Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Culture

5 essential items to pack when travelling to Iceland

By Matt Eliason

  • Pack a Camera! With amazing scenery such as the Glacier Lagoon pictured above, you definetly need to bring a quality camera to capture the beautiful landscapes. Photo/James Woodend

1. A Warm, Waterproof Jacket.

Rainy Days Tourists must be prepared for the rainy conditions of Iceland. Photo/Vilhelm

Iceland is known for its unpredictable weather. Sometime things can change from sunny to pouring rain in a matter of 10 minutes. Thus, it is important you bring a warm, waterproof jacket on your visit to Iceland to shield yourself from the elements. Rain showers are usually a daily occurrence, so its best if you always throw your coat in the trunk if you plan on exploring the tourist destinations around Reykjavik, and it also doesn't hurt to pack an umbrella for all travel activities. 

That being said, if you forgot your winter jacket at home, no worries, Iceland has you covered. 66 North and Cintamani are two Icelandic clothing brands that know how to make a warm jacket. They have been shielding Icelanders from the elements for a number of years, so you can stop by the 66 North or Cintamani stores located in downtown Reykjavik.

2. High-Definition Camera

Adjust your lens accordingly The amazing terrain of Iceland's landscape offers some amazing photo-opps. Photo/Julian Tryba

Iceland offers some of the most scenic view in the entire world. You can take home some of these amazing views by capturing the footage on a nice hi-def camera for all your friends and family to enjoy. If you take an organized tour, be sure to ask if they provide tripod camera holders because most of them do offer this service. That way, you can be sure to capture the perfect stills for your family room picture frame.

As we approach the winter months most photographers are hoping to capture one of Iceland's most majestic features - the northern lights. If you need any tips you can consult the manual by Photographer Patrick J. Endres which helps explain the correct method to capture all the beauty of the glimmering green lights of the aurora borealis. In addition to the northern lights, you will find yourself snapping photos every couple of steps as Iceland's amazing landscape produces so many great photo opportunities.

3. European-Style Credit Card

Sample Credit Card It is important to order your bank's foreign credit card to avoid foreign fees while charging expenses in Iceland.

Apply for a European style credit card, which eliminates foreign fees to help you save a couple bucks on your trip to the Viking country. Most major US banks offer this card - I have one with Chase . Be sure to plan ahead and apply for the credit card at least 6 weeks in advance of your trip. Upon acceptance of your application you will receive a card which allows you to charge expenses in a foreign country without paying any foreign fees.

Additionally, using your credit card for all purchases makes it possible to avoid the currency exchange. And with the strength of the American dollar compared to the Icelandic Krona at the moment, there is no better time to use your new European style credit card, while utilizing your American checking account. Almost every business now takes electronic payment, so tourists are able to avoid the inconveniences of attempting to exchange money and learn the local currency by simply using their local banks credit card.

4. Sleeping Medicine, Melatonin

Midnight Sun Some nights the sun never sets during the Icelandic summer, making it tough to fall asleep for most travelers. Photo/Vilhelm

This tip is primarily for travelers coming during the summer months, but bringing Melatonin for sleeping aid is absolutely essential during Iceland's sun-filled summer nights. Because of the country's geographic location, summer days are usually filled with 21-22 hours of sunlight along with 2-3 hours of nighttime "dusk." In fact, for a couple weeks the sun never completely sets. And while this seems like a really "cool phenomenon" I can assure that the sleepless nights quickly get quite agitating. Most Icelander's have gotten use to the frequent sunlight, however, travelers often struggle to quickly adapt to the midnight sunlight that streams through the hotel windows all night.

Making the sleep deprivation more complicated is the fact that Iceland does not offer the sleeping aid, Melatonin, as an over-the-counter drug. Therefore, you must bring the popular sleeping drug from your country of origin or risk being left with no options upon your arrival to Iceland. Take it from a light sleeper, you must bring some sort of sleeping aide or your trip could turn into a nightmare - a nightmare in which you cannot get to sleep.

5. Iceland-Specific Electronic Plugs

Finding the right plug Don't let your phone die, be sure to purchase the correct plug-in adapter for your trip to Iceland.

As a naive American, I had no clue that my computer charger would not plug into the Icelandic outlets. Additionally, Iceland's plugs do not match England's outlets as well, so be sure to pick up your Icelandic-specific plugs at the Keflavik airport, or risk having all your electronics die an early death. Finding the correct plug-ins became much more difficult once I made it to downtown Reykjavik, and Amazon does not deliver to Iceland, so your options quickly become limited.

The Duty Free shop at the airport offers a variety pack of all of the most prevalent plug-in adapters with the different options for all the different European countries. I picked this up because for a reasonable price you can instantly check that box from a traveling prospective and you will never have to deal with the hassle of finding the correct method to charge your phone and computer.

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