Iceland In Winter Packing List: Travelling With Hand Luggage

Is it possible to take a winter trip to Iceland with just hand luggage? Totally. Here’s how…

Back in January, I set off on a solo short break to Iceland, staying in the country’s capital, Reykjavik. I was determined to visit Iceland on a budget, proving that you don’t have to spend loads to experience what this amazing place has to offer. I didn’t want to have to pay extra for a checked bag, so made the decision to do a winter trip with just hand luggage.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

I took my trusty CabinZero backpack, with a smaller backpack that counted as my handbag/’personal item’ (which I wore on my front, like the trendsetter I am). Other than the essentials, my electrical bits, clothes and toiletries, I basically packed nothing else.

If you’re planning a winter trip to Iceland with just hand luggage, I’ve put together a handy packing list of what I’d recommend taking…

Iceland Winter Packing: Essentials & Electricals

I put most of these in my smaller backpack, to keep them handy and safe.

  • Passport & travel documents
  • Phone & camera charger
  • Portable charger: Mine’s an Anker.
  • EU travel adapter: This one is cool, as you can charge two things using one plug.
  • Camera & spare battery
  • Tripod: If you plan on trying to photograph the Northern Lights, you’ll need this!
  • Medication: If you have any regular meds, as well as some basics like paracetamol – it’s harder to buy in Iceland.

Faxi Waterfalls on a Golden Circle tour, Iceland

Iceland Winter Packing List: Clothes & Footwear 

The fact it was a winter trip actually made packing pretty easy. I didn’t need a wealth of cute tops, pretty dresses or shiny shoes, as the majority of the time I’d be bundled up in my winter jacket. 

  • Pants (obviously): x however many days you’re there for.
  • Wind-proof and waterproof jacket: I wore my purple North Face jacket on the plane, as it’s the item that would have taken up the most space in my backpack.
  • Warm fleece: I got one like this on eBay, the ‘microfleece’ ones are the best as they’re smaller.
  • Tops/trousers: Ones you can layer are perfect.
  • A nice outfit: In case you fancy an evening on the town (which will definitely consist of having two beers, then realising you’ve spent the entire trip’s budget…)
  • Boots with good grip: it got SUPER icy when I visited, so Doc Martens or sturdy hiking boots are a lifesaver – wear them on the plane to save space!
  • Thermals: It’s COLD out there. I wore mine (from M&S) on top of tights, and under the rest of my clothes. All about that layering life.
  • Thick socks: Both to keep your feet toasty and to stop your boots rubbing when you’re exploring the Golden Circle – go for wool mix ones like these.
  • Hat: You’ll 100% need it – anything like this will be fine.
  • Gloves: Another absolute necessity. My fingers would have frozen without a thermal pair.
  • Scarf: Again, warm. I wore my hat and scarf on the plane to save space.
  • Swimsuit: If you plan on visiting the Blue Lagoon.

Geysir on a Golden Circle tour, Iceland

Iceland Winter Packing: Toiletries 

I tried to keep it as simple as possible, only packing total necessities. I put all my liquids into a clear plastic travel pouch, and put it at the top of my bag to make security easy.

  • Microfibre towel: If you’re staying in a hostel where towels aren’t provided, a microfibre travel towel will roll up small in your bag and dry quickly.
  • Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash: Decant your usual toiletries into reusable mini bottles like these ones, which are all 100ml or less – perfect for security. Saves you money in the long term AND helps the environment.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Toothbrush holders are excellent for making sure your toothbrush doesn’t get all grim in your toiletries bag.
  • Makeup: I kept it basic, just taking the essential everyday products.
  • Hairbrush, hair ties: Self-explanatory…
  • Protective lipbalm and moisturiser: To protect your skin from the wind, cold and general elements of winter in Iceland.
  • Face SPF: Despite there being minimal actual daylight during the winter in Iceland, the sun can still get ya.

What are your top tips for hand luggage only travel?

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