What Your Family Needs to Know About Iceland’s Locker Room Etiquette

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Nothing in the world could have prepared me for the Icelandic locker rooms.

As we drove to one of the community thermal pools ready for a relaxing swim, my mom flipped through her Frommer’s book on Iceland that she had picked up at our hostel. Eventually, she stumbled upon an article and began reading to us the proper Icelandic swimming etiquette. My eyes widened in horror as she read aloud, and my palms began to sweat at the awkwardness of the whole thing. Since the pools are not very chlorinated, Icelanders are very concerned about the spreading of germs.

Rule one: Leave all shoes outside the locker room on the racks to keep the floors clean. In America, we tend to keep our shoes on inside locker rooms so we don’t pick up some else’s toe jam.

Rule two: Strip down to your birthday suit and stash your towel and swimsuit near the open showers.

Rule three: Shower off and wash the “specified” areas. Then, put your swimsuit on.

Rule four: After swimming, shower again. This time swimsuits are allowed while washing off.

After hearing the rules, I was less than excited to experience this firsthand.

When we walked into the locker room, I tried to stare straight ahead. It was hard to look for a locker because every time you glanced around, gaggles of naked woman would be undressing.

We eventually found a clothed lady that was friendly enough to tell us what to do. When we found a locker, we undressed and wrapped our towels around ourselves, unlike everyone else. We then made our way to the open showers. No curtains or closed stalls of any kind. But luckily, there were three stalls, sadly without curtains, that we snagged as opposed to open showering.

You could feel the Icelanders and the other Europeans, who were accustomed to this, entertainingly watching our uncomfortableness. After washing ourselves, we made a mad dash for our swimsuits and slipped them on over our wet bodies. With relief, I realized our traumatic Icelandic locker room experience was over. Until I remembered that we were going to the Blue Lagoon, another geothermal pool, the next day (Luckily, there were closed stalls at the next place).

I can sadly say, this is a horrifying memory I will carry with me to my grave. I will never get the terrifying images out of my mind that keep me tossing and turning in bed for hours.

If I ever moved to Iceland, I would never swim again.

On our last day on the way to the airport, my dad asked my mom, Riley and me, “So, what did we do in Iceland?”

“Froze our butts off and saw too many naked people!” I responded. I was truly scarred for life from the dramatic experience, in Iceland.

To read the official guidelines:

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/iceland/254363

17 thoughts

  1. Natalie and I just laughed and laughed at your horrifying but yet hilarious story! Thanks for the heads up. We will NOT be swimming in Iceland anytime soon–thank goodness. 🏊😜

    We have just read many entries and are so enjoying the blog. Y’all are some awesome writers! We miss you terribly but are so happy to live vicariously through you!

    We love you!

    1. Thank you for reading! We miss y’all so much too. Keep us posted on the book tour, we want to follow along!

      Delaney

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    1. Hi Mr. Morris! Thanks for reading my post. Glad to hear from you. I miss A block math, homeschooling is NOT fun. Tell the class hello for me, thinking of you all!

      Delaney

      Sent from my iPad

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  2. Haha that’s great. I felt the same way (I’m American) my first time in an Icelandic changing room, but after a few months of living here, I’m so used to it. It’s kindof free-ing. And I can always spot the American tourists (this is perfectly normal for the rest of Europe as well) as soon as they come in because of the uncomfortable glancing around to make sure they really are supposed to strip down in front of everyone. And the delightfulness of the heated pool is so worth it.

    1. Hi Hannah. Thanks so much for commenting. It’s great to hear from an American-turned-Icelander! I was glad my daughter wrote that post because it was so funny to hear it from a 14 year old girl’s perspective. I’m also glad to know that you do eventually get used to it.

      So how are you doing learning the language? Now that’s a real doozie!

      1. Oh, that’s funny! I thought you had written it. It makes so much more sense coming from a young person! She has a very mature writing style! My parents traveled and lived around the world with my brothers and I when we were young, and it was one of the greatest influences and experiences they could have every given us. What you’re doing is amazing. I’m getting there on the language.

        For my graduate studies I have intensive Old Norse/ Old Icelandic, which is very similar, especially when it comes to the grammar. That helps a lot.

  3. Friend of your grandparents, Russ and Janet and really enjoy reading about your adventures. I laughed but Delaney I admire your courageous spirit. I don’t think I could have done it. Keep the posts coming and enjoy your adventures.
    Pat

  4. What an entertaining post! We loved reading this over breakfast in Christchurch, NZ as we head on to Rotorua, NZ this morning. Thanks for the laugh 🙂 Hope your travels are good……. The Fagans from Birmingham, AL

  5. I enjoyed reading about your Iceland experience. I have to agree with you that swimming would no longer be a hobby of mine 🙂
    Hope you are having fun!
    Stephanie Holcomb

  6. I caught myself laughing out loud as I read your post, Delaney! Glad I’m experiencing it vicariously rather than first-hand. 😉 And I loved the way you summed up your stay in Iceland: “Froze our butts of and saw too many naked people!” Classic!

  7. Oh, the things we learn by traveling. The scarring will subside, but the memories will be forever. I hope you guys are having a blast. We miss you guys at LPM.

  8. I would be horrified too, Delaney! (I can’t decide which post scares me more— the giant cockroaches or no shoes in the locker room!) I am, however, glad you braved the nakedness and were able to enjoy the geothermal pool! I’m enjoying reading about your journey and hearing all about your experiences. You should reread “East” while you’re in that part of the world!

  9. Love this post Delaney! And I had NO IDEA….. About the shower thing. Glad u survived it! Keep these great stories coming. Love love reading them

  10. We are laughing SO hard! Don’t know if we could have done it, Delaney! Don’t think we could handle those pictures in our minds! Just look at the picture of the Blue Lagoon before bed each night! Ha! Ha! You and Riley are such good writers! Keep it up! Kids are wanting to know about Harry Potter World so you will have to post about that! Have a great time!!!!!

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