Preparing for Iceland

Iceland is incredibly beautiful but very expensive. Hopefully this post might help you save a little bit of money.

Bring:

  • Layers…loads and loads of layers
  • Decent boots. I say decent but I got mine for 9euro in Penney’s
  • Strepsils and painkillers… We paid eight euro for a small packet of Strepsils. You can only buy these and painkillers in the pharmacy, which isn’t open late and closed on Sundays. In the interest of saving money, pain, and not having your Mam say ‘I told you so’ you should throw some into the case. Also they give very limited medication over the counter so if you’re prone to anything that needs more than basic painkillers or lozenges maybe bring the medication with you or you’ll have to get a prescription from the medical centre.
  • Sunglasses – the snow makes it really bright and they’re good for protecting your eyes against the wind.

Flights:

We booked flights in November (instead of Christmas presents) with Wow Air from Dublin to Reykjavik. They set us back about €260 each. However, I was too stupid to look at the baggage restrictions until the night before because I just assumed they would be similar to the new and improved Ryanair. It turns out you are only allowed one cabin bag (rather than a cabin bag and handbag/backpack) AND there is a 5KG limit on cabin baggage unless you pay an additional €11 (honestly where would you be going with 5kg…?) I repacked so that everything fit into my case and ditched my schoolbag. I decided I would just pay the extra charge at the airport if I had to.

Wow Air don’t have online check in so you just need to show up a little earlier with your passport. The man at the desk weighed my little suitcase and it was 7kg which I was quite proud of, but he was genuinely disappointed in me.  After lots of tutting  he didn’t charge me for the extra weight but I wasn’t so lucky on the way back. Firstly because I was charged for the extra 2kg and secondly because it’s a €35 charge… (€11 is to prebook so definitely do that or look at checking in a bag).

Accommodation:

After scouring Trivago we felt that a hotel was out of our price range. Also, I had done some research and learned that eating out in Iceland is painfully expensive so we opted for AirBnB. We found a lovely central studio apartment with loads of great reviews which cost €447 for the 5 nights ( €89 per night). Still expensive enough but definitely more reasonable than hotel prices and having our own kitchen saved us a small fortune. There was an underground parking space included which was fantastic and it meant that the car wasn’t covered in snow every morning. We never actually met the host but they sent us everything we needed to know and the apartment was ideal.

Car rental:

I had very little to do with organising the car but we booked through rentalcars.com (much cheaper than Hertz etc) and the company we rented  from was Green Motion. When you arrive at the airport you call them and they collect you as the offices are actually about ten minutes away. We paid for a Volkswagen Golf (or similar) and couldn’t believe our luck when they told us our Honda CRV was outside. The total (including insurance) came to €230 which definitely worked out cheaper in the long run. We paid another €32 for a GPS. They will try to sell you insurance for gravel and ash damage but if you’re only doing the basics it’s not really necessary. We were able to return the car to the Green Motion office in the centre of Reykjavik at no extra cost and they even drive you back to your hotel or apartment afterwards for free.

Travel to/from the airport (without a car):

A company called Reykjavik Excursions operates several buses between the town and the airport. The bus times coincide with arrivals at the airport. We didn’t get one since we had the car but a friend advised me not to arse around too much or you’ll have to wait for the next flight arrival to get the bus. We returned the car the day before our flight to save money on an extra day we wouldn’t be able to use so we got the bus back to the airport on Monday morning. We were concerned because our flight was at 6.20am but the buses run from 3.45am onwards and take 45 minutes. They cost about €15 and there’s a free pick up service that brings you to the station from a specified list of hotels that runs half an hour before the bus leaves the station. It’s a really well run service and hassle free.

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