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5 Things to Know Before You Travel to Iceland

To round out my series of posts on Iceland I wanted to include a practical, yet fun list of 5 things to know before you travel to Iceland. If and when you do travel to Iceland, enjoy! It’s a truly magical place!

Prepare for everything…weather related

The weather is all over the place. If they have weathermen/women in Iceland then bless their hearts because trying to figure out what the weather in Iceland is going to do is like trying to figure out what a cat is thinking….who the hell knows, they just do what they want.

We traveled to Iceland at the end of August. If you are going around that time of year, I recommend brining a good down jacket and also a few down vests as well. Waterproof pants and a rain jacket are also a great to have as it is almost constantly misting in Iceland. Layers are key here!

The ins and outs of #campervanlife

Renting a campervan is easy, there are so many companies that offer this in Iceland you’ll have no problems (I recommend CampEasy). The campervan is only one part of the equation, there are other things like insurance and add ons that are useful when renting a campervan:

  • Insurance – At the very least get gravel protection. The Ring Road is perfectly paved but you do end up on gravel roads to see certain things and having protection for any dings or scrapes is peace of mind.
  • Extra Driver – Obviously one person was not going to handle the driving for the entire trip so we opted for an extra driver.
  • Camping Card – The camping card will get you discounted entry to certain campsites in Iceland. You can actually park almost anywhere and camp but if you want a few nights with facilities, you’ll have to opt for proper campsites.
  • Inverter – This is a must have for all your charging needs so I highly recommend getting an inverter.
  • GPS – Something we opted for but didn’t need was the GPS. Back then I wasn’t as savvy a traveler as I am now. If you don’t plan on getting a SIM card while in Iceland just download the area via Google Maps and you’ll be set. Besides, the Ring Road is super easy to navigate, there are plenty of signs. We navigated most of the trip the old school way with the paper maps we picked up in the Information Centers. 

Bonus Tip: Buying gas in Iceland is not as straightforward as you’d think. When you go to a gas station you can’t pay with a card directly at the pump, you must go inside and put money on a gas card and use that to purchase gas.

The various travel seasons of Iceland

You can travel to Iceland year round but there are some differences during certain times a year. Mid-June through August is the high season where most things will come at a higher cost than any other time of year.

If you want to travel to Iceland on budget I recommend going in shoulder season around end of August/September. Thats when we traveled through Iceland; prices were reasonable and there weren’t hoards of tourists. However in some of the smaller towns a lot of things are closed, sometimes even campsites. Rightfully so, a lot of the locals had jetted off for a vacation after the busy season so keep that in mind. It really didn’t bother us. Towards the end of our trip we stayed in one campsite where the facilities were closed and ended up eating in a gas station restaurant which was actually pretty nice and had decent food. 

If you’re keen on seeing the Northern Lights you’ll have to wait until later in the year. The best time to see the Northern Lights is September to mid-April. This is also winter in Iceland which would make me think twice about the campervan option but would be amazing no doubt with the fresh snow layering the landscapes.

Information Centers are your friend

The information centers in Iceland are everywhere and they are super helpful for getting information about the local area.

Before you head out from Reykjavik, visit the Information Center in middle of town. Pick up every map and the guide books on the various regions, these are super helpful throughout your drive around Iceland.

Pay respect to the Huldufólk (Icelandic Elves)

Yeah thats right I said elves, they live under certain rocks in Iceland…duh. Elves has long been part of Icelandic folklore, in fact, these beliefs still live on in some Icelanders today. The tale of elves in Iceland came from a lack of people and probably things to do. Back in the day there were so few people in Iceland that they doubled their population with tales of elves and hidden people.

Icelanders believe these elves live in the lava rock formations and moss that cover much of the landscape in Iceland. To this day certain proposed roads and construction have been halted because of the potential of inferring with an elf dwelling. It is believed that if you disturb the elves they are capable of putting spells on you.

There is tourism in Iceland centered around this history; you can even go to Álfaskólinn, the Icelandic Elf School and take a class in elf studies….yes please!


In the end these are reasons why I love travel so much, the different histories, beliefs and cultures of this world are all so unique you never know what you’ll come across!


By echmelik, April 21, 2017
About Me
Hey there! I'm Erin.
Welcome to Have Compass Will Travel, an adventure and lifestyle blog that follows me from one adventure to another while I share the tips and tricks to living a life of more with less. I'm Erin, a Chicago native who has traveled to over 20 countries. In the last two years I set myself free of material commitments such as rent and car payments to live a flexible lifestyle that allows me to travel, work and save money!
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