Road Trip Along the Southern Coast
In August 2021, my husband, 22-month-old son, and I traveled to Iceland for a 7-day self-guided driving tour. I arranged the trip using the traveling agency Nordic Visitor, which is the same company who helped plan our Icelandic honeymoon back in February 2017.
It was the second time my husband and I had been to Iceland, but despite some familiarity with the country and its culture, there were so many things that were different this time. For one, traveling through Iceland during the tail end of summer is vastly different than traveling during the middle of Winter. Iceland is a land of extremes, including the balance of daylight versus night. When we were there for the first time in 2017, we experienced very little daylight (maybe 5 hours each day) and long hours of darkness. This latest trip was the complete opposite: it would get light starting at about 5:00am and would stay bright until well past 10:00pm! At first, it was strange seeing the sun still up so late, but we got used to it pretty quickly. Fun fact: during the summer solstice, daylight spans an entire 24 hours in Iceland. During the winter solstice, it is 24 hours of darkness.
Another difference between our two trips was the course of our journey. This time, we took a road trip eastward along the Southern part of the country (the first time, we traveled northward along the Western coast, and then eastward along the Northern part of Iceland towards Akureyri). Because the weather was also less extreme in the summer than it is in the winter, we were also able to do a TON more sightseeing of the many natural wonders Iceland has to offer.
I'd say the biggest difference about this trip, however, was traveling with a toddler...during a pandemic. We traveled during a time of increasing worry surrounding the delta variant, but we chose to keep our plans (which had already been postponed from April 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic really exploded and everything was being closed off) and continue with our trip. Both Curtis and I are fully vaccinated, but Darius is still too young to receive any COVID vaccine (only children 12 and older are yet eligible). This was a major worry for me, especially because he is still too young to even wear a mask. Therefore, strategic planning and risk mitigation were key for me: as required for entry into Iceland, we were tested for COVID three days before we departed (negative), and we also had to be tested again in Reykjavik the day before we left Iceland to return back home to the United States (negative). We also got tested another time five days after arriving back home. Curtis and I were diligent with wearing our masks in the airports, for the duration of our flights, and whenever we were indoors around people in Iceland. We were careful to maintain our distance from other travelers and always chose the table farthest away from people when eating indoors. Iceland enjoys a very small population density, which made it appealing as a destination to which to travel in a social-distancing culture, and our self-guided road trip also ensured we would have limited contact with others.
This was also Darius' first international trip ever (you should see his passport photo, so ridiculously cute!)), his first time on a plane, and our first time traveling on a plane with a toddler. I won't get too much into the details about the difficulties in sitting with a barely-two-year-old kid for a five hour flight...I'm sure you could guess. Overall, despite his restlessness and excessive squirminess, and inability to sleep onboard, I think it could have been much worse. Everyone got through both flights safely and soundly, and maybe more tired than anything else.
Despite the extra challenges of traveling during a pandemic and traveling with a very young child, it was such a fabulous trip and so worth it! I really believe in the benefits of exposing our son early-on to travel and different cultures and experiences. 10 out of 10. Would travel again!