RTW Budget: Iceland

Iceland’s certainly never going to be known as a budget travel destination, but I think I did alright for my first week of long-term travel.

Transportation $297.76

Flight on Wow Air $215
Extra carry-on baggage allowance $40
Round-trip transfer from airport to Reykjavik $42.76

Accommodations $219.96

5 nights in a 14-bed dorm at Hlemmur Square $219.96

Dining $87.72

1 week’s worth groceries at Bonus $18.63
2 dinners at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur $7.25
2 lunches at Laundromat Cafe $28.61
1 dinner at Noodle Station $7.23
1 insanely overpriced sandwich at Primus Kaffi $26

Entertainment $234.47

Hallgrimskirkja tower admission $7.30
Wonders of Snaefellsnes tour with Reykjavik Excursions $153.93
Geysir, Gullfoss & Thingvellir tour with Reykjavik Excursions $73.24

Miscellaneous $6.02

Coke at a gas station $2.28
extra AA batteries $3.74

Total $845.93

Average Spent Per Day $140.98

This is an especially high total because it includes my transatlantic flight, and a couple splurges on day tours, which I don’t normally take.

How I Saved

  • Flying on Wow Air
    • Wow Air is a budget airline, which to most Americans probably sounds like an oxymoron. Boyfriend has quite aptly dubbed it “flying a la carte.” You start with a super-low airfare. Want to check a bag? There’s a charge for that. Want to have a drink or watch a movie on the flight? There’s a charge for that. Manage your flight smartly, and you save a buttload of cash.
  • Staying in a large dorm
    • As an introvert, I pretty much never stay in anything larger than a 6 or maybe 8 bed dorm, so I was dreading the 14 beds at my room in Hlemmur Square. Fortunately, the hostel’s dorms are quite large and laid out so all the bunks aren’t in the same area, so I got to pay roughly $40 a night for a comfortable space.
  • Cooking
    • While I should have visited earlier in my trip, I did eventually make it to Bonus, Iceland’s discount supermarket, and so was able to cook roughly half of my meals.This made a huge difference! For less than $20, I picked up a pound of pasta, a jar of tomato sauce, a large bag of salad greens, a cucumber, a pint of cherry tomatoes, and several road trip snacks.
  • Doing tons of research
    • I spent an entire day holed up in a cafe researching day tours, partly for a writing assignment, partly for my own benefit. I looked not necessarily for the cheapest tours, but for the best values. My research really paid off when one of the tours I booked failed to pick me up at the appointed time and I had to come up with a Plan B on the spot.
  • Staying out of museums
    • Since I knew I wanted to take day tours to be able to explore the surrounding countryside, I made sure the things I did in Reykjavik had free admission. Spots like the National Museum of Iceland, the Saga Museum, and the Settlement Exhibition all have ticket prices in the $10 to $20 range, which can add up quickly.
  • Not drinking
    • The tax on alcohol in Iceland is approximately a floppity jillion percent. It is so high I had to make up a new number for it. Icelanders typically stock up on booze duty free at the airport, or pick up a slightly less expensive bottle at the liquor store and pre-game before going out. Taking a pass on Reykjavik’s famed djammid nightlife freed up at least enough to cover my hostel bed for a fifth night.

So far, I’m still under budget for July, but the month is young, and I did spend more in some areas than I originally planned. I’ll have to be vigilant in my next stop: Barcelona.


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