It won’t shock most of you to know that Iceland has been on my list for some time. A land full of glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, elves, and insane road trip potential? Bring it on! Of course, a lot of folks are heading to Iceland these days, and some of us are doing it right: by making almost no plans, renting a car, and seeing where the road takes us. Planning a trip to Iceland was a no brainer!
But before I launch into blog posts about how epic my trip to Iceland in September was and specific tales from each region, I wanted to give a bit of background and a basic introduction to the trip. The place specific blog posts will be coming, but hey, lets all take a breath. Seriously, I’m still a little jet lagged.
Self Guided Iceland Travel
We all know that I’m a huge advocate of independent travel, getting out there and exploring as much as possible, as far as possible. I love finding nooks and crannies undiscovered by the guide books and the tour buses. But in a country as small and as heavily touristed as Iceland is these days, I was worried that maybe that wasn’t going to happen for me.
But alas, all fear was in vain, and holy crap, ICELAND IS THE BEST!!!!
Let me catch you up. Some months ago, I was feeling wanderlusty and while planning my trip to Ireland for a travel bloggers conference, I impulsively checked flight rates for Iceland. Surprisingly, flights were cheaper that expected, and I figured hey, Iceland is kind of on the way to Ireland. Because that is how I roll. Logical to a fault.
The next step was to convince someone to travel to Iceland with me for the road trip of a lifetime, since renting a car is not cheap. Actually, this was a pretty easy step when you’re as lucky as me and are friends with the brilliant and fearless Dana Meehan.
My Peace Corps site mate from whom I was rarely separated while in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, Dana is every bit the travel lover and outdoors wanderer I am. Actually, you know what, she is way braver than me when it comes to heroic outdoor adventure. Dana grew up in Ecuador with parents who are basically modern day Swiss Family Robinsons, so she can climb mountains and wrestle the world with the best of them, always wanting to go a little further and see a bit higher. No seriously, I had to tell her to be careful more than several times. My Nana heart just can’t take those cliff edges!
Most importantly, Dana had been dying to go to Iceland too, so my out of the blue “Hey, how to do feel about Iceland?” text went over HUGE!
Next came Iceland Trip Planning…
No, I jest, I never plan anything. Dana hassled me for months to talk about the specific places I wanted to go, but I was basically of the mind that we would just get there and drive around.
I did wear down eventually and picked out some pretty epic places to see in Iceland, as did Dana. Together we made a packed, though very flexible, 10 day itinerary for Iceland that took us all around the country from Reykjavik in the south to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Westfjords in the west, followed by travelling to Akureyri in the north of Iceland and then coming back down the east coast past Vatnajokull National Park (which we didn’t actual see because of rain and fog, fun!). Don’t worry, keep tuning into the blog and you will get to hear about all of these amazing, and some very unpronounceable, places.
What mainly stuck out from our lists was that we both wanted to climb mountains, see glaciers, explore waterfalls, and bathe in hot springs.
We are women of simple wishes.
Renting a Car in Iceland for a 10 Day Roadtrip
I secured a Toyota Rav4 4×4 from Sad Car Rentals (who provided amazing service and our trip would have not been what it was without them!), a car that could go on any road in Iceland, no matter if it was highway driving or ‘roads’ wherein that term is used very loosely.
Seriously, some of the roads in Iceland, I may need a chiropractor on retainer for the rest of my life.
These roads are known as ‘F’ roads. I will let you presume what F stands for. Or at least what I called them.
I would not go to Iceland without a rental car. I hate tour buses generally speaking, so I would never sign on for one, but in Iceland this is even more exceptional. 90% of exploring Iceland is stopping at will alongside the road and gawking at the beautiful scenery.
Or in one case, spotting what may have been either a cow or a reindeer and then spiralling the car around at the first opportunity to check.
Spoiler: It was a REINDEER! A wild one! Good eye Dana!
Plus, who doesn’t love getting a rental car super muddy?!
We also knew Iceland was going to be bonkers expensive. This is a well-known fact, which should have deterred us, since neither of us are currently swimming in a money bin. But hey, credit cards were made for places like Iceland, you only live once, carpe diem, etc. She said oh so irresponsibly…
But we were going to stay in hostels, do mainly free sightseeing of the abundant nature, and neither Dana or I are adverse to a few meals of ramen every now and again. I figure money wise, it all came out in the wash.
But some of that sticker shock is still hurting my heart. The $40 hamburger still haunts my dreams.
In the days leading up to the trip, I was more and more excited about our adventure to come. Nothing gets me going like an open road and few real plans, and really that is the essence of independent adventure travel in Iceland. Let the weather forecast guide you, make sure the road conditions are at least somewhat favourable, and just start driving.
Stay tuned for the adventure itself, and of course, some epic scenery!
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