One of the main reasons George and I live in an Airstream is so we can save money to travel. I’ve never been overseas and I wanted desperately to do some international travel before my 30th birthday. After much worrying about the cost, we decided that we could afford it and we booked a trip to Iceland.
Why Iceland? Well, it’s gorgeous! And flights, in comparison to many other countries, are relatively cheap. Iceland has it’s own airlines, Iceland Air and with the help of a connecting flight, we could fly right out of our home airport. The tickets were about $600 per person. That’s only $100 per person less than our flight to California will be this summer! Iceland Air even does this stopover program where you can stop in Iceland for up to a week before heading to another European country. It’s definitely something I’m going to consider if we ever make it to Europe.
We booked our hotel through Expedia because we stayed in Reykjavik, the capital city, for the entire week and simply commuted to various locations throughout the island. I like to check all the major booking sites using Kayak before I choose one. Our hotel was a budget hotel and we paid for 6 nights at $557.81. Not too shabby. It also helps that we visited in the winter when prices are cheaper. If we really wanted to cut costs, we could have stayed in hostels. We did stop by a few hostels for coffee or maps and were truly impressed with how clean they were! We stopped at this hostel on the way to Geysir and wanted to stay!
The one thing I really did cheap out on was a rental car. I found SAD cars online and I should have known it was almost too good to be true. We rented a car from them for about $300. The other rental cars from well-known companies were over $1,000 for the week! The car we rented never broke down, luckily, but to keep it from overheating we had to run the heat on full-blast the entire time. Not fun when you have on four layers of clothes!
Many of the sites we wanted to see in Iceland were accessible by car. By having a car, we were able to go out on our own schedule and we didn’t have to pay for a tour. We drove the Golden Circle by ourselves, visited a glacier and the black sand beaches in Vik— all without a tour guide. That being said, gasoline was very expensive. I knew it was going to be quite a bit, but it cost about $130 to fill up our tank. And we filled it up twice. Ouch!
We did splurge on relaxing in the Blue Lagoon and one tour with Arctic Adventures. There were a lot of awesome tours available– like snowmobiling, cave exploring, a Game of Thrones tour(!) and many, many more. We decided on snorkeling in Silfra. It’s an internationally recognized dive site and you swim between two tectonic plates. It was truly amazing and well-worth the $150 per person price tag. And it truly wasn’t cold. They put you in puffy, down suits and wet suits to keep you warm. Our tour guide was really lovely and and took great care of us.
The other pricey part about Iceland is the food. Much of the food is imported and every meal we ate at a restaurant cost over $100 for just us two. To save money on food we picked up dinner from the grocery store several times, ate breakfast at our continental hotel breakfast and brought snacks with us in our luggage. We also ate chips (or fries for us Americans!) for dinner one night and ate hot dogs for breakfast one morning when we needed to sleep in! Not the healthiest of meals, but hey, Iceland is famous for hot dogs and we were on vacation. 🙂
Prior to our trip, I did buy a few things that I considered travel costs, like a few pairs of long underwear. I bought a cheap pair and a more expensive pair. For snorkeling they recommended a synthetic fiber to wear under the suits, so I bit the bullet and bought some fleece CuddleDuds. They, of course, were more flattering and warmer than the cheapo $10 pair I bought. 90% of the time I wasn’t cold. The only time I did get chilly was when we went out to see a glacier and the Golden Circle. I was slipping and sliding everywhere. I even ended up falling once. Do’h! The one thing I did wish I bought were Crampons. Word to the wise: They are worth it if you decide to visit Iceland during the winter.
Overall it was an amazing/beautiful/unforgettable trip that was well worth the money. I’ve got the bug and I can’t wait to travel more in 2016!