How to Pack For a Hand Luggage Only Trip to Iceland

Wearing winter clothes in snow in Iceland

The clue is in the name, but my word, Iceland is cold. While I watched my Instagram feed fill up with other people’s winter sun trips, I headed to a place with highs of -7 degrees to try and spot the Northern Lights and try not to freeze to death. When packing for Iceland, it’s all well to take huge coats and scarves, but if you got a bargain flight and are travelling hand luggage only like I was, then you have to think strategically.

Here’s what you need to pack for a hand luggage only trip to Iceland in winter:


Hoodie – Salomon* / Thermal leggings – Uniqlo / Bobble hat – New Look / Wool socks – Zalando / Boots – Ugg / Oversized scarf – ASOS / Thermal gloves – Uniqlo / Thermal top – Uniqlo

1) You don’t have to take the biggest coat you own

If you are travelling in a big coat, the wafer thin Drifter Hoodie from Salomon is great as an additional coat that rolls up super small in your suitcase. It’s reversible (the one I’m wearing in the top photo is the same as the one in the collage, just turned inside out), and the sleeves and hood hug you so you’re toasty warm and not a single drop of wind will cut through your bones.

2) Just give in and buy thermals

In fact, thin layers are absolutely your friend for warmth and stress-free packing, and Uniqlo’s heattech range is an obvious choice but a total favourite. I wore a thermal top and legging under standard jeans and jumpers to make sure I didn’t get too cold but I also wasn’t overloaded with layers I couldn’t move in.

3) Protect those pinkies

The heattech range also goes into accessories as well, and the gloves are a bloody revelation. These ones mean you can still use your phone (I’m not even going to pretend like that doesn’t appeal) and they’re not particularly bulky either. I highly recommend picking up some hand heat warmers in Boots in the airport once you’re through security, otherwise, the liquid in them means you’ll have to put them in your tiny plastic bag with the rest of your cosmetics.

4) And warm feet = a happy traveller

Speaking of extremities, I was so scared of having cold feet, so I bought a few pairs of proper wool socks before flying out to Reykjavik and they were amazing. You can find them in TK Maxx for a snip of the price you’ll find online too, and believe me, the difference to regular cotton socks in such cold temperatures is so worth the effort.

5) Don’t judge me. Uggs are amazing

I also lived in my fleece-lined waterproof Ugg boots. Normally you wouldn’t get me anywhere near a pair of these, but this isn’t the ankle-folding, puddle-drenched, Coke-cans-in-your-hair-before-a-night-out sort of Uggs. These are hardwearing, super comfy and ain’t nobody slipping on ice in those bad boys.

Throw on an oversized scarf and a bobble hat (good lord, do NOT forget your hat) and you are set. Iceland is beautiful but the wind can be harsh, and as soon as the sun goes down, which in winter is basically the whole time, it gets bitterly cold. Don’t waste your money on extra luggage, just invest in a couple of well insulated pieces and thin layers, and you’ll be as toasty as a slice of Warburtons on a Sunday morning.


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