With Iceland's budget airlines reaching out to more destinations, it has become a hot tourist spot. But once you arrive in Iceland, you will find it is not nearly as cheap as that flight you just bought. With hostels costing about 30 USD a night and a pack of bacon 20 USD, it doesn't make it a budget friendly destination. BUT there are ways to see all of Iceland's wonders on a budget. ROAD TRIP!
I bought flights for my boyfriend and I from Detroit into Reykjavik for 210 USD roundtrip each. We traveled in mid February. Traveling throughout Iceland in off season saved us SO much money! Because of the midnight sun, summers in Iceland can get busy and prices will jump.
In order to save money and maximize our time in Iceland, we opted to rent a camper van. This is a popular choice and there are so many to choose from. From luxury camper vans to the most basic, there's an option for budget.
After researching different van options. We booked with Kuku Campers, a company that takes pride in offering budget options for travelers. They have several rental options listed on their site. You can select your rental based on your party size and the type of van you would like. Some vans are built better for off-roading. There are a few roads in Iceland you cannot go on unless you have one of these vans. Although, if you are taking the main road, you should not have any issues.
We booked option A, it cost about 80 USD per day. This slept two people, came with a futon bed, and a small camping kitchen with all needed utensils that unfolded from the van's back doors. In the winter, they have a code you can select when you book and they will supply your blankets and sleeping bags for no cost. In the summer you will have to bring your own or pay a rental fee. Kuku campers keeps leftover food items other travelers leave behind, you are welcome to take anything, but only take what you need. They supplied us with maps and information on sightseeing, hot springs, and campsites. You cannot park your van on private property without permission of the owner.
In the summertime, campsites can cost about 30 USD per night to park your van. Some of them offer bathrooms and showers. With winter being far less popular, many of the campsites were closed. We were told we could still park there as long as we pulled up close to the entrance. The few campsites that were open did not have anyone working them and just accepted donations. At times we were the only camper van at a site.
Once we had our camper van, we went to the grocery store. They have smaller grocery stores along the road so if you miss a few things, you can pick them up on your way, but I would suggest getting the bulk of your items at the supermarkets in Reykjavik. We were on a major budget so we brought pasta, oats, and some granola bars from home. With meat being so costly, we ate vegetarian while we were there. Plan out your meals for the week, it will help you eliminate aimless shopping and buy exactly what you will need.
Once you have all your supplies, you are ready for the road! Most of the attractions in Iceland are free. You can spend hours hiking, touring waterfalls, and admiring the scenes through your camper van window. They even have an app you can download called HOT POT that will show you all the hot springs located around the island.
This was my boyfriend and I's first international trip together and it couldn't have gone any better! Our trip including flights, camper van, gas, and food for 6 days was estimated to cost just under 1000 USD for two people. Iceland's insane amount of waterfalls and endless mountains shouldn't be ignored because it's too expensive.