For me, one of the most difficult things about coming home from my time abroad was not leaving my adopted city or emotional farewells. It was packing.
I started the packing process optimistically, sentimentally, and with some excitement to be heading home after my nine-month adventure.
My optimism began to fade with the realisation that my faithful yoga mat of 6 months was longer than my suitcase, and continued to dissipate as I saw the weight of my shoes, textbooks, coat…
As a result of my packing woes, I do have some useful information/suggestions for future exchange students.
Rauði Kross Íslands & Loft Hostel
In the course of nine months I accumulated so much stuff. I used some of that stuff so much that it was ready to throw in the bin and other things so little that I felt there was no point in taking them home.
For things that come under the latter, you can drop them off at Iceland’s Red Cross charity shop right across from the central bus station Hlemmur. There is also the monthly event of Swap ‘Til You Drop at Loft Hostel on the main street – a chance both to get rid of your stuff at the end of your stay and to get things you need nearer the beginning of your exchange.
You also have to be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of things – a value that had not been instilled in me given that a “Baby Girl” balloon from the day I was born is still sitting in my house. However, in the last minute packing panic I managed to part with my scuffed up boots that I wore almost every day.
My choices of flight providers to Glasgow/Edinburgh were either EasyJet or Icelandair (budget airline WowAir is now operating flight routes between Glasgow and Reykjavik).
My boyfriend (who was staying with me after finishing his exchange) and I flew with EasyJet to Edinburgh and paid around £45 each for our plane tickets. This only includes hand luggage, not hold luggage. 20kg* of hold luggage can be added for £20 (right up until the last minute using the app, which was very useful for us). You can add up to three cases per person and we ended up using the full allowance – this included fitting 17kg of our belongings in a $7 gym bag I bought in Canada. It miraculously made it to Edinburgh in one piece and with the zip intact.
*Heavier luggage/sports equipment can be carried for a higher fee.
If you choose to fly with Icelandair, a one-way ticket can cost over £200 (varies greatly depending on when you book) which includes one piece of 23kg hold luggage and hand luggage. For a 2-2.5 hour flight I don’t consider it that important but Icelandair aircrafts are nicer and more spacious than the budget airlines – I can speak to the quality of WowAir too as I used them to fly from Reykjavik to London for a connection.
I genuinely thought I was so organised yet still nearly caused us to miss our flight home. So I have some tips:
- Print your tickets and any other travel info!
Sure you can have your FlyBus ticket (which takes you from Reykjavik to Keflavik Airport for only 2500 ISK) on your phone in the email they send you. And the EasyJet app is great if that’s who you fly with. But I misremembered our bus departure time which, if I didn’t book the much earlier bus for fear of this exact situation, could have been disastrous.
- How much stuff do you actually have? Have a trial run at packing one case.
Don’t suddenly find yourself surprised that you could do with an extra piece of hold luggage – I wasn’t sure about the weight of all my stuff, but I did suspect that my large gym bag might end up being hold luggage.
- Leave yourself with enough time.
By this I mean days, not ‘be at the airport 3 hours prior to departure’.
Although I said packing was a more traumatising venture than actually leaving Iceland, departing wasn’t exactly emotionless. I am glad I left time to properly say goodbye to the city and to friends during my last couple of days. It was also really nice to revisit a couple of tourist activities – whale watching, going up to the top of Hallgrimskirkja. I also finally got around to buying an Icelandic jumper (pictured below) and a couple of souvenirs.
When all is said and done, packing is the final part of your exchange. Make sure it’s not overly stressful so that you can enjoy that very last bit of the adventure.
As always, if you have any questions about Iceland, Erasmus or studying law abroad, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org