ICELAND: Three Weeks In Iceland On A Budget
Everyone always asks me "where's the coolest place you've ever traveled?" Iceland is has left me with the most incredible memories! It's the only place on earth you can touch two continents at the same time where the two tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America meet. The breathtaking landscape and extensive geothermic activity of this country fascinates me! Make sure you make plenty of time to explore since this country has lots to see!
Los Angeles International Airport to Keflavik
This was my first lesson in learning I need to pack lighter.
I had never traveled solo before but my adventurous side led me to the beginning of what would become one of the most epic trips I've ever taken! I'm not gonna lie, it can be scary traveling as a solo female and leaving everything for the unknown. I just told myself to use my best judgement and take extra safety measures. Although you'll be relieved to hear, that Iceland is one of the safest countries and everyone is super nice!
The only thing I had planned was a one way flight and my first night at a hostel. This might sound crazy to many but this left me with lots of freedom. I landed in Keflavik where I took a shuttle to Reykjavik City Hostel. There, I met my first adventure friend who offered to share her tent with me the next night. I thought to myself, "this may be the only chance I get to camp so take it." I jumped at the opportunity! Fortunately, I packed a sleeping bag. Unfortunately that wasn't enough! I found myself camping in Iceland, freezing my butt off the next morning but having the time of my life. I had met a friend and crossed off camping in Iceland from my bucket list.
I was saving money by not going out and I found myself in the kitchen boiling water to add to my mountain house freeze dried food. That's when I met Jake and Itai who invited Jill and I to join their 4x4 ring road adventure. We met up with their friend Melissa and from that point on those four became my travel family for the next couple weeks.
Left to Right: Itai, Jill, Melissa, Jake, Kayden
Jill and I were lucky in that Itai had done most of the research to the places he wanted to see and as first time solo travelers, Jill and I learned a lot from him. We drove the ring road, hiked mountains, camped and saw waterfall after waterfall!
After camping many nights in the cold, it was starting to get to us so we decided to spend a little more and split the cost of an Airbnb. It came out to $35.00 USD per person per night. We scored a beautiful home in the city of Hella where we ended up staying a few nights.
After some much needed rest we were ready to explore again! We drove a long ways and ended up hiking to the top of a mountain. On the way back we ran into what seemed like never ending rivers. We made the bad choice of thinking we could drive across. One river turned out to be ten plus rivers. Each time we crossed we thought it would be the last and each time we thought we've come too far now to go back. Let our mistake become your lesson. It was time consuming and costly! We ended up getting stuck in the middle of the very last river! Night was setting and we had no cell phone service or food! We were starving, stranded and smack dab in a river on a mountain in Iceland!! We were helpless.
(Moments before we got screwed by the rivers)
All of a sudden a German Couple pulled up and told us they had seen a hostel about 2 miles back. Imagine that...!!?? We're in the of middle of nowhere and poof a HOSTEL?!? They taught us a few german words as they shuttled us to shelter and then off they went back to their own adventure. In that moment I felt pure gratitude! The hostel was empty but somehow there was power. At last, warmth and shelter!! There were bunk beds and amazingly, a working stove! However, we were still starving; we searched the cubboards for anything to eat. All we found was tiny bag of rice and some pepper. It was about one cup of rice split between five of us, but, boy, that was that one of the most memorable meals I had ever had! The next morning we awoke to our next heroes. Meet Erik and Marvin.
We flagged them down and somehow they agreed to drive us hours away to our Airbnb!! We stuffed 7 of us in a 5 seater car, and there we were like little sardines smushed in the back but as happy as can be knowing a hot shower and food was soon to come!
With most things in life, they come to an end. It was time for Melissa and I to head back to town and for each of us to set off on our next adventure. I set out to explore Jokulsaron Glacier Lagoon and the famous blue lagoon. You have to pre purchase your blue lagoon ticket because they are usually sold out and my recommendation is that you go early. If you book a late time you won't have enough daylight to capture the beautiful blue water. Plus if you get there early you'll have the entire day to relax and get your bang for your buck. My suggestion for the Glacier lagoon would be to go before the sun sets because I think the glaciers look more beautiful when the sun hits them.
After this whirlwin trip I booked my $35.00 one way ticket and was off to London for my next adventure.
DETAILS OF MY ICELAND TRIP:
Flight: WOW AIRLINES one way from Los Angeles to Keflavik $180.00 USD. I also heard if you fly WOW airlines they do free layovers in Iceland as long as your stay is under 7days!
Hostels I stayed at: ODDSSON $35/night shared dorm, Reykavik City Hostel $40/night shared dorm
Airbnb: Met some friends and split an air bnb in the city of Hella for $35/per person per night.
Camping: Save money and Purchase a Camp pass if you know you'll be camping longer. Other times we lucked out and camped free or near water falls. There were also a few nights I car camped.
Rented a cheap car from SAD Car Rental. They have really old used cars which have high miles but this is how they keep the cost low. This isn't the company for most but I was on a budget and this was what I could afford at the time. I was worried about it breaking down and luckily I didn't run into any car issues! That would have made for a difficult and expensive hold up on any trip but this cheap car made for some of the best memories for me. I also Met a friend off CouchSurffing.com and split the cost of the car which made even lower!
Food: I already had some (mountain house packs) laying around for a rainy day so I had this idea to take them with me to save money. They're light weight, taste delicious and all you have to do is add boiling hot water. They ended up being a huge money saver for me!! Iceland isn't known for amazing food and it's expensive so when it comes to splurging this wouldn't be the country to do it in. Some hostels have free bins and most people don't want to lug around food/condiments so they leave them behind. There were many days we ate Free Bin Breakfasts.
Grocery Store: Kronan, Bonus. If you want to save money buy your food and pack your meals