Last month we took a family trip to Disney World to celebrate Ollie's 2nd birthday. I grew up going to Disney, but Kyle and his family had never been. I was so excited to be there as they got to experience the Disney magic. And I have no words for how happy watching Oliver's face light up made me. He ran up to every character and showered them with hugs, kisses, high-fives and squeezes. This boy never stops amazing me with his giant heart and I am grateful that we were able to take him, and grateful for our sake that in three days of park-going, staying up late and no naps, he didn't even have an episode that I would classify as a "melt down."
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.
- Schedule a flight to coincide with bedtime or naptime.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- . 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Along the same lines, be flexible. Kid doesnt know there's an itinerary (try to
experience it through his or his eyes).
- 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.
- 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.
What are your best tips for traveling with kids?
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.
We quickly discovered that unless he was sleeping, Ollie was not into being in the carrier, so our hikes were pretty abbreviated.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just outside the hotel were a few traditional turf houses we explored and photographed in the morning.
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.
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.
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.
Next, we headed back down to Vik to walk on the black sand beach.
Here is that same church from another angle.
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!
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.
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.