KeeKee's Big Adventures Family Travel Podcast
KeeKee's Big Adventures Family Travel Podcast
Family Iceland Vacation with Travel Mom Amy

We’re off on a Family Iceland Vacation with Travel Mom Amy in this episode from Reykavik to the Golden Circle to Vik.

For more family vacation ideas, check out all the podcast episodes. Adventure Awaits!

Family Iceland Vacation

Tell Us About Yourself.

I am a researcher and consultant. My specialty is doing research with kids and families. So, I spend much of my life thinking about what makes a great kid and family experience.

I have two boys, 11-year-old Elliot and an almost 15-year-old Owen. One thing I learned is that kids love a great experience, and it’s good for everybody. So, I do a lot of Mom & boy adventures.

Tell Us About Your Iceland Vacation.

We had planned our Iceland Vacation for the spring break of COVID then finally made it happen at the end of July 2022.

We went for nine days, and we decided to go a smaller route than what many people try to cover in nine days. We’ve learned the way we like to travel is we like to go to places, but we also like to do a lot of adventurous things. So we went to Reykjavik, we did the Golden Circle, and then we went to the South Coast.

There are only 300,000 people in the entire country and 75% live in Reykjavik. So in some of these towns, hardly anyone lives there, and they were excited to just be interacting with other interesting people. We could have stayed longer. It was a fantastic trip.

Getting to Iceland & the Weather

We had an easy flight from Newark, NJ, to Iceland into Reykjavik. For us, it was faster than going to the west coast of the U.S.

We had been told that no matter what time of year you go, bring your winter coats. So, we packed them. We like to travel light, but we could not do it on this trip because we had hiking boots, winter coats, fleece, and rain gear. We packed almost like a winter vacation, and I was glad we did.

We lucked out with the weather. We got to see the extremes…some very rare sunny skies and some sleeting rain that felt like snow.

Family Iceland Vacation

Family Iceland Vacation

Iceland Vacation: Reykjavik

We weren’t sure how much there would be to do and see in Reykjavik but there are a lot of amazing things to do even with kids. We booked an event every day, and I think that was a helpful way to see the city because we could walk, we could see some sites, it’s such a walkable, easy city.

I was worried that much of that city is around great eating. We had very low expectations of the food going in. We didn’t know what Icelandic food would be like, except for some good yogurt and some lamb, and we were surprised by how great the restaurants were.

We stayed in this great location where we could see almost all the major sites. So we explored and wandered. Then we did a food walking tour, and it was one of the boy’s favorite things about the trip. It was one of my favorite things too. We had a great local guide. The boys tried things that they never would’ve tried. We got the history of the place, and we also got a lot of the cultural truths about Iceland through our guide while we were going from place-to-place eating.

Reykjavik it’s not necessarily the best place for whale watching in Iceland for it. But we tried it and went out on a rib boat. And we saw whales right underneath our boat and two dolphins, probably within 25 feet of the boat. It was incredible. And we saw puffins that look like little cartoon characters. There’s not a lot of wildlife in Iceland, and this was incredible.

The other thing we did, actually that might have been my favorite thing was we went inside a volcano. You hike about two and a half miles one way to a little hut. They make you some hot chocolate, then you prepare to climb vertically up this little volcano, and then you go down on a little lift into the volcano. And when you get off the lift again, it’s just rocks and spectacular scenery and very dim lighting. You’re just wandering around inside this volcano. And then you come up, they make you soup in the little hut, and then you walk back.

Family Iceland Vacation

Family Iceland Vacation

Getting Around Iceland

We rented a car while still in Reykjavik and drove about an hour away to visit the volcano. So, we tested the car on that drive, and it was a fantastic experience. Then we drove through the Golden Circle and the rest of the trip.

I was very nervous about that because I’m an adult by myself with two kids that can’t drive. But everything was super easy. The signage was very clear and in English. They drive on the right side of the road, so there wasn’t an adjustment to get used to. Every road you’re on is the main tourist thoroughfare, but it’s not crowded. And on either side are fields and mountains and beautiful things to look at.

Iceland Vacation: The Golden Circle

This is the main loop and tourist drive. It’s a long drive that we split up into two, and we did a semi-circle. We did most of the major sites in one day. And then stayed overnight in Geysir. Sometimes people go out to the Golden Circle for the day and then go back to Reykjavik.

There are a lot of waterfalls in Iceland. My sons are big Marvel fans, and a lot of them make appearances in Thor and Marvel movies. That was cool for them. But even with these spectacular waterfalls, we were careful to ensure we didn’t make it all about that. Each of them has different characteristics and different kinds of hikes.

We have a few things on our bucket list for our next trip. One of the things you can do if your kids are 12 or older is snorkel between the tectonic plates. We went over and just looked and saw people snorkeling. It’s very, very cold. But it looks amazing. So, we have put that on our list for the next trip when Elliot is old enough to do it.

We also did whitewater rafting which was a favorite experience of the boys. And they have a geyser area where we stayed the night.

Iceland Vacation

Iceland Vacation

Iceland Vacation: The South Coast

We went to Vic, a little tiny town, like an adventurous little beach town. That was where we did a lot of our outdoor activities. It’s near some glaciers. So, we hiked the glacier.

Katla is a volcano right near there. And the story you hear from everyone is that it’s about 80 years overdue for erupting. All the locals tell you that if it erupts, we all go up to this very picturesque church because that’s the highest place in town. Good to know.

We did zip lining. There are the black sand beaches which Iceland is famous for. And they’re just stunning. We did some horseback riding on the beaches, and we did ATV riding on another beach.

Iceland Vacation

Iceland Vacation

How did you find your guides & tours?

We have worked with Susan, our trusted advisor, for several years. I love planning travel, so I didn’t think working with a guide was something I needed, but when we went to Panama a few years ago, and I didn’t know Panama at all she helped us create an amazing route.

And since then, we’ve gone to places either that I’ve been to before or a place that I was really interested in researching. So, we have a good rapport back and forth where she creates the trip. And then I’m also doing research the whole time, feeding some ideas.

We usually say this is the kind of thing we’ve seen people do in Iceland. This is what we’re interested in. She knows us now. She knows my boys and what they like and what they gravitate towards. She’ll plan it. And then locate guides that are particularly good for kids and families.

Most of the things that we did were standard things to do in these areas so would be easy to find.

One thing they do is they put all the documents for you in an app and all the directions in an app. So as a mom, traveling by myself, when we showed up somewhere, I never had the anxiety of do I have the tickets? Do I have the directions? Do I know where it is? It just made it very simple and seamless.

We also made a few last-minute calls to do extra things while we were there. We went to the Blue Lagoon at the end of our trip. And we went to another lagoon that we saw advertised in the airport when we landed in Reykjavik that looked cool.

There was a Viking restaurant that I found, and it was in the middle of nowhere seemingly. So, it didn’t look like it would work in our plan, but when we got there and realized how easy the drive was, driving an hour to dinner, didn’t seem like as big of a deal as it did before we left. So we went to this restaurant that it’s a bar, and it mimics a Viking ship, but they have free ax throwing. We all had a blast.

What’s your next family adventure?

I have an Elliot adventure coming up. He’s a big hockey player and a Canadian-ophile so we are going to Montreal.

Then we’re going to go back to Italy in March. Last time we went, the boys were young, so they don’t remember so much. We want to do Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Then I’m actively seeking ideas for next summer. I listened to the Morocco episode of the podcast, and I have to say I was pretty inspired. It sounds amazing.

Family Iceland Vacation

Why do you travel with your kids?

I have two boys who play many sports and have busy lives. I have a busy life with work, and when we’re home everybody’s on different calendars. Just having dinner together is hard to manage.

So, when we’re away, it’s like a big love bomb. It’s a reset and reconnect. We don’t have any schedules in the way. The only timetables we have is when is the ATV driver expecting us? I think it rewires their brain a little bit. They come back, and they just feel different.  I feel different. And we get to know each other in a different way.

✈️  🌍 🇮🇸

For more family vacation inspiration, tune in to all the podcast episodes.  Adventure Awaits!