Last week, I traveled to Iceland for the celebratory graduation trip of my dreams with my best friend. I’m not going to lie – I’m not a stranger to international travel, but there were definitely some things that surprised me. I’ll try and share some tips, too, since Becca and I managed to do everything on a college kid’s budget.
We ended up going before tourist season, which starts in April. This was mostly because of Becca’s spring break, since I wanted to go at a time when we could potentially see the northern lights and not in the middle of tourist season. We did see the lights from the plane, and it was incredible! Since it wasn’t tourist season, the car and camping equipment was on the cheaper side – less competition and all that.
We arrived in Iceland early Monday morning. Bec and I rented a car Monday-Thursday and drove from Reykjavik to Hofn. If we would’ve done it straight, it would’ve been about 8 hours driving. Instead, we rented camping equipment and stretched the trip out, stopping to see basically everything we could. We started with the Golden Circle, then moved to the Ring Road. Everything was so brutally gorgeous.
Camping on the off-season was kind of rough, but we managed. The hardest part was setting up the tent in the wind. If you’re camping, I recommend bringing earplugs – that was the only way I could sleep with the wind rustling the fabric of the tent. It wasn’t nearly as cold as I’d expected, though, so that was a plus! We had thermal sleeping bags and synthetic liners, so both of us were toasty overnight.
One thing that I kept hearing that turned out to be true: actually being in Iceland is EXPENSIVE. A meal is usually $25 at the low end. Instead of spending an arm and a leg on food, we rented a camping stove and got a few quick things from the grocery store. This means we ended up mostly eating bread and jelly, but we didn’t spend a ton of money on food! The other huge expense was gas, but it was definitely cheaper to rent the car and pay the gas rather than doing bus tours. We were able to do everything at our own pace, which I appreciated. Driving wasn’t bad, either. I was the driver, and the only spooky parts were the one-lane bridges that we came across periodically.
I can’t even say what my favorite part of the trip was since everything was gorgeous. I was a huge fan of Diamond Beach and all of the waterfalls we stopped at. I have hundreds of pictures, but I’m trying to rein myself in and only share a few of my favorites.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Iceland and have questions about the trip, feel free to DM me on Twitter or Instagram or leave a comment! I’d be happy to share more info about costs and our experience. We used Lotus Car Rental, Iceland Camping Equipment Rentals, WOWAir, and stayed at Hlemmur Square hostel in Reykjavik. I did bring two guidebooks (which were immensely helpful): Iceland’s Ring Road Trips from Lonely Planet and the Frommer’s Easy Guide to Iceland. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip!