I read a blog post somewhere that said not to try to drive the whole Ring road with babies or kids. I’m not a huge fan of advice like that. (Unless of course there is imminent, unavoidable danger.) If you want to do something- do it! You’ll move slower, sleep a heck of a lot less, but it will be so worth it.
Missed nap times, messed up routines and unfamiliar places weren’t exactly Josie’s idea of a fun time. But she’ll get to look back on photos of her on her dad’s back on top of a waterfall or by a bright blue glacier. We’ll get to tell her about how she slept right through the northern lights, and then she’ll probably beg us to take her to see them again, but next time she’ll stay awake. We’ll tell her about the time she had a massive blowout in a beautiful little fishing village on a fjord. And how nice the people at the gas station were when we asked to use their employee only bathroom to clean up. And then how she rode to the next hotel naked in just her snowsuit.
Out of the 20+ countries I’ve visited, Iceland by far has the most baby-friendly people. And Josie is the most social baby ever. She waved and smiled at almost everyone and nothing made her more excited than to have someone smile and wave back. She even chased a 14-month-old little boy down the hall at Hotel Rangá who wasn’t nearly as excited to see her as she was to see him.
What we’re SO glad we brought:
Stroller – We brought our all-terrain Bumbleride Indie stroller. It’s bigger than a travel stroller but so worth the haul. We were really glad we had it for the uneven stone streets, grassy hills and black sand beaches. It was insanely windy and Josie was happy to cozy up inside her stroller while we got to sight-see. I was surprised how well the sunshade cut out the wind and rain.
Baby Bjorn – Compact and easy to roll up and throw in a backpack. So great for hikes! A big storm rolled in and we were stuck in Vík for two days. High winds shut down the roads so there was no way we could have used the stroller those days. Bjorn wore her against his chest with her facing in like a newborn while we walked around the town.
Toys – We brought three of her toys with us. Her squeaky Sophie the Giraffe, a lion rattle, and a taggie squeaky square. I don’t usually bring toys when we go on little trips but it was nice to pull them out on the plane and for her to have in her car seat with her on long stretches of the Ring road.
Non Cotton Base Layers – Patagonia makes great base layers for babies. But Kickee pants bodysuits are my new favorite baby travel item. I wish I had packed a dozen of them. They’re footed so you don’t need socks, and the hands have cuffs to pull over if it’s a little chilly. Bamboo pajamas are the perfect non-cotton base layer for outdoor activities and double as a cute cozy travel outfit.
First aid kit – We don’t go anywhere without one. And some hippie homeopathic Chamomilla pellets that our local naturopathic doctor gave us.
Extra pacifiers – More than you think you need. Josie is particular about her pacifiers and I didn’t want to be in a foreign country without them. She loves an EcoPiggy natural rubber pacifier with a Madeline’s Box clip.
Car Seat – We could have gotten one through the car rental company, but that grossed me out. I didn’t know who had pooped or thrown up in it, chewed on the straps, or even how old or safe it was. So we brought our own and I’m glad we did.
Car Seat Bag – We got this WelTru one from Amazon and it’s perfect. It’s kind of expensive but it kept the car seat in perfect condition. It hooked on to my rolling carry-on which made it easy to tow from baggage claim to the car.
Hand sanitizer and wipes – I’ve become the biggest germaphobe since having a baby. I had Björn hold her while I wiped down every inch of our airplane seats with clorox disinfecting wipes. (And highchairs at restaurants.) These wipes from Thrive Market are great too, especially for wiping off her little hands when she touches something… anything, honestly.
What we didn’t need to bring:
Baby food – Almost every gas station sells Ella’s Kitchen organic baby food. Josie even recognized the packaging and squealed for them when she tried to grab them off the shelf. And we had so many good soups in Iceland. Soups and tiny bits of fresh fish were perfect for her to eat.
Crib – We brought our Nuna Sena Aire mini travel crib. I absolutely love it, but all the hotels and even the Airbnb we stayed at had cribs. Next trip we’ll travel lighter and either just put her in bed with us or use whatever crib the hotel has.
Cute dressy outfits – It was so cold and rainy, I ended up just leaving her in cozy base layers or pajamas. She had a snow suit or rain suit on most of the time anyways.
Diapers – Every gas station in Iceland is well stocked. We could have just bought diapers as we needed them.
“we were together, I forget the rest”
After 10 days of sleep deprivation and a jet lagged 11 month old, the individual days of the trip are a little fuzzy. I don’t remember where we were when she nuzzled her sleepy head on my chest to avoid the strong winds. I don’t remember where we were when Björn and I, probably out of road trip insanity, started happily screaming and repeating every squeak and coo she made back to her. I’m not totally sure where it was when I threw her up in the air out of excitement to see a glacier up close for the first time. I’ll always be grateful that I got to share that with her.
Traveling with a baby is so so different from exploring a foreign country single, with nothing but a backpack. But I think Björn and I handled the transition well and I would encourage anyone who loves traveling to go with their baby. Spoiler alert: it’s exhausting and far from relaxing. Every moment is slower and sweeter. It’s such a unique time and we made precious family memories that we’ll have forever.