Iceland is a beautiful country. However, the cold weather and remote location make it somewhat dangerous for foreigners. Here are some tips for staying safe during your Icelandic vacation.
Strong winds make driving in Iceland a treacherous experience. Stay on the main roads as much as possible. They are cleared fairly often. However, hidden ice could send your vehicle skidding. To prevent this, drive more slowly than you would usually. You should also avoid sudden movements or turns. In case of emergencies, you should keep a charged cell phone in your vehicle at all times.
Some Icelandic attractions do require driving off the main roads. Make sure to use four-wheel drive if you venture onto the gravel roads.
If you are not comfortable driving in the winter, consider utilizing public transportation. Find out if any local buses use GPS tracking solutions. A GPS system prevents vehicles from getting lost and lets companies ensure their employees are driving safely.
Stay Away From the Water
Not every beach is safe for swimming. Reynisfjara, in particular, is known for its undercurrents that can drag people out to sea. If you see warning signs near a body of water, do not go near it. The signs are there for a reason.
Standing too close to the Reynisfjara waves could be dangerous, as well. Strong winds can sweep you off the shore. Do not turn your back to the waves, even if you are just taking a photo.
While Iceland does not have a lot of snow, it does often have freezing temperatures. During the winter, it can be as cold as five degrees Fahrenheit. The strong winds can make it feel even more frigid. The combination of wind, sleet and frost may even be deadly.
In general, however, the weather is only a problem if you are unprepared. Make sure to pack your warmest coats and rain gear. If you are traveling in the winter, wear plenty of layers and waterproof boots. Even if you go to Iceland in the summer, you should still bring hats and gloves to be safe.
Icelandic weather can also change quite quickly. While it may look sunny outside when you wake up in the morning, by nightfall there could be a snowstorm. Have your jacket with you at all times so you can be ready for whatever the weather brings. You can also contact Iceland's meteorological office for hourly updates.
Exploring any unfamiliar country on your own is unsafe. It can be particularly dangerous in Iceland due to the remote locations, harsh terrain and limited Wi-Fi. When you go exploring, be sure to stay together as a group. You may also want to hire a guide, especially if you or your friends have poor survival skills.
If you do go out hiking by yourself, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. You should also take essential supplies with you, including a first aid kit.
Whether you are alone or in a group, be sure to stay on the designated hiking trails. They are not as crowded as you may think they are, and you can easily get lost if you venture off the marked paths.
Do Not Climb the Glaciers Alone
Glaciers may appear strong, but that is not always the case. They can easily break under the weight of a human being. If the ice shatters underneath you, you could easily fall into the glacier. If you do decide to go glacier walking, make sure you have a certified guide with you.
Be Cautious Around Geothermal Ponds
Tourists love to bathe and relax in Iceland's geothermal ponds. However, not all of them are safe. Only enter pools that are designated for swimming. You should also test the water before you enter. Some of the pools contain scalding hot liquid that could burn your skin.
Do not let your dream trip to Iceland turn into a nightmare. By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure your vacation is a wonderful experience.