Let’s be honest here, a trip to Iceland is going to cost you a more than most places you may have traveled to. Especially if you’re a Southeast Asia lover like myself. There are certain countries you can travel to and get by with spending under $2000, maybe even $1000, and then there are more expensive ones, Iceland and other Nordic countries, that are flat out just going to cost you more money but trust me, they’re well worth it. I made this Iceland travel cost post for a couple of reasons: to hold myself accountable on my spending, to help you out if you’re looking to plan a similar trip to Iceland, and to give others insight on how much my trips really cost, and to be quite honest, this one surprised me. I was hoping to spend around $3500 USD total, but I went a bit over budget in a few areas, but I really don’t mind too much. This trip was worth every single cent that I spent, even if it was the most expensive trip that I’ve taken.
Yes, let me repeat that, this is the most expensive trip I have ever taken.
I am not a luxury traveler. I am not a super strict budget traveler. I am a comfortable traveler, but to put a label on it, I’d say I’m an average to a mid-range type of traveler. I travel within my means, splurge on a couple of things depending on the trip, and make sure that I have a comfortable, incredible time. Traveling comfortably looks different for everyone, so in this budget breakdown, I am going to give you all the juicy little details of my trip, where I spent the most money, where I could have saved money, and hopefully it will help you plan your trip efficiently and maybe save more money than I did! The biggest thing to remember here is…
Just because I spent this much, doesn’t mean you will too, but it will give you a rough estimate.
There are plenty of ways to save money while traveling in Iceland, and some I practiced well, and some I didn’t. So, without further ado, let’s crack into how much chedda’ I blew on this trip and where most of my money went *cough cough* my car rental.
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My Travel Style
What Type Of Trip Does This Grand Total Apply To?
$4,296.33 USD reflects a solo traveler who went out to eat three times total, purchased all other meals to cook from grocery stores, camped every single night (except night one), rented her own car, and did a self-driving tour. I did not hire guides, go out drinking, or spend any more than I needed, or wanted, too. I considered myself to be extremely comfortable during the duration of my trip and wasn’t penny-pinching to try and save a ton of money, the way that I traveled did that for me. I traveled for a total of fifteen days, including the days that I arrived and departed Reykjavik.
What Time Of Year Did I Travel To Iceland?
I traveled in high season, June, which boosted the prices of some things, especially my rental car. If you choose to travel in the shoulder or winter seasons, the cost will be lower, however, most campsites are not open during the winter, so you might have to stay in hostels, hotels, or air bnbs.
What This Cost Doesn’t Include
There are a couple of things that I chose to omit from this because I know that these things may not be necessary for someone else’s budget, or you may already own what you need to make this trip. I chose to purchase my camping gear rather than rent because I plan on making camping trips in the future and the cost for renting was the same as purchasing it for myself, so I chose to make the investment. I also purchased a pair of KEEN Terradora Mid Women’s Hiking Boots, two Patagonia Capilene Thermal Base Layer Tops, one Patagonia Capilene Thermal Bottom, four pairs of Bombas Hiking Socks, gloves (which I accidentally left at home), a thrifted beanie, Mountain Hardwear Waterproof Hiking Pants, two thrifted sweaters, and a Tom Bihn Toiletry Bag so that I wouldn’t use another plastic bag.
The Cost of a few hiking gear essentials
The cost of purchasing my own camping gear
– renting the camping gear was just as expensive as owning my own and since I plan on making more camping trips, I chose to invest in my own equipment.
Photography gear I purchased prior to my trip
8 Ways I Could Have Cut Iceland Trip Costs
Purchased a SIM card (~$30) over a WiFi hotspot rental ($91)
Drove less (gas is expensive)
Dined instead of eating out 3 times (save ~$60)
Waited For A Cheaper Flight Deal
purchased my rental car upfront 100% instead of 10% down
Set Up my alternative debit card with no ITF’s ahead of time
camped my first night instead of booking a hostel
Booked a 2WD over a 4×4 car
How Much I Spent On My 2 Week Iceland Roadtrip
Iceland Transportation Cost
First things first, let’s talk about airfare and transportation. These were the most expensive parts of my trip and they actually take up about 50% of this total Iceland budget. That being said, there are many ways that you can save on these areas, so if the price makes you shriek a little bit, don’t worry, you may not spend as much as I did.
Buying my flight to Iceland was a little bit interesting. I was weighing the pros and cons of traveling with the world renown budget airline, WOW Airlines, but once I realized that I was going to pay hefty luggage fees for my camping and camera gear, I chose to fly with Air Canada since my first piece of checked luggage was free and I was allowed a carry-on. This ended up being a REALLY good decision because WOW Airlines ended up going bankrupt and leaving a lot of people stranded in other parts of Europe, and without a refund for their canceled flights. I did spend a little more on my flight that I wanted to but by the looks of it, I was either going to spend more on a better airline or save money with a budget airline and spend over $100 on luggage fees, so I went with the first option. I flew out of Dallas, Texas so already rose the price of my ticket. It seems like a lot of people fly in from other parts of Europe and manage to spend a whole lot less, but in my situation, I wasn’t going to get a ticket lower than around $500. That is not to say that it’s not possible, but a deal never seemed to cross paths at the time I was buying my flight and hunting for flight deals, so I did spend a little bit more than usual, but it was more of a safety blanket after everything with WOW Airlines and the Boeing 737’s being grounded. One thing I will whine about (first world problem but it’s really not that big of a deal), when the Boeing 737’s were grounded, Air Canada downgraded my seat to their budget carrier, Air Canada Rouge. I know that thousands of other people had to be put on alternative planes in order for them to run their business, but my long haul flight to Iceland didn’t have a TV, the legroom wasn’t too great, BUT the food and service was really really awesome, and they gave me a discount for my next flight with Air Canada, so they mended that wound REAL quick. I will probably fly with Air Canada again for future trips to Canada and around North America and I HIGHLY recommend them if you’re planning a trip to Iceland. I am not sponsored by them or anything, but I really enjoyed my flying experience with them.
Next up on my list for my Iceland trip cost is travel insurance. I never go anywhere without travel insurance now and I am really glad I had it in Iceland in case anything happened to me while I was away. I always book with World Nomads since they cover any and all type of adventures while I am abroad, and they have really affordable options for all types of travelers. I spent around $80 USD for their Explorer Plan which came out to be around $5 USD / day to protect myself and my travel plans for fifteen days. Not too shabby.
I went back and forth and back and forth on a car rental for WEEKS. I couldn’t decide on a rental company since most of them had a mixture of reviews, but I ended up booking through Northbound and through them my car was with Go Car Rental. Would I recommend Go Car Rental? Absolutely. I was picked up at the airport early and I was given a little tour of my car, a Suzuki Jimney, and everything was seamless and easy. Since I had purchased platinum insurance, I was able to drop my car off at the airport on the morning of my flight and the only thing I had to do was leave the keys in the glovebox. I did purchase the highest level of insurance because I did not want to be hounded for wind and ash damage or if something else happened to the car. Throughout my whole drive, I heard rocks hitting the car and I didn’t have to worry about being charged because I had good insurance. The insurance ended up costing me an extra $500-$600 dollars, but I was 100% covered which is the most important part. Next time I rent a car abroad, I want to have a travel credit card that will give me car insurance, or once I move into my van, I want to get the insurance that covers me internationally as well so that I don’t have to pay an extra cost when I travel. You can save money on your rental by getting lower insurance, or if you have your own with your travel credit card, you don’t need to get any at all depending on the coverage plans that come with it. So, don’t let the cost freak you out, I could have saved myself in a couple of areas. Also, if you do plan on renting your own car in Iceland, which you should, buy it 100% in advance and you won’t have to pay a deposit and fee depending on the company you choose to rent it from. I chose Northbound because I was able to put 15-20% down and then I was able to pay the rest once I arrived which was really nice.
Flight (Roundtrip: DFW to KEF)
*flight via Air Canada right after WOW Airlines flopped
travel insurance with World Nomads
Car rental with go car rental
*price includes highest insurance package
Iceland Food, Gas, + Fees Cost
Shockingly enough, I didn’t spend too much on food. I made two big grocery stops, both at Kronan, and had enough food to last me the entire two weeks of my trip. I stopped twice to replenish my peanut butter and jelly supplies, and once I realized I hadn’t spent a ton on food, I treated myself to a couple of nights out along the way, so that added another $60 USD to my grand total, but my goal was to spend around $250 USD on food and I nailed that goal. The food and grocery stores in Iceland weren’t too expensive and since I do eat a vegan diet, it made a lot of my staple food items the cheapest options available, so if you’re trying to save a bit of money on food, eat more plant-based and your meals will be so much cheaper even if you go out to eat. I ate the same things throughout the duration of my trip and I ended up eating (a lot) of pb & j’s, spaghetti, tacos, vegan sandwiches, and oatmeal. I wanted to stick to ingredients that could easily be made into different things, so I could put the peanut butter and jelly from my sandwiches in my oats, I bought ready made chili and rice so I could make tacos or enjoy bowl and it made everything really easy to change in case I got sick of one thing and wanted another. I was surprised at all the options I found on this trip traveling as a vegan and I was so excited to try some new things that I don’t even get back home!
Ugh. The gas cost on this trip was the death of me. On the first leg of my trip, I felt like I was going to be able to keep my gas cost down to a minimum, I was hoping around $350, but as I went further and further into my trip, I felt like my rental car was just eating gas like no other. I did drive over the speed limit, sometimes by a lot, in certain areas and I believe at one point I had forgotten to turn off my 4WD, so those are two things that probably were the culprits, but other than that, I filled up at around half a tank so I would never run out of gas and I mainly went to the N1 gas stations all over the island. I didn’t buy a gas card since I didn’t feel like I needed it and I didn’t really have too many issues with finding gas stations. The prices seemed to be fairly similar no matter which gas company you chose, so I stuck with N1 and I ended up spending $200 over my budget, which kinda sucks but there wasn’t exactly any way around it. I drove over 2000 km (~1240 miles) and to put that in perspective, that’s like driving 2/3 of the width of the United States, so I’d say I am fine with how much I spent on gas. I know that diesel cars tend to be more gas friendly, so if you can opt for one of those or a car with good MPG rate, go for that.
I was able to keep my budget fairly low for food and gas, however since my travel card wasn’t set up in time, I ended up owing around $70 USD in foreign transaction fees. It’s not the end of the world, but I’ll know to make sure there aren’t any issues with my account before I take off. I had thought that everything was good to go, but that ended up not being the case and I wasn’t able to do much about it once I landed in Iceland.
Grocery Shop #1 (Kronan) – $81.32
Grocery Shop #2 (Kronan) – $65.09
Grocery Pit Stop # 1 (Bonus) – $10.65
Grocery Pit Stop #2 (Netto) – $11.16
Dinner In Reykjavik (Pub)- $16.88
Dinner In Reykjavik (Kaffi Vinyl) – $36.41
Dinner In Vik (The Soup Company) – $13.43
Hibiscus Tea At Braud + Co – $6.42
TOTAL – $241.36
International Processing Fees
TOTAL – $73.47
Stop #1 – $53.84
Stop #2 – $33.55
Stop #3 – $38.83
Stop #4 – $53.81
Stop #5 – $31.78
Stop #6 – $21.28
Stop #7 – $61.08
Stop #8 – $72.31
Stop #9 – $68.39
Stop #10 – $54.48
Stop #11 – $59.65
TOTAL – $549.00
Accommodation Cost, Excursions, + Little Things
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I chose to camp for the entirety of my trip and let me just say that camping is hands down the BEST way to travel Iceland. If you like to travel with loose plans, change plans last minute, find local spots, and see the raw nature of the country, go camping. It’s affordable and it will put you right back in touch with nature. I never spent more than $20/night on my campsites and most hotels or Airbnb’s in Iceland will cost you over $50/night. The first night I landed, I did spend the night at the Galaxy Pod Hostel and that cost me around $80 for my first night, but every night past that was spent in a campsite. I had the most incredible experience exploring this way and if you are a huge nature lover, odds are you are if you’re going to Iceland, then I highly recommend pitching a tent for your trip, especially if you want to save some money and it’s your travel style. I didn’t really have a set budget for campsites, but I knew that it was going to cost me roughly $300 USD and I ended up spending around $256 which puts me at around $17/night for a place to sleep, a hot shower, a friendly community, and a place to cook. You really can’t beat that.
I didn’t spend too much on excursions since most of the things that I wanted to see were free, but I did splurge on a morning ticket to the Blue Lagoon and a nice soak in some hot tubs out in Höfn. There were some other things that I wanted to see, but I just didn’t get to it this trip since most tours to things are hella expensive, so I plan to see them when I return!
I knew that I was going to have some costs here and there that I didn’t plan on writing into my budget, like to use the bathroom, and it really didn’t end up costing me as much as I thought it would. I forgot the gloves I had purchased for this trip at home, so I needed to purchase a pair and that downed me about $50, but now I have a souvenir that I’ll use for life! I also made a last minute decision to rent a wireless hotspot instead of a SIM card since I was traveling alone. I didn’t know what my plans were and I wanted to make sure that I was always connected. Looking back on it, a SIM card would have been nice so that I could make local calls, so I think next time I’ll either opt for the SIM or use both of them since I need an internet connection for ze blog. Originally when I had looked into renting the wireless hotspot, it was going to cost me around $200 USD, but on my way to Iceland, they had a Father’s Day deal where it was only going to cost me $91, so I jumped on the chance and it was one of the best purchases I made for my trip. If you want a wireless hotspot for Iceland, or if you need it for work, Trawire should be your go-to. It has signal in all the main areas and it doesn’t slow down your speeds once you hit a certain number of gigabytes. The other little things that I paid for were bathroom trips and to wash my car on my last full day since it was filthy from me living out of it for two weeks. All of these buys had a purpose, so I don’t think any money was wasted here, or any part of my trip for that matter.
Blue Lagoon – $86.48
Hallaug Hot Tubs – $7.91
TOTAL – $94.39
Bathroom at Dyjandi Falls – $1.61
Bathroom At Gas Station – $0.81
Bathroom At Black Sand Beach – $1.58
Bathroom At Gas Station + 1 Can Of Pringles – $3.81
Gloves At North 66 – $47.51
Trawire Hotspot Rental – $91.00
Car Wash + Vaccum – $15.82
TOTAL – $162.14
Galaxy Pod Hostel – $78.13
Reykjavik Campsite – $19.33
Olafsvik Campsite – $12.08
Flókalundi Campsite – $11.27
Tunguskogur Campsite – $14.50
Reykjavik Campsite – $19.33
+Laundry Service – $11.27
Hamragarðar Campsite – $11.98
Pakgil Campsite – $15.82
Pakgil Campsite – $0.00
Campsite Hofn – $16.21
Svinafell Campground – $13.45
Vik Campsite – $13.84
Reykjavik Campsite – $19.01
TOTAL – $256.22
GRAND TOTAL – $4,296.33 USD
Weekly Cost – $2,148.16 USD / Week
Daily Cost – $286.42 USD / Day
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