Planning a trip to Iceland?
Are you considering a trip to Iceland and not sure if you need a 4 wheel drive or 2 wheel drive, sedan or camper? Read about our experience and it might help you to make a good decision and hopefully save your money.
What kind of car do you need?
You need to consider few things before you make a decision. In the beginning, we were thinking that 4×4 is a must, but talking to people we realized that it’s not so necessary as we thought. 4×4 is much more expensive than 2 wheel drive, and personally, I found no real reason for 4×4 because even in case you would like to go to Highlands, 4×4 is not the best choice. I would come close enough with normal 2 wheel drive and buy a trip with big oﬀ-road cars with huge wheels suitable for crossing rivers, which can handle diﬃcult terrain. If you try to do that on your own with 4×4, you can get into the real trouble and get stuck in the middle of nowhere and then what was suppose to be holiday can turn into quite a nightmare. The landscape is pretty rough and resembles how I imagine the surface of the moon, normal 4×4 is in such kind of terrain useless. Weather and road conditions change few times a day, so I would recommend going for such kind of trip with somebody who is local and familiar with conditions.
We have decided that we will rent a camper van and in that way, we will solve 2 problems – transport and living. Even though it might seem super expensive to rent a camper, you will appreciate it later, when you hit the road, comfort and space is important and you will save money eventually because you will live in a car. You can find plenty oﬀers on web, the price is more or less the same, but read carefully what is included in the price. I found Rent.is the most appealing to me, because that was the only rental company which had free WiFi on board and that was very useful, I could use google maps and mobile apps. Do not forget to calculate with insurance while you will be deciding about what kind of car to rent. There are few types of insurance you will be oﬀered and it is expensive, we had premium insurance for 14 days and it cost 450 euro.
Communication with the oﬃce after booking was good, they were responsive to additional questions and you can agree on pickup time depending on your flight. Pickup of the car was quick and without any problem, they oﬀer a shuttle from the airport to the rental company, so you can pick up your car directly after your flight and in 30 min, we were in our camper van, on our way.
Camper gives you feeling of freedom, you can stop at any quiet spot for the night and enjoy sunsets and sunrise at beautiful places, but be responsible and do not to leave garbage behind.
Doing this we always got early at our points of interests and therefore, there were fewer people around and we could enjoy it more.
We were planning our trip at the beginning of May, thought that we might meet less people and would have already quite a good weather, unfortunately, we were not lucky with weather, now I know that I would rather go at the beginning of autumn.
Be prepared for the weather
Be prepared for any kind of weather and bring good waterproof clothing, boots, and a cap. Weather is changing few times per day, I never experienced such a quick weather change and such a range of weather in one day, be prepared for everything from sun to hail, even locals say that if you don’t like the weather, wait for 5 minutes and it will get even worse.
It was very windy, snowing and raining horizontally, so you wear sunglasses otherwise you had it all in the eyes. It was diﬃcult to make pictures because lens was always wet and even with tripod camera was shaky. In this weather condition, we were happy that we had a big camper where we could wait in warm place for better conditions and we could also cook inside. The car was fitted with a good heater which kept us dry and comfortable during the rainy days and cold nights and thick sleeping bags were on board, so we never felt cold even when there were 0 degrees during the night.
Because we love geothermal spa, we have decided that every day we will stop and have a bath, it was very relaxing after a long day.
Reykjadalur hot springs
Almost every village have one, they are usually very aﬀordable and very clean, so you can do hygiene in this way and then you will not miss comfort of hotel or hostel room at all, you will feel fresh and actually see more, because you will be on spot, while hotel guest will take their breakfast and then plan trip to the next spot.
We avoided Blue Lagoon because it’s expensive and overcrowded, but I would recommend spa in Mývatn, Secret lagoon and spa Krauma
I’m not going to describe our road trip here, you can find plenty of guides on the web, instead, I thought that it might be useful to give some tips:
- Do not buy expensive bottled water, you can refill water tank without any problem for free, we had 10 l water tank in the car, which was enough for 2 days, you can fill it in every camping site, staﬀ was usually kind and helpful. Tap water on Iceland is drinkable, so there is no need to buy water.
- The only thing you have to be aware of is to always pay attention and park the car against the wind because the most common insurance claim on Iceland is damaged door because of the wind. If you will park with the wind, there is pretty big chance that wind will take the door of your hand and they will open with force – the door will act like a sail, moment of negligence can cost you 2000 euro because no car insurance is covering that. We were aware of that and it didn’t happen to us, but maybe every fourth rental car had damaged door because of that.
Websites and applications which I found very handy:
Rent.is – You can get inspired, read blogs and plan your own trip.
Road.is – Conditions of road and weather
Eldsneyti – list of gas stations in Iceland with price comparison so you know where to fill up
Vedur – weather forecast
Iceland road guide – good app, based on the book Iceland Road Guide
112 Iceland – Iceland emergency service 112
We were happy about the Rent.is, communication was good and they were very responsive, and I would recommend them. There was just that tiny thing which annoyed us all our trip, inside the van was small fridge with broken door securing and shelf for food without anything to secure the things inside, therefore we were chasing all the content of both on the floor, in every left-hand turn, it was like bad joke, but I’m convinced that it was a flaw of that particular car, we reported that issue during check out, so hopefully its already corrected, otherwise we were satisfied with condition of the car, with transport from and to the airport and fast and smooth and fast check out. We had enough cooking gas, good external heating system, and free WiFi.
Hope that you will find these tips useful and that it will help you to save money and enjoy your trip.
Read more: Taking on the Ring road at the edge of summer
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
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