Iceland is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, FACT. So it’s no surprise that the Icelandic tourism industry is picking up like wildfire. But since the tourism boom to Iceland is fairly new, there’s plenty of information that is lacking when it comes to traveling throughout the island. If you’re planning a trip soon, here are 13 Iceland travel tips that you might not have known about, but should definitely be aware of!
Try a Homestay for a Real Experience
Icelandic accommodation can be really pricey, especially since there aren’t a plethora of options. But Airbnb is a great option. Not only do you save money, but you can actually see what a day in the life of an Icelander is like.
Consider a Camper Van
If you really want to save money, consider a camper van that allows you to sleep in your car. Just make sure you know where to park your camper van in Iceland. Make sure to park in designated campsite areas or get the landowner’s permission before parking and sleeping.
Check Your Accommodation for Northern Light Wake Up Calls
Seeing the Northern Lights is on just about everyone’s bucket list. But if you don’t want to stay up all night, every night just to catch a faint glimpse, check to see if your hotel will for you! Some hotels (like Hotel Laxá) will call you in your room to make sure you wake up for the show.
Watch Your Speed!
This is the most important! It’s easy to start speeding on those long open roads when no one’s around. However there are cameras and if you are untrained to see them, you will get caught. If you speed even 7 miles over, that is considered a penalty. It’s unclear whether you get a ticket for every camera that catches you or one lump sum. However, cops WILL see your license plate from the cameras and find you.
They will ask you to pay on the spot for 10% less so that they guarantee you pay the fine. There’s always the chance that you may not pay since they may not have your correct address, but you will not be allowed back into Iceland until your debt is paid. Short answer: take your time, drive the speed limit.
Plan Your Gas Stops Accordingly
Most gas stations in Iceland open late and close early. Because of that, there are self-serving options but this requires you to buy an N-1 gas card at the beginning of your trip and you might end up with an nonrefundable balance at the end of your trip. Plus, certain gas stations only take those N-1 cards. Make sure you find out which gas stations don’t require those cards (a gas station map at the rental car place should help) and where they are so you can plan to stop by when they’re open.
Get the Gravel Auto Insurance
There are quite a few different Auto Insurance bundles when renting a car. And they definitely add up. If you’re trying to decide which to get, get the basic car insurance as well as gravel protection. It’s the most common damage done to the car (almost EVERYONE has something happen because of it–including us) and it’s not nearly as expensive.
Rent a 4×4
Speaking of gravel, there is rough terrain out there. And considering all of the natural beauty, you’re going to want to do some off-roading. Make sure you get a 4×4 to handle all of the roads, paths and unmarked areas so you don’t get stuck (like we did in the snow).
Check the Weather Conditions
Most of our trip we were greeted to sunny skies, but it was driving on the Eastside that we ran into a problem. A big, blizzard-y problem. We had a complete white out that was so intense and scary, we couldn’t see 6 feet in front of us. The sky, the ground, our surroundings… all were the same shade of white! Do yourself a favor: before you drive, make sure to look out for the weather conditions first.
Get the Gas Station Hot Dogs
If you’re on a budget, the most affordable food you can probably get are the hot dogs. At 540 Icelandic Króna apiece, they’re a lot less than Icelandic fast food. They’re also not as gross as American hot dogs, so they’re quite tasty!
Don’t Buy Water, Ever!
Icelandic water is some of the most clean and amazing drinking water in the world! So long as you’re not getting it from a dirty pond or sea water. Not only is the tap water perfectly safe, but so is water from a stream or a glacier! Just be sure to bring a water bottle with you and just keep refilling
Go Grocery Shopping
Yes those weird rye bagels are $7 and yes, that’s the cheapest it’s gonna get. But buying in bulk is gonna help you save lots of money. We bought bagels, cereal and milk to have enough breakfast for more than half of our trip. And it saved us a bunch!
Pack Plenty of Snacks
Maybe you’re on a budget or maybe you don’t have time to stop on your road trip around the Ring Road. Either way, bring some snacks. I managed to bring about 20 protein bars with me from Los Angeles and it definitely did the trick for those long drives (it also saved me a ton of money)!
WOW Airline’s reputation isn’t exactly stellar when it comes to baggage. Weather can not only ruin your car, but your ability to get to your hotel in time. Basically, Iceland is unpredictable.
Which is why getting travel insurance is the most important thing you can buy. And considering I’ve used my travel insurance almost every time I have traveled, then you know it’s probably very important to get! Allianz is one of the best companies that cover all of your needs from illness to accidents to travel mishaps.