Carry On Travel

In My Carry On | Iceland

September 9, 2015

I love packing. Most people dread it, but researching what’s needed for certain destinations and planning outfits gets me excited for the trip ahead. I also have a weakness for anything travel or trial sized, and have a giant box of travel toiletries at home that I pluck from for each trip. Still, packing for Iceland was tough. I wanted to bring a carry on. I hate checking bags, and carry on travel is, um, kind of the name of this blog. But Iceland requires outdoor gear like rain pants and boots, which take up so much space, in addition to normal clothes. Dilemmas. I piled everything I wanted to bring on the floor and tried to pack. In the end, to bring it all would have meant I had to bring the massive suitcase I moved to Rome with. As in, moved across the world for two years. There’s no way I should have been bringing the same amount of stuff for two weeks in Iceland. In the end, I downsized but still could have eliminated a few things.

Carrying some of my things into a guesthouse because I was tired of carrying a suitcase. Pack light so this isn't you!

Carrying some of my things into a guesthouse because I was tired of carrying a suitcase. Pack light so this isn’t you!

So, now that I know what you actually need to pack. Here it is. What you need (in a carry on!), for two weeks in Iceland.

  • A pair of jeans
  • Leggings -These super cheap, fleece-lined pair are my favorite.
  • Cozy sweaters – I really love this one – so warm!
  • Pajamas
  • One nicer shirt
  • Tank tops – Because layering is key! One day hiking I was sweating and stripped down to my tank top, and two hours later I was wrapped in a sweater and scarf.
  • T-Shirt
  • Rain Pants – Depending on the time of year, you might want to switch these out for snow pants, but in July these were pretty warm over leggings.
  • Boots – I like these because they’re hiking boots that aren’t hideous, so you don’t have to change to grab dinner.
  • Wool socks – I am obsessed with Smartwool. I wear this exact pair (well, multiples of it), almost every day in the winter in the Midwest.
    Wool socks and layers are essential

    Wool socks and layers are essential

  • Hat or headband – Confession: I did not bring this headband. But I made up for it by buying a homemade wool one in Iceland, which is also a great option if you can find one early on in your trip.
    I bought this headband in a small shop - so many beautiful wool products in Iceland.

    I bought this headband in a small shop – so many beautiful wool products in Iceland.

  • Gloves – These gloves got me through an icy Chicago winter, but I bought new gloves along with my headband in Iceland because they were too beautiful to pass up.
  • Scarf – This one is my favorite scarf I’ve ever owned.
  • Fleece jacket – I’ve had this North Face one for years and have worn it all over the world.
  • Waterproof warmer jacket
  • Sandals – For running from steaming hot springs back to the car without having to put shoes on wet feet in the cold.
  • Swimming Suit
  • Sunglasses – Especially in the summer with long-lasting daylight, you’ll need them.
  • Towel – Most guesthouses had towels, but you’ll want one for the hot springs. These quick-dry towels are awesome so you don’t end up with a moldy smelling bag, and they fold up to be pretty small.
  • Water bottle – The water in Iceland is amaaazing. You can drink straight from the waterfalls, so bring a water bottle and fill up on the purest tasting water you’ve ever had in your life. Seriously, when we got home we were all complaining about how bad our (even filtered) water tasted in comparison.

For this trip, I went with minimal makeup and lots of moisturizer


  • Sleep mask – The almost 24-hour daylight can really mess with your sleep. A mask can help,
  • Makeup remover wipes – I take them everywhere I go, and switch brands all the time.
  • Face wash – Cetaphil is one of my favorites for any climate, and CVS usually carries travel sizes.
  • Daytime face lotion – This one is really refreshing and makes you look all glowy and awake. ALWAYS follow up with sunscreen. I like this one because it’s easy to do touchups with throughout the day. If it’s too much lotion (I have pretty dry skin, so it’s never too much lotion), skip the first one, but never skip the sunscreen! (Can you tell I have a phobia of my pale skin getting sun damage?)
  • Nighttime face lotion – The crisp Icelandic air is refreshing, but can dry your skin out. Especially with all the wind. This lotion is a wonder worker at night.
  • Oil for night and day – Recently, I’ve started using oils before my moisturizer. I like a bunch of different kinds, but I usually pack argan oil because you can use it night or day and save room by only bringing one. (Some of the others are too heavy for daytime use).
  • Travel shampoo – Most guesthouses did not have shampoo, so make sure to pack your own! I usually double shampoo for body wash… :/ I also rely heavily on dry shampoo.
  • Aside from that, I brought the basics–toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hand lotion, contact solution, etc. I wasn’t too bothered with makeup on this trip. I brought the travel-sized Naked palette, a peachy blush, mascara, and Smith’s Rosebud Salve, which is stashed in every purse or carry on bag I own for lip, cuticle, and skin rescue.
  • Face and hand lotion  – (Iceland is so drying! Love this AHAVA kit though. Everything you need for a week or two, and it all smells amazing).

Have any questions about packing? Get in touch –

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