With grandparents and a six-year-old in tow, kimkim traveler Lesley Santiago needed to plan a trip that was fun, educational, and great for all ages. Iceland proved to be the perfect place, with plenty of family-friendly wintertime activities to choose from. From the Blue Lagoon to snowmobiling on a glacier, Lesley gives us the highlights and some tips for planning a multigenerational vacation.

Hi Lesley! How did your family first become interested in taking a winter trip to Iceland? 

Lesley and family on their Langjökull Glacier snowmobiling trip (photo courtesy of Lesley Santiago)

Our family usually just travels within the continental United States, with occasional visits back home to the Philippines. This particular trip was planned on a whim - we simply decided one day last summer that Iceland was next on our list, and we had to make it happen.

I had read about Iceland countless times and knew it would be an interesting country to visit - I was just wary about how to best tackle the trip planning and wondered if it would work for my 6-year-old son. I wanted the trip to be both fun and educational so we decided to do the trip in January to hopefully witness the Northern Lights and check out glaciers, geysers, and waterfalls.

Your group was made up of family members with ages ranging from 6 to 60. How did Iceland work out as a destination for travelers of all ages?  What activities worked out best?

ATV tour on Reykjanes peninsula (photo courtesy of Lesley Santiago)

Our group did great on the tour set by kimkim specialist Christina. I told her the ages in our group and asked for each day to have just enough activities to be doable for everyone. Going to the Blue Lagoon after our flight was a favorite, as was the snowmobiling tour on Langjökull Glacier. My son really loved the Lava Museum as well - especially after we passed a volcano on our way to Vik. He didn't want to get out of the car until he was assured that it wouldn't erupt! It was very educational indeed. 

Overall the trip was a once in a lifetime experience for all of us, and I would highly recommend it. 

Do you have any general advice for travelers planning a multigenerational family vacation? 

Plan your trip to Iceland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Chasing the Northern Lights (photo courtesy of Lesley Santiago)

It's all about good communication with your specialist and setting clear expectations. Ask for age-appropriate activity suggestions - locals have the best knowledge about which of the destination's many offerings will work for everyone. It's also important to talk about the pace of the trip, and whether you prefer slow and relaxed, a jam-packed schedule, or something in between.

It sounds like you had a blast on the Game of Thrones tour. What were some of your favorite parts?

Meeting an Icelandic horse on the Game of Thrones tour (photo courtesy of Lesley Santiago)

The Game of Thrones tour guide had lots of interesting knowledge about the show and an incredible sense of humor. There was never a dull moment. Going to the places where they shot the scenes was breathtaking, and it was helpful that the guide had pictures from the show as a reference. My son especially liked the meet-and-greet with the Icelandic horses.

I'm actually quite afraid of horses, but when I saw an Icelandic pony up close, I couldn't help but change my mind about horses in general. So thank you to that Icelandic horse - you changed my life!

What do you think are important qualities for family tour guides, and what did you like about the ones you had?

Suited up for snowmobiling (photo courtesy of Lesley Santiago)

I loved all of our tour guides. One thing I especially liked was their patience and ability to relate to my son. They were happy to give him extra attention, converse with him, and even encouraged him to make a snow angel. Tour guides should be open to any questions, even seemingly silly ones - as a tourist, I tend to ask that kind. Not knowing that Icelandic water is purest of the pure, I shamefully asked for bottled water at a restaurant. That will haunt me until the end of time!

Did anything about Iceland end up surprising you? 

All smiles in front of Geysir (photo courtesy of Lesley Santiago)

When you're in a foreign country, you can't help but feel concerned that maybe something will go wrong - especially when traveling with kids. I couldn't help but worry: what if we get lost? Is it safe to be walking around at night? Luckily, Iceland proved extremely safe, and we found Icelanders to be genuine, good-hearted people.  Also: free wifi - better than our wifi at home - is everywhere: gasoline stations, cafés, shops, and hotels. I love Iceland!

Lesley's trip was planned through kimkim by Christina Degener, our local travel specialist based in Reykjavik.