Iceland! I've had a couple of short stopovers there over the years but this time I'm finally taking a longer trip. I'll have 9 days to spend exploring the nordic nation, basking in as many waterfalls as will be humanly possible. I've found a couple folks to join me on this trip – 3 complete strangers, actually – as costs in Iceland can be high. As beautiful a country as it is, it's a far cry from a budget location which is why I've assembled a travel team. I've been on a road trip with strangers before (which was amazing) so I'm hoping this one pans out and is just as awesome and exciting and enlightening. Fingers crossed.
Iceland's tourist industry has seen significant growth over the recent years and Icelandic road trips are quickly becoming the next “must do” travel experience. Google some pictures of Iceland, or check out Icelandair's #MyStopover on Instagram and you'll understand why. Since I've been neck deep in research lately I thought I would share what I've found to help anyone else planning a budget trip to Iceland.
Iceland on a Budget: At A Glance
Recommended Travel Time Around the Ring Road: 7-14 days
Average Car Rental Costs: €300-500/week.
Approximate Fuel Price in Iceland: €1.50/litre
Average Hostel or Budget Airbnb Cost: €25-65/night per person
Peak Season: June - August
Iceland Weather Information: http://en.vedur.is/
Iceland on a Budget: Travel Resources
1. Lonely Planet's Guide: This is a great place to begin if you are going to be spending more than a few days in Iceland. For shorter visits you can likely make do with researching travel blogs and checking out Visit Iceland's website. Longer visits, however, will require more planning and more detail – LP's guide is great for that.
2. My Feet Are Meant To Roam: Els is a slow travel blogger worth following. She recently went to Iceland and her two-week itinerary has a lot of great suggestions. I cherry picked a few ideas from her trip, including what to see on the East Coast.
3. The Gays Abroad: This Canadian duo put together a few great posts on Iceland that are worth a read. They composed two posts on their ring road trip (in a camper van!), which have some great itinerary advice as well as some helpful tips. Check them both out, especially if you are thinking of renting a van or RV.
4. Nomadic Matt: Matt's Iceland guide covers all the basic details and includes a list of twenty awesome things to do and see while there (like enrol in the Icelandic Elf School!). He also compiled 11 tips to help you manage Iceland on a budget.
5. Justin Plus Lauren: Another Canadian travelling couple. I keep an eye on their blog because they are also vegan and offer some great tips and info. Their two-week Iceland itinerary covers everything you would want to see. It's quite heavy on the details, so this is a great post to keep on hand during the planning stage.
Iceland on a Budget: Finding Travel Companions
Since I wanted to rent a car for my trip I needed to find folks to come with me. As a budget traveller, the car rental alone would have blown my budget so a fellowship was needed. If you find that you need someone to travel with, whether it's to Iceland or some other destination, there are a few reliable places you can look.
1. Couchsurfing: I love Couchsurfing. I've written about why I think it's amazing, so naturally it's the first place I look for like-minded travel folks. Most destinations will have a community board, so you can browse for backpackers who have already shared their itinerary OR you can post your own and see if anyone wants to join.
2. Thorn Tree: Lonely Planet's travel forum is a bit of a mess (ok, it's a HUGE mess) but it can still be a good place to find travel companions. It also includes an instant messenger so you can get in touch with one another before moving to Facebook or Skype.
3. TravBuddy: This was the first time I used TravBuddy. I found a few folks with similar plans, but by the time they got in touch with me I already found folks to travel with. Nevertheless, it's very easy to use and lets you choose specific dates for your trip. I'll definitely be using it again if I need to find travel companions.
4. Nomadic Matt: Which a much smaller travel companion section, you might not have much luck here – yet. I think Matt's forums have some incredible potential to grow into a vibrant and sizeable community in the coming years. As the Community Forum Manager for Matt, I can assure you that the people on Matt's forums are some of the most wonderful out there. Give it a shot!
Iceland on a Budget: Our 7 Day Itinerary
For my trip, I've rented a car from Car Rental Iceland. They had the best prices by far when I looked, but another popular (and cheap!) company is SAD cars. For our adventure, we will only staying in one hostel for the duration. With 4 people, a shared Airbnb rental is the cheapest accommodation option. As it is still peak season, most accommodation was already booked up, so make sure to book things in advance if you're traveling during the summer!
Day 1: The Golden Circle!
Day 2: Hiked the 30km Fimmvörðuháls Trail, from Skogafoss to Thorsmork. I brought my Darn Tough's for this beast, and they made an amazing difference!
Day 3: Visited the black beaches at Vik, and the waterfall Svartifoss. Staying near Djúpivogur.
Day 4: Up the east coast to visit Seytdisfjordur, where we did a short hike. Stayed near Borgarfjörður along the coast.
Day 5: Big day! Dettifoss, Myvatn, Godafoss. Stayed just past Akureyri in Hörgársveit (at a farm guesthouse!)
Day 6: Long drive to Snaefellsnes. Stayed at the super amazing Freezer hostel. Definitely don't miss this chill hostel!
Day 7: Hiked in the Snaefellsnes National Park, where we climbed over some incredible glaciers! Late return to Reykjavik (where I saw the Northern Lights!)
To get a sense of just how magical Iceland can be, be sure to check out my Instagram: @lessonslearnedabroad. I've also just started Nomadic Matt's Photography Course so hopefully my photo skills will be noticeably improved!
I'll certainly be writing about my experiences afterward, but hopefully these travel resources can help you plan a budget adventure in Iceland. let me know if you have any other great resources and/or suggestions!