Renting a camper van in any country can be a daunting task, but in a country such as Iceland where the roads are often closed due to weather and the thoughts of sleeping in a van in that weather can prove to be scary. That being said, it is easily the best way to see the country and explore the Iceland Ring Road.
We chose to go with Campervan Iceland who are run by rent.is as far as I could gather. We hired a VW California Beach 4×4 Automatic Van which is for four people. I think going directly through Campervan Iceland ensures you get a more subtle vehicle, as the Rent.is ones are wrapped in graphics which might sway your decision depending on your preference. There were only two of us going, but the added space was a real god send for us.
One thing to bare in mind when budgeting for this holiday is that fuel in Iceland isn’t cheap. When we arrived the cost was around €1.70 a litre and with the distance we drove, it meant we had to fill up to a full tank around three times costing around €150 or so each time. That, on top of the rental hire itself can rack up a serious bill!
Here are a few things that I think are important to take note of when choosing a van, and preparing to go:
- Off Road: I would highly recommend to get a 4×4, especially if you are driving the full Ring Road and not just the Golden Circle. We ended up on more than a few roads that were 4×4 only and even then we still got stuck in the sand. It’s worth the extra bit of money!
- Get Premium Insurance: It might cost more at the beginning but in a country with weather as tumultuous as Iceland I think this peace of mind is a must. It doesn’t cover the odd occurrence such as a door being pulled off in high winds but it covers pretty much everything else.
- Get a GPS: Although we had the same roaming as we would have at home, it still saved us from using all our data and having to follow the instructions on our phone.
- Bring & buy plenty food: We had a bit of space to spare in our suitcase so we brought over easy to cook food like cup soup, pasta sachets, nuts, seeds, fruit bars, etc. Once we arrived, we headed straight to a Kronan to buy the rest of the food for the trip such as cereal, milk, yogurt, pasta, pasta sauce, veggies. We only ate out twice while we were on the road so we needed to make sure we had enough to keep us going. Anything that we had left, we left for others to use in the campsite kitchen that we last stayed at. With the company we chose to rent with you get a full box of cooking equipment and kitchenware, along with one or two spare gas canisters for your cooker.
- Bring the essentials: There are so many little things that you will forget to pack – but some things we found essential were a torch, eye mask, flip flops for wearing after you’ve taken your hiking boots off, power banks, reusable coffee cups and water bottles and last but not least, toilet paper for getting stuck in those tricky situations!
- Pick your campsites: Rent.is have a blog that shows all the campsites in Iceland, and marks them in different colours to show which ones are open depending on the time of year that you go. It was a life saver for us!
We also learned that towing a car in Iceland is incredibly expensive. We ended up getting stuck in the stand by Vik early one morning. When we finally realised we couldn’t make it out alone we rang the helpline that was outlined to us by our rental company and reality hit hard! The helpline charge you for finding a mechanic for you, and then the mechanic charges you on top of that. If you find yourself stuck on a bank holiday or weekend (like we did) the cost can be ‘up to three or four times more expensive than usual’ and when we found estimated pricing online, the normal prce came in at around €300! Luckily, we walked about 2km and found a garage with a very, very helpful man who helped us out of the mess for a much smaller fee. Now that you know this, don’t drive on sand even in a 4×4!
I honestly loved renting a campervan going around Iceland and would really love to take the time to do it again in another country, if not even just in Ireland. The whole experience was something that I really enjoyed, but it really isn’t one that would be for everyone. Once you come prepated, and book a van that suits your needs it should all run relatively smoothly.
Have you ever rented a campervan before? Do you think you would like to if you haven’t done it before? Let me know!