For those of us who are NYC based, Iceland is a quick and easy first trip to get your feet wet with international travel for the baby. IcelandAir is a great airline that flies out of JFK and Newark with direct flight to Iceland and connects to the rest of Europe. They offer a free stopover of up to 7 daysin Iceland, which makes it a great opportunity to see 2 different countries and break up the flights with baby. They also have fantastic rates! We flew from JFK to Keflevik- stayed 3 days- then flew to Copenhagen for 5 days – then back to Keflavik for a night and then back to JFK. W paid a total of $400 and baby was 10% at $40. Tho whole flying experience was fantastic we were always given 3 seats even though we only paid for 2. We were given a infant seat belt that attached to the parents seat belt. They have changing tables in the bathroom. It was a fabulous first flying experience with my baby.
When we arrived, we rented a car from the airport and drove to our hotel in Reykjavik which is about 45 minutes away from airport. Since it was too early to check in, we found a cafe for breakfast and we started seeing the differences in how babies and familes are treated right away. Everywhere we went had high chairs and changing tables and little toys for baby to play with. Everyone was very accomodating!
Here are my top 10 tips and must sees when traveling to Iceland with a child:
- Nurse feed the baby at takeoff and landing to equalize ear pressure. My baby didnt seem bothered or to notice the change in cabin pressure, but some may. Also bring extra of everything- baby food, clothes, diapers in case of delays.
- Fly with IcelandAir! They did not have the bassinet seat on their planes, but they had the infant seatbelt, they try to give you the whole row if you have a baby, you can gate check stroller and have it available for you as soon as you deplane.
- Rent a car! Reykjavik is a very walkable city but if you have a few days, you may want to explore more of the country side. There is street parking with meters you need to pay for during the day, but overnight is free. If you only plan to do a short layover in Reykjavik a car is not necessary, as airport shuttles are available.
- Dress warmly! We went in August and the weather was in the 50s/60s most day.
- Drive the Golden Circle. It will take about 5 hours but you make a bunch of stops along the way so you are never driving more than a half hour. That is great i fyou have a baby like ours that hates the car seat. You will see a national park, tumbling waterfalls, erupting geysers, and wild landscapes sprawling across 2 separate tectonic plates. Changing beautiful landscape will captivate you and baby through the whole trip.
- To see the Northern Lights, go during winter months. The sky was too bright in August to see it, but on my first trip to Iceland pre-baby, I saw them in March. The best times are between October and March, but its never guaranteed.
- Iceland is quite pricey so try to find a hotel that includes breakfast. it saved us money and allowed us to take our times getting out of the hotel based on tthe moods/needs of the baby.
- The Blue Lagoon- Our baby was too young at 5 months but kids over 2 can go. I visited there on a past trip and has a lovely time and would recommend if your child is old enough. Its a unique experience that both parents and kids will enjoy. There are other natural hot springs and pools that allow children over 6 months.
- Be prepared to see strollers, often times with babies in them, in front of cafes, salons, and stores. This was quite a shock as an American, but in all 3 Scandinavian countries we visited, we saw this practice. We also noticed everyone had the huge pram strollers with the bassinet, our little YoYo was so small comparatively!
- If you are planning to travel the country or have an overnight stopover on your way back home, consider staying near the airport. We stayed there on our final night and they had free airport pickup, free breakfast, free bus into Keflivik town and the hotel had its own car rental which was cheaper than what we could find online.
We loved Iceland and would recommend it. See my post on Copenhagen and Malmo for more Scandinavia Travel tips!