. I know this is parent 101, but something we rarely do. We an incident on both the inbound and the outbound flight and definitely needed them.
  4. A place like Iceland, you definitely need a baby carrier. He can’t hike on cliffs or be pushed in a stroller around a waterfall. Be sure he is comfortable in the carrier. The last time we used the carrier before this trip was several months ago, and he was not into it.
  5. . Pack snacks. My kid is only picky sometimes, and I never know when it’s going to strike.  Somehow he seems to know the American Ritz from the Icelandic Ritz and was basically on a hunger strike most of the trip. I wish we had packed a few more things that I was 100% confident he would eat.
  6. I like this one from Kyle - Don't let comments from others psyche you out, "oh wow you're brave" -- they usually mean well but dont know what to say when you say you're traveling with a toddler.
  7. Budget your time realistically knowing a kid slows you down.  It's usually safe to plan one thing before nap time and one thing after, but more than that, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  
  8. Along the same lines, be flexible. Kid doesnt know there's an itinerary (try to
    experience it through his or his eyes).
  9. Pay a little extra to stay close to where the action is.  It will make your life easier when you have to run back for naps or any other number of reasons. 
  10.  Less is more.  Hotels have cribs/pack'n'plays, car rental places have carseats, stores have diapers.  There is no need to lug those things half way around the world.    
Reykjavik with a toddler
Iceland with a toddler
Iceland with a Toddler
Iceland with a Toddler

What are your best tips for traveling with kids?

Travel Diary // Iceland Tour

Did you see yesterday's post?  I talked about and shared all the details about our time in Reykjavik.  Today I'm going to jump right in and talk about the rest of our time exploring the country.  On our third day, we headed out on the Golden Circle Tour.  We just made the stops on our own, but if you choose not to rent a car, they have many many bus tours to take you around this day trip of Southern Iceland.  Either way, your first stop will probably be Thingviller National Park.  It's about 45 minutes from Reykjavik and is a very pretty place with hiking and a scenic overlook.  

Iceland with a toddler
Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

We quickly discovered that unless he was sleeping, Ollie was not into being in the carrier, so our hikes were pretty abbreviated.  

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Don't be afraid to pull off along the way.  The whole country is stunning and the terrain seems to be constantly changing.  It's nice to stop where there aren't dozens of people with selfie sticks and take a few peaceful snaps.  

Iceland with a baby
Iceland with a baby

The next stop is Geysir.  It's maybe another 30 minutes from Thingviller National Park.  Geysir is the half way point for the Golden Circle Tour, so there is a nice little spot for lunch and a lot of people taking a break.  Here we kept it to the stroller and didn't load the baby into the carrier.  There are bubbling, sulfur-stinking hot springs right off the road.  I have to be honest, I wasn't too impressed with this stop.  Then Kyle spouted off some information he read somewhere that the geyser only goes off after Earth quakes and I was ready to move on, and not a minute later steaming hot water exploded into the air! 

Geysir, Iceland

We stopped for lunch in a town called Selfoss, which is where we turned left and got off the Golden Circle to head down to the southern tip of Iceland.  Our next and last stop of the day was Saljalandsfoss, a series of three, one huge, water falls.

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Oliver was over it at this point and took a seat in the middle of the path.  We did make it on a little hike around the back of the waterfall with only a few tears. 

Iceland with a baby
Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Iceland

We drove down to Vik, the southern most point of Iceland and thought we would grab dinner there, about 25 minutes from our hotel.  Ollie was sound a sleep, so we popped into the grocery store and headed back to our hotel, but not before we snapped a few pics of this famous church overlooking the town, the black sand beach and the sea.  

Vik, Iceland

This was our lovely hotel for the night, Drangshlid Guesthouse.  We were greeted by two friendly dogs, (one even played soccer!) and a host to show us to our room, which looked out into a field of sheep.  

Guesthouse Drangshlid

Just outside the hotel were a few traditional turf houses we explored and photographed in the morning.   

Skogafoss, Iceland

Next we headed out to see a stunning waterfall, Skogafoss.  It was just a two minute drive from our hotel and we walked up to see people camping at the foot of this waterfall.  It seemed pretty magical!  You can't see it in any of these photos, but there are stairs, just to the right, out of sight in this photo, you use to climb to the top.  

Skogafoss, Iceland
Skogafoss, Iceland

In my opinion, the magic part was up at the top.  These rolling hills, with a river, cliffs and sheep!  This was my favorite stop and the place I wish Oliver was a little more cooperative in the carrier.  We only had a brief hike before we headed back down.  

Skogafoss, Iceland
Skogafoss, Iceland

In this distance of this photo you can see a glacier.  While we weren't equipped to do a glacier walk, we drove down this empty road to the base to check it out.  

Iceland open road

Next, we headed back down to Vik to walk on the black sand beach.  

Vik, Iceland

Here is that same church from another angle.  

Vik, Iceland
Vik, Iceland

Vik was our turnaround point and we headed back toward our hotel for the night, near the airport in Keflavik.  On the return trip it felt like we were driving on another planet.  There are miles and miles of green rock, volcanic rock is covered in moss.  It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before, and when you step on it, it's soft!

Iceland

After checking in to our hotel we headed out to the Blue Lagoon, a magical geothermal pool that glows a beautiful aqua blue color and is surrounded by volcanic rock.  Oliver loved it here!  He had the best time splashing and swimming around.  We swam for about an hour and ended up grabbing dinner in the cafe.  The Blue Lagoon, was actually the only thing we booked in advance and it was highly recommended that we do so, as it can sell out.  In fact when I booked, a few weeks a head of time, many time slots were already filled.  

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon, Iceland

And that's it, we left for the airport early the next morning.  It was a wonderful, quick and adventurous trip!  I have lots of tips and tidbits I want to share with you about traveling Iceland and specifically traveling Iceland with a baby, so check back tomorrow.  

Travel Diary // Reykjavik, Iceland

If you follow along on Instagram, you know a couple weeks ago we traveled to Iceland.  In the next few days I’m going to share loads of photos and tips from the trip right here!

First I’ll start with the question, “why Iceland?”  We’ve heard it a lot.  If you’re a big traveler, you probably already know why this is a great place to go.  It’s beautiful, duh.  But there are a number of reasons why our family choose to travel to Iceland.  First, we know that soon our travel will probably be pretty kid centric, so seeing something that might be “boring” to a five -year-old was great for an 18 month old who was endless entertained by the sheep, horses, cows and even the birds.  Second, Oliver can still fly for free as a lap child, so we knew we wanted to go some place that was a little further, but still a reasonable flight time.  Last, we were on a tighter budget, which is one reason why we kept the length on the shorter side (four and a half days), and the flight prices are reasonable.  Though we learned everything else is quite expensive, but more on that later. 

Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland

We took an overnight flight from JKF and arrived in Reykjavik on Wednesday morning at 7am.  We had a little confusion with the car rental situation in the airport.  We rented from Lagoon Car Rental, which was a good price, and I might describe it as a great price when compared with the other options.  Lagoon does not have a kiosk in the airport, so the guy comes in and holds up the little board with your name on it.  We made the mistake of getting a coffee, which took about 25 minutes, and missed our pick-up all together.  We waited around for a bit, then called and they quickly came back to get us. 

By the time we made it to our hotel, Kerno Apartments, it was around 10, but couldn’t check in until 11:30, so we drove over to the city center, maybe a half mile and found a coffee shop to have breakfast.  After breakfast we headed back to the room to rest and freshen up from our travels. 

Reykjavik
Reykjavik with a baby
Reykjavik, Iceland

We all napped for a little, then went back out to the city center to explore.  There were tons of souvenir shops and touristy restaurants, and we walked down to the harbor and around some charming residential areas.  Kyle toted Ollie around while he napped.  We had a late lunch, then headed back to the hotel to rest and never made it back out to dinner as we intended.  Normally on our trips to Europe we would power through, but with the addition of a baby, it made the first day less productive.  

Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland

Our second and last day in Reykjavik, we didn’t have a great plan, because we thought we’d seen pretty much all there was to see.  So we decided to explore an open air museum a few miles outside the city.  Arbaer was once a farm, and now has a restored collection of traditional Icelandic homes and buildings.  We happened to go on the first day of the “off-season,” so we arrived about two hours before tours started, but the grounds were open to explore.  I snapped a lot of pictures here.  The charming buildings captivated me and Oliver loved the animals.  I would definitely recommend this museum, if you are spending more than a day or two in Reykjavik.  

Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland

After the museum, we headed up to the explore the closest town north, Akranes.  The drive went along the water and was beautiful!  There was not much in Akranes, besides two restaurant options for lunch, which is what we did.  After our meal we headed back, but first pulled over to visit some horses.  There are horses EVERYWHERE in Iceland!  They all seem to come right up to you, as these ones did.  Oliver was a little tepid, but did eventually get brave enough to pet.

Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland
horses in Iceland
family trip to Iceland
horses in Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland

We returned to the city and stopped at the , a big, beautiful church in the middle of the city.  The church was pretty and very different from other European churches that we have visited.  It is minimal and even a little cold, except for the grand organ pipes.  But outside the church, we discovered there was a whole other little neighborhood of shops and restaurants that we hadn’t seen.  We shopped around a little, and ended up coming back for dinner.  But I definitely wish we had discovered this area on the first day.  It was still touristy, but not as manufactured as the other area.  

Reykjavik, Iceland

We explored this area a little further and grabbed some dinner before heading back to rest up for our drive around the country.  Can't wait to share more on that tomorrow!