Considering a mega road trip across Europe and Iceland with your toddler? Find out how one family did it!
Alyona, an economist and business consultant based in Crete, became Ektoras’ mom 18 months ago. Also a passionate traveler and amateur photographer, she and her husband Kostas spent part of his paternity leave traveling with their toddler across Europe and Iceland. Come share in a day in their life traveling in Iceland. You can also follow Alyona and her family on their travel blog A&K TravelLife.
How Our Road Trip Adventure Began
When my husband was about to go on paternity leave, we discussed the pragmatics of our new lives with bébé—my going back to work full-time, our son’s schedule, and basics like yard work. Even though Ektoras and I weren’t ready to be apart from each other, we were determined to make this new life work. After all, it made total sense. My husband earns a full-time salary and can stay home with Ektoras. I should be the one going out to work to supplement our income.
Everything changed one day when we had coffee with a friend. When he heard that Kostas was going on a fully paid five-month paternity leave, he exclaimed: “Oh my God, I would go on the most amazing trip if I had that kind of time off!” We all laughed, but we were already discussing potential destinations on our way back home…
After weighing all the pros and cons, we made our decision. We were leaving Crete for a four-month-long road trip through continental Europe. Final destination—Iceland! After purchasing a rooftop tent, car fridge, and camping supplies, we were ready for our low-budget adventure with our 18-month-old little adventurer. And so began our four-month road trip from Greece to Iceland.
A Typical Day in Iceland
After travelling one-and-half months through Europe and enduring a harrowing 50-hour boat trip on the rough northern Atlantic, we finally reached Iceland. We were more than ready to enjoy 21 incredible days in nature. Please join me for a typical day exploring Iceland with bebe.
7 AM – Morning wake up
Ektoras wakes us jumping on top of us. The temperature outside our rooftop tent is around 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. We aren’t very lucky with the weather! The cold makes me feel so sleepy and too lazy to get up and out of my sleeping bag. I beg Ektoras to lie down, but nothing doing as he tries to unzip the tent door…
While I got Ektoras changed, Kostas puts on his boots and all his layers and heads out to the campsite kitchen with our breakfast supplies. Ektoras seems immune to the cold as we walk over to the bathroom to brush our teeth and get ready for our new day.
I prepare breakfast–usually something simple, such as cereal or Skyr, the Icelandic version of yogurt, with oat flakes, fruit, and honey. If the camp kitchen is well equipped, I make an omelet or scrambled eggs. While I keep Ektoras busy feeding him breakfast, Kostas prepares coffee and a large thermos of hot tea for the day. He gathers all our things and folds up the tent while Ektoras and I play ball or chase after birds.
9 AM — A Visit to Siglufjordur
Just as we are about to leave, Ektoras poops–of course! So…I take off all the layers, change his diaper, and coax him into his car seat. After our long continental European road trip, he is used to being in the car but not without some resistance. When I promise reading him his favorite story, he cooperates.
Since it’s early and Ektoras is bursting with energy, we usually go on a hike or visit a nearby site. Today, we head to Siglufjordur, a a small small town way up in Iceland and only a 30-minute drive away from our campsite. Our car ride goes quickly while we enjoy our coffee and I read Russian books to Ektoras and admire the scenery. Whenever we see a waterfall, Kostas shouts it out. Ektoras starts jumping in his car seat: he loves waterfalls!
When we park in Siglufjordur’s town center, it’s drizzling and I get Ektoras in his waterproof suit before heading out. Meanwhile, Kostas has run over to the harbor where fishermen are returning with their morning catch. He takes photos of this beautiful scene with seagulls swarming about. Ektoras and I walk over to observe the containers laden with fish being unloaded and then reloaded empty on the ship.
Ektoras is calm and ready for some sightseeing. He explores the town center hand in hand with his dad while I take some pictures. We climb the stairs up to the church, chatting with workers about construction. We would stay longer if it weren’t raining. We like this town very much where we spot two beautiful restaurants/cafeterias on the harbor.
It’s time for us to leave and for Ektoras’ nap. Kostas puts on some Latin lounge music. It’s a little surrealistic, but it makes us feel warmer. I sing Ektoras a lullaby and he falls asleep very fast. I have time to check my emails, answer some urgent messages, and upload a couple of photos to our Instagram account. Then we just enjoy our ride, heading to the next location, Akureyri, the northern capital of Iceland.
Sometimes, we have a hot picnic in a nice outdoor space with a view. Today, the weather is not on our side and we have last night’s leftovers in the car with blueberries for dessert.
As is often the case in Iceland, the weather changes from one minute to the next. It’s now sunny and literally hot at around 15 degrees Celsius! We go to Akureyri’s beautiful botanical gardens which are in full bloom and reminds us of our days in France, Switzerland, and Belgium en route to Iceland. We take a break sipping our tea on a bench while Ektoras drinks his fruit smoothie and plays in the small fountain nearby. He’s all wet, but who cares? It’s summer in Iceland!
It’s finally time to discover Akureyri. After seeing the famous church, we realize that there’s not much to do here aside from shopping, eating, and drinking. We get back into the car and head south for a walk along the river. Ektoras is thrilled to throw stones in the water. This would be a lot more relaxing if we weren’t terrified of him jumping in…
Back at the campsite, I make pasta for dinner which we enjoy eating outdoors. Kostas then pitches the tent while Ektoras and I shower. Kostas helps me take a screaming Ektoras out of the shower, brush his teeth, and get dressed. Our toddler makes such a scene that it would be no wonder if our fellow campers report us to social services! We finally get Ektoras back into the tent and bundle him up in his snowsuit and ready for bed. After reading him a story, I nurse him a bit and he falls asleep by 7:30-8PM. This is no easy challenge as the sun barely sets in the summer in Iceland.
Finally, we can relax and have our tea and late snack together while catching up on what we saw today and tomorrow’s plans. We often share our adventures with our fellow travelers at the campsite. I also generally manage to work in the campsite lounge on my sales and marketing projects.Then it’s back to the tent. As I lie awake in my sleeping bag in the cold stillness, I can hear my husband and my son breathing next to me. Although tired, I can’t stop thinking about this amazing adventure we are living. I fall asleep hoping that Ektoras will not wake up until the morning. Of course, this never happens..
For me, this schedule is ideal. I get to be a mom, work, and travel. Kostas works on our travel blog, a family project that we started just eight months ago.
Some days may sound like a fairy-tale, others a sheer nightmare. Traveling with a toddler is a formidable challenge, but would I do it again?
Yes, I would 😉
Planning a trip to Iceland? When you book your flights on Expedia, not only do you get great deals, but you’re also helping out Bébé Voyage, at no extra cost to you. They see that we’re sending them traffic when you start here and as a thank you they send us a small commission.