The Land of Fire and Ice
One thing I’m very passionate about is travelling. Over the last few years I have gained a lot of experience in regards to planning amazing getaways and adventures and have always thought about sharing my secrets to questioning travelers. There are two very common questions I get asked; 1. How do you find out about unique destinations? 2. How do you manage to stay on budget? To answer the first question I would have to say a lot of it comes from what I see on Pinterest and/or Instagram. I also learned a lot during my travels to Europe. If I were to answer both of these questions completely I would be here for ages. BUT…I will answer these questions to the best of my ability in regards to our 8 days trip to Iceland that we did back in October 2017. Lets get into it!
Jake has wanted to go to Iceland since we had a 3 hour layover in Reykjavik coming back from Europe. I did not see the beauty in it at all as all you could see flying into the airport was flat, brown land with no civilization. It wasn’t until recently when I decided seeing the Aurora Borealis was #1 on my bucket list. The more research I did the more obvious it became that Iceland was going to be our next destination especially since we knew we wanted to go away in October and October is one of the best months to see the Aurora Borealis in Iceland.
Off we went on a red-eye flight to Iceland, arriving at 4am. There wasn’t anything to do at 4am, obviously, so we picked up our rental car, parked, and slept for a few hours in the car. Around 8am we decided to drive around and find a place to eat. Unfortunately the first day was utter shit. We couldn’t find anywhere to eat and it was crazy windy…I opened the car door and all of our booking information went flying down the street in the pouring rain. Soooo this was our hotel addresses, booking reference numbers, pad-code number to access our rooms…basically anything important. It’s okay though…we got some wifi here and there and I got everything back via email but f***. This was such a horrible first impression but we decided to make the most of it, found some food and went to downtown Reykjavik. They have so many cute shops with handmade items but it’s definitely not the place you want to spend money unless you’re extremely wealthy… although I did come home with some lava rock/silver earrings (I’m a very lucky girl). I chose those over a wool sweater… I think I’ll keep my $300.
Just to back track a bit… we used the budget airline WOWAir that I found through a website called Kayak (similar to Expedia but better). It costed us around $300 round trip/person. Just be careful as their baggage fees is where they make their money but if you’re smart you can get around it. They charge for carry-on’s so we didn’t bring any BUT they don’t charge for backpacks. Jake brought a day-pack and I brought my camera-gear backpack. We then managed to bring only one medium sized check-in bag. This was tricky as we were packing my parka, hats, mitts, scarves and wool sweaters. You have to be quite lenient on what you want to bring when travelling on a budget. Ask yourself…do I really need this? Am I for sure going to wear this? Will I wear this more than 3x? How versatile is this article of clothing? Etc…
The rental car company we went through was ACE-rent-a-car. They were the ONLY car rental company (that I could find) that didn’t have a surcharge for being under 25 in Iceland. This will drastically increase the cost of your car rental… roughly double the price. *rolls eyes* Also… every car company in Iceland will try and convince you that you need a shit-ton of insurance coverages for like… if a volcano erupts and stuff… yea… use your judgement.
I use multiple websites for booking hotels. I can usually find the same hotel on multiple different websites for different prices and then I’ll watch those websites (check them daily) to see if the price changes. Once I’m happy with the price I book it. I try to stick to under $100/night. This is very difficult for Iceland but it can be done and you have to be accepting of the fact that they aren’t beautiful. As long as they are clean who really cares. The way Jake and I see it is that you should never be in your room or at your hotel anyway. There’s too many amazing things to see and do around the clock no matter where you go.
We started our trip in Reykjavik and we stayed at BGB Guesthouse for one night (pictures above ^). The next day we got up nice and early and started the Golden Circle Tour guided by ourselves. We used two maps. The original Golden Circle Tour and an additional stops map. We followed along for the majority of both of them.
TO BE CONTINUED