The in’s and out’s of booking a trip to Iceland

Hi everyone! I’ve been asked by a few people to write a post filled with tips and tricks for booking a trip to Iceland. I’ll try to be as brief as possible and give you a general overviews of some huge do’s and dont’s I learned from my trip. For reference, I went for 5 days at the beginning of March in 2019!

1. Do: Get a car |||| Don’t: Rely on uber or public transportation

There’s a ton of well known American (Hertz, Budget) and local Icelandic companies that offer rental cars with pick up and drop off at the airport. We rented a car from Lagoon Car Rental (local company). We knew traveling to Iceland in the winter would require 4WD so we made sure to get a car (Subaru Forester) that offered 4WD. The car itself wasn’t too expensive, however the daily insurance and gas fill up ($92 to fill the tank) is what drove the price up to around $600 split between the 3 of us (a little under $200 each). I think I saw one bus, and definitely did not see any Ubers. To see most things in Iceland, you need to go out of Reykjavik, so be sure to either go with a tour group or get your own transportation.

2. Do: Bring some food from home |||| Don’t: Bring so much that you won’t experience Icelandic food

One of the mistakes I think my friends and I made was that we brought a lot of food from home and bought all of our groceries, leaving little space to actually experience Icelandic food and restaurants. I know Iceland is expensive, so definitely bring A TON of snacks and some food for meals. However, budget so you get to experience some of the countries native foods!

3. Do: plan out your days beforehand |||| Don’t: go to Iceland without some type of itinerary

One thing we did that made our trip run so smoothly was roughly plan out our week before we set foot on the plane. Here is a rough idea of our plan:

  • Monday: Arrive in Iceland, get rental car, drive to Reykjavik + Airbnb, explore the city
  • Tuesday: Drive the Golden Circle
  • Wednesday: Explore Iceland’s Southern Coast (DC-3 Plane wreck, waterfalls, Vik)
  • Thursday: Blue Lagoon and explore Reykjavik, souvenir shopping
  • Friday: Horseback riding, Dinner out
  • Saturday: Breakfast out, walk around the city, go to airport and fly home

This plan was great because we had a basic idea of what we wanted to do. However, it wasn’t inflexible and we added a ton of stops, especially on Monday and Tuesday when we took the car on road trips. We also chose to go searching for the Northern Lights a few nights, but we added that in based on how tired we were and the aurora schedule! Planning also allowed us to book everything necessary in advance (Blue Lagoon and Horseback riding). This helped us to save time and money!

Blue Lagoon (taken with GoPro)

4. Do: pack wisely |||| Don’t: pack a ton cute, fancy, or expensive outfits

Especially if you’re going in the winter like I did, don’t expect your outfits to be showcased at all. I wore my jacket the entire time and in 99.9% of pictures. I brought a few sweaters and cuter clothes in case of pictures or going to a bar, however I found myself wearing the same 3 things the whole trip. Here are some of my packing suggestions:

  • Patagonia or similar brand quarter-zip fleece
  • Multiple hats (great way to change up your pictures)
  • Fleece leggings
  • Crew/wool socks
  • Jeans (way warmer than leggings in my opinion)
  • Sweatshirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Bathing suit (there’s a ton of hot springs around)
  • Waterproof boots (I barely even wore my sneakers)
  • Scarf
  • GLOVES!
  • Raincoat and winter jacket (the weather is unpredictable)
  • Conditioner (hair will get very stiff due to sulfur in the water)
As you can (or can’t) see, the only visible clothing is my hat and winter jacket!

5. Do: Bring a great camera |||| Don’t: rely on others to take pictures for you

If you’re a photographer like me, you don’t want people to use your great photos without giving you credit or slapping on some hideous filters. If you’re not a photographer, there’s nothing wrong with asking your better skilled friends to potentially send you a few pictures. However, don’t expect to get the whole camera roll.

I personally brought my Nikon D7000 and my GoPro Hero 4 along with my iPhone 8+ along with me everyday. GoPros are great for wide shots, and the Nikon is great for everything else. I mostly posted Nikon or GoPro pictures on my instagram (B0stonandbeyond), but my iPhone 8+ camera does a great job as well. This is one place you’ll want to take a ton of pictures because it’s so beautiful. So be prepared!

Wide angle GoPro shot

Shot with Nikon D7000

Overall:

I hope this helps you when you’re planning your next trip! Here are a few of my smaller, personal recommendations:

  • Only go for 4 days total, that’s more than enough time unless you don’t have a home base (ours was an AirBnB in Reykjavik)
  • They use Icelandic Krona, not Euro. I made this mistake and it was very unfortunate. However, credit card is accepted everywhere
  • Don’t pet the Icelandic horses unless there’s specific signs saying you can
  • There’s places to pull over all over the roads to take great pictures, utilize them!
  • The weather changes rapidly, be aware!
  • There’s barely any cops on the roads, and they’re almost all one lane
  • Most national parks are free, however you may need to pay for entrance or parking in some cases
  • Food, gas, and basically everything else is insanely expensive

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