No matter what you want to see and do in Iceland and what time of year you’re visiting, there are some basic things that will help you prepare for your trip.
One of the first considerations for any international adventure is always which power converter you’ll need. Iceland uses European-style C and F outlets; they’re the ones with the two rounded prongs. We travel with an all-in-one stacking converter that has worked on every trip except Australia, which uses the same outlets as China, New Zealand, and Fiji. We also brought extra European-pronged USB chargers for phones and camera batteries. They’re just $1.28 USD on eBay, so they’re great for kids to use, too!
A folding duffle bag came in very handy. We used ours to pack for day trips, stuffed our giant puffy coats into it while we were walking around overheated airports, and carried our boots in it once we’d returned to warmer weather. It could have also been used as a checked bag if we’d made any large purchases we wanted to bring home. The folding duffle we carry has a shoulder strap for easier carrying, is water- and tear-resistant, and zips into its own pouch that’s about the size of an iPad.
Dressing in layers is the easiest way to pack for Iceland and prepares you for frequently-changing weather conditions. You’ll definitely want a coat or jacket with a hood since strong wind and rain can come out of nowhere year-round. The winter temperature in Reykjavík averages around 27 degrees Fahrenheit in December, January, February, and March, and the summer temperatures top out at an average of 55 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August.
Many shops in Iceland participate in the country’s tax rebate program for visitors. Ask the first store you visit for a tax rebate folio, and save all of the receipts from your purchases at stores with the tax-free flags and banners. It may only be a few dollars, but it all adds up toward that next trip! You can mail them or submit them at the airport to be reimbursed for any sales tax you’ve paid. The desk is to the left of the departures entrance to the airport just past the self-serve flight check-in kiosks. There can be a long line at the single desk, though, so be prepared to wait.
Speaking of waiting, we arrived quite early at Keflavík International Airport for our return flight to the United States, so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch after we went through security. The signs said our terminal was a 20-minute walk from the food court, so we left with 30 minutes or so before our flight was scheduled to begin boarding. Then we hit the passport control security checkpoint. The line was about four times longer than what is pictured and wrapped down a long hallway and around a corner. Be sure to add enough time to the 20-minute walk noted on the signs in the main food court area if you’re headed to Terminal D for a flight.