Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 6: Logistics, Expenses and FAQ’s

We had a fantastic time on our 10 day camper van road trip around Iceland. Our days were filled with good friends, gorgeous scenery, steaming hot springs and plenty of adventure. Although Evan, Hilary, Micah and I had all been to Iceland previously, we weren’t quite sure what to expect for the logistics of traveling with a camper van. Thankfully, we didn’t run into any major issues on the road, but we did learn plenty along the way. So, here are some little tips and tricks to help you plan your own camper van adventure in Iceland!

Logistics

    • To pick up your camper van, you can hop on the free Happy Campers shuttle from the Keflavik International Airport and surrounding area.
    • New laws in Iceland require all camper vans to park in an organized campsite overnight, and many pull offs have “no overnight camping” signs. So, to be safe, it’s a good idea to stay in campgrounds or at least make sure you have permission to park overnight if you decide to stay somewhere else.
    • The campgrounds we found in Iceland are unlike what we are used to in the States. We are used to having a designated area and campsite, but the Iceland campgrounds are usually large open plots of land with no designated sites. You are free to park anywhere you would like, and for this reason, it’s rare that the campgrounds completely fill up for the night.

Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

      • During our 10 nights of camping through high season, we never made reservations in advance and did not run into any issues with campgrounds running out of space. This is great if you want to keep a flexible itinerary!
      • We found that most campgrounds charged a per person rate. If you don’t see a place to pay at the campground, an attendant will usually come around to collect a fee at some point during your stay. We stopped at several campsites where we couldn’t find anyone to pay upon arrival, but eventually an employee would make their rounds to collect fees from campers.
      • A few of the campgrounds we stayed at had kitchens and pay-per-use laundry facilities. Most campgrounds had showers facilities—some were pay per use with a few minute time limit and others were free. All of the campgrounds we stayed at had toilets; there’s a chance you could find one without toilets, but we didn’t experience that.

Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

Expense breakdown

Obviously, expenses will vary depending on the trip, but here’s a breakdown of the expenses from our 10 day road trip. We had a fairly ambitious driving schedule, which led to higher gas expenses—we drove all the way up into the Westfjords then continued down and around the Ring Road. I decided against adding in our activity expenses because that will change based on what you decide to see and which tours you go on. There are plenty of opportunities for free sightseeing, but also plenty of expensive tour options. Because we went glacier hiking, snorkeling and white water canoeing on our first trip to Iceland, we stuck to more of the free exploring this time around. A couple of the activities we did splurge on were the whale watching tour and Myvatn Nature Baths. Also, we found credit cards to be widely accepted—other than a few instances such as needing change for the showers, we were able to use our cards everywhere.

All of the below expenses were split between four people unless otherwise specified.

Gas: 56,632 ISK total (about $495) — we drove 2,324 km/1,444 miles

Campgrounds: 10,725 ISK (about $94) per person for 8 nights of campsites + 2 free camping nights

Groceries: 31,539 ISK (about $275) total — this gave us each 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 3 dinners (we dined out for 5 meals and had Good To-Go’s that we brought from home for 4 meals for an additional cost)

Camper Van Rental Fee: €3,100 (about $3,470) total for 10 days; however, we received a complimentary rental because of our partnership with Happy Campers

Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

Tips and tricks

      • My favorite tip is to shower by visiting a hot spring, hot pot or local pool! While you can’t bring soap into the hot pot with you, Iceland has a rule to shower before entering to keep cleanliness at bay. Sure, you can shower at a campground, but visiting a hot spring is way more fun, especially if you have to pay for a shower anyways. Plus, some hot pots are even free! Make sure to bring a towel to dry off with, as well.

Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

      • Cooking your own meals will save a bunch of money. When possible, buy groceries in the larger towns such as Reykjavik or Akureyri, and try to find a Bónus, Krónan, or Netto as they have more affordable prices than the smaller stores. If you are looking to buy alcohol, purchase it at the airport from duty free; otherwise, you will have to pay significantly higher prices later because of the heavy taxes.
      • N1’s are the perfect spot to stop when you need a break from driving or if you need to use the toilet. Not only can you refuel both your car and your belly, they are often a local hangout in the smaller towns.
      • Fill up with gas when you are at the halfway mark. While there are plenty of gas stations throughout the country, you never know how far the next one will be as there are many remote areas around the island.
      • On that note, it’s also a good idea to fill up your water tank whenever possible (tap water is completely safe to drink!). You can almost always find water to refill your tank for free at gas stations and campsites, but we still ran out several time. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was definitely frustrating.
      • The opening and closing time of stores and gas stations in smaller towns can vary greatly, and sometimes they have very limited operating hours. Don’t count on businesses to be open early in the morning or late at night unless you are in one of the few larger cities.
      • I mentioned this in our packing guide, but I think it bears mentioning again–bring an extra power strip (with an inverter plug for the cigarette lighter) so you can charge all your electronics easily. We were constantly draining our camera batteries because we couldn’t stop taking photos, so it was nice to charge multiple devices at once.

Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

      • Be conscious of muddy shoes—if you shoes are dirty, be sure to take them off before crawling into the back of the van. It can get dirty quick, so it helps if you don’t wear your shoes inside at all!
      • Watch out for the wind—it can be brutal and plenty of people have had doors get pulled and damaged from the wind. Also, be aware of the weather. Iceland’s weather can change on a dime, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings and stay safe.
        Don’t drive off road! You’ll ruin the beautiful landscapes and might even get stuck. We ended up stopping to help a couple that got stuck after deciding to drive off road for a picnic. They were covered in mud and defeated when we arrived. Thankfully, we were able to help and get them out with the power of the three guys, but the land was all torn up and destroyed.
      • There are several roads in Iceland that are called “F-roads”. F-roads are only open for a portion of the year, and they are all gravel, filled with potholes and there are no bridges over the streams/rivers. Make sure that you don’t drive on any of these if you don’t have a 4×4 rental as you are very likely to damage your vehicle. None of the Happy Campers are allowed on the F-roads.
      • And most importantly, have a sense of humor because things will go wrong at some point. Remembering to laugh throughout our misadventures has definitely kept us sane over the years!

Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

General Rental and Camper Van FAQ

      • The rental office is located about 10 minutes from the Keflavik International Airport and is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Rentals need to be picked up and dropped off within these hours.
      • Happy Campers offers free transport to and from the Keflavik International Airport and surrounding area, but only during their business hours. This means you need to make sure to schedule your arrival time between these hours or for the next day after you arrive.
      • Just as with most rental vehicles around the world, don’t forget to have the driver bring a driver’s license and credit card to secure the rental.
      • The minimum age to rent a camper van with Happy Campers is 21+, and all of the vans are manual transmission.
      • Rentals come with most everything you need to live inside the van including blankets, pillows, camp stove, cookware, basic kitchen supplies, and a generator powered cooler. The vans have a sink but no showers or toilets.
      • The vans are equipped with a heating system, but you cannot let it run all night long. It works great to get the van a comfortable temperature before going to bed, but if you are traveling during a colder period, it’s a good idea to have extra layers and a sleeping bag.
      • The minimum rental period is 3 days, and pricing varies depending on the season and is split into low, mid, and high season rates.

Tips for a Happy Campers Road Trip, Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip

Stay tuned to learn even more about our adventures in our Happy Campers camper van:
Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 1: Camper Van Tour
Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 2: Our Itinerary Day 1-5
Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 3: Our Itinerary Day 6-10
Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 4: Cooking on the Road
Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 5: What to Pack for a Camper Van Road Trip
Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 6: Logistics, Expenses and FAQ’s

Special thanks to Happy Campers for providing us with a complimentary rental. As always, all opinions are our own.

Happy Campers Iceland Road Trip – Part 5: What to Pack for a Camper Van Road Trip
One Day Road Trip around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik, Iceland
22 Comments
  • anna
    Twitter:
    Posted at 22:23h, 01 October Reply

    Out of the many Iceland posts I read…this is by far my favorite! Oh wow! To explore Iceland via campervans. That would be epic! Looking forward to checking out other posts. Thanks for the expense breakdown too.
    anna recently posted…Basic Khmer for Travellers: Essential Phrases You Need to KnowMy Profile

  • Christina
    Posted at 22:25h, 01 October Reply

    Looks like a fun way to explore Iceland.. There’s a heap of great information here for campers. Do you know if the cost of camping is much cheaper than staying in hotels or booking Airbnb in Iceland?
    Christina recently posted…Driving the Alaska Highway | Canada Road TripMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:34h, 05 October Reply

      Thanks–it was a blast! It depends on a lot of factors I guess–we didn’t find many hotels or airbnb’s for less than $100/night, and then if you wanted to road trip you’d have to get a car rental, too. I’m sure you could find a way to do a hotel or airbnb for less than the camper van, but I would think the camper van is either roughly the same cost or a bit cheaper. It definitely helped to have a kitchen in our van so we could save money on food, too!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…One Day Road Trip around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik, IcelandMy Profile

  • Anne
    Posted at 02:35h, 02 October Reply

    I’m curious. Did all four of you sleep in there and if so where? Also how much was fuel as that seems really expensive but I wonder if it was just the van that wasn’t economical. I’ve never travelled in camper van but if I thought I could travel more, I would definitely consider it.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:28h, 05 October Reply

      Yep–all four of us stayed in the van! The back seats folded into a bed and there was a bunk on top that pulled out as well–if you check out Part 1 of the series you can see a bit more about how the van was laid out. If I remember right, gas was around 200kr/liter, so it definitely wasn’t cheap, but it got better gas mileage than we were expecting. We did drive over 2,300 km though, too so that definitely drove our total cost up.
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…One Day Road Trip around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik, IcelandMy Profile

  • Megan Jerrard
    Twitter:
    Posted at 06:16h, 02 October Reply

    Thanks for sharing your costs and logistics Jenna – love the tip to shower by visiting a hot spring, hot pot or local pool; when in Iceland right!! We can’t wait to get back, and would love to go the campervan route for our next trip.

  • Debra Schroeder
    Twitter:
    Posted at 11:04h, 02 October Reply

    Definitely going to have to check out Happy Campers. I ‘ll be in Iceland next month, but it might be way too cold to do a camper van. But it definitely sounds a LOT cheaper. Great tips, I’ve bookmarked this in case I “go for it” and do the camper van thing. 🙂

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:18h, 05 October Reply

      Thanks! Hope you have a great trip and if you do get a Happy Camper hope you enjoy it! I know what you mean about the cold though–I freeze easily so I can see how it could be an issue. They do have sleeping bags that you can rent for extra warmth and there is a heater in the van as well, but the heater can only run for a couple hours at a time. Still gets it nice and toasty though! Either way, enjoy Iceland!!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…One Day Road Trip around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik, IcelandMy Profile

  • Arnav
    Posted at 13:01h, 02 October Reply

    What an amazing way to explore Iceland.Just take a camper and hit the road with a flexible itenary. Thanks for the tips and the FAQ’s along with the cost breakdown.This post will surely help anyone who has something similar in mind.
    Arnav recently posted…A weekend budget trip to the Queen of Hillstations (Mahabaleshwar)My Profile

  • Dave Briggs
    Posted at 13:03h, 02 October Reply

    Nice to see the costs broken down like this – it’s always helpful for other people planning a road trip! I have one question over the cost of the campervan though – Obviously you had a complimentary van, but how much would campervan hire be (roughly speaking). Apologies if you have already written this, but I couldn’t see it! Cheers
    Dave
    Dave Briggs recently posted…Hotels Near Acropolis | Where To Stay In AthensMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:15h, 05 October Reply

      No problem! It is in there, but might be hard to see 🙂 The van we rented would have been €310 per day, but there are smaller versions available for a cheaper price as well. It’s not super cheap, but when you factor in the amount you save on a car rental, hotel and food it ends up roughly the same or cheaper!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…One Day Road Trip around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula from Reykjavik, IcelandMy Profile

  • Carla Abanes
    Posted at 19:48h, 02 October Reply

    Yes, Iceland! Im packing up for you soon! Thanks for this photos and the tips

  • Sonali Chauhan
    Posted at 23:45h, 02 October Reply

    I missed some part of Road Trip & I think, I need to read all parts before this. Well I will surely read another parts 🙂

  • Mar Pages
    Twitter:
    Posted at 23:53h, 02 October Reply

    I haven’t seen a post on camping in Iceland, this is such a good idea! Bookmarking for future reference, I can’t imagine how wonderful it must feel to wake up to an Icelandic view.

  • Ashlyn Schaub
    Posted at 15:25h, 22 March Reply

    Since Happy Campers is not F-Road approved what sights did you have to skip over?

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:59h, 24 March Reply

      Our plans were to drive into the Westfjords and around the Ring Road, so we really didn’t encounter any F-Roads or have to skip over anything on those routes. We were basically able to go everywhere we wanted to with the Happy Camper which was great! One area we want to visit sometime is the Highlands which is where most of the F-Roads are concentrated, so we did have to skip over that area unfortunately. Would have been a lot of ground to cover everything in one trip though, so we will have to go back to check that area out!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Subway Art in Stockholm: The World’s Longest Art ExhibitMy Profile

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