However, I thought it might be useful to provide a real-life costs breakdown of what we spent on our 2 week trip around the full Ring Road in a campervan (we went March 28 - April 10), so that others who are planning a similar campervan-style trip can get an idea of what you would be spending.
We debated for a long time on doing the campervan versus a regular car and booking accommodations along the way. We eventually decided on the campervan because we were concerned the very unpredictable winter weather in Iceland and frequent road closures would cause us to miss our booked accommodations. We also wanted more freedom to explore, especially know the weather could very well keep us from many of the things on our itinerary, so we wanted the luxury of being as free as possible to counteract that, should it happen.
Campervan life is not for everyone, but it worked for us at this time in our lives. Always consider how much winter driving experience you have before driving in Iceland, regardless of the vehicle. White-outs, icy roads, blowing snow, and gail-force winds are common. You can check the road conditions on road.is and safetravel.is, which are both updated very frequently, and plan your day accordingly. We would check every hour, or even more frequently! The weather in Iceland changes every five minutes.
Anyway, back to costs. All amounts below are in Canadian Dollars.
Campervan: $2855 for 13 days. (Includes gravel insurance + 5 fuel canisters for cooking)
We chose to go with the company CampEasy. Our main deciding factor was that they have many great resources on their website for winter camping, which showed us that they really equip their vehicles properly for winter camping in Iceland. They also had very good reviews on their heating system, which they've equipped with extra batteries so that it can run all night. We were NEVER cold - in fact, some mornings we would wake up hot! We booked their "Easy Auto" as it was the cheapest vehicle that had automatic, but were pleasantly surprised when they upgraded us to the Easy Clever, which has 4x4. It drove beautifully through anything Iceland's winter threw at us (which was quite a lot at times!)
Camping Fees: $188 per person, for 12 nights in campgrounds
Freedom camping is illegal in Iceland, so you must find a campground to stay in for the night, and register your vehicle and pay the associated fees. Campgrounds typically give you access to indoor bathrooms, showers (sometimes for an extra fee and sometimes free), indoor cooking facilities in case you're tired of cooking in the campervan and/or want to save your fuel. An extra perk of these campground facilities is that campers who are at the end of their trip leave spare food in the "free food" shelves - a great way to stock up on pasta, rice, salt, pepper, coffee, tea, sugar, cooking oil, and sometimes more exciting things like cookies or soup or oatmeal. Some of the camping facilities also have laundry machines which you can access for an extra fee - a great way to make sure you pack light!
Gas: $701 for 2000 kilometres of driving
Gas stations in Iceland can be few and far between, so we always kept the gas tank full as much as possible. The heating system burns a little bit of fuel during the night, so that accounts for some of the gas usage as well. We also had an N1 discount fuel card which helped saved a bit of money.
Flights: $551 per round-trip flight from Toronto-Reykjavik with WOW Air.
This includes the baggage fees to add on a carry-on as well as a checked bag for each leg of our trip. Even though most airlines don't charge you these fees for bags, the total cost still ended up being less than with any other airline we could find. Of course this cost will vary wildly for the time of year you go as well as where you are travelling from.
We booked a private room in a hostel for our first and last night in Reykjavik, as well as splurged on one night in the beautiful Bragdavellir Cottages in the middle of our trip to have a little break from the campervan. Obviously this cost would vary considerably as well, depending on your preferences. One of the nights in Rekyjavik had a free breakfast included which was great and saved on costs. We preferred to have a private room but if you wanted to do it even more cheaply you could always book in a 4-bed or 8-bed hostel dorm room.
|Myvatn Nature Baths|
Activities: $394 per person, for 6 activities
Much of Iceland's beauty is free! However, if you want to have some guided experiences or access to particular places, they come at a cost. We spent $5.40 to see Kerid crater, $10.72 to access Vestrahorn mountain, $56.30 for Myvatn Nature Baths, $49.83 for the tour of the Vatnshellir Lava Tube, $11.94 entrance fee to Hofsos swimming pool, and $260 for a guided glacier hike and ice cave experience. If you aren't renting a car or campervan, there are plenty of tour companies that offer bus tours to many of the major attractions, especially in the Golden Circle. There are even "Northern Lights" tour companies that will take you out at night and search for the aurora with you. We didn't do any of these so we don't know the costs, but worth looking into if you aren't comfortable driving in Iceland's winters.
Groceries: $183 for 2 people over 2 weeks
We were actually surprised by how little we managed to spend on groceries in such an expensive country as Iceland. In a land where everything is imported and a red bell pepper can cost you $8, it takes a lot of planning and creativity to eat cheaply and healthily while living in a campervan! We made sure to bring instant soup, oatmeal, granola bars, granola, mac & cheese, pepperoni sticks, beef jerky, flavoured tuna, hot chocolate, coffee, and trail mix from home. These items stretched us a LONG way and complemented many of our meals, while saving us a ton of money. What we ended up buying at the grocery store was mostly perishables - the famous Skyr, eggs, bacon, a couple of vegetables, hamburgers, cooked chicken, hummus, cheese, milk, bread, and fruit (yes, the campervan even comes with a little fridge!) One of the meals I'm most proud of is turning a simple mac and cheese into a "campervan gourmet" meal with sauteed carrots, diced pepperoni sticks, spicy chili oil someone had left in a "free food" shelf, and roasted garlic, with some cucumber slices and hummus on the side.
Eating out: $146 between two people for three bakery visits, one nice dinner in Reykjavik, and hot dogs & ice cream in Rekyjavik
|Fish & Chips in Reykjavik|
Included in these costs are two SIM cards for our phones, fees to access some of the public toilets, and shower/laundry fees.
Everything, and I mean everything, in Iceland is incredibly expensive, so we limited the souvenirs we bought. One notable mention was our purchases from JFS Handcrafts. We felt very good about supporting the local community by buying from this wonderful artist who collects fallen reindeer antlers and beautiful stones up in the mountains on his hikes, and then crafts them into different pieces of art. One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to his awesome little shop and stone garden.
If I did the math right, two people travelling together in a campervan and splitting costs would spend about $3328 CAD per person if they did the same kind of trip we did. These are of course very rough estimates as everyone has a different situation and preferences! Hope it was helpful to anyone currently planning their Iceland trip.