Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Why I Deleted My Facebook Account

For years I have been dreaming about this day, but I always told myself ‘I couldn’t possibly actually do that.’ Well past self, I definitely did.

I haven’t used Facebook with any regularity since college. In the years after I would go on and catch up with people’s lives that I never see or talk to. I don’t know about you, but this left me feeling more like a stalker than a far away friend. Once the timeline updated and stupid videos that acquaintances shared started to take over my feed like virulent mold, I stopped logging in altogether.

It’s been at least two and a half years since the Facebook app was on my phone, but I still couldn’t quite bring myself to delete my account entirely.

Why I Deleted My Facebook

Facebook Isn’t for Friends

My account was my ‘binders full’ of friends. I held on to it for so long because I had convinced myself that all of the people who were a part of my life in the past – elementary school classmates, high school friends and lab partners, family that moved away when I was child – were still relevant and connected to my current life. Deleting my account made me face the fact that I never interact with anyone on there. They give me a false sense of friendship when in reality we are strangers with each other’s names on a website.

Facebook has not built my friendships. If anything, it made me feel less connected to the people who are in my life. When I actually used Facebook I would follow along with what all of my high school classmates were up to in their new lives while my college roommates sat in the room with me.

I no longer buy into the idea that social media deepens our relationships or helps us connect meaningfully with new people. Of course you can make new friends via social media, but the real friendship building happens offline.

 

My Last Straw

This has been building for years. Facebook’s lack of response to harassment, trolling, and blatant hatred toward women was reason enough. I was sick and tired of Facebook using predatory ad practices to market me more things I don’t need. I am still tired of all of the all companies selling my data to other companies who want to get me to give them money. Each and every update to the service feels more and more like it’s for brands and people who profit from the site.

The election pushed me over the edge. From the widespread infection of truly made-up ‘news’ and false events to the hate groups that grew their faithful lackeys to the constant barrage of outrage and poorly thought-out rants, I was done.

Facebook’s complicity in Russia’s hostile attack on our election was my final straw. I want them to suffer for what they’ve done, and deleting accounts and rapidly deflating their user numbers is one way that I can contribute.

 

No more fake friends.

Twitter and Snapchat were deleted years ago for failing to hold my interest (and taking up way too much of my tiny 8Gs of space). My Twitter account hangs on by a thread due to career obligations (but my do I salivate about cutting it).

Instagram is still on my phone. And I need to do a lot better about using it meaningfully.

From here on out I want to be better at interacting with the people I follow on Instagram. Like many, I follow people who I admire or who inspire me. As long as that’s still true, I think they deserve space in my feed. For everyone else, it’s time I reached out and used Instagram as a way to build our connection, not just watch from afar. An engaged comment on a friend’s posts, a quick text to start a real conversation, or, even better, a request to hear about their recent stunning vacation in real life would go a long way towards what I’m really after – richer relationships in my real (a.k.a. offline) life.

 

The End of Social Media?

I can’t help but hope so. This article by Nick Bilton in Vanity Fair about the future of social media gave me a little bit of hope.

 

Looking for a little peace in the digital world? You might like my posts about my Distraction-Free Smartphone, Minimizing Social Media, and a hearty Digital Decluttering.

Me in Other Places

I don’t talk much in this space about my daily work. It often feels weird to bring up the projects I’m working on or share endless links here. I can never quite figure out how I feel about posting my published pieces (too self-promotional? A nice change of pace? A smart way to share my work?).

But since I’m traveling this month in New Zealand (and am thus in another place), I wanted to give a better idea of what my life really looks like, how I spend my time, and the work I do. I also want to be able to share the words I write elsewhere with you, and this seems to be the best way to do it (at least for now).

Mount Cook National Park New Zealand

There is a lot of stuff here (and it’s not everything I wrote this month. In total I turned in 15 stories, which is far from what most months look like for me). If I had to only pick one, I’d suggest:

Let Me Tell You What It’s Really Like To Be A Minimalist

Includes more pictures of our tiny space : )

Hello, Holidays

October is often a crazy month for publishing. It’s the last big push for holiday content before everyone turns there gaze to New Year’s. I spent the month fully immersed in Christmas, and it’s been weird to say the least. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to working on holiday stories and gift guides when it’s still 80 degrees outside and I have yet to even eat a bite of pumpkin-flavored something.

15 Gifts Your Friends Will Love – Sunset Magazine

16 Great Gifts for Your Coworkers – Sunset Magazine

11 Gifts Your Parents Will Love – Sunset Magazine

13 Gifts for the Bon Vivant – Sunset Magazine

12 Gifts for People Who Love Camping – Sunset Magazine

15 Gifts for the Garden-to-Table Cook – Sunset Magazine

7 Gifts with Stylish Desert Vibes – Sunset Magazine

Gluten Free Gift Guide – Healthline

Always On the Go Gift Guide – Healthline

Essential Gifts for the Outdoors Adventurer – Healthline

Other Things

Let Me Tell You What It’s Really Like To Be A Minimalist

25 Ways to Fix Oily Hair

Even More Things

October was an exceptionally busy month for me. I was trying to squeeze in as much as I could before going on a longer trip. Even so, the things you see above weren’t the only things I was working on. I also do website production in house for Sunset, copywriting for a local startup, editorial work for an amazing book producer, and in theory, write here for you.

In hindsight, I don’t know how I did it all this month. But I’d say it was worth it.

 

What I Wish I Knew Before Starting New Zealand’s Routeburn Track

I’m spending most of this month traveling around New Zealand, and while I will certainly post more about what my boyfriend and I have done and all of the details (packing list, itinerary, must-sees, etc.), I thought I’d start with the part that most influenced everything else, our Great Walk.

We planned our entire trip around doing one of New Zealand’s famed Great Walks. We didn’t get our first choice (Milford), but we gladly signed up for the Routeburn Track. Outside of booking places to stay, planning for our hike took up most of our pre-trip preparation time. To be honest, we fumbled our way through and learned the hard way that we weren’t quite as prepared as we hoped.

Routeburn Track: The Divide Start

Routeburn Track Itinerary

Day 1 (Nov. 7): Drive to The Divide outside Te Anau. Hike 12km (7.5 miles) to Lake Mackenzie Hut. Sleep at the hut.

Day 2 (Nov. 8): Hike 11.3km (7 miles) to Routeburn Falls Hut. Sleep at the hut and eat as much of our rations as possible.

Day 3 (Nov. 9): Leisurely hike 8.8km (5.5 miles) to the end of the track at the Routeburn Shelter. Drive our thoughtfully relocated rental car on to our hostel in Wanaka before collapsing.

Spoiler Alert: This definitely didn’t happen.

Routeburn Track November Lake Hoden

What I Wish I Knew Before Starting New Zealand’s Routeburn Track

1. The Weather is No Joke

We booked our hut stays in July (4 months before our trip) when weather and the real details of our trip were completely unknown. Our hike was scheduled for early November with two hut stays along the way. We planned for inclement weather that could change on a dime. I had packed thermal tights (meant for running/hiking in the snow), fleece pants, a fleece sweatshirt, a down jacket, a raincoat, two pairs of hiking socks, 1 pair of socks for the huts, a baseball hat, two long-sleeve quick-dry shirts, and two short sleeve quick-dry tops. I figured I would layer up and strip things off as I went. HA.

We were not at all ready to be rained on for hours or to have that rain turn into thick flurries of snow. It rained on us for 4 hours and snowed on us for 2 on the way to Mackenzie Lake. I was in no way prepared to be this drenched. If we would have been able to continue on to the next hut, I would have had to hike all day in wet clothes or risk getting my only dry clothes soaked through. Another pair of clothes would have been essential.

I also desperately wished I had not worn my down jacket while hiking because once it got wet, it was useless. I shivered like crazy and wore my sleeping bag in the hut while being green with envy over other people’s warm, dry coats. I did my best to dry it out in front of the fire and then let it hang overnight, but it was still quite damp the next day.

Routeburn Track Mackenzie Lake Ranger Hut

Lucky for us, it kept snowing and the track was closed between Mackenzie Lake and Routeburn Falls. We were turned back and told to hike back to our car on day 2, which meant hiking for hours in untouched snow (gorgeous) before it started to melt from the trees and leave us just as drenched as the rainstorm.

Lesson: This was the best weather forecast we could find, but it only shows you three days at a time. Plan for the worst case scenario. And if the track may be closed due to snow, assume it will snow or sleet at the lowest elevation too. The weather when you pack your bag will not be the same when you get there.

2. Being in Decent Shape is Not Enough

Ouch. Our poor feet and calves were not prepared for this hike. Training would have made us much more comfortable, and left us with more energy to explore in the days following our hike. We physically could have completed the full hike, but two days of grueling conditions left us immensely thankful to be done.

3. Most Raincoats Are Useless (AKA Rent Real Gear)

I was dry for maybe 3o minutes before my raincoat became more of a wet plastic layer I was wearing for show. After 6 hours, I was drenched all the way through. I really wished I had rented a hardcore raincoat that would have gotten me at least 2 hours of dryness. One of our fellow Routeburn Track hikers had on all of her rain gear and a heavy-duty poncho. She was the happiest, and driest, among us.

4. My Boots Would Bring Me Great Joy

It took me months and painful trips to try on hiking boots before I finally found the right pair. And then the cost almost stopped me at the register. I am so glad I followed through. My hiking boots kept my feet dry and (mostly) warm through 6 hours of rain and 5 hours of stomping through snow/slush. They were even better than I imagined, and I felt fairly secure in my footing given my ankle history. Almost everyone else was desperately trying to dry out their boots and socks at the hut. My feet were so dry I was able to wear my socks for the full two days and give my other dry pair to my boyfriend.

Routeburn Track Lake Mackenzie Hut Bunk

5. The Huts Aren’t Actually Heated

I know, I was upset too. I read that the huts were heated, and that is really far from the truth. Lake Mackenzie had a single wood-burning stove in the kitchen/lounge area. It was maybe large enough to warm a tiny cabin built for 2, not a massive hut built for 60. There were only 10 of us in our hut that night, and we couldn’t all comfortably fit around it. It did zero to heat the bunk area upstairs, which had no heater of its own. With temps below zero that night, our hut was somewhere just above zero (no one’s water froze, but we sure did).

6. Just Pack the Candy

It seemed downright bonkers to me to bring candy on a long hike where I was going to be making unheard of demands on my body. I was wrong, I should have brought the candy. I was fiercely jealous of another woman’s stash. Some gummy bears would have gone a long way to boost moral.

7. More Food

Yes, pack more. Twice as much as you think. We would have been quite hungry on day three if we had been able to make it that far.

Routeburn Track November Spring Snow

Top Routeburn Track Tips:

1. Our car may not have been relocated by TrackHopper, but we were thrilled with their service and I would 100 percent recommend them. They were the first ones to let us know that part of our track was closed (Um… hello DOC… Are you out there?). They assured us that they wouldn’t move our car or charge us unless the closed portion reopened and we were able to hike through.

Our hut-mates were not so lucky. One family was charged for the relocation that didn’t happen and told they would just have to claim it on their trip insurance for a refund. We by far got the better service.

2. Packing our bags for more than three weeks of travel and a three day backcountry hike was not possible. There was no way we could have fit everything we needed into easy to carry bags. Bev’s Tramping Gear Hire saved the day on this one. We picked up our stuff in Te Anau the morning of our first day of hiking. We rented rain pants that kept our legs dry (much unlike our epic failures of jackets), a cooking pot to use in the huts, and sleeping bags. Our car relocation service was going to drop off our rented gear back at Bev’s for us, but we ended up driving back through ourselves given the closure.

3. Most grocery stores around NZ have freeze dried foods and other backpacking food. We brought some from home to try to make things easier with my dietary restrictions, but if you don’t have to worry about that you’ll easily find food here.

 

Questions? Worried about something weirdly specific (yeah, me too). Let me know!

Zero Waste Bathroom Paper Towel Substitute

I long ago cut out paper towels at home, but I have been plagued by paper towels in public restrooms and offices for years. It’s easy to forget just how many paper towels we use in a day. In the U.S. we use an estimated 13 billion pounds of paper towels per year according to the Paperless Project. That’s a whopping 45 pounds per person. To add insult to the landfill-busting number, paper towels use more energy and create more waste than other drying methods.

Since April I have been working in an office a couple days a week. I bring my own lunch and all of the things I need to eat zero waste all day like a cloth napkin and my own fork, but each trip to the bathroom or kitchen would end with me guiltily drying my hands on the only available option – paper towels.

Paper towel conundrums are not new to me. In college I helped launch an initiative to reduce the amount of paper towels used on campus by encouraging people to use the bare minimum instead of cranking out towels longer than toddlers.

But using a single towel or one crank still felt unnecessary and like a lot of trash. As soon as I started working in the office, my daily/weekly trash at least doubled from paper towels alone. I wash my hands a minimum of 10 times a day (between bathroom trips, snacking, and general cleanliness), which means over the course of the month I was using a minimum of 120 paper towels.

While this is still less than the average (according to an reusable towel manufacturer), I wanted to do better. I needed a zero waste paper towel substitute.

Zero Waste Bathroom Towel Substitute: Small Handkerchief or Reusable Baby Wipe

On the Go Paper Towel Substitutes

1. A Small Hand Towel

For a while I had small hand towels that could be clipped to a bag or a drawer to dry. After more than a year working from home, I let them go. They are a great size, and feel more like a regular towel than some of the other options (and I miss them a little bit).

You can also cut a sad looking towel into smaller pieces to take with you. This would work best if the towel is thin, or it will be bulky to carry and dry slowly.

2. Old T-Shirt

Much like an old towel, an old t-shirt can be cut into little hand towels.

3. Camp Towel

A small, quick-drying towel is also a great option. I decided not to go this route because I didn’t want to buy something new, but you might score a good one used. A larger microfiber or quick-dry towel could also be cut into smaller sizes.

Zero Waste Paper Towel Substitute for Hand Drying: Small Handkerchief or Reusable Baby Wipe

4. Reusable Baby Wipes / Handkerchiefs

This is the option I ended up going with. Each day I grab two handkerchiefs off the stack. Half of our handkerchiefs are reusable baby wipes that I bought online, and the other half is handmade tissue-sized handkerchiefs. I honestly can’t tell the difference. Both are absorbent, the same size and thickness, and they work great for nose-blowing or hand drying.

5. Air Dry or Use a Dryer

If it’s available and you don’t have a reusable option, a hand drier is a great alternative to paper towels. Just be mindful of how long you spend with the dryer turned on, and try to use jet air dryers over the old-school hot air dryers to save energy and avoid extra bacteria growth.

How I Avoid Paper Towels

I’m still not in a place where I’m proud of my zero waste solutions. I don’t like drawing extra attention to myself, so my handkerchief solution works great as an incognito alternative. I tuck it into my back pocket, waist band, or a strap before leaving my desk.

So far I’ve dried my hands in front of people, and clearly haven’t taken a paper towel first, but no one has said anything. It definitely helps that my handkerchiefs are close in color to a bleached paper towel. I’m starting to get more bold with it. I used to try to time my drying to when other people weren’t paying attention, but these days I just whip it out and move on with my life.

When I get back to my desk I drape my handkerchief over a handle. If I’m out I keep it in a outside mesh pocket in my backpack so it can dry. No backpack? I typically just choose to air dry with a few good shakes over the sink first instead of shoving a wet towel into my bag to fester.

But Isn’t This Unsanitary?

While I certainly wouldn’t recommend this method for a surgeon before they clock in, using a reusable cloth or a jet air dryer is perfectly hygienic. It’s important to let your towel dry and use a new small towel daily. If you’re really worried about it, you could also bring a small stack of the reusable baby wipes or handkerchiefs and use them a few times before moving on to next.

When I’m really worried about the cleanliness of my towel (like before I want a quick snack at the end of the day), I don’t beat myself up over using a single paper towel or shaking my hands off until they’re dry.

Every little bit saved counts. It’s not about perfection, but about consistently making choices that reduce waste, save resources (and money), and feel empowering. Each paper towel I refuse to use is one less that paper companies can use to justify cutting down old growth forests and dumping bleach into our waterways. Every small rebellion and bit of resistance matters.

Q2 Ins and Outs

The past three months have had a lot more things going in and out than the first quarter of the year. We’re both facing aging clothes that we’ve had since college… or before in some cases. Quite a few things also unexpectedly broke or disappeared from our lives without warning.

Out:

Donated:

Dress (too small and haven’t reached for it in well over a year)
Plastic spatula
Knit blazer (didn’t love it, haven’t worn it in over a year)
Old plastic Brita filter pitcher (I’ve been using a plain charcoal stick instead)
Broken colander that came with our place
Fleece sweatshirt
Matt’s replacement shoe laces that didn’t match
Matt’s old running shorts
Yoga mat towel (Gifted years ago. I used it twice as a travel towel, but I’m ready to upgrade to a real travel towel that will work for the beach and showering instead of just being something to sit on and awkwardly dry with it.)

Recycled

2 broken computer chargers (mine and his)
1 broken electronic toothbrush
1 broken sleep tracker that was sent to me for a story… and then refused to take back

Stolen

My beloved bike
Helmet
Lock
Pump
Patch kit
Reversible pedals
Water bottle cage

In:

Used Trek Lexa 2

Me

1 pair of underwear
A gifted computer charger that saved the day month
Fleece sweatshirt
A used bike (more on that soon)

Matt

2 pairs of underwear
1 pair of running shorts
Free pair of socks (the sock hater loves them)
A Nintendo Switch (very kindly shared)

Both

Ins and Outs: Dyson V8

Stainless steel spatula (mine from college, had been stored at my parent’s house)
A new stainless steel colander that doesn’t slice open your fingers every time you reach into it.
Vacuum: Our beloved first joint purchase.

 

Overall we made quite a few more purchases in the last quarter than normal, but they were all things we had been thinking about for a while. Okay, the bike and the new computer charger definitely weren’t on my list, but we had been talking about buying a small vacuum since we moved in together… last year.

But everything is heavily used, and we definitely made room before taking them home.

Sustainable, Ethical Travel in Iceland

Traveling to Iceland is an unforgettable experience, but you want the land to forget you were there. It’s difficult to leave no trace when traveling in a country where everything is shipped in and most goods are heavily packaged. Add to that a unprecedented influx of travelers and you have a recipe for serious environmental damage.

There is a lot of discussion right now about the growing popularity of traveling to Iceland and whether or not it’s ethical to visit. Visitors have a lot of responsibility to leave the island as pristine as possible while supporting a sustainable travel business for the locals.

There are plenty of ways to make your stay more ethical and sustainable.

Sustainable, Ethical Travel in Iceland: Waterfall

How to Travel Sustainably and Ethically in Iceland

Sustainable, Ethical Travel in Iceland: Reusable Containers

1. Pack Reusables

I packed:

  • Bamboo cutlery set
  • Cloth napkin
  • 5 handkerchiefs
  • Foldable grocery/tote bag
  • Metal water bottle
  • Insulated metal water bottle
  • 3 metal food containers

These items made it easy for me to pick up food from a restaurant to eat on the go or take home leftovers without creating waste. I also filled my containers with food for my flights and skipped the expensive airplane/airport food. At one point we filled one of our stainless steel containers with handmade gelato!

You definitely don’t have to be shy about using your own containers here. People in Iceland were honestly thrilled to see our reusable containers and they would go out of their way to fill them (usually with more food than we would have had in one of their own containers). When we got gelato from Joylato in Reykjavik the kind woman who made our treats asked to take a picture of us holding our container just because it ‘made her heart happy.’

 

2. Pack Food for Your Flight

The trash created by food in the airports or on the airplane is staggering. Airline passengers created 5.7 million tons of waste in 2016 alone. That’s the same as throwing away 300 empty container ships each year. All trash created on international flights is promptly incinerated when you land which means that all of the chemicals in the plastic and other materials are released into the air. The rest from the airports or when you land is also a huge problem.

On both of our flights I was able to avoid throwing anything away by packing snacks/meals in reusable containers, bringing (almost) enough water for a long-haul flight, and not bringing anything with me that would need to be thrown away (wrappers, receipts, etc.).

 

3. Refuse Plastic Water Bottles

Every flight tried to get us to take a small plastic water bottle on the way in. We simply said ‘no thank you’ and drank out of our bottles that we filled in the airport. We used our bottles throughout our entire trip exclusively. The tap water in Iceland is the best I’ve ever tasted.

 

4. Choose Sustainable Housing

Not everywhere you stay is going to be perfectly zero waste or sustainable, but picking places that highlight what they are doing or put effort into reducing the impact of your stay is doable. Our first hostel, Vík Hostel, had composting, chickens that ate scraps and provided food for breakfast, signs about saving water, recycling, and cleaned only with safe, non-toxic cleaners.

 

Sustainable, Ethical Travel in Iceland: Whale Watching

5. Support Local-Owned Business

Travel has been a major boost for Iceland’s economy. Help keep your money in Iceland by seeking out lodging, restaurants, tours, and stores that are locally owned. Most websites of smaller locations will tell you about the owners, and you can always ask. You’ll likely have a better experience too by choosing someone who really knows the area and genuinely cares about your stay.

 

6. Choose Unpackaged When You Can

Most food is shipped in from other countries. It’s a cold island mostly composed of volcanic rock – you can’t grow a whole lot here. We did our best to eat local foods when we could, but it certainly wasn’t easy or widespread.

Grocery stores are mostly shelves upon shelves of packaged foods. Even the ‘fresh’ fruits and vegetables come in plastic packaging. Do your best to find unpackaged foods when you can, and opt for recyclable glass containers when they’re available. There are bakeries in Reykjavik where you can get fresh bread and pastries, but overall bulk foods are hard to find.

Sustainable, Ethical Travel in Iceland: Moss Covered Rocks

7. Request No Receipt

We mostly paid with cash (except our whale watching tour and our lodging). For the most part you have to sign a receipt when you pay with a card. When we used cash most places didn’t print a receipt if we didn’t want one.

Sustainable, Ethical Travel in Iceland: Save Water - Glaciers

8. Save Water

Many parts of the island use geothermal energy to heat the water which saves a lot of electricity/natural gas. Even though water is abundant and quite likely less energy-intensive than your water at home, do your best to conserve water. The water you are letting run down the drain came from a pristine glacier or snow melt. It may have taken hundreds of years to melt off and end up in the pipes. Be a good steward and use as little as you can.

 

9. Bring Your Own Toiletries

I’m not sure if anywhere we stayed provided small toiletries or not. Regardless, we brought our own from home to save on plastic bottles. My boyfriend brought his favorite shampoo bar and I packed all of my stuff as is. My shampoo and conditioner were the only things I had to put into something smaller.

 

10. Rent the Smallest, Most Efficient Car You Can

Since we were traveling in the late spring we chose a small compact car that got pretty good gas mileage. This is a bit more challenging in the winter, but there are still plenty of 4-wheel drive options that aren’t massive gas-guzzlers. The efficiency of your car is especially important if you plan on doing a great deal of driving like we did.

Sustainable, Ethical Travel in Iceland: Sustainable Tours

11. Book Sustainable Tours

Book tours that are sustainable or upfront about how they are working to protect the environment. Not only do you reduce your impact, but you also support a green, sustainable economy. Help the locals protect their environment and still get the full sight-seeing or exploring experience by choosing sustainable tours.

Our whale watching tour was the only tour we booked. We originally booked North Sailing’s carbon neutral whale watching tour (sailboat), but it was unfortunately out of commission the day of our tour and we ended up on their diesel ship.

 

12. Skip Paper Towels

Most public restrooms had hand dryers instead of paper towels. When both were available I chose the dryer to save on the paper and the energy required to ship them all the way to Iceland. [Iceland also has one of the best renewable energy programs in the world.] In hostels/guesthouses I used the provided towels or my own. You can easily slip a small towel or a handkerchief into your pocket for a reusable drying option while you are out as well.

 

13. Eat Local Foods

Iceland is known around the world for its success with sustainable fishing. This site breaks down which fish are sustainably fished so you can order without worry. Many restaurants also serve locally raised lamb.

 

14. But Not All of Them

While local, whale and puffin are mostly eaten by tourists. Both species are struggling, and they are especially challenged by the environmental and physical changes of having such a large influx of tourists. Do not eat whale or puffin.

 

15. Stay On The Trails

Stay on marked trails at all times. While it seems like a great idea to wander for that epic photo, your steps can dislodge moss and other vegetation that have spent years just trying to root. Iceland, despite it’s wild nature and robust land, is in fact a fragile environment. Treat it as such. Also, don’t tag lesser-known areas on your social media posts. It seems cruel to not share the exact details of your impressive find, but many places are not advertised or widely-shared for a reason. Help limit the amount of people who are going into fragile areas.

 

More Resources:

Want to travel zero waste? This guide from Zero Waste Guy for Iceland is great!

More general zero waste travel tips (and gorgeous pictures).

 

More about our trip:

You can see everything I packed and check out everywhere we went on our trip around the Ring Road.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

There’s a (good) reason things have been quiet around here. I spent the last few weeks working like crazy so I could take a full eight days off in stunning Iceland. While I have plenty more to say about our trip (and enough pictures to break the internet), I’m excited to share what I packed.

Why?

Because this was my best packing job yet! All of my stuff fit in my 45L backpack, including my bulky hiking boots and my plane snacks. My big down jacket? Oh yeah, that was in there too. Nailed it!

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

I put weeks of thought into what I would bring to Iceland, mostly because the weather was constantly changing leading up to the trip. That didn’t change once we were there either – Iceland’s weather is unpredictable and extremely variable. I highly recommend being prepared for cooler or wetter weather than weeklong forecasts predict for a spring trip.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

I wore every item I brought, except for emergency underwear, a couple pairs of thin socks, a sports bra, and a short-sleeve athletic shirt that would have been used had we hiked another day or two.

Staying for more than eight days? Simply wash every 5-7 days. Most of the guest houses, hostels, and Airbnbs we looked at or stayed in had washers. No need to pack more.

Clothes

Tops

  • 2 long sleeve cotton t-shirts
  • 2 long sleeve technical t-shirts (if you aren’t planning on hiking, sub for any warm base layers)
  • 1 short sleeve shirt
  • 1 technical short sleeve shirt
  • Fleece sweatshirt
  • Swim suit
  • 1 bra
  • 2 sports bras
  • 1 knit sweater
  • Pajamas
  • Rain coat/ wind breaker
  • Down coat

Bottoms

  • Corduroy pants
  • 2 pairs of hiking socks
  • 5 pairs of regular socks (I wore 1 pair…)
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • Fleece sweats (for hiking and lounging)
  • Thick leggings/tights (winter running tights, long underwear, or ski tights)

Shoes/ Accessories

  • Hiking boots
  • Athletic shoes/ warm, comfortable walking shoes
  • Flip flops (especially if you are staying in a hostel or visiting hot springs)
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Beanie/thermal headband
  • Small backpack for hiking or a crossbody bag

My boyfriend and I shared his small backpack while hiking and my crossbody bag everywhere else. I used my medium-sized crossbody bag on the plane for reading material, my journal, passport, snacks, and my water bottle.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

On the Plane

I broke every single rule and packed my hiking boots. I HATE wearing shoes on a plane, and there was no way in hell I was going to spend 20 some odd hours shoved into my hiking boots. Or take them off and put them back on through security. No thanks.

  • Comfortable athletic shoes
  • Cords
  • Fleece
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Compression socks (for my ankle)
  • Bra

What my daily wear looked like:

long sleeve base layer + fleece + thick socks + warm pants + down jacket (+/- rain coat) = warm, dry, happy traveler

Daily temperatures were anywhere between 14C (around 60 F) and 3-4C (mid to upper 30s) as we traveled along the Ring Road. Reykjavík was quite a bit warmer than the mountains in the north, but wind chill could still drop the temperature quite steeply in the city. Layers made it easy for me to stay comfortable throughout the 30 degree swing.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

lived in my cords and fleece sweatshirt, but we rarely stayed in one place for more than a day and no one could see my sweatshirt under all of my jackets anyway. You could easily bring another pair of pants if wearing the same pair frequently bothers you. I personally didn’t mind, especially since I was mixing it up on the days that we were outside exploring. I hiked in my thick tights (technically winter running tights) with my fleece sweats on top. Wind-resistant hiking pants would also work great.

Yes, I wore two pairs of hiking socks for our entire 8-day trip. It was too cold for my feet to get nasty, so I wore each pair twice before washing and hanging them over the radiator. It worked great.

Zero Waste Gear/ On the Go Eating

It was important to me to make as little waste as possible on our trip, especially because Iceland is a fragile environment that is suddenly experiencing a massive surge in tourism. All of these things also made bringing my own food on the plane a breeze. These were by far our most used items, and I am really glad I brought them.

  • Bamboo cutlery set
  • Cloth napkin
  • 5 handkerchiefs
  • Foldable grocery/tote bag
  • Metal water bottle
  • Insulated metal water bottle
  • 3 metal food containers (packed with food in both directions : ) )

I filled both of my bottles for our flights, and still had to ask for a bit of water on the plane (which they gladly poured straight into my water bottle). The extra bag was perfect for buying groceries, wrangling stuff for a short trip, and hitting the hot springs.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

Toiletries

  • Sleep mask (hello constant daylight)
  • Ear plugs
  • Bar soap
  • Mini hair brush
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Small container of laundry soap
  • Medications as needed
  • Tooth brush
  • Hand towel
  • Nail clippers/file
  • Hair clip and hair tie
  • (Optional: full-sized towel)

Liquids

I ended up deciding to not bring a full-sized towel to use at hot springs or where we were staying. Most of our guest houses/ hostels had towels already included in the price, and the rest were relatively inexpensive. We went to one hot spring that didn’t have towel rentals (or an attendant), and we just brought one of our towels from that night’s guest house with us. It would have been difficult for us to get our towels to dry while we were driving the Ring Road, and I really didn’t want to have to worry about them. We paid a bit extra overall, but we always had a warm towel and it really wasn’t that expensive in comparison to Iceland’s prices in general. My small hand towel (below) was used for drying our hands and dishes as needed.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

[This is what happens when you have been up for 24 hours and you realize you haven’t taken a picture of your pack – you take a blurry photo in the airport at midnight on your way home.]

Bottom Line

Iceland’s weather changes rapidly year-round. It’s especially important to pack lots of layers in spring. If you plan on hiking or doing the Ring Road, definitely bring clothes that would keep you warm in snow just in case. You may not need them, but they will be priceless if you do (speaking of price, EVERYTHING in Iceland is expensive. This is not the place you want to be buying an emergency jacket). We also particularly enjoyed our extra-warm clothes on our whale watching tour.

Packing cubes are clutch, and highly consider bringing a backpacking backpack if you plan to go outside of Reykjavík. We carried our packs up muddy hillsides, down long gravel roads, and up many flights of stairs to get to our bed for the night.

Ins and Outs

There’s something satisfying about watching things go. Even if it’s not my stuff, a donation pile is soothing and full of promise. I love checking in on #minsgame and reading blog posts about what people choose to keep or get rid of.

I never really thought to track my own ins and outs until I saw this post from 600 Square Feet and a Baby. Her pile was so inspiring that I thought I would share my own. This is a list of everything we’ve donated, trashed, sold, or bought in the last three months.

Ins and Outs

Outs

Donated:

1 pair of snowboard boots
Plastic cutting board (was saving for camping, but it’s not in good shape)
Pair of socks (too big)
Sample mouthwash (new dentist, didn’t know to refuse)
8-year-old water filter jug

Sold:

Sweatshirt
Fancy bookmark
Leggings

Recycled:

Pair of black pants (replaced in December)
Broken raincoat
4 shirts
Old swim trunks

Trash:

An 80% full bottle of hair spray from 2009…maybe earlier. It hadn’t been used in at least four years.

In:

Matt:

1 pair of swim shorts, replaced dingy, two small trunks
1 t-shirt, replaced one of the ones that was recycled
1 raincoat, a much better fit than my old, broken one that he was squeezing in to.

Me:

Nothing.

Although to be fair I did try my best to find a new fleece jacket. So far no luck, but I’m still looking. Once I find one my two, sad fleeces will be donated and recycled respectively.