Sunday, 22 November 2015

What should I wear in Iceland?

My first question, after booking my flights and accommodation was what should I wear in Iceland.  I've never been on a ski or snow holiday before and my experience of cold climates was moving further up North, when I went to University (i.e. not very much).

So I went online on the hunt for some tips on what I should be buying and what I should be packing.  Baring in mind, that I was only bringing hand luggage with me for 5 days, just a few degrees south of the arctic circle.

In my search I found tonnes of amazing tips on where to go and what to do, but not a lot on what to wear...  Getting worried, I asked a few friends, but most had been to Iceland in the Summer - so they weren't sure how cold it was going to be for us.

At this point I was totally stuck and starting to look at Ski clothing, which seemed the most sensible thing to do and I got a few good tips from a guy in my local Snow and Rock store.  He was also going to Iceland the day before me on a huge trek around the Island - but as he hadn't been before either, he wasn't entirely sure what I should and should be packing.  He did however, give me the following tips:

  1. Make sure you buy 80-100% wool products 
  2. Don't buy anything cotton
  3. Make sure you have a few good pairs of thermals
  4. Buy waterproof snow boots (Sorel are the best)
  5. Make sure you have good socks
This was a good start and really helpful, however, it wasn't until I went to The Ski Show in London, that I was completely clued up.

By this point, I had bought my Windproof Down jacket recommended by a friend and a new fleece lined bobble hat.  On arriving at the show, I was greeted by Uniqlo who had a thermal mapping tool, which photographed you to demonstrate where you were losing heat from your body.  

As you can see my jacket was doing a pretty good job.  But I needed thermals for both my body and legs, as those were the 'hot spots' letting all of my body heat out.

As you can see from the picture above, I was pretty much wrapped up like a snow man at all times.  However, there are many hidden layers you can't see under my clothes.  Here is what I would recommend putting on your shopping list, from head to toe:
  1. A good hat that is fleece lined 
  2. Wool Scarf
  3. Windproof down jacket
  4. Silk gloves or glove liners
  5. Thick après ski gloves (I loved this pair because they attached around my wrists - so I could take them on and off to take pictures easily)
  6. Thermal tops - I would recommend Uniqlo's and Decathlon's
  7. Turtleneck jumpers (preferably wool)
  8. Thermal leggings
  9. Wool socks
  10. Snow boots

In all honesty, what I wore each day didn't look too different and as much as I love fashion, I wouldn't worry too much about what you are wearing.  You will be too cold to care in the end - especially when it is minus 7 and you've just jumped into ice cold water and gone snorkelling.  But more about that next time.

When it comes to packing for 5 days, I would take:
  • Two hats (in case one gets rained on or muddy)
  • One scarf
  • One jacket
  • Gloves and glove liner
  • 3 pairs of thermals (minimum)
  • 5 pairs of wool socks (they make a HUGE difference and always bring a spare pair with you in case you get a pair wet or you're really cold)
  • A pair of trainers (for driving in - snow boots aren't very practical)
  • Backpack for any day trips 
  • Sunglasses for the low sunlight when you are driving - also handy to keep the wind off of your face too
  • Any toiletries, cameras, etc... that you would normally bring on your holiday

I hope this helps anyone else looking, my biggest tip would be to bring extras with you when you go out each day, as the weather is unpredictable and you can then add or peel layers off depending on how you find the climate that day.  On some days I was wearing all three layers of my clothes and would recommend doing so, especially if you are off to go and see the Northern Lights.

Being overly prepared is definitely the aim of that game in Iceland, as once you are out you are unlikely to come across your local supermarket en route anywhere.  (We always had a stash of chocolate and drinks for this reason too - but don't tell my PT)

If anyone has any questions though, feel free to comment below, Tweet me or check out my Instagram posts and I will do my best to help!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

What's on your bucket list?

Recently I have been thinking about things that I would like to do in the next few years and travelling is always top of my list.  This year I have added a few new things to my list though and I thought I would share them with you all here and see if you had any recommendations or things you think I should be adding...

I read a book about Myanmar a few years ago and was spellbound by the culture and it's history - in particular the world war, the Royal Family, their teak craftsmanship and the English occupation.

South East Asia
This is on most people's list and I have already seen how beautiful Thailand is and all that Singapore has to offer, however, there is so much more to see in this part of the world and I can't wait to explore it further.  Loas, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpa and Bali are all part of this list and no doubt I will discover more over time.  At the moment, this is still a pipe dream - but I am hoping 2016 will make some of these dreams come true.

Most people find their love for skiing at a young age, when they are still at school or on family holidays.  Unfortunately, this is a luxury that my family couldn't afford while I was growing up - but I still want to take on the challenge and see how I do on a pair of skis.  I might check out one of the snow domes in the UK first though.  However, I did visit The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Show a few weeks ago, courtesy of Ski Total, and I feel a lot more 'clued up' and excited at the prospect of a Ski holiday now and all that it entails.  Especially if it means, beautiful log cabins, thick hot chocolate, delicious food and of course the infamous parties...

This is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a very long time and have a much overdue catch up with a friend I met when I was travelling.  My aim is to see Toronto in the Spring, so I am hoping I will be able to make it out there this Easter for a week.  So let me know if you have any 'must do' or 'top tips' while I am there.  At the moment I am thinking Niagara Falls?


America has never really captured my heart like other places such as Australia and Thailand.  However, I have two years left in my 20's (scary stuff) and I think this could be the perfect way to celebrate my 30th and give me enough time to save and do it in style!


Buy a house
As I have just mentioned, the big 30 is coming up in the next few years and I would love to have bought my own house by then.

Of course, these 6 new additions to my bucket list will take me more than a year to complete (unless I win the lottery) and I won't hazard a guess as to which ones I will manage to complete this year - but hopefully in my lifetime I will see each of these places and reach each of the life goals that I have set out for myself.

Do you have anything on your bucket list that you want to tick off in 2016?  Or are you looking for some inspiration?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Iceland, Game of Thrones filming, Snorkelling between tectonic plates....

Just a quick update from me, as I am still in Iceland, but it's been amazing so far and I thought I would share with you a few postcard perfect landscapes with you all, as well as a few Game of Thrones film locations and our dive between the Tectonic plates.

Firstly, yes you read that right - in the middle of an Icelandic winter, we have indeed jumped into freezing cold water between two tectonic plates. It was amazing, but I'm not sure I will be queuing to go do it again...

It was minus 7 degrees outside of the water, so as soon as I got out I virtually ran the 10 minutes back to the car and wiped off my drysuit and threw my coat back on. (If you used to swim as a child, you will know the kind of feeling, but imagine getting changed out of your costume outside in the snow...)

We have also been beyond The Wall and checked out a few places where Jon Snow has filmed for GoT's and also The Bloody Gate At The Eyrie, which Aura and The Hound, Sansa and Petyr Baelishh all walk through to get to their Aunt Lysa's Castle - which if you watch the series, you will know always ends in disaster.

Yesterday we drove out to the Snæfellsnes Penninsula, where we went down in to the Lava Tubes/Caves and felt a little like we were staring in the decent two when all the lights went out. Pretty intense stuff. But when you come back out into the day light, you were met with stunning views like the one below.

The first full day was spent exploring the Golden Circle, which included The Pingvellir National Park, The Geysers and Gullfoss Falls.

However, on arrival, the first stop was to go and see the Northern lights - something which most people find as their initial draw to Iceland in the first place.

I will update you all withs some more pictures when I am home, but for now, here is a quick snapshot of my time so far in Iceland, I hope you enjoy!