This one time, my family and I decided it would be a great idea to go road tripping in Iceland. We booked a really cool house for the nine of us, two cars, a few nights in a hotel in Reykjavik and then planned to spend the rest of the days exploring the Iceland countryside.
The whole point of the trip was to see the Northern Lights, so we went in January.
What we didn’t quite realise was how tough a January is in Iceland. I wouldn’t say ‘don’t go’ then, but I would say you should take note of my tried and tested advice. Here goes…
1. Choose your car wisely
We had a 4Wd, SUV, with plenty of space. You’ll want to be able to move around in the car a bit to be able to see out the windows and take photos. You’ll also want enough space for all your winter gear. Don’t scrimp on the cash when it comes to Iceland car rental in January – you need a four-wheel drive with the right wheels for the weather. Remember to check the car over before you leave, paying special attention to the wheels.
2. Pack the car well
Make sure you have everything you need to survive the cold if you’re road tripping in January in Iceland. That includes water, some snacks, some good tunes, enough petrol and a working phone. Chuck in some blankets just in case, oh and a paper map is always a good idea. It could be a good idea to take an Icelandic phrase book too.
3. Keep an eye on the weather
Before we went my mum was all like, ‘ooo I hope it snows’ and was glued to the Met Office site. It snowed, it snowed real bad. At one point, when we were driving from Reykjavik to Grund where the house was, we had to turn back. Cars were coming the other way telling us to turn around and that we wouldn’t get through. It kind of felt like we’d reached the end of the world as the snowstorm was brewing, it was dark and the wind was howling. Loved it.
On one of the days we decided it would be a great idea to drive out to Vik, basically so I could get the photo above, but also to see the black beach. Not one of us clocked that the ‘black beach’ would be covered in snow. It was also a pretty treacherous journey when what had been a clear sky morning suddenly decided to cloud over and storm. Definitely should’ve looked at the weather before we left.
4. Stick to the main roads
It is not a good idea to go off roading in Iceland in January, or even to take any roads less travelled. Stick to the big main roads so you know they’ve been gritted.
5. Be careful when you step out the car
Twice, twice, I fell over as soon as I put any weight on my feet. The ground is icy and slippy, be careful. And wear proper shoes. It maybe a little thing to remember but a broken ankle or other injury could ruin your January trip to Iceland, and you definitely don’t want that.
We pulled over quite a bit in random places, to see horses like the one above.
Don’t try to fit too much in. We had all these plans but it ended up taking so long to get places as we had to drive slowly, that we just didn’t have time. All the more reason to go again, which I will do one day.