Mandalapa's Excursions

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Currently in: New York | Miles traveled: 450,000 miles | Countries Visited: 27

A guide to travel to Iceland on budget

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Going to a foreign country is never an easy thing. As much as I travel, I have anxiety over air travel because of airport security, long counter lines and of course crying babies. Past all that, once you land in Iceland, you will notice this smell of fresh air, vast ocean surrounding a small island and amazing people.

Mode of Transportation:

No matter what you hear or read, renting a car in iceland is probably the cheapest way to get around. Buses run a tight schedule, not very convenient and are pretty expensive. I have heard that air fare can be cheap if you book ahead in advance. Car rentals can run at $60 to $150 a day for economy cars. Book ahead in advance and book them inside the city as opposed to the airport.  If you have friends with you, its a great way to split the cost, if not, book a hostel for a night, talk to people and see if anyone wants to ride with you and split your costs. Gas is an expensive commodity in iceland with $8 a gallon but don’t worry, if you rent economy cars, the mileage is pretty decent. We rented our car at Kemwall.com. We got a good deal and booked it almost 3 weeks in advance. Get comprehensive insurance just to make sure you don’t get into any trouble. There is no point in getting theft insurance and other roadside services insurance as the country is very safe and the cars they provide are new. Just dont take the economy cars to the trails marked as 4×4. You might pay a heavy price if you happen to damage the car. Watch out for speed limits and cops. Close to major town, there are cops with radars patrolling the roads. Traffic tickets are very expensive and can cost you around 300$ for speeding.

Camping and Lodging

Wild camping on Route 54, budget iceland travel

Wild camping on Route 54

Bring a tent and a sleeping bag with you as there are lots of scenic spots and campsites all over iceland. You can also go wild camping as long as you are not in a private property. Whenever its nice out (meaning not raining, windy), try to camp and save money. Wild camping is probably the best way to enjoy nature and have an amazing experience. There are hostels in most of the big towns but they are booked quickly in the summer time and can be expensive. There are also cheap guest houses available if you want to recharge after an extensive hike or after a rough day. Some of them even have saunas, hot tubs and other amenities. Engage yourself in fun activities like hiking, checking out waterfalls, taking self pictures for your facebook profile etc. There are about 1000 waterfalls and almost each one of them has a hike. So trek along the waterfalls and enjoy the view. There is no entrance fee for any park and there are tonnes of information booklets with hiking trails, maps and other goodies. Keep in mind that camp fires are not permitted.

Iceland Photo Gallery
[slickr-flickr tag=”nordic” type=”galleria”]

Food:

Food is not very expensive and there are lots of grocery stores. They have disposable grills which are pretty efficient and can be used for grilling. Eat plenty of fish as they are rich in Omega 3’s and good source of protein for your trip. Avoid buying bottled water there as tap water is very very pure.

Sightseeing:

There are about 3 national parks in Iceland and none of them require any entrance fees. There are plenty of things to do like whale watching (Husavik is a great place to watch whales), bird watching, 4×4 drives on lava fields, guided glacier hikes, snowmobiling, fishing, rock climbing, hiking, volcano/cave hikes, driving on fjords etc. Some of the activities can be a little expensive. glacier guided tours can run from 150$ to 400$ if you want to rent a snow mobile and drive up the glacier. Whale watching tours typically start around 100$ and you wont be disappointed if you are on the right day and the right time. There is no shortage of fun here. Allocate your budget according to your needs and enjoy your trip.

Souvenirs:

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to buy souvenirs from places that you visited just to keep it as a reminder and have good memories. They have a lot of woolen clothes, scarfs, sweaters and other exquisite Icelandic items. They love their schnapps and Iceland has plenty of it. Don’t forget the “Tax Free” system where you can get your sales tax waived off on some items.

So, what do you think ?