Updated: Apr 23, 2019
All right, everything is done. You've decided which Iceland campervan rental is best for your needs and you’ve booked it. You've purchased your plane tickets and are ready to begin your big road trip around Iceland's Ring Road. You've picked the right items for what to wear in Iceland and have packed it in your suitcase. It's time to start your road trip. Once you fly into the Iceland airport (KEF) and pick up your Iceland campervan rental, there are a few things to know.
Stock up on alcohol at duty-free
Iceland is incredibly expensive, and that applies to alcohol as well. Thanks to high taxes on liquor, any drinks that you buy at a bar are going to be astronomically expensive. Wine, beer, and spirits are going to be significantly cheaper if you buy them before leaving the airport. Another tip for camping in Iceland is to bring a refillable water bottle. You’ll save plenty of money by drinking fresh, clean water from the tap.
Buy groceries as soon as you arrive
In addition to stocking up on liquor at duty-free, you’ll also want to buy some staples for your trip. One of the great things about camping in Iceland is the amount of money you save by not eating at restaurants or cafés for every meal. Icelanders love a good bargain (honestly, who doesn’t?), so you’ll find several low cost or discount supermarket. Check out Bónus, Krónan, and Nettó to find low prices and deals of the day.
You’ll hopefully have planned out your menu in advance, so you know which types of non-perishables like pasta, rice, canned products, and snacks like nuts, granola, and crackers you need to buy. Hopefully, your campervan will also come with a cooler or mini fridge, perfect for stocking cheese, fruits, veggies, and the famous Icelandic yogurt, Skyr. Pick up what you need for the next few days and then refill when you get to the next big city or town (Vik in the south or Akureyri in the north).
Get paper or PDF copies of maps and guides
We all love Google Maps. I mean, honestly, what did any of us do before GPS was invented? And I’m not referring to MapQuest. There were days, before the technological revolution, where we relied on good old fashioned hold-them-in-your-hand maps to get from point A to point B. I think that here it’s quite useful to have a good physical copy of an Iceland map. There are times when you will be in remote sections of the country like F-roads and internet service can be spotty to non-existent. A high-quality map will tell you about the surrounding terrain and what types of roads to expect as well as where to find gas stations, campsites, and popular sightseeing destinations. It’s a really good idea to plan your gas station stops in advance on an Iceland campervan trip, so use the map for that.
Also pick up a PDF or paper copy of the Áning guide. It lists all of the campgrounds and accommodation options in Iceland, so you can plan which campsites to stay at in advance. It also lists swimming pools on the island and gives you travel tips for Iceland. Many tourists come to Iceland to get back to nature, so why not go a little analog in a digital world.
Track the weather
This is also another tip for a road trip in Iceland that revolves around getting back to basics. Talking about the weather is neither glamorous nor sexy, but it’s absolutely necessary as it could save your life. Iceland’s weather is known for being unpredictable. Snowstorms in June are just the tip of the iceberg. The country has been known to experience multiple seasons all in one day. So while it could be sunny when you set out on the two and a half hour drive from Reykjavik to Vik, storm clouds could move in at any time and making road conditions very difficult.
You’ll always want to check the weather forecast on the Iceland Meteorological Office’s website. If there is any inclement weather heading your way, it might be best to wait or cut your journey short. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in a storm in Iceland in the middle of nowhere with no way to get help. It can be fatal, so always check the weather forecast before heading out.
Tips for the Ring Road
Iceland is like one big playground for nature enthusiasts. The country’s breathtaking landscapes are second to none. There will no doubt come a time during your Iceland road trip when you’ll want to take a moment to soak it all in. Please make sure to pull off safely to the side of the road so you can take your time and not endanger yourself or other vehicles. And if it’s extremely windy, be sure to hold the door with both hands. A strong gust can easily blow the doors off your campervan rental. Lastly, watch out for sheep darting into the road. They get scared by the sound of the motor and can be quite unpredictable.
A Travel Guide to Iceland by Campervan - Part Four: Tips
When you’ve decided to make your way around Iceland’s Ring Road, it helps to have some local tips and tricks. Some of these might be new, and some might be familiar to more experienced travelers. Either way, have a safe journey and enjoy your time with your Iceland campervan rental.