Iceland: Lessons Learned

In January, DL and I somewhat randomly went to Iceland (Thanks WOW Air!).  I catalogue most of the adventure in my previous blog post.  We met some fantastic people, had great success, and managed to make quite a few mistakes along the way.  Here's what we learned:

  • Food and Gas really are expensive! All the websites we had read said as much, but it was still a bit of a shock to discover that dinner for two at KFC will run you $30 and that gas averages somewhere around $7.50 per gallon.  Regarding food, we had missed that the Bonus stores that dot the island are actually small groceries, apparently something like Aldi or Lidl.  Hit up one of these shortly after arriving in country and avoid the expensive gas station diners! Regarding gas costs, driving 1000km in a decade-old Jeep Cherokee will bring that gas total up into the hundreds of dollars quickly.  Unless you know you're going to be offroading, get a more reasonable econobox rental for your self-guided tour needs.
  • Packing must be done carefully! WOW Air charges you for checked baggage and, now, for carry-on luggage.  In order to save money, you have to be strategic about what you bring.  DL and I shared a checked bag so we could reduce those costs.  However, we didn't think carefully about the order in which we packed everything.  Upon arrival, it took some time to get our rain gear out, and by then we'd strewn everything across the trunk of the jeep.  Think about your itinerary, and work backwards in your packing so what you need first is quickly accessible.
  • The weather can actually be horrible.  All the photos of Iceland online fooled me into thinking, "wow, what a magical paradise where there's never bad weather."  False.  It rained for all but two hours of our trip, temperatures just above freezing, with wind somewhere between constant breeze and strong gusts.  I was unprepared for such conditions.  We had raincoats and waterproof boots, yes, but our cameras were not protected (nor completely unscathed when all was said and done) in the driving rain.
  • Just do it.  The trip was well worth it.  We bought our tickets, and a good amount of our supplies, less than two weeks before departure, having only started talking about the trip a couple weeks before that.  It's possible with a bit of planning, savings, and good friends, to find yourself on a quick adventure to a faraway place in less time than you might think!
 Skogafoss on a moody day

Skogafoss on a moody day

DL and I traveled to Iceland from January 22nd - January 25, 2017, on a round-trip direct flight from BWI to Keflavik Int'l.  WOW Air flights are cheapest in the winter months and there seems to be a fair bit of volatility in the pricing - check back periodically, as prices might drop.  I recommend using Google Flights to play around with possible dates to find the best options for your budget and schedule.

Photographs from our trip can be viewed at this link.