Know Before You Go: Iceland Winter Escape | EF Ultimate Break
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Iceland Winter Escape

Know Before You Go

For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.

COVID-19

For the latest information regarding COVID-19 and entry requirements, please visit this page.

Travel Documents & Tour Preparation

Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.

Travel Documents

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
  • Visa: U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less.
  • Travel Insurance: While travel insurance is not required, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers, here.

Tour Preparation

  • Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
  • Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
  • Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
  • Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
    • Wi-Fi will be in hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
    • Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
  • Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.

Arrival Information & Transportation

Flight Preparation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.

  • If your flight is canceled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancelations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time.
  • If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.

Arriving in Reykjavik
Welcome to Iceland! Now that you have #landed, you will want to grab your luggage and pass through customs and immigration. (Yay! Passport stamps!)

Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!

If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.

Getting from A to B
You’re traveling through Iceland, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. The majority of travel will be done via private motor coach. Bring motion sickness medicine in case you’re prone to getting carsick; many of the roads in Iceland are flat and winding.

It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans wifi/cellular data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time.

Health & Safety

Staying Healthy While Traveling
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:

  • Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Stay hydrated: During this trip you’ll be spending a fair amount of time in the great outdoors. It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. In fact, Iceland's water is so clean that drinking from the taps is safe.
  • Be prepared: The most prepared travelers will also bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
  • Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
    • Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
    • What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
    • Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.

Safety While Abroad
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:

  • Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi and always have cash on hand. There is no Uber or Lyft in Iceland. In Reykjavik, taxis can only be hailed on the street from a designated cab queue. Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411.

Packing

Icelanders have a saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” In Iceland, the climate is cold, windy, and cloudy for most of the year. Pack in layers, bring the essentials, and you’re golden. Like an onion, it’s all about the layers.

Please note, your airline ticket does include a checked bag, but years of customer feedback tells us the lighter you pack, the better, so a carry-on should be all you need! See below for more packing tips to help you become a professional carry-on traveler.

Electronics: Iceland uses the standard Europlug socket with two round prongs - 220-volt, 50Hz cycle electricity. You will need to bring either adapter types “C” or “F”.

Packing list:

  • Heavy, waterproof coat
  • Light layers to add on and peel off
  • A smaller backpack to keep your clothes and items in during active days. We also recommend zip-lock bags to keep your phone and valuables dry.
  • Comfortable walking/active shoes you aren’t afraid to get dirty!
  • Hats, scarves, gloves
  • 4-5 shirts / t-shirts
  • 4-5 jeans / pants
  • 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
  • Underwear and socks
  • Bathing suit and towel; water shoes for hot springs (not required)
  • Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to it
  • 1-2 bottles of travel-size sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Umbrella
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport. We also recommend that you make two color photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with a friend or relative, and bring one copy with you, keeping it separate from the original documents.
  • Debit / credit cards and cash

Money & Tipping

We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.

Budgeting
We recommend budgeting $80-$100 per day for meals, gratuities, shopping, and free time activities. The average meal on your own can be up to $25 USD. For this trip, that means roughly $500-$600 but you know your spending habits best. If you’re looking to #treatyourself to the max, you may want to budget a little more.

Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.

Managing Money
While traveling through Iceland, you’ll be using the Icelandic Króna. The rates at ATMs are usually the best, and you can find machines everywhere - especially with the help of your Tour Director.

Please make sure to talk with your bank and credit card companies to let them know where and when you are traveling, and to go over any international transaction fees. It’s always smart to bring more than one form of payment while traveling, and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country. Do you have a credit card that offers zero international transaction fees? If so, bring that bad boy to save some money for purchases abroad.

Tipping
When it comes to tipping, there is no tip required for taxis and nearly all restaurant bills that you receive already include gratuity, so additional tipping is not necessary. As it is customary to tip for services provided, we recommend the following for this tour:

  • Tour Director: $24-36 given at the end of the trip
  • Local Guides: $1-$2
  • Bus Driver: $20-$30 given at the end of the trip

Language & Local Life

Speak the Language
In Iceland, almost everyone speaks English fluently, but the national language is Icelandic. Here are some basic phrases you can brush up on before leaving. Most importantly: how to toast! And no, we don’t mean your bread. Say, “skál!”

  • Hello: Halló (Hah-loh)
  • Goodbye: Bless (bles)
  • Please: Vinsamlegast (vihn-sahm-lay-gast)
  • Thank you: Takk (tahk)
  • Pardon me: Afsakio (Af-sah-sith)
  • Yes: Já (yah)
  • No: Nei (nay)
  • Cheers: Skál (sk-ohl)

Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!

Live Like a Local
From towering volcanoes and black-sand beaches to 200-foot waterfalls and everything in between, Iceland is an adventure lover’s dream. No wonder the locals stick around. Keep the following in mind when you’re out exploring:

  • Hot springs, bathhouses, and lagoons are coveted relaxation places in Iceland. Because so many locals and tourists go in these calming waters, there are attendants there to make sure you fully shower in your birthday suit before you go in to ensure cleanliness. Yes, it may be a little awkward but, when in Iceland, right?
  • Weekdays are quiet, and the real party starts when the locals end their work week and hit the bars on Friday and Saturday around midnight.
  • Running hot water, you may experience a rotting-egg smell. Don’t worry, it’s completely normal and the water is safe to drink and use. It’s just sulfur.
  • Iceland is an island, so that means products may be more expensive than you’re used to.

Food & Drink

You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.

  • Pylsa: Hot dogs are quite popular in Iceland, and "the works" on top of a traditional one include raw and fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and remoulade.
  • Skyr: This Icelandic yogurt is likely thicker and creamier than you're used to.
  • Lamb: From stews to kebabs, you could probably eat lamb a different way each day of your trip. Sheep here are range-free and feed off of the grass, berries, and seaweed spanning the island, which help give it it's mid flavor and tenderness.
  • Ice cream: Even in the dead of winter, the people of Iceland love a good scoop of ice cream. You might even find some unique flavors, like licorice or rye bread.
  • Icelandic rye bread: Speaking of rye bread, Iceland's take on this classic is pretty hardcore, considering it's made by baking it in a pot buried underground near a geyser. The thick, sweet results is commonly topped with pickled herring, smoked lamb, or simply butter. It also pairs well with fish stews!
  • Seafood: Cod, haddock, salmon, and monkfish are some of the most popular dishes you'll find in the countless seafood restaurants across the country.
  • Icelandic beer: Though Iceland's craft beer scene is relatively new, you'll find a great variety to sample throughout Reykjavík .

Free Time

If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time.

Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.

We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.

Bon voyage!

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