Move across the world via Iceland: T – 2 weeks.
I may be on mat leave, but with all the pre-departure preparations, I feel like I need a holiday before I start work. The problem is, with kids, planning every aspect of a holiday can be well…work.
I’m thinking (and hoping) with absolute minimal planning this will be traveling like it used to be (before kids). What I mean is not having to plan every potential activity, and hotel ahead of time. We are going to Iceland with nothing but a guide book, plane tickets, and time on our hands….well with some minimal additions….like a rental car.
Here are our Iceland essentials:
Camping Card: In the summer, accommodation in Iceland fills up fast, and it isn’t cheap. Our solution to bargain accommodation and freedom to move at our pace is The Camping Card. This little gem that costs 99 euro lets you show-up and camp at 46 campgrounds around the island. We ordered ours online and it showed up in about 10 days. Many of the campgrounds look amazing, and are often right in the center of the villages with lots of amenities including geo-thermal pools, wifi and playgrounds. Some have cooking facilities. Another fabulous accommodation option are farm stays. Check them out if camping isn’t your thing.
First Stop Reykjavik: Our first stop will be Reykjavik and we will stock up on camping supplies, plan our next move, rest after a long flight, and get our Iceland introduction. One of the coolest things I’ve heard of is campsites in a city center. Hello Reykjavik. There is a great option about 3km out of town.
The See Reykjavik Card gives 24, 48 or 72 hour access to many of Reykjavik’s best attractions and public transportation. It lets you on city buses, the ferry to Videy Island, into the city’s geo-thermal pools, the gallery and many museums. The 24 hour version costs about 25$.
Car Rental: This is where it really hurts. There is no way around it. The only way to REALLY see Iceland is with a car. The most expensive way to see Iceland is with a car rental. There are many different rental agencies, and for the most part, all of the costs are high. We went with SIXT. Check out this great blog post from “Beers and Beans” with some great hints for renting a car in Iceland. There are a lot of strange complications with renting cars in Iceland other than the cost. Certain vehicles are not allowed on certain roads (F-Roads) which often run through the interior, or to more remote regions. It is understandable though, because do you really want a mini trying to ford a raging river?
Warm Clothes: With the most northern capital in the world, Iceland isn’t exactly a bikini vacation. The average high in August is a balmy 13 degrees. We have down sleeping bags, and lots of sweaters and raincoats. Staying warm will be key to having fun.
Luggage Storage: This was one of the most important factors for us given the fact that car rental is so expensive, we aren’t getting a fancy dancy hummer. It will be months before our items arrive in India, and I will need to dress to impress my first few days at work. Iceland weather in August is about as opposite to Delhi’s as possible. After a bit of searching we learned that there is a luggage storage facility 500 meters from the departure side of the airport. Open from 05:00 – 18:00, it isn’t dirt cheap, with the price for each bag being 5 Euros per day and 1 Euro per day after that. For more information: http://www.bilahotel.is/
Plane Tickets: Icelandair has some great prices from Canada. It also allows for short stopovers if you’re traveling to and from Europe. Iceland geniusly capitalized on its press (mostly bad) following the Eyjafjallajökull explosion that disrupted air travel for weeks and its collapse of its banking system to lure travels to its incredible shores.
Guide Book: The e-version won’t do as I learned after leaving my Lonely Planet on the plane in Turkey. With a good guide book you can be spontaneous, you can eat at some great locations, and know what to see without the hours of googling pre-departure. Of course, they aren’t perfect, but 50% facts, flexibility and a sense of adventure is all you need.
Cameras: Years ago some colleagues went to Iceland. They came back gushing about how absolutely gorgeous it was and mentioned that Rob and I would like it. The seed was planted. Iceland looks like a photographers dream as the ocean meets the mountains meets journey to the center of the earth. Add in cute turf house and icebergs and we are going to take thousands of pictures. Both Rob and I are bringing our SLRs…because I learned that lesson years ago and hope to capture some of this magic!
Stuff For Kids: In addition to the incredible landscape, it seems like Iceland has a lot for kids young and old. Ours might be too young to participate in some of the great museums, but we will definitely be visiting many of the sites that are geared for travelers young and old. Most of the campsites in Iceland (along with geo-thermal pools and playgrounds) have wi-fi, so I am hoping to blog regularly as we make our way around this beautiful island!
Max will be 27 months and Freya 6 months when we leave!