Well, it took me a year to write this post. But better very very late than never, right? As Memorial Day approaches, the season of the tourist arises. This guide will walk you through 10 things I am SO glad I brought with me on my trip to Iceland and Ireland last Spring! Bon Voyage!
Personally, my Chinese birth year IS Year of the Tourist so…
Last year, my sister, mom and I visited Iceland and Ireland in late May to early June. While it was absolutely beautiful, it was above all MUCH COLDER than you would ever imagine. Especially if you are a fellow Virginian or Washingtonian or District-ite (copy write on that one). For us in the Mid-Atlantic region and in the South of the U.S. May and June are typically hot-ish months we spend outside by the pool or barbecue…not really months we associate with gigantic wool sweaters.
Enter: Ireland and Iceland.
GUYS IT IS SO MUCH COLDER! I had to pretty much pack for Iceland like it was still winter in the U.S and for much of Ireland my trusty wool sweater (purchased there on a particularly warm day) did not leave my side.
Before I leave on any trip, I meticulously plan out a perfect the capsule wardrobe. You’ll see how I repeat many of the same outfits. I’m not super Type A (especially for DC…yikes) but for this task I’m honestly SUCH a planner. I lay out everything on my bed and take pictures and then adjust several times until I have the perfect mix of clothing that is both functional and fashionable. I always like to match the aesthetic of the place I’m going. For Ireland, I packed a lot of green and navy blue with browns (loved how much of this complimented my coloring so well).
10 Things you absolutely cannot forget to pack when visiting Ireland and Iceland:
A huge cotton blanket scarf you can wear every single day:
This guy saved me booty from an extremely cold trip, was my pillow on long plane rides and car rides and basically was wrapped around me the whole trip as can be seen below. Make sure to pick a scarf that will go with every single one of your outfits and is big enough to be used as a blanket, but light enough to not take up very much room. By the way, I was asked MANY times if I got this scarf in Ireland (by Irish people). However, I picked it up at Forever21 for like $8, so this was not an investment item by any means! You can find a couple cute ones from Amazon here.
Boots with some sort of waterproof capacity for pastural Ireland…they don’t have to be expensive:
I basically brought my duck boots thinking I wouldn’t use them at all. I WAS SO WRONG! In Ireland you’re basically chilling on a lot of farms, especially if you’re going to stay at a lot of pastoral farm AirBnB’s like we did. This comes with mud, poop from the adorable animals and lots of squishy stuff in between. The duck boots were worn A TON! Also, while we were there we got 100% wool insoles for them and YO…definitely need! They were amazing. I picked up these “duck boots” for literally $11 at Rue21 one time on a whim in the suburbs. Budget picks can be found on Amazon (it’s off season) here.
A lightly padded vest to free your arms and keep you warm!:
This has two functions, first of all, when it’s about 60 degrees or so it can sometimes seem too hot to wear a coat and you just need one of these guys to keep your core warm. The second is that wearing a vest rather than a full bulky sweater is that it leaves your arms more free to move when they’re not squished into a coat. I wore it underneath my light-ish Zara coat (from ThredUp) and then wore the blanket scarf over everything on days when it seriously got FREEZING. Also, the green went with everything because you know…Ireland. I picked mine up from ThredUp, and here are a couple from that site in green, a neutral plaid, and a universally flattering Merlot.
While I’m a big fan of packing cubes, space bags saved my butt. Not going to my destination, but coming back when I had a full on huge wool sweater! These bags compress just by pushing down and rolling them, and don’t require you to use a vacuum. I’d 100% recommend them for any trip where you’ll be carrying winter-ish gear. I can’t remember exactly where I got my bags originally, but here are some on Amazon. If you’re interested in the packing cubes, you can find that here (full disclosure they’re not amazing quality…but they did the job).
A waterproof jacket with a thermal lining will be your best friend in Iceland:
It will rain…even if you are blessed, you will at least be near a waterfall at some point. There will be random precipitation. Plan accordingly with a packable waterproof jacket. 10/10 recommend for really all vacations…I’ve used my purple (not my first choice of color, tbh) Columbia one nearly every trip I’ve gone on. This is the jacket I have (and it has a thermal layer too, which you can see below was pretty imperative in Iceland).
A wool/very warm hat:
Especially if you’re visiting Iceland in the Spring months, this is a necessity. Trust me, girl. It gets cold AF out there by those waterfalls. This one will keep you warm in the early mornings, out and about and…tbh in the airplane.
Wool socks are a must:
These guys will save you from blisters and cold feet. Would highly recommend the kind hikers use: SmartWool for your adventures.
You really do have to bring sunscreen:
Wait…didn’t I just tell you that you’ll be cold AF and need like a million layers? Um yeah, I did. For some reason the weather changes in the blink of an eye…having sunscreen will save you from getting completely burned on a day that started out STORMING and then moved to a freaking garden walk (looking at you, Aran Islands, you beautiful mystery)! Slap some on at least your face every day and you should be good to go. This is one of my favorites from La Roche-Posay, because I do not mess around with sunscreen. Also, be careful out there…some of your fave sunscreens are having a really bad reaction in Hawaii!
A hair product that allows you to style your hair without blowdrying:
I loved this Bumble and Bumble “Don’t Blow It” sample SO much, and I know L’Oreal just came out with a similar product which I’d love to try. This saved me so much trouble in the morning. Also, I just embraced my natural Merida-style (or Hermione-style) hair for this trip. After all, it was returning to the country of it’s origin! There’s also a thick hair version (which personally, this thin-haired girl doesn’t need).
Your student ID:
I’m kinda a scammer and bring mine with me EVERYWHERE…because it doesn’t expire. I recall several times getting a student discount in Ireland just because I had my student ID and look the part (hola, mochilla!)
WOW Airlines has very demanding restrictions for what you can bring on the plane (though you can pay for a bigger bag if you wish). For this trip, I was confined to a carry on and a backpack. I picked up my beloved Hershel on Poshmark, and this very poor quality carry on via Amazon a few years ago (would recommend the Hershel, would 0/100 not recommend the Amazon carry on).
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about what I will be taking with me on my two week trip through Europe!
What do you bring with you when you travel? Are you a minimalist or a maximalist? Have you ever had to pay extra for a bag? Tell me in the comments below or DM me on Instagram!