Exploring Iceland in a VW Camper
Thursday 7th of September, 2017
We had been planning our Iceland trip for about seven weeks. It was kind of last minute and random given the short time-frame, but something we really wanted to do once we started researching. We were traveling a lot and were spending several hours on the road so we used that time to plan our trip. We spent over 30 hours planning our trip to Iceland. We had an itinerary for key areas we wanted to hit each day and our plan was to do the whole “Ring Road”. We left flexibility in our scheduling knowing things would change. We chose Iceland because we love camping and road trips. Based on what we had researched, Iceland was perfect for these two passions of ours. Many people asked us before our trip, “Why Iceland?” our response… “Have you seen pictures? Why not!” We started our planning by using Instagram and finding cool pictures of things other people did. From there, we used many travel blogs and articles to find out how to get to these beautiful areas. After the weeks of planning, the time had come to head to the “land of fire and ice.”
We flew out of Chicago O’Hare to Reykjavik via Icelandair. The flight was great and very comfortable. We arrived to the airport, got our luggage, and stopped at the duty free store. Like most travelers before us, we also recommend buying any alcohol you want to consume at this store to save you money. For us, because we were going to be camping/driving, getting to the Vínbúðin (liquor store) was going to be a challenge as well so stocking up on Icelandic beer up front was high on our to-do list.
Once we got all our gear from baggage claim and duty free, we looked at our map and realized we were a lot further from the Rent.is Reykjavik office than we expected. It was at this time that we realized we flew to the “wrong” airport. In reality, it wasn’t wrong, but we had put the wrong airport on our map. When we booked our trip (through a third party booking website), it said we were going to Reykjavik but really we were going to Keflavik, just outside of Reykjavik. There is an airport in Reykjavik, but it is a domestic airport, not international! So we had accidentally put the domestic airport on our map and, therefore, incorrectly booked our camper to be picked up at the Reykjavik office instead of at the Keflavik airport office, oops! So we took an unplanned shuttle from the airport to Reykjavik. It took us about 45 minutes, but that was fine because we got a nap in after our red-eye flight. We had to take a taxi from the bus station to the Rent.is office though because it was too far of a walk. Luckily the bus station workers were really helpful and help us plan our transportation on our last day to the airport. Since we had the wrong airport on our itinerary, the last night we planned a hotel near the wrong airport. We couldn’t get a refund on the hotel, but the bus system offered shuttles that would pick us up at our hotel that day and drive us to the airport, whew!
We had received notification from Rent.is the previous day that our pickup was going to be delayed 2 hours, so we had some time to kill. We showed up at the Rent.is office early hoping we could leave our gear while we walked around. The office staff were awesome and let us store our luggage in their office and told us about nearby walking trails. So we dropped our bags in the office and headed for a walk to the park.
Since we took the red-eye, we were tired and ended up sleeping at the park at a picnic table for about an hour as well. If you are flying international, pick up your camper at the Keflavik airport office and do not make the same mistake we made!
We picked up the camper van around noon after our second nap and the staff was really helpful and pleasant to work with. Because our pickup was delayed, they said we could drop the camper van off two hours later, which we ended up doing. We did the walk-through of the camper and it was very cool. We got the VW California 4×4 (Automatic). Some of the features that we were excited about included the table and chairs, the heater, and the “refrigerator” (cooler with powered fans to keep it cool). They also gave us a tip not to buy water. Water in Iceland is very good and readily available for free at campsites and gas stations. The camper van had a water jug in the trunk which made refilling really easy.
Once we were all loaded into the camper, we headed straight to the famous Blue Lagoon. We figured after such a long trip, this would be a relaxing way to start our vacation. We received a complementary drink, towel and face masks. We floated around for about an hour and did all the facial treatments.
After relaxing in the Blue Lagoon, we packed up and headed to þingvellir National Park. We walked around the fault line in the park and took lots of pictures. It was pretty crazy to be in-between North America and Europe standing on the separating tectonic plates!
After we walked around the National Park, we ended up heading down the road and camped in Graben. This campground was similar to most of the campgrounds we ended up staying in: large fields. We were surprised so far that there were little to no trees in Iceland!
The weather was partly cloudy and overcast most of the day. It started raining while at the National Park and while we were “setting up camp.” Compared to the people around us setting up their tents in the rain, our setup was easy and dry! Because the rain was coming straight down, we were even able to use the lift gate as a rain shield for cooking dinner.
To save time and money, we flew in enough freeze-dried meals for both of us, two meals a day. This worked out great with the camp stove and supplies that came with our camper van. It was really convenient to have the large water jug that came with the camper van too because all we needed was water for our meals.
Overall, the first day was a success and we were excited to be in this magical place!
Read more: Most breathtaking country in the world
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