Iceland – Adding Up the Cost of Our Road Trip

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From 18/09/15 to 27/09/15 we travelled around Iceland’s Ring Road in a Camper Van.

September is a great time to visit Iceland since in the shoulder season prices are lower, there are less people on the road, and there is still plenty of day light but there is also a good chance of seeing the elusive Northern Lights since the nights are getting longer and temperatures are still mild. We spent 9 days in Iceland with 7 night sleeping in our Camper Van and our last 2 nights in a hotel in Iceland’s Capital Reykjavik. Iceland’s Ring Road, also known as Route 1,  encircles the entire Country, covering about 800 miles of good tarmac road, and many of the main attractions are on the Ring Road or a short distance off it. We did not have a 4 wheel drive and therefore we drove only on Route 1 or used other equally good roads. Read also my posts on our amazing road trip.

By having a Camper Van we nailed transport, accommodation and some of our meals which we cooked using the Van’s modest cooking facilities or the Campsite facilities. We found having a van to be both practical and economic. The Van was equipped with GPS, fold down bed (but bedding was our own, we took sleeping bags), electric cooler, gas hob, plates, cups, cutlery and small pots (but no kettle, take your own!). We found some great Campsites to stay overnight although wild camping is also a possibility for people who are on a tighter budget; we liked the idea of having good facilities such as toilets, running water and also we found that many had lovely kitchens with all the necessary cooking appliances and utensils.

Although not all Campsites are open in September, we had no problem finding plenty that were open – apart from our night 7 in the Snaefelness Peninsula. Although the site was closed we were still able to park the Van inside the Campsite and we did have access to an outdoor sink and running water, but the toilet block was closed. A good website to find out more about the Campsites that are open all year round is : tjalda.is

Be aware of sheep and reindeer when driving around Iceland, we had some very close and scary encounters, also do check the weather forecast and road condition by visiting the website vegagerdin.is and also safetravel.is

For Northern Lights forecast have a look at en.vedur.is

The currency used in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona (ISK), £1.00 = 190 ISK (September/15)

Most of Iceland attractions such as waterfalls, glaciers, fumaroles, mud pools, hot springs, volcanic landscapes etc., are free with exception of the Blue Lagoon and some other hot spa pools and some museums. Most car parks on these sites are also FREE.  Some adventure activities might need to be booked in advance, although none of the activities we did were booked in advance.

We found Iceland to be a very safe country, crime rate is minimal, its Capital Reykjavik has the size and feel of a small town, the entire Country has only about 320, 000 inhabitants and most live in the Capital.

Our Iceland Trip Expenses

What’s not included…

  • Cost of good sleeping bags for the Camper Van, it was pretty chilly at night… if you haven’t got any, think about getting some
  • Good outdoor gear – the weather can be mixed to say the least, often cold and wet so I would suggest good boots, waterproofs, fleeces, down jackets , and merino base layers, wool socks are very comfortable and warm even when wet
  • Phone Apps with maps etc
  • Old fashioned paper map, really useful… we got one before we went so we could plan our route and savour the journey even before we began
  • GoPro – not essential of course, but great for capturing videos behind the wettest of waterfalls and even in the hot nature baths.

What we spent

Here it is in detail, pretty much everything was paid for by card – so it was easy to reconstruct from a bank statement. Cards are accepted everywhere, we used it to pay for things even at very small shops in remote little hamlets. Our flight was with WOW airline from London Gatwick.

So a total of £2,650 for two people for ten days, about £130 per day each.

 

Iceland costs

 

What you could do differently to impact the costs

  • We went shoulder season (end September), it would  have been more expensive in Summer. High season is July and August, so it’s cheaper just a little later. Some Campsites were already closed though, and some we didn’t pay because there was no-one there to pay to or no honesty box to leave money either! Wild camping is also an option and it is free!
  • Could save a lot by cooking all your own food, making sandwiches for lunch, and missing out the hotel stay. Our last 2 nights were spent in a lovely hotel in Reykjavik so we paid both hotel costs and still had our van (parked outside the hotel). I would recommend a bigger Van though.
  • Flights were a big cost, maybe by being smart with extra research, diligent, lucky… you could shave a big slice of this.
  • Make good use of budget supermarkets such as Bonus, Netto and Kronan, found all over Iceland, although only in the larger towns.
  • Iceland hot dogs are cheap and a very tasty snack meal, I also loved their sweet twisted donut (Kleina)
  • And obviously, it would be easy to spend much more!  Disclaimer : All the above was based on our visit to Iceland and all opinions expressed here are our own.

10 Comments on “Iceland – Adding Up the Cost of Our Road Trip

  1. Very useful information here Gilda. I am checking the site on the northern lights. It is one of the wonders I would love to see. Hugs

  2. Hi Val, the Norhern Lights site is great, we kept a close look at it during our visit to Iceland, but unfortunately the cloudy night skies prevented us from seeing the NL, but heyho we will just have to go back there again soon?

  3. Great post Gilda, I love cost breakdowns. Wow, Iceland is expensive; I think you did well to keep your costs down by mainly camping though. I’ll definitely refer back to this when we eventually think about going to Iceland 🙂

    • Hi Amy, I also love reading about costs, it is fascinating. We did well with our spending considering that we splashed out on some great meals and also staying the last 2 night at a hotel in Reykjavik, originaly we wanted to stay in the Camper Van, but It was too small and I ended up having a bit of a meltdown…poor Brian had to quickly book us into a nice hotel instead?

  4. Although I usually don’t write cost breakdowns, I do believe them to be helpful to those looking at similar travel experiences. I think most of us could find ways to travel for a bit less, but then really (in my opinion) it boils down to what fits best. We walked the Camino de Santiago but we chose not to stay in dorm-style hostels, choosing instead to pay the cost of staying in a casa rural, or small motel in the villages along the way or hotels in the cities. Would we have saved money by staying in the hostels? Absolutely. But we wanted the comfort and privacy so for us it was a justified expense. If staying in a shared AirBnB home is not your thing (it’s not ours) then that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in a nice hotel with points – for example. It can be pricey to travel, but there are lots of options for everyone to explore. Well done on sharing such a detailed breakdown for your readers!

    • Hi Patti, I am often curious about what people spend on their travels and therefore I do enjoy reading about it. Like you I am not keen on sharing my space and like the privacy of my own room, so dorm style hostels would not be for me. For a long time I would not do camping either, but recently had some good just one night away camping ventures that turned out to be good fun. But if I am honest I do prefer a nice hotel room with en- suite, since a good night of sleep makes all the difference of how much I will enjoy exploring the next day. I was impressed how you carried your own backpack when doing the “camino”, so staying in a nice hotel after all that hard work was a very good idea?

  5. Excellent information and I’ve bookmarked it for our future travels. Seeing the Northern Lights has been one of our major “Bucket List” dreams for years and it’s moving towards the top now that we’re living in Portugal. I think considering the shoulder season makes great sense, too. It’s amazing how changing the times just a bit can result in significant savings as well as less tourists to elbow around and it needn’t change the experience at all. Anita

    • Anita the Northern Lights are a big bucket list for us also and it was such a shame that we did not see it during our 9 days road trip in Iceland, since it was always too cloudy. We loved how sparsely populated Iceland is and how in the shoulder season prices were cheaper. It will be just a short flight from Portugal and yet a complete change of landscape and culture. Don’t miss it, I am sure you will both love it there?

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your detailed expenses. I had heard Iceland was expensive to visit but one never knows what that means in relative cost.

    • Hi Sue, having the camper van did help to keep the costs down a little bit, but then we got tired of the small van and splashed out on a hotel pushing our costs up. But we loved Iceland and I think you would too. Thanks for your comment ?

I would love to hear from you, leave a reply.

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