Endless mountain views, moss-layered lava rock covering the country, horses that look like ponies, and town names you’re not going to be able to pronounce, what isn’t there to fall in love with Iceland? The land of fire and ice turned into a more incredible experience than I could have ever hoped for.
On December 19th, I received a call from my friend Tony. I met Tony through my workplace, and we started talking through our passion for travel and late last year ended up meeting up in Rome while we were both over there. We had mentioned traveling together but never really had any plans on where or when. When we were talking on the phone, Tony mentioned him and his friend were possibly going to Iceland to visit their friends, around mid-April, and asked if I’d be interested in coming along. Immediately I was saying, “Count me in!” I then started researching Iceland, the scenery, the attractions, the food, the culture, and my mind was settled. Iceland was my next destination, whether or not Tony was coming, and I wanted to go in early March for a chance to see the Nothern Lights.
January 1st, Tony and I met up at Panera Bread, and we were discussing the whole Iceland possibility. He says to me, “Yeah, so Iceland isn’t going to happen. Dylan only has so much time off and our friends are coming to the states in April.” I say, “Well that’s okay because I’m going to Iceland in March no matter what you say.” Tony looks at me the way he always does like I’m crazy and in over my head (lol). We end up looking at flights, and I’m going down every avenue to try to convince him. He looks at me and says, “Fuck it, let’s go to Iceland.” We booked our flights, and we were going to Iceland.
The Cost Breakdown
I really should have titled this, “Traveling as a Broke Ass Bitch” because that’s what I am. However, my certain life circumstances allow me to be a broke ass bitch and still afford to follow my dreams and travel. I work as a shift manager at Aldi, I still live at home and do not pay rent, my bills are minimal, and I utilize credit cards. I am fortunate my family supports my dreams and gives me an opportunity to pursue my dreams and save my money. With that said, if you do not have these types of living situations, there are still ways to work around it. If travel is something you’re truly passionate about, evaluate your lifestyle and priorities.
- Are you spending $1000 on rent to live alone? Find roommates and lower your rent.
- Did you just buy a spanking new 2019 vehicle or iPhone XR with some crazy monthly payment? Brand new luxuries are not necessities when you’re a middle-class worker trying to travel.
- Do you spend a lot of money on make-up, hair, clothing, video games, eating out, etc? Limit your spending on these everyday things that add up, FAST.
- Do you have a good credit score, a steady income, and can be fiscally responsible for paying your debts? Create an overall monthly budget so you make sure you can always make your monthly payments and take advantage of the benefits of credit cards!
So, how much did I spend on my Iceland trip?
We flew from Atlanta to New York, and from New York to Iceland. The flight to NY was $95. Our flight from New York to Iceland round trip was $423. I used my AMEX points for my flight back to ATL from NY, so I didn’t have to pay anything.
As Reykjavik is one of the most expensive cities in the world, hotels were not an option for us on this trip. Instead, we stayed in a Hostel. I was actually quite excited to have my first hostel experience, and Iceland made for a very great one! We stayed at Bus Hostel, about a 15-minute walk from downtown. and it exceeded my expectations. It was clean, the staff was extremely helpful and accommodating, and all of our excursions picked us up and dropped us off at this location, making it very convenient. I paid $175 for 6 nights in the hostel. As a result of our flight coming back to New York arriving late, there were no flights back to Atlanta in the same night, so we had to stay in a hotel. I paid $121 for a hotel close to the airport (that didn’t look like I would come back home with bed bugs). If you’re able to rough it and sleep in an airport, you could do that, but I surely was not.
I booked three different excursions for this trip. 1. Blue Lagoon, including pick up and drop off, was $150. 2. Snorkeling in Silfra and Golden Circle, including pick up and drop off, was $250. 3. Southern Iceland tour, including pick up and drop off, got canceled twice and we actually went on the Snaefellnes Peninsula tour and still cost around the same $100. We were lucky enough to have his awesome friend take us out Nothern Lights hunting (which we were able to see something!), but that saved us about $50 for not having to book through a tour group. You’re looking at least spending $500 if you want to see the major highlights of the west side of Iceland.
Craziest thing I’ve done in my life!
I spent around $600 the country on food, souvenirs, and all random stuff that adds up while traveling. When I visit a country, I don’t try to hold back and not spend money if it’s something I want to do. For example, I knew I wanted to eat a nice, expensive meal one night while there. I spent $97 at dinner for 2 alcoholic drinks, a whale appetizer, lamb entree, and chocolate cake dessert. All of it was so (fucking) amazing, and worth every penny spent. You never know when you’re going to be back in this country, having these experiences, so live it to the fullest while you’re there. I also took out $100 extra dollars for Icelandic cash. I used it to buy some souvenirs, tip our tour guides (can’t help I’m from America and feel the need to tip great service), and other random stuff. Again, Iceland was not a cheap country, and for the amount of time we were there, I’m not upset at how much I ended up spending. His friends really helped us out with saving money in so many different ways. With transportation, scoring student discounts (thanks Diljo), avoiding spending $20 on razors (thanks Sunna), they were lifesavers and one of the best parts of this trip.
So, Did Iceland Live up to the Hype?
Iceland lived up to every bit of the hype, and I fell in love with this country the very first day. It never got old walking to the city and looking to your left or right and just seeing the most beautiful scenery. Iceland has such an incredible geological and cultural history, making it a country with so much to see and experience. 6 days was enough to fit in all the basic tourist attractions, but there is so much more that I didn’t get to see. There are so many countries I still want to see and visit, but I’d love to save up more money for another Iceland trip in the future and see the whole country. Foreign car rental can be expensive, especially in Iceland, but I think an Iceland road trip has been added to the bucket list.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget standing on a black sand beach, and turning around to see a damn glacier. Or freezing to death in 36* water while snorkeling in between tectonic plates. Or seeing the lights in the sky. Or all the tits and ass I saw getting naked for the Blue Lagoon and swimming pools. Or the weird Swedish man at the hostel. Or all the jokes and stupid moments. Iceland will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Trying to capture a selfie with the lights!
If Iceland wasn’t on your bucket list before this blog post, I hope it is now!
What are some destinations you’ve been to that really resonated with you? What are your favorites travel memories? Do you have any more money saving travel tips I didn’t list? What destination will be next?
Let me know all things travel related!