Honeymoon: A White Winter In Iceland (Part 1/5: Preparation and Logistics)

Travelling to Iceland sounds like an almost impossible dream until the day I stepped foot on the country. Mr OOPS and I chose Iceland because its different, exclusive, full of nature and we wanted to catch the northern lights!We went to Iceland in mid February 2016 with our wildest imagination, with no idea what we are expecting.


If you are intending to travel to Iceland during winter (November to March), this series of blog posts will be helpful to prepare you for an Icelandic Winter. Besides giving you an idea about Iceland,  I will bring focus to the 2D1N Winter Ice Cave Tour by GoEcco! We booked this highly rated tour after reading about it at Tripadvisor. You can check out the Summer and Winter tours which they offer at GoEcco website.

Let's start with the budgeting:


Click to enlarge


  • The air tickets were sourced via Skyscanner, a portal that helps us to look for the cheapest and most viable air tickets. Super helpful because there are so many airlines operating nowadays.
  • We booked our accomodation from Agoda as we have accumulated travelling points from our previous hotel purchases. There aren't many big hotels in Iceland but there are plenty of guesthouses aka airbnb style. A good guesthouse option should have hot showers, heaters, breakfast inclusive, friendly hosts and accessible by airport transfer.  Check out more accomodation options in Iceland at Agoda website and get the best deals.
  • We missed our flight from London to Iceland due to train delays and ended up taking Easyjet airline instead of WOW air. It cost us 300 pounds per pax to get a last minute ticket. *ouch on our wallets!* Check out How We Plan Our Free And Easy Trip To London!

Self-drive will be so much cheaper, so why did we opt for a tour?


  1. We are not comfortable about driving in harsh winter conditions. We have zero experience when it comes to driving in snow. It is also tiring to drive that many hours down to Southern Iceland in a short period of time. On top of that, Iceland's weather is very unpredictable. You can have clear bright blue skies for a moment but you can also get foggy skies with pouring snow at the next moment.  
  2. We wanted to learn about the culture and stories of Iceland from a local. Our guide told us about her Icelandic life experiences from her multiple jobs. She also introduced her favourite snacks, shared stories about the myths and legends surrounding Iceland and taught us frequently used Icelandic words and phrases. We will never get to experience these if we self-drive.
  3. We wanted to just enjoy and relax. No frenzy about weather conditions, or be on alert about road closures, volcano eruptions or earthquakes. We do not need to spend money on crampons or helmets since these are already included in the costs. We just have to enjoy the sights and experiences while the tour guide and driver settle the rest for us.
  4. We wanted to see the ice cave and Northern lights. You don't need a tour to see Northern lights. But you definitely need a guide to enter an ice cave. The sad thing is we did not have the chance to enter an ice cave as it was flooded when we are there. 
  5. We heard about too many horrible driving stories. From our friends who went during winter, they experienced losing control of their cars on the icy roads, engine failed, windscreen cracked when hit by ice and poor (and zero) vision of the roads. We heard from our tour guide that there are also episodes whereby tourists drove off road and ended up hitting a rock beneath the thick snow or the car fell into cave openings which are blocked by thick snow. These horror stories are real, no doubt. We also met with bad snowstorm on one of the nights.
Zero vision experienced by our driver during the drive back to the city

What are some very important things you need to do/bring along for the trip?


1) A "Ba-Zhang" attire head to toe

  • Under Armour Base 4.0 Inner Wear
  • Columbia Omni Heat Reflective Thermal Down Jacket 
  • Columbia Bugaboot Winter Boots
  • Under Armour winter socks
  • Waterproof pants (super important!)
  • Long sleeved top
  • Gloves (used my old ski gloves)
  • Winter hat (that can cover the ears when required)
  • Heat packs to slot inside pockets
  • Sunglasses
Yes, no kidding, imagine yourself to be wrapped up tight and warm every single day because its freeeeezing out there. I am extremely afraid of the cold therefore I decided to invest in winter outdoor wear which are from reliable sources. Uniqlo heat tech extra warm series will not be enough. One last point: your shoes must be wind resistant, waterproof, suitable for hiking and can withstand cold weather in order to get through this 2D1N tour. You do not want your feet to feel wet, ever!

2) Cup noodles and instant food packs 

It's no secret. Food in iceland is not fantastic or memorable and its very expensive compared to Singapore. I remembered ordering just a turnip cream soup (no other ingredients inside) for SGD$18. It is also not easy to find food when you are on the roads so we usually just settle our meals at the gas stations. Thus our cup noodles supply and instant food packs became our life saviours.


3) Good cameras (or a GoPro camera)

To take good Northern lights photos, it is also important to get a camera with manual functions. I tried capturing the lights with GoPro and my handphone and I failed terribly. The scenery and view are amazing so if you did not bring a decent camera to capture those images, it would be such a pity! I will recommend bringing a GoPro with a camera grip because it is convenient and waterproof. This will prove helpful when you venture into the waterfalls or when it's snowing heavily.




4) Basic medicine

Our body's immune system may weaken and more susceptible to becoming sick due to the sudden change in temperature. Get your fever, flu, cough and diarrhoea medicine with you because you may not chance upon any pharmacy. I remember getting a slight fever on my 1st day. Thankful for my fever medicine!

5) Well-covered travel insurance

You are travelling to a country that has such volatile environmental changes. Therefore, the last thing you want to save on is your insurance policy. We purchased the TravelEasy Premier Family plan from MSIG. The plan includes cover such as Adventurous Activities Cover, Terrorism Cover, Passive War, Alternative Travel Due To Infectious Disease breakout, Repatriation services etc. Read: What TravelEasy covers. These issues may seem out-of-the-world but given the recent world events, we can't be sure about what is going to happen.

Honestly, I never thought I will need to claim anything from travel insurance but in this honeymoon, we met with a series of unfortunate events such as me being pick-pocketed in Amsterdam, us missing a flight in London and incurring additional travel expenses. Thankfully, this insurance helped us to recover at least one third of the losses. We also managed to get our compensation all within 3 weeks. I'm not sure if that's a norm but we find that really efficient!
Disclaimer: I don't sell this insurance.


6) Credit Card and some Euros

Credit card in Iceland is like the master card to all sorts of payments. You can use it in the gas stations, fast food joints, restaurants, supermarket and basically anywhere. Even for a purchase as little as SGD$2, you can use a credit card. Some places will accept payment in Euros. We find this helpful because we do not have to deal with leftover Icelandic currency.

7) Skincare and hair care products suitable for winter

I cannot stress how important this is! We may have our favourite skincare in Singapore. But in winter conditions, our skin dries up really fast. So an oil based, rather than water based, moisturizer will help you retain more moisture in your skin. We still need to apply our sunblock conscientiously because we can get sun-burn even during winter!!! Besides our face and body, I used Argan hair oil to keep my hair smooth and silky!

My survival kit!



How was our accomodation?


1) Eric The Red Guesthouse : GOOD
Besides clean rooms, warm heaters and centralised location near the Hallgrimskirkja Church,  this guesthouse has something extra and that's superb hospitality from the hosts. Edda gave us lots of helpful advice about our tour options. To congratulate us on our honeymoon, she also gave us some Icelandic chocolates. Breakfast is inclusive in this guesthouse. We are deeply in love with their beautiful breakfast room. Its unforgettable.

Breakfast room

Breakfast at Eric The Red
Toilet area
Room at Eric the Red


2) Hotel Adam : POOR
Hotel Adam was booked because it was cheap and near the Hallgrimskirkja Church. The room is small and compact and is relatively clean. The rooms are not soundproof because we can hear what the people in the other rooms are talking about. The only downside (which is enough to kill) is having to drag our (almost 30kg) luggages up to 3rd storey of the building because they do not have lifts. It's horrendous. Breakfast is not inclusive.



With all these logistics and preparation settled, you are now all ready to set off to Iceland with us!!! Next post will be up... very soon!


Comments

  1. Replies
    1. No problem at all! Do stay around for the new posts.. more amazing photos await!

      Delete
  2. Nice entry. Made me miss Iceland Alot. my husband and I also went to Iceland for our honeymoon in March. We did self drive though.

    It is very important to have proper footwear and be careful when walking on icy surface.

    I had an unfortunate fall and fractured my arm halfway into our trip.. So travel insurace is very important. Medical cost ain't cheap.we spent more than sgd4k on ambulance and treatment

    Fracturedmyhumerus.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sorry to hear that! I just read your blog about your experience. Ouch. I agree the part about proper footwear and crampons! The paths can get so icy and slippery that may cause bad injury. I remembering nearly getting into a bad fall when I was walking behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Hope you have fully recovered! >.<

      Delete
  3. Nice entry. Made me miss Iceland Alot. my husband and I also went to Iceland for our honeymoon in March. We did self drive though.

    It is very important to have proper footwear and be careful when walking on icy surface.

    I had an unfortunate fall and fractured my arm halfway into our trip.. So travel insurace is very important. Medical cost ain't cheap.we spent more than sgd4k on ambulance and treatment

    Fracturedmyhumerus.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. i really like to go to Iceland and see all the beautiful things.

    Iceland honeymoon packages from india

    ReplyDelete

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