What We Wish We'd Known Before Traveling to Iceland.
I did SO much research before we traveled to Iceland, I mean I had a few months to prepare so I made sure to do so! However, there were still a few things that we wished we'd known before our trip!
- If you card wasn't issued in Iceland, the parking meters won't accept them! Its a recent problem apparently, and caused us to get a parking ticket. So I wish I had known to get change to keep in my pocket!
- Reykjavik is about 45 minutes away from where we are staying. I don't mind the drive, but the gas is so expensive here I wish we would have found something closer to the city! However, this was nice to stay in Keflavik during our last day, because its 7 minutes from the airport.
- IT'S NOT THAT COLD! I packed like 3 different coats, so many layers, so many thick socks, etc. I am a cold person, like i'm cold all the time. But temps were in the high 40's (and we were coming from a Utah winter) so I guess if you were coming from sunny California you might need 3 coats!
- Gas pumps - They were kind of hard for us to figure out, just make sure you have a card with a pin number or make sure the gas station is open so you can pay inside. BEWARE OF THE FILL UP OPTION: we figured this out on our last couple days and they charged our cards $200+ EVERY TIME! It finally came off but it was such a pain to be out the funds.
- Car rental - still not sure what happened here, but our car was CHEAPER than I had planned! They didn't charge us the daily fee for being under 25, and they didn't put an amount of money on hold on my card like their website said they would. It also came with a basic insurance built into the cost. You can upgrade, but we weren't planning on doing any off roading so we felt safe doing so. Also our car was the Suzuki Jimney 4x4 and it was adorable.
- The language - everyone in Iceland knows English as a second language, however I still feel like such a jerk when i'm like "I don't know how to say this but thats what I want to eat". Turns out the word I was pointing to meant Seafood, that would have made things so much easier if I was like "I want the seafood pizza".
Locals - I had read so many things saying that the Icelanders were the nicest people, but I'm not completely sure about this one. Maybe I just haven't met the right people, or maybe i'm just awkward but everyone just seems stand offish. But that's just me!
Speed Limits - Nobody follows the speed limit! We went the speed limit around the entire ring road and locals will go flying passed us. Maybe they just know how the system works, and I wish i'd known because we could've shaved travel time off our road trip!
Closing Time - Everything closes early, so packing along a few groceries wouldn't be the worst idea! Even gas stations, we almost starved one night and we ended up driving 1.5 away from our Airbnb just to find something to eat.
Closed Roads - At the rental car company they gave us a website to check to make sure if any roads were closed, and I thought "it's your summer, as of two weeks ago, I think we'll be fine!" but this is how we missed out on an awesome site, because the roads were closed! The only other way was a different route that would take about 6 hours longer than we had planned, and we just didn't have the time. So, check the site, do a little research on road conditions, you just never know with this crazy Iceland weather.
- Carry your GoPro EVERYWHERE - I always do this, either I don't feel like I took enough scenic photos, or enough pictures of Alec and I, but this time I don't feel like I took enough video! I could have easily had Alec carry around the GoPro. Don't make this mistake, document everything, you'll be thankful!
- Along with the language part - I found this Instagram page AFTER we returned! *face palm but you must check it out - it's called "Every Single Word In Icelandic" and it would have saved me a lot of embarrassment.
- The weather - it is seriously crazy, just remember Iceland is an island. It blows in and out so quickly, if you can brave the rain do it. It wipes out most of the tourists and you can get some shots like we did that make the place look empty!
- Tripod - everyone keeps asking how we got such rad photos of the both of us, and it's mostly cause we're just super rad! Just kidding, kinda, but we had a tripod! Sometimes it was way too windy to risk it so we opted for a selfie, but a lot of the times there wasn't a soul insight to ask for a photo so we set up the tripod! You can find small ones perfect for travel on Amazon.
Some questions from you:
- What were the people like? .. Okay, like I said, maybe i'm just awkward! But They were okay, the only time they were really nice was when we were in a really expensive restaurant. Other than that they seemed stand offish.
- What were some of your favorite spots? .. My Favorites were almost all along the southern shore. The Black Beach, plus its so much greener. But I also really loved the snæfellsnes peninsula. Alec's favorite spot was the North Shore, he liked that it was all locals, very few if any tourists.
- Pricing? .. Okay so their money is weird, but basically its less than the US dollar right now. HOWEVER, everything is SO expensive. For example: 2 hot dogs, 2 drinks at the gas station ran us about $20 USD. Another example: a beer is about $8 USD. Basically I budgeted out what I thought we'd need and then I doubled that. Then we also came home not totally broke!
- How to get around? .. Unless you pay for tours, or stay in Reykjavik you MUST rent a car. You can find pretty good deals if you don't need a 4x4, we spent about $45 per day for the Suzuki. Like I said tours will pick you up and take you to sites, or you can walk around Reykjavik, but to do Iceland justice, rent a car!
- What you wish you would have planned or done differently? .. I really wish we just had more time. We had 6 full days to drive the entire island and it was exhausting. But I got a deal on our flights for these dates so I didn't really have a choice, so if you have a choice give yourself about 10 days.
There will probably be a few more posts from Iceland because it was such an incredible place and we learned so much! It's an adventure for sure and I hope you all make it there someday.