We spent the summer of 2016 touring Iceland. Now we're writing a guidebook to tell you exactly what you want to know:

How to take the whole family abroad and survive the process unscathed.


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cell phones

Preparation

Planning your Iceland trip – Iceland With Kids

Reykjavik” by Marco Bellucci is licensed under CC BY 2.0

We’ve written many posts about planning for your trip to Iceland. Here is a summary of our best advice, at least so far.

When to go to Iceland?

There will be several obvious differences in your vacation experience based on what time of year you go:

  • Temperature. This isn’t as big as you think: Highs in the summer are in the mid 50s, while winter highs are in the mid 30s. See details in this post. Yes, there is snow in the winter, and so you’ll need to make your travel plans less aggressive.
  • Daylight. This is a bigger deal than you may think. Summer has 24 hours of usable daylight. The middle of winter may only give you 7. More details in the same post. This picture was taken at about 11:30 PM in June:

Midnight sun

Midnight Sun” by Hafsteinn Robertsson is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Read more

Preparation

Cell phones in Iceland, the final word: Icelandic SIM cards

Buying an Icelandic SIM card

Updated July 2017 with new cell phone recommendations.

The SIM card is the little thing, sometimes orange, that identifies the phone number of your cell phone. On this iPhone 5, for example, there is a tiny hole you need to push a small paperclip (or a similarly shaped SIM card remover tool) into the hole to pop the card out.

Sim card

If your phone works like this, make sure to bring a paperclip or a similar SIM card removal tool with you!

Also, while we’re at it, don’t forget to bring the right power adapters for Iceland.

 

The process and options for getting an Icelandic Sim card are a little bit tricky. Before we dive into it, let’s walk through a step-by-step summary of how to make this work.

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Preparation

Using a cell phone in Iceland, Part 2: International Plans

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with cell phone plans. But it IS much more interesting … it was actually taken at the Reykjavik zoo.

Option 2: Use your existing phone with an international plan

In our last post, we mostly covered what not to do—don’t use data without an international plan! Here are some of the basic options for adding international plans to your current phone. Let me first warn you that this is a baffling process. Sorry. Take a look:

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Preparation

Using a cell phone in Iceland, Part 1: What NOT to do

Iceland weather app

If you plan to use any data at all, don’t just turn on roaming on your phone. Here’s why.

You don’t truly need to have a cell phone with a data plan when you’re in Iceland.  You could just bring your current phone,  disable roaming data (this is critical! see below as to why), make an occasional quick phone call, download some offline maps, and become a Wi-Fi nomad. Almost all hotels will have Wi-Fi available. If you are using Reykjavik as your home base for bus tours, most of the buses will have Wi-Fi as well. (For example, the 2 biggest bus tour companies in Reykjavik, Gray Line and Reykjavik Excursions, both offer Wi-Fi on the buses. See http://grayline.is/about/fleet/ and https://www.re.is/company-profile.)

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