Looking to head to Iceland – to see what the hype is all about? Here are some things you should keep in mind!
- Almost everyone speaks English (but you should get the Google Translate App just in case to read signs, packaging, instructions, etc)
- They take American Express! Random fact, but it can be difficult to find an Amex accept-er outside the US. And here they take it! (Check your credit cards and debit cards to see who has the best/lowest international transaction fees)
- Their gas stations only take debit card or cash – or a credit card with a pin! Many gas stations are unmanned, but the system is pretty much self explanatory. Keep in mind, it works exactly like the US – it verifies you have enough to cover a FULL tank (or you can pick a smaller set amount) and then you only actually pay what you use.
- Many gas stations have a grocery store or restaurant in the parking lot or very near. Utilize them! Food is very expensive here – your best bet is to stock up on snacks and food that you can cook at your Airbnb or Hostel.
- Bringing your own reusable bags will come in handy as well. Iceland is actually very green (reusable energy, recycling, minimal waste, etc) Lauren recommends these. They are silicon, water resistant (think phone in wet situations), and perfect for holding sandwiches, oatmeal (bowl on the run), cut veggies, etc. They also take up like no room in your luggage to get here!
- The weather really can change every 5 minutes. It may sound crazy, but the weather there can be unpredictable and random. From snow to sleet to rain to sun – expect it all and expect it all in an hour.
- Bring gloves in the winter – the amount of times your hands spend out them taking pictures is almost equal to the amount of time your hands are in them – but your little fingers will thank you for the warmth.
- Get out of Reykjavik. In most cases its actually cheaper to rent a car than to take the day tours out of the city. There is so much more to see outside of the city (like the rest of the entire island) so get out and explore the hidden gems of this beautiful country.
- If you rent the car, get at least the gravel protection – they offer a million different plans, but the gravel protection is the most useful. This is especially true if you go North in the country.
- Make a list of the things you want to see and on your way to see them you will end up seeing even more than you planned. Be prepared to have your plans altered due to weather.
- Many of the attractions here are free – unless you do a tour – so take advantage of that and see all you can!
- Unless you do tours, I would recommend about $75-100 a day for budgeting purposes once you are on your trip. You will probably come home with money (unless you drink a lot or do tours) but this would cover food, gas and souvenirs.
- I would budget about $50-100/night for housing. Using Airbnb gives you options – but if you are traveling solo you are looking at $100-150/night for Airbnbs. In that case I would use hostels (they have many) to save some cash. If you can really splurge on your trip stay at FossHotels – primo properties with modern flare!
- You can really only find true more, American style hotels in Reykjavik – otherwise they are more like guest houses. They may call themselves hotels – but they may only be 6-8 room quarters, some you even have communal WC.
- Stores close pretty early here, usually between 6-7pm. Restaurants are open later usually until about 10pm. If you want groceries or to shop, get out early!
- No need to tip! Another nice benefit of leaving the US is not needing to tip – there is a service charge in your price, so just swipe, sign and walk!
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