I would like to use this travel blog to give tips and advice about the places I've traveled. A recent trip of mine, and first for the blog, is my adventure to Iceland. I've always wanted to go here, and the trip was amazing. Before going, I was nervous about not being prepared. I found myself being perfectly prepared and found the infrastructure of Iceland is very accommodating to people traveling. So if you're worried, don't be.
For packing: I initially wanted to just bring the backpack shown in the photo.. Which quickly turned into me bringing a duffle bag also. I was trying to be mindful of our camper van we were renting, and how much space we would have. I think this was the perfect amount of luggage. The duffle bag was strictly for clothes, and the backpack held my camera, snacks, tripod, etc. This also allowed me not to have to check anything. The backpack is 60L, and I think that is the max size you can get away with. The people at the airline desk were trying to give me a hard time but the bag fit perfectly in the test carrier they had. We flew Icelandair and there is plenty of overhead space for luggage. An old lady did get mad at me, but whatever.
This was our campervan, quickly named Selena. It was amazing. Perfect for two people. It included a GPS (which kinda sucked), a wifi hotspot (which kinda sucked at times but was pretty good), a heater which was amazing, small fridge, 2 lawn chairs, table, stovetop with propane, lots of interior lights, usb charger, and AUX port. BRING AN AUX CABLE. We didn't, and had to buy one at a gas station and was pretty pricey for an AUX cable. The camper was $650 with insurance, per person, for 7 nights. Got it from Goiceland.com. The next photo will explain the insurance and camper details.
So as I mentioned, the camper was $650 per person (there was two of us), and this was with insurance. Before the trip, I reserved the camper and only got the gravel insurance. When I went to pick up the camper, I saw a couple drop theirs off and get HAMMERED with charges because of the small rock chips and small dings and dents. I was able to upgrade my insurance, which I quickly did. I have to say, these guys aren't out to get you, and the prices aren't murder. I upgraded to every insurance option. This costed us about $15 per person, for each day. So for us, it was $105 for the 7 days. Which was more then worth it. I didn't have to worry about having to pay any charges and it made the trip way better.
During the trip, I noticed a reflector fell off, a weird dent, and a lot of gravel fragments that I couldn't scrape off. Right there it would have been a few hundred in damages. Also, you get a slip of paper with previous incidents to the camper so you don't get charged for them. TAKE PHOTOS of the camper before you leave the office. I was nervous dropping it off because I thought they would try to screw us for something, but everything was fine. I also say get all the insurances because we drove on some pretty crazy cliffs... And I think thats how the reflector fell off. It was also covered in ash, so if you want to drive and have fun, just get the insurance. Also, the big ring road sometimes turns into gravel and you can't avoid it. The road just hasn't been paved. So right there, without gravel insurance, you're going to be paying for damages.
Money situation: Whenever I travel, I make sure to have cash. Well, I try to, I usually never do. I was recently in Mexico and pretty much no one takes card. In Iceland, EVERYONE TAKES CARD. It's almost kinda crazy, we would goto some small little shack for food or coffee and they would take cards. The cash was good to have, but left me with lots of coins.
For money conversion, I simply kept these numbers in my head. $1 = 100 KR, $10 USD = 1,000 KR, $100 = 10,000 KR. The conversion is a bit off, but that was good to keep in mind.
Keep a change purse...
Parking the thing and camping: I was super worried about spots to park it. But trust me, it's crazy how many places you can park it. We camped at campsites only two nights. Campsites run about $15 USD per person for the night. Which isn't bad. They have snacks and showers and bathrooms. But we ended up parking the camper in parking lots on the side of the road, which there are plenty, and in random areas. Which is way cooler when you get to open the door to a view of a glacier then a campsite.
When it comes to driving it. Ours was manual. I've been driving manual for a long time, so I drove the entire time. Some of the roads are kinda crazy and super steep. But if you are with someone who is slightly experienced, they would have no problem driving it on the main roads.
DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT. I quickly learned this. The big reasons are: You'll miss seeing really cool stuff, and the road turns into a 1-car-only lane pretty fast, and happens a lot. So it was pretty tough to see oncoming cars at night. Driving through some crazy fog was intense as well. Our strategy was to do what we wanted during the day, then drove to the next destination, or close to it, before the sun went down. Sun set for us around 9:00pm.
So my mom bought me these ridiculous water shoes. I didn't want to bring them, but I did.. And they were actually great. I wore them to the showers and in the Thermal Pools, and hot springs we would find.
There are more people then you think. In all of the photos I've seen, the locations looked vacant. I was super excited. But just about every spot had tons of people. Which is fine, I just wasn't expecting it. So if you think you'll have the thermal pools and volcanoes all to yourself, things might change..
Bring a tripod: I always try to bring it with me, and this trip I almost left it home. But it's always worth the lugging of it around. Especially for the northern lights.
Northern Lights: We went from August 31-September 8. We saw the northern lights 4 times. The best spots we saw them were in those random parking spots near the roads, away from lights and cities. They're really amazing to see, and make sure you have enough batteries, memory cards, and camera gear.
The Lagoons: This is a photo of Blue Lagoon. We also went to the Myvatn Nature Baths. We liked those better. Less people, and much cheaper. The showers and bathrooms at both lagoons are amazing. But Blue Lagoon, is on some next level kind of crazy high end resort-like futuristic development. But, you're paying more for it. At both, you get a free locker, and are asked to shower naked before getting in. I showered in my swim shorts, no one cared. Blue Lagoon does have a bar, and it's crazy expensive. Like $11 for a beer expensive. Blue Lagoon is really crowded, as you could imagine. We had to take a bus from Reykavik to the lagoon, then they picked us up and dropped us in the city.
The pricing for Myvatn was about $38 USD per person, and Blue Lagoon (with bus included) was about $90 USD.
Food: Restaurants in Iceland are expensive. I kept my restaurant-spending to once a day. I brought lots of oatmeals packs and ramen. And going to a restaurant for dinner or lunch was nice to not have to eat oatmeal out of a water bottle. Restaurant food usually consists of pizza, burgers, fish, pretty much the normal stuff. And of course you can find gas station hot dogs which are pretty gross but you'll find yourself eating a lot of them.
I spent anywhere from $24-$60 per meal at a restaurant. I remember when I spent $24, all I got was a small personal pizza and tea. The $60 end was probably a burger or fish, with a few beers. Again, beer is about $11.. I did buy a 6-pack of shitty Viking beer at a campsite for $5. Which was great. The price was great, the beer was... Shitty.
I used all my loose change I collected for road snacks / candy bars.
Thanks for reading! I've included a Google MyMap with destination points and campsites. Feel free to use it.