Van life

by Alison, 21/11/2014

One question everybody who is interested in going to Iceland asked us is 'Is Iceland expensive?'. The answer is yes. Iceland unfortunately is expensive. But then again so is Ireland. When we travel in Ireland we tend to stay in hostels, B&B's, friends houses or camp. We don't stay in hotels or fancy places so I didn't expect to do this in Iceland either. 

To bring down the cost of staying in Iceland we did two things. Firstly we used Air B&B while staying in Reykjavik. Once again this worked out really well. This time we didn't stay in a person's home but instead in a guest house where they rent out all of the rooms. It was comparatively cheap, it had a great location, was relaxed, clean and comfortable so pretty much all you could want.

Our second type of accommodation was a little more exciting. We rented a camper van. This was the first time either Ollie or I had rented a camper and it kind of made the holiday. We are definite converts to van life. 

We tend not to book our holiday accommodation too far in advanced however the freedom having a camper van provided was totally different. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable  especially in the winter and it was amazing  to be able to decide on a daily basis whether we wanted to stay in a certain area or travel on without any re-organisation of accommodation or loss of deposits. 

We camped in a variety of places from church car parks in towns that are definitely off the tourist trail to campsites in front of the most beautiful natural wonders. We never camped anywhere truly wild but after talking to the guide who brought us on the glacier hike I am glad we didn't. Growth if you can imagine is slow and that lovely mossy campsite you found, might have taken 150 years to grow so her advice was to stick to the plentiful car-parks and campsites. 

Driving in the evenings and parking the van at our next location meant that we often got to experience places without anybody else present. Even at this time of year there are lots of tourists travelling and due to worse weather up north we stayed on the more popular southern end of the island so it was lovely to park the van in the evening and know we would be one of the first people there in the morning.

Living in the van also meant that we could cook for ourselves. This was a bonus as food is expensive. Meals had to be simple as all we had was a one ring gas cooker but it was a nice way to unwind, chopping and chatting away while sipping on our duty free. Another cost saving tip, alcohol is expensive so if you plan to cook for yourself and want to have a drink pick a bottle up in the duty free.

Finally to give this post a bit of balance I have to admit that there are negatives to van life. Firstly unfortunately our van could not travel far on dirt roads which limited the places we could go to. There are campers that are also 4x4 but they are ferociously expensive. 

Second you don't have a shower however there are nice public pools in most towns and unlike us I'm sure you won't pick the one evening in the week that they close early to pay a visit. 

Thirdly you need to pay attention to the weather,understand exactly how the heating works, wear enough clothes and fill your hot water bottle (yes I did bring a hot water bottle and it was a game changer) before you shiver all night and wake up to half a foot of snow. Ok I put this in the negatives but as an Irish girl waking up to snow was pretty magical. So really the lack of 4 wheel drive was the only major downside to van life. 


  1. Beautiful pictures and a great avontuur

    1. Definitely an adventure that will stick in our hearts.