Iceland: Day 5 & Reflections

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Our flight back to Boston wasn't until 3:30pm, but our cottage at Hestheimar was still over an hour and a half away from the airport.  There were a few places I was hoping to stop and see, but it was raining pretty hard.  Most of our time there was drizzly, but this was the only day that the weather was bad enough for us to not want to be out in it.  Luckily we didn't have to check out until 11am so we were able to just have a relaxing morning and watch the rain from inside.

Our trip to the airport and our flight home were all uneventful so I figured I could use this post to share some reflections on the trip and Iceland in general.
1. I know I said this in an earlier post but if you are traveling anywhere with out cell data download the Maps.me app and download the maps for where you'll be traveling.  We had bought a sim card at the duty free shop when we arrived, but never needed to use it.

2. Renting a car is almost a necessity.  Unless you plan to stay in the city (which you shouldn't) you will need a car to get around.  I believe there are buses you could find, but I think you'll miss out on so many impromptu roadside stops that make up a bulk of traveling in Iceland.  I would recommend Sixt after using them for the week but I know there are several other options there as well.

3. If you are renting a car find out if your credit card gives you insurance coverage.  We were able to save a good chunk of money because my American Express card has a international car insurance program so I could decline Sixt's.

4. Iceland is very credit card friendly.  I never even took money out of the ATM and never needed cash.  Every place we stopped took credit cards.  Even more shocking, all but one location we went to took American Express.  I have a harder time using my AmEx card in the US than I did in Iceland.

5. That being said, almost everything we did in Iceland was free.  I think the only attraction I paid for was the elevator ride up the tower of Hallgrimskirkja.

6. THAT being said, everything else was very expensive.  Restaurants were outrageous but we could find relatively affordable meals at gas stations.  It sounds weird but it was pretty common in Iceland. We ate at an A1 Gas Station probably once a day while we were there.  Our hostels were also all more expensive than any others I have stayed at and at least one charged extra for bedding.

7.  We also found that most of our hostels were fully booked each night. We were there in mid September which is already considered the off season so I would recommend booking well in advance, especially if you are there in the summer.

8. Wow is a budget airline so they give you nothing for free, but I found that the plane was just as comfortable as any regular flight I've been on so if you pack well and bring snacks I would highly recommend them.

9. Everyone there speaks English so don't worry about a language barrier.

10.  Seeing the Northern Lights is not a guarantee.  That was something I really wanted to experience while there and I just barely got to see them.  It seems like the weather is overcast regularly enough that you could be there for a while without seeing them. Luckily Iceland is amazing in so many other ways that I wasn't too upset about not getting a perfect view of the lights.

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