If you’ve been around for awhile, you know that I’m a recovering over packer. I have never been great at packing a suitcase and my method of just throwing a bunch of shit in my bag and hoping for the best is not something that I’m particularly proud of! I’m a work in progress and have been getting better about this over the years, but for this trip given our baggage restrictions on WOW Air, I was determined to pack smart. After our trip to Alaska and my fantastic packing feat of using every item in my suitcase, I knew it was possible, I just needed to have a plan. Today I’m sharing how I packed for a week in Iceland in a carry-on!
How To Pack For Iceland In A Carry-On
For starters, your biggest items are going to be waterproof boots and multiple coats that you take. I knew those were my biggest obstacles, so I made sure to put those in first when flying from Hawaii. They took up one entire half of my carry-on bag! For reference, my hardside carry-on is the 21-inch Genius Pack 🙂 The key to making it all fit? Rolling! Also, make sure you’re stuffing your shoes with socks and underwear. On our flight from Baltimore to Reykjavik, I wore my boots and coat, so I had a bit more room in the bag.
In total I took:
1 pair of waterproof boots (Casey and I both wore these + loved them)
1 North Face insulated down coat (part of the Women’s Triclimate jacket)
1 North Face rain jacket shell (part of the Women’s Triclimate jacket)
4 long-sleeved tops
2 tank tops
2 pairs of workout shorts
1 pair of pajama pants and tshirt for sleeping
2 pairs of jeans
4 pairs of leggings
6 pairs of thick wool hiking socks
5 pairs of thick running socks
10 pairs of underwear
1 ear warmer
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of flip flops
What I ran out of first: Underwear. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I ran out of underwear on day 2 of Iceland. Between the multiple flights, our time in D.C., workouts and hikes, hot tub time – I just needed more underwear. Next time I’ll be packing more!
What I wish I would have left at home: my hair straightener. I didn’t use it once! The reason it got into my bag is because I’m spending a few weeks with my parents in Pennsylvania, but I didn’t use that thing once in Iceland. I also didn’t wear any of the short-sleeved tees or the jeans. It was much, much colder than I had anticipated and I wasn’t convinced the jeans would have kept me warm.
What I got the most use out of: the waterproof hiking pants and waterproof boots. These were staples and I wore them daily, typically with a pair of leggings underneath! If you are going to Iceland, they are absolutely non-negotiable and I wouldn’t have been able to adventure half as much without them. Let me set the record straight – plain leggings will not be warm enough if you plan on hiking or doing much outside. You will be freezing within minutes. This is also a good time to mention that a good ear warmer or hat is invaluable. The wind was so, so strong and bitterly cold most days. We spent 20 minutes outside the car one day looking at lighthouse and I made the idiotic mistake of not wearing my ear warmer and I had an almost instant headache from the cold.
I did laundry while we were there and that is how I was able to accomplish this. My clothes did get sweaty while we were in and out of the car, up and down mountains and out exploring, so being able to wash things half way through was crucial. I cannot say enough good things about these Tide Sink Packs or making sure you rent a house with a washing machine. Our friends also had some dryer sheets, so I put those in my coat each night and in my bag to keep things smelling pretty okay.
You can see in my photos that I have on nearly the same thing every day and that is because I did, at least in terms of outerwear. My daily look included a bra and underwear, a tank top, long sleeved shirt, leggings, waterproof pants, quarter-zip fleece or vest (some days I wore both), insulated coat and then waterproof coat, all worn with a pair of running socks, wool hiking socks and my waterproof boots. Being able to layer is KEY!
In addition to my rolling carry-on bag, I had my favorite backpack with my Nikon and two camera lenses, our drone, my computer and the book I’m reading. I also had a good bit of food in my backpack including peanut butter, granola bars, granola bites and beef jerky. The snacks were great for in the car and I was really satisfied that we thought ahead and packed them, especially given the cost of finding snack type items in-country.
For your convenience, you can easily shop the items I talked about specifically below 🙂