Author Topic: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?  (Read 3014 times)

Bucksandreds

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Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« on: January 10, 2019, 07:18:14 AM »
My wife, myself and some friends are going to Iceland for a few days this coming fall. The flight was a very good deal on Wow Air. Everything else is out of this world expensive.  A Ramada level hotel easily runs $200 plus per night. Transportation from airport to hotel easily $50 plus. A sub at Subway $10 plus. Sit down dinners $40-$50 per person. Swimming in Blue Lagoon hot springs $70 plus. I've wanted to go forever and am not MMM level frugal. I'm just wondering how/if it could be rationalized to ever be so inefficient to travel to a place like that?

MrOnyx

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 07:43:50 AM »
It could probably be rationalised as something you either do not do very often, or only do once you are significantly on your way to FI. I'd imagine that MMM himself might argue that you should find somewhere cheaper to holiday unless you have actual achieved FI.

The truth in that is that there are plenty of places you could go that are cheaper, and you will enjoy just as much. I'd love to go to Iceland, see the ice caves and enjoy the hot springs, etc., but I can't see me doing it any time soon - especially not now that you've told me how much everything costs there! Ouch!

PoutineLover

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 07:47:40 AM »
I've always wanted to go to Iceland, but I think I'll end up going later on when I'm more financially secure. I would love to dive in the Silfra fissure, and see some of the incredible landscapes there, but it's an expensive trip. I would like to rent a camper van or vehicle and bring a tent and buy groceries and tour around like that, I think it might be a more affordable way to do it, but still pretty expensive.

italianant

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 07:49:18 AM »
I went to Iceland! Also on WOW air  $200 RT. Husband and I shared a luggage so that added $50 each way. YES IT IS EXPENSIVE! Would I do it again? YES!! I was really smart about saving as I could in the country.

1. Airbnb is the same or less expensive than a hotel. You also should have access to a kitchen to make your own meals. Going out for a casual dinner will end up with a bill equal to a 5 star experience.
2. Grocery shop at Bonus - the equivalent to Aldi. Again, cook your own meals!
3. I packed some food to also save. Specifically granola bars and similar to that for hiking and snacking. I made a huge batch of granola and had that daily on Skyr (SOO good).
4. Rent a car and don't do any of the tours. Ok, do a tour if you really want to, but we didn't feel like it needed and we had a fulfilling experience. Make sure it's a tour focused on something that you can't do on your own (i.e. glacier hiking).  I rent a car and put the reservation number in autoslash.com and I ended up getting notices for the rates going cheaper and re-booked it maybe a month before our trip. Driving is SO easy there.
5. Pay the car reservation with a credit card. We have Capital 1 Venture and it has its own insurance coverage in case we got into any accidents. They REALLY try to upcharge you and all the blogs make you so scared of what will happen if you don't add the extra insurance. Obviously, look at your own credit cards terms to see what they will cover. This part was the most anxiety provoking for me, but turns out we had a great experience and saved $300+

There is probably more, but just doing the few things above saved us a lot of money. I will add more if I think of any. Feel free to ask me any specific questions.

jim555

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2019, 08:07:49 AM »
Iceland food prices are insane.

italianant

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2019, 08:24:13 AM »
Also saw another post and wanted to add that many people go the route of renting a camper van. It is also legal to wild camp in Iceland. I saw several people biking around Iceland as well. Not my thing, but if you are more adventurous :)

Iceland is so beautiful. Most of its beauty is free.

gaja

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2019, 08:25:30 AM »
1) The southwest is the touristy part. Go outside that, and there are more reasonable prices (and more welcoming locals). The eastcoast and the northwest are both really beautiful areas. The socalled "golden route" is a trap.
2) Forget about the blue lagoon. Go to some of the 100s of other baths, that typically cost $1-2. Best of all; you can have some really nice chats with the locals while relaxing in the hot tub.
3) Soup. Most cafes, museums, etc, usually have two soups: meat or fish. They are very filling, are usually served with homemade bread, and i have yet to get a soup in Iceland I didn't like.
4) Go camping. There are a lot of places where you can sleep indoors if you bring a sleeping bag. If you bring a tent og rent a campervan, the camping places are very cheap. The camping card can make sense if you have more time: http://www.campingcard.is/



ketchup

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2019, 08:41:10 AM »
My dad went to Iceland a couple Januarys ago.  He got some stupidly cheap package price on round trip airfare + a week's stay in a hotel.  I want to say something like $500 all-in.

My main takeaways from talking to him about it:
1) Yes, as others have said, food is very expensive there.
2) If you're there in January, double check sunrise/sunset times and your planned events.  He went on some bus tour of ReykjavŪk at 8am... and it was pitch-black dark outside.  While surely amusing to hear the tour guide talk emphatically about some statue 25 feet away that nobody could see, it really wasn't much of a tour.

He lives in the Chicago area.  A couple weeks before leaving (winter) he talked to some snooty advertised-high-income people about their plan to go to "an island" on vacation to get away from the snow.  He said that he was going on vacation to an island soon too.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 08:43:11 AM by ketchup »

dude

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2019, 08:46:49 AM »
My wife, myself and some friends are going to Iceland for a few days this coming fall. The flight was a very good deal on Wow Air. Everything else is out of this world expensive.  A Ramada level hotel easily runs $200 plus per night. Transportation from airport to hotel easily $50 plus. A sub at Subway $10 plus. Sit down dinners $40-$50 per person. Swimming in Blue Lagoon hot springs $70 plus. I've wanted to go forever and am not MMM level frugal. I'm just wondering how/if it could be rationalized to ever be so inefficient to travel to a place like that?

I was there about 2 years ago. It's INSANELY expensive. Lodging wasn't too bad, but everything else -- wow. $15 for a beer at the bar, $25 for a hamburger. I found Rejkyavik (sp?) fun for one night, and that was it. Got the sense that locals are getting very tired of being overrun by tourists (tip for cheapest eats -- ramen noodles shops; they're tasty as hell and reasonably priced by Iceland standards). And boy there's a lot of tourists. I stayed there for one night each on the front end and back end of a one-week trip, the rest of which was spent either in Isofjordur, or on a sailboat (5 days) in the Westfjords backcountry skiing (sublime!).

CoffeeAndDonuts

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2019, 10:22:24 AM »
5. Pay the car reservation with a credit card. We have Capital 1 Venture and it has its own insurance coverage in case we got into any accidents. They REALLY try to upcharge you and all the blogs make you so scared of what will happen if you don't add the extra insurance. Obviously, look at your own credit cards terms to see what they will cover. This part was the most anxiety provoking for me, but turns out we had a great experience and saved $300+

I'd like to go and probably will sometime. We do a lot of travel hacking but the ground costs can certainly add up fast. Good suggestions. We use similar strategies often.

I just wanted to note with regard to #5 to take care to fully understand your insurance with car rentals, domestic or international. I do not pretend to be fully conversant in every permutation of accident, country, and insurance provider but I'll add the following.
* Most credit cards provide secondary coverage domestically (they pay AFTER your personal insurance is used). A few are primary. Use those if you can.
* Some cards don't cover international or exclude certain countries. Always check.
* Insurance in various countries can be different than that in the US and may not always match up well to card provided coverage.
* I personally have been most comfortable using an Amex after calling in and added "Premium car rental insurance" by calling the # on the back of your card. That will provide $75k primary coverage in nearly all countries worldwide for $19.95 per rental (up to 30 days).

Get it wrong and you might have a story like one of my in-law's who had a car stolen and discovered his credit card insurance provided no coverage for international rentals. He ended up buying the rental company a new car on that credit card.


italianant

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2019, 10:31:06 AM »
5. Pay the car reservation with a credit card. We have Capital 1 Venture and it has its own insurance coverage in case we got into any accidents. They REALLY try to upcharge you and all the blogs make you so scared of what will happen if you don't add the extra insurance. Obviously, look at your own credit cards terms to see what they will cover. This part was the most anxiety provoking for me, but turns out we had a great experience and saved $300+


Get it wrong and you might have a story like one of my in-law's who had a car stolen and discovered his credit card insurance provided no coverage for international rentals. He ended up buying the rental company a new car on that credit card.

Agreed. I called the benefits number and spoke to a representative (and typed up our conversation) as well as read the fine print several times. Like I said, I had a lot of anxiety about this part :) haha.

mm1970

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2019, 10:43:35 AM »
My wife, myself and some friends are going to Iceland for a few days this coming fall. The flight was a very good deal on Wow Air. Everything else is out of this world expensive.  A Ramada level hotel easily runs $200 plus per night. Transportation from airport to hotel easily $50 plus. A sub at Subway $10 plus. Sit down dinners $40-$50 per person. Swimming in Blue Lagoon hot springs $70 plus. I've wanted to go forever and am not MMM level frugal. I'm just wondering how/if it could be rationalized to ever be so inefficient to travel to a place like that?
MMM isn't exactly about never spending money, is it?

I mean, I'm reasonably frugal, not MMM frugal.  We're headed to Europe this summer.  Probably gonna be an easy $10k for four people for 2 weeks.

I spent the night in Iceland once.

Zikoris

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2019, 10:47:50 AM »
We went a few years ago and it was great. We rented a very nice 1 bedroom apartment with a fully stocked kitchen for about $100/night and cooked all our meals. I found the prices of groceries at Bonus and the other large one (can't remember what it was called - think it started with an H?) to be similar to Canada, but the fact that our kitchen was so well stocked meant we only really needed to buy a few fresh things because they already had rice, seasonings, etc.

We didn't go the the Blue Lagoon, but went to other hot springs that were free, including one on a beach where you could jump in the ocean and then back into the hot spring. We also went hiking, which was cheap, and did a number of tours that were reasonably priced as well.

spartana

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2019, 10:54:58 AM »
I plan to do the bike touring/tent camping option myself. Maybe rent a room or small apt if I opt to stay a month or longer - or some kind of combo of both mixed in with public transit where available.  Should be inexpensive enough. I did this in Scandinavia for 2 months when I first FIREd and spent very little.

ETA if you plan to travel once retired and your FIRE date isn't too far in the future you might be better off waiting until you have more free time. A couple of days seem like a tiny amount of time to spend so much money )and travel time) on when you could go much longer and probably much cheaper once FIREd.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 11:07:14 AM by spartana »

FireHiker

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2019, 10:56:49 AM »
We absolutely will be going in a few years, doing the camper van approach, getting out of the super touristy areas. Hiking the Cat's Spine is super high on my bucket list, but I'm going to wait to go until it's achievable with my kids. My midwife (with my 3rd child) went with her brother, and they brought a bunch of backpacking food and managed pretty frugally. Apparently the hot dogs are pretty decent and affordable at the gas stations too...

Mrs.MLM

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2019, 01:59:58 PM »
Go! It's a special place, not just any other destination. We went in November 2017. I agree that you should stay in an Airbnb and shop for groceries.

Rent a car (if it's not winter) and drive out of Reykjavik. We drove in winter, but it can be deadly and there were a few white-knuckle moments. There are no guardrails and the wind is very strong.

I have a defunct blog where I described our favorite Iceland experiences with some photos. This post is here: https://www.movinglittlemountains.com/favorite-iceland-experiences/

MiserlyMiser

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2019, 02:52:24 PM »
I went a few years ago, also on Wow air for about $200.  I recommend renting a car--most of what I did was free, but you have to be able to drive places to do it.  Iceland's a great destination for its natural beauty, and you can hike around waterfalls, see the Geyser, visit Jokulsarlon for free--you just have to drive there.  I wasn't able to go to the Blue Lagoon (it was closed for renovations the few days I would have been able to go), but I was satisfied with Gamla Laugin (the Secret Lagoon), Reykjadalur (a thermal river you can sit in about 2 miles from a trailhead outside of Reykjavik), and Seljavallalaug (a man-made pool fed by hotsprings, also kind of a hike and therefore (at least when I visited) almost deserted). Of the three, I only paid a fee for the Gamla Laugin.
I wouldn't skimp on car insurance--there's too much that can happen, including when the wind blows volcanic ash around in the southeast, it can strip the paint from your car. 
Air B&B is fairly reasonable, and food expenses are manageable if you stock up on groceries.  I remember restaurant prices being high but not prohibitive, at least for vegetarian and fish meals (makes sense for an island).  My first meal was at a tiny shack in Reykjavik where I had lobster bisque for $8--it's mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook.  Meat may be more expensive. 
I loved Iceland and plan to go back one day after FIRE, but I'll probably go the camping route then. 

peeps_be_peeping

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2019, 03:11:24 PM »
Yes, a mustachian can go to Iceland and not spend a fortune. Tent camping in Iceland is allowed on private land. You can't stay more than one night and you can't just camp in somebody's backyard - it has to be in a wild place. Food in the grocery stores is cheap. I went to Iceland and spent only one night in a hotel and ate one restaurant meal. The rest of the time camped and cooked on a camp stove. I was there in May before the tourists descended. It was beautiful and quiet.

simonsez

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2019, 03:24:09 PM »
Camper van, drive the Ring Road, cook your own food, go to Myvatn instead of Blue Lagoon = trip of a lifetime

Bucksandreds

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2019, 03:47:41 PM »
Thanks for the advice, everyone. Weíre looking on Airbnb and VRBO for places to stay and will eat some at the rental. Iíll def but alcohol at the grocery or liquor store as Iím a moderate drinker so even if I go out to dinner Iíll have a few before and then get a water with my food. I canít get to the north of the country as Iím only going for 3-4 days as Iíll have my third young child by then and grandma will be watching the kids. Due to children, I havenít left the US in 6 years so Iím not waiting 5-10 more to Ďget away.í Weíll do a bus tour of the golden circle, go to the blue lagoon but to save do a free walking tours of Reykjavik, cheap alcohol and prob just eat out for dinner twice while have breakfast and lunch in the rental. Any other tips for Reykjavik area would be greatly appreciated. One more confession. I spent more than the minimum for my Wow air ticket as Iím 6í3Ē so I booked an exit row because the flights are 6 hours one way and 6.5 back.

MiserlyMiser

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2019, 04:04:45 PM »
If you're going to buy your alcohol other than at restaurants, you should get it at duty free once you land in Iceland.  My guidebook said that's a lot cheaper than anything else, including grocery stores.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2019, 04:11:42 PM »
I went a couple of years ago and there's no reason for it to be overly expensive if you plan ahead. Airbnb over hotel. Hiking and exploring with a rental car or sleeper van over tours. The blue lagoon was built for tourists; there are free/nearly free hot springs and heated pools everywhere.

I understand the high food costs; it's an island with a short growing season. Like others mentioned above, I found the soups (fiskisupa and kjotsupa) to be excellent and reasonable. Fish and chip stalls and trucks were also good and pricier than we're used to but cheaper than other options. Definitely get some groceries for the majority of your meals.

Iceland is a really special place and I'm looking forward to going back with some more backpacking gear to spend more time in Vatnajokull National Park.

italianant

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2019, 04:33:01 PM »
Quote
Iíll def but alcohol at the grocery or liquor store as Iím a moderate drinker so even if I go out to dinner Iíll have a few before and then get a water with my food.
They have a government monopoly on alcohol so you can only purchase it at a government owned store that has limited hours and they charge up the wazoo. Purchase your liquor at the Duty Free shop as you leave the airport. We got amazing Iceland beer, Einstok.

Quote
Any other tips for Reykjavik area would be greatly appreciated.
Honestly, Reykjavik was our least favorite. We spent one night there and that was sufficient-- it's like many other big other cities. Go to Iceland for the nature/beauty. Go to Baejarins Beztu Pylsur for hot dogs. Download the app, Appy Hour to find happy hour drink specials.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 04:38:34 PM by italianant »

Bucksandreds

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2019, 05:20:27 PM »
Quote
Iíll def but alcohol at the grocery or liquor store as Iím a moderate drinker so even if I go out to dinner Iíll have a few before and then get a water with my food.
They have a government monopoly on alcohol so you can only purchase it at a government owned store that has limited hours and they charge up the wazoo. Purchase your liquor at the Duty Free shop as you leave the airport. We got amazing Iceland beer, Einstok.

Quote
Any other tips for Reykjavik area would be greatly appreciated.
Honestly, Reykjavik was our least favorite. We spent one night there and that was sufficient-- it's like many other big other cities. Go to Iceland for the nature/beauty. Go to Baejarins Beztu Pylsur for hot dogs. Download the app, Appy Hour to find happy hour drink specials.

I land about 5am. Will dutyfree be open?  Iím no outdoors man. I prefer cities with brief hours long escapes into nature. Iíd be mortified to spend a few days camping in my own back yard, let alone Iceland.

GreenSheep

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2019, 06:27:30 PM »
(Some of this is more for those who might be reading to gather ideas for themselves, but the OP might find a few useful things here.)

I've been to Iceland 3 times (from the US). Once pre-MMM-discovery, as part of an overpriced group tour. Once on a week-long backpacking trip through the Westfjords (breathtaking), and once on a 2-week camper van trip around the entire country (unforgettable in all the best ways). Make sure you know what vehicle your camper van will be. Ours was a small SUV. My husband is 6'3". It was rather cramped, but not enough to keep us from getting engaged during the trip. A larger vehicle might actually have been cheaper overall, because we found ourselves going out to eat and/or to share one beer just to get out of the SUV and go inside somewhere on evenings when it was raining. And toward the end of our 11 nights on the road, we decided to treat ourselves to a hotel room, which was about $200, but worth every penny. So keep that in the back of your mind when budgeting. We're both experienced campers, but 11 nights in a cramped SUV started to wear on us.

If camping, take advantage of the fact that even the tiniest towns all have swimming pools. This is code for "yes, we have a swimming pool, but mostly just the kids use it, and the adults go for the numerous hot tubs!" And... in the case of foreigners who are camping... the showers that are included in the nominal entry fee (usually less than $5). You do have to be 100% naked to shower, and a shower is required before entering the pool, but it's no big deal. Men and women have separate showers/locker rooms. Never in my life had I felt so clean while camping! Shower #1, long soak in multiple hot tubs of different temperatures, possibly a dip in the pool, and then shower #2 on the way out!

Definitely get alcohol at the airport, but don't take so long doing it that you miss the (relatively) cheap bus into the city. We arrived at something like 7-8am, so I'm not sure about your 5am arrival time, but I've never seen the place closed. We spent too long looking around, missed the bus, and had to pay an insane amount for a taxi. Never again.

Get out of Reykjavik. Sure, it's a cute town for a day or two, but it's expensive and teeming with tourists. It would be like going to the US and never leaving Manhattan. The Golden Circle is equally expensive and teeming with tourists, and other than Gullfoss, I'm not sure it's really all that magnificent. I know the OP can't do it on this trip, but for others who might be considering a trip, go as far east as you can, and definitely don't miss the Westfjords, either. You can even fly from Reykjavik to Isafjordur, which might be worth doing if you prefer not to rent a car or are short on time. I think it was about $200 or so to fly, and Isafjordur is so tiny you can walk everywhere. There are tour companies that will take you out to do all sorts of adventurous things.

Bonus is good for groceries, and taking whatever you can from home, as someone mentioned, is also smart. Oats and French cheese, for some reason, were cheap when I was there.

I loved all of my trips to Iceland, but I doubt I'll ever go back. All three trips were within the past 10 years, and just in that short timeframe, I noticed a huge influx of tourists and with it, a sensation that the Icelanders are getting awfully tired of tourists. And although there are ways to mitigate the cost, it's still quite expensive. If you've never been, it's absolutely worth going, though! I don't want to discourage anyone!

Sayonara925

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2019, 08:14:00 PM »
Can't recall what Wow Air charges for a checked bag, but it"s most likely worth it to pay for an extra checked bag and fill it full of food up to the baggage weight limit.  Use an old piece of baggage or something and toss it (meaning don't pay to bring it back).  That's what I'd do if I ever returned.  They really get you on the food costs, even at Bonus or Kronans.  One thing I noticed, though, is the frozen pizza was reasonably priced.  We would bring that along wrapped in foil as day snacks while out exploring, to avoid the over priced food at tourist spots.  Such as $20 bowl of soup.  Refilled water bottles (the tap water is really good) or thermos coffee to avoid $7/$8 cup of coffee and expensive water.

One other thing I wish someone had mentioned before our last trip... bring a mosquito barrier net for your facial area that can keep those billions of aggressive biting flies out of your nose, ears, mouth, hair.  OMG the flies were relentless in certain parts of Iceland, such as when out on the hiking trails.  Maybe it's a seasonal thing (we were there in summer) and they all die or something by fall.  If you don't mind insects crawling into your orifices, ignore this advice.  I was lucky enough to find a gas station that had one full body insect net available, so that saved my sanity.  I only used the head part of the net (cut the rest off with scissors), under a baseball cap and tucked the bottom part into my jacket.  Aaaaahh, relief.

LOL...you will never encounter as many potholes as you will on the Iceland back roads (any road off a main highway) or unpaved parking areas at many tourist attractions.  We managed to navigate them without breaking our rental car, but keep that in mind when choosing a vehicle.  Take a lot of pictures of your rental and document before leaving the lot in case they try to blame you for prior damage.  Make sure you set up a PIN number for any credit card you plan to use there.  We noticed the gas stations typically required a PIN at the pump.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2019, 11:27:59 AM by FrugalToque »

italianant

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2019, 06:44:23 AM »
Quote
Iíll def but alcohol at the grocery or liquor store as Iím a moderate drinker so even if I go out to dinner Iíll have a few before and then get a water with my food.
They have a government monopoly on alcohol so you can only purchase it at a government owned store that has limited hours and they charge up the wazoo. Purchase your liquor at the Duty Free shop as you leave the airport. We got amazing Iceland beer, Einstok.

Quote
Any other tips for Reykjavik area would be greatly appreciated.
Honestly, Reykjavik was our least favorite. We spent one night there and that was sufficient-- it's like many other big other cities. Go to Iceland for the nature/beauty. Go to Baejarins Beztu Pylsur for hot dogs. Download the app, Appy Hour to find happy hour drink specials.

I land about 5am. Will dutyfree be open?  Iím no outdoors man. I prefer cities with brief hours long escapes into nature. Iíd be mortified to spend a few days camping in my own back yard, let alone Iceland.

Google says Duty Free is always open. I would say I'm one step close in terms of being outdoorsy, but my husband is just like you. I love nature, but I don't like camping. Hence, why I didn't go the camper van or wild camping route. But truly Iceland is about nature and my husband was surprised at how much he enjoyed the trip. We drove to each site and took lots of short hikes. There are a lot of tourists (We went September 2018) so you're never alone. It's not worth to pay a ton of money to drive you around the Golden Circle- that is essential what the tours are. If you rent a car you can easily navigate to each site and walk around the area, come back to your car, and go to the next site. Free :) Most of my airbnb's were in the country but it was so peaceful to return after a day of site seeing (plus it fully functioning with a bathroom, shower, kitchen, etc.) **Note that some sites have a minimal parking fee, but none at the Golden Circle sites.

SnackDog

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2019, 06:49:57 AM »
Before the banking crash it was truly expensive. Now it is just sort of California expensive plus a bit of European VAT jazz on alcohol, petrol, etc.

partdopy

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2019, 09:32:31 AM »
I think Mustachianism is about life optimization and using your money to provide you with maximum happiness, not avoiding everything that cost money as some around here seem to think.

If this is the optimal use of this money for your happiness (and it may well justifiably be, sounds like a fun experience), then yes, go.

undercover

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2019, 11:04:57 AM »
Has nothing to do with where you go or what you do but how you do it.

Cassie

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2019, 11:30:37 AM »
Sounds like a great trip! We love to travel.

Samuel

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2019, 02:23:26 PM »
It is also legal to wild camp in Iceland.

Not any more, at least not in most areas and never with a campervan. The tourist hoards ruined that. Judging from the number of official and homemade signs begging campers not to defecate there the volume and persistence of human waste was a big factor in prompting the change.

Luckily there are lots of campgrounds. Most start to close for the season in mid September so in the off season (we were there early October) the open ones nearest to Reykjavik tended to be busy. Eventually we learned that even the closed campgrounds pragmatically left the parking lot and a bathroom open all year so we started staying in those when we could.

Camper van, drive the Ring Road, cook your own food, go to Myvatn instead of Blue Lagoon = trip of a lifetime
+1 to all this.

peeps_be_peeping

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2019, 05:56:19 PM »
It is also legal to wild camp in Iceland.

Not any more, at least not in most areas and never with a campervan. The tourist hoards ruined that. Judging from the number of official and homemade signs begging campers not to defecate there the volume and persistence of human waste was a big factor in prompting the change.

Luckily there are lots of campgrounds. Most start to close for the season in mid September so in the off season (we were there early October) the open ones nearest to Reykjavik tended to be busy. Eventually we learned that even the closed campgrounds pragmatically left the parking lot and a bathroom open all year so we started staying in those when we could.

Camper van, drive the Ring Road, cook your own food, go to Myvatn instead of Blue Lagoon = trip of a lifetime
+1 to all this.

Well that's too bad about the wild camping. Jerks are always ruining it for the rest of us.

Much Fishing to Do

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2019, 04:47:13 AM »
My wife, myself and some friends are going to Iceland for a few days this coming fall. The flight was a very good deal on Wow Air. Everything else is out of this world expensive.  A Ramada level hotel easily runs $200 plus per night. Transportation from airport to hotel easily $50 plus. A sub at Subway $10 plus. Sit down dinners $40-$50 per person. Swimming in Blue Lagoon hot springs $70 plus. I've wanted to go forever and am not MMM level frugal. I'm just wondering how/if it could be rationalized to ever be so inefficient to travel to a place like that?
MMM isn't exactly about never spending money, is it?

I mean, I'm reasonably frugal, not MMM frugal.  We're headed to Europe this summer.  Probably gonna be an easy $10k for four people for 2 weeks.

I spent the night in Iceland once.

About 5 years ago spent about $20k for the fam of 5 to travel/live in europe for 5 weeks (including 4 days in Iceland).  It was awesome and as my kids are now starting to head off to college it's one of our big memories together.

For me 'being mustachian' wrt my unnecessary spending is about making the conscious decision (beforehand) that the value I would get out of spending this money is likely worth the extra time I would spend working to make it.  Thats of course based on many variables like how much one makes, how much one hates work, how much the thing costs & how much value you think you would actually get out of it.  If I was making $40k/year I'm sure I would not have done it.  If I was making $10M/year I probably would have flown first class.....

deborah

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2019, 05:16:38 AM »
Campgrounds are really cheap, with good facilities, and free food and other stuff people have left behind. They are cheaper for the second night. One place even gave me a second night for free. No need to free camp, and it really isnít allowed. The Icelandic people are awesome, the landscape is amazing. Many roads are dirt - and Iím not talking about the ones youíre banned from going on if youíre hiring a vehicle. The hiring companies expect people to get flat tires, because of the roads - from memory I think about a third do. I went in September and there werenít any bugs. Eating out is definitely expensive $52 burger anyone? I had a camper van, and had a great time. It was inexpensive.

There is also a bus service that I met someone taking - sort of like a taxi, where someone picks you up from a prearranged location, but itís a bus which can have several people, picking up and dropping off where you want. This was in a fairly remote part of Iceland, but itís available everywhere.

sixwings

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #35 on: January 12, 2019, 07:42:51 AM »
I went to Iceland and had an amazing time and it wasn't that expensive.

1) Buy all your liquor at the duty free when you arrive, it's waaaaaaaaaay cheaper there
2) We rented a camper van and drove around, it was really cheap and a ton of fun. We stayed in a few Airbnbs that were around $110-120 USD a night so nothing crazy.
3) Grocery stores aren't actually that much more expensive than here, maybe 10-15% more expensive, go grocery shopping and make your own meals
4) Most activities are free, hiking, the waterfalls, the natural attractions etc. The pools are usually very cheap. The only expensive place we went was blue lagoon.
5) Food in restaurants and cafes can be horrendously expensive (hence #3). I had a bowl of lobster bisque at a cafe once and it was 20 bucks. It was an amazing bisque but it was 20 bucks.

spartana

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #36 on: January 12, 2019, 08:58:07 AM »
There are also Hostels thru out Iceland that average around $50/night. I know that's not what the OP is looking for but a lower cost alternative for those not wanting to tent camp or stay at hotels. Some look to be in amazing locations and hostels are wonderful places for solo travellers to meet people.  There are also buses but they are few it seems with limited routes. Although a quick Google search shows some are free.

As for the OP, you should just do the trip as luxuriously as you want - within reason. Its only 3 nights and you might as well.enjoy it. If you find yourself someday able to spend a lot of time there then you can practice some more mustashian cost saving tips to stretch your money.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 09:05:48 AM by spartana »

Bucksandreds

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #37 on: January 12, 2019, 10:20:21 AM »
I went to Iceland and had an amazing time and it wasn't that expensive.

1) Buy all your liquor at the duty free when you arrive, it's waaaaaaaaaay cheaper there
2) We rented a camper van and drove around, it was really cheap and a ton of fun. We stayed in a few Airbnbs that were around $110-120 USD a night so nothing crazy.
3) Grocery stores aren't actually that much more expensive than here, maybe 10-15% more expensive, go grocery shopping and make your own meals
4) Most activities are free, hiking, the waterfalls, the natural attractions etc. The pools are usually very cheap. The only expensive place we went was blue lagoon.
5) Food in restaurants and cafes can be horrendously expensive (hence #3). I had a bowl of lobster bisque at a cafe once and it was 20 bucks. It was an amazing bisque but it was 20 bucks.

Everyone Iíve seen complains about the Blue Lagoon price but most say it was worth it. Iím going to go for sure. I was shocked to see that it costs 2-3 times what Iíd expected.

sixwings

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #38 on: January 12, 2019, 10:27:36 AM »
It's not that bad, you get a drink and a facial mask with the price too.

Hirondelle

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2019, 12:02:53 PM »
For the Blue Lagoon I'd recommend getting there super early in the morning (I took the first shuttle bus at 8AM or whatever hour it was). It's cheaper to go and as you're the very first one at an unpopular hour of the day it's still super quiet. You can stay as long as you want and I noticed that during "my" scheduled hour there was a ton of space while the people arriving later had to share the lagoon with the folks arriving before and after them. If you go in a season where the sun's not up yet at 8 AM I could imagine sunrise is amazing too (i went in June so no such thing as sunrise/sunset, just 24/7 daylight).

(I see it's gotten a lot more expensive compared to when I went there in 2016 tho, yuk.)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 12:04:46 PM by Hirondelle »

gaja

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #40 on: January 12, 2019, 12:17:59 PM »
I try to spend my time, energy, and money consiously while travelling, and for me that is what the MMM philosophy stands for too. Sometimes that means spending more than the minimum, other times it means skipping activities that "everybody does". It all depends on what gives me (and my travel companions) meaning. Personally, I find flying stressfull (and not a good environmental choice), so I would never spend 6+6 hours in a plane just to spend 3-4 days somewhere. If I only had that short a time, I would go somewhere closer to home.

I love Iceland and the other islands in the Atlantic. In total, I think I have travelled Iceland for 3-4 months (over several summers). The only places I haven't been are the interior, the northernmost part of the westfjords, and Vestmannaeyjar. I have visited the Blue Lagoon (before they became so flooded by tourists they blew up the prices), but I have also been to a ton of the other pools on the island. Compared to other swimming pools and spas in the rest of the world, the lagoon is great. But compared to the other options on Iceland, it is nowhere near my top ten list. And when the really good ones cost 0-$5, why spend >$50 on something that is only ok, but very well advertised?

Iceland has great nature, nice people (especially if you go outside the tourist areas), fantastic historical sites for the culturally inclined, and a lot of pretty little villages and towns with good bakeries and fun museums. But if you prefer large cities, it is not the place to go. When you have spent three hours in ReykjavŪk, you have seen it all, including the penis museum. But the alternative doesn't have to be camping and long nature hikes if that isn't your thing. A lot of natural wonders have parking places right next to them, and there are plenty of smaller and larger villages a very short drive from the airport.

Based on what you have written here, I am not sure why you have chosen Iceland as your chosen destination. Is it something there that you have dreamed of seeing or doing? Because then it is absolutely possible to plan a Mustachian trip to the island, even for the few days, by focusing on what is important, and downplay the rest. But just going for a long weekend to do the common checklist? No.

/end facepunch. Sorry.

Bucksandreds

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #41 on: January 12, 2019, 05:11:13 PM »
^ LOL at the massively d**chebag arrogance you have to begin to even tell me what constitutes a worthwhile vacation when you donít know me nor my circumstances. Thatís the polite response that I have for that last post.

[MOD NOTE: That was unnecessarily rude.  You asked for criticism, and you got some very mild criticism.]
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 06:25:12 AM by FrugalToque »

sixwings

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #42 on: January 12, 2019, 09:23:12 PM »
For the Blue Lagoon I'd recommend getting there super early in the morning (I took the first shuttle bus at 8AM or whatever hour it was). It's cheaper to go and as you're the very first one at an unpopular hour of the day it's still super quiet. You can stay as long as you want and I noticed that during "my" scheduled hour there was a ton of space while the people arriving later had to share the lagoon with the folks arriving before and after them. If you go in a season where the sun's not up yet at 8 AM I could imagine sunrise is amazing too (i went in June so no such thing as sunrise/sunset, just 24/7 daylight).

(I see it's gotten a lot more expensive compared to when I went there in 2016 tho, yuk.)

Oh yes this is key, we got there at opening and had the place to ourselves for 30 mins, we left about noon and it had been pretty busy since 11 or so. Get there early!

I also quite enjoyed the iceland museum and the viking saga musems in reykjavik. They are worthwhile checking out but kind of pricey.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 09:27:12 PM by sixwings »

MrOnyx

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #43 on: January 14, 2019, 02:38:23 AM »
^ LOL at the massively d**chebag arrogance you have to begin to even tell me what constitutes a worthwhile vacation when you don’t know me nor my circumstances. That’s the polite response that I have for that last post.

Was this in response to gaja? Because at the very beginning of this thread, you asked if an Icelandic trip could ever be Mustachian, and gaja gave you a very thorough breakdown of what you could do to make an expensive trip more Mustachian, and included a lot of knowledge that they gained from having been to Iceland themselves numerous times. I mean they called it a facepunch, but aside from that very last paragraph, I thought their response was very mild-mannered and thoughtful. At no point did they make any assumptions about you - they even went out of their way to list a variety of things you can do and see in Iceland, just in case you aren't only one type of tourist. They looked only at the cost and 'Mustachian-ness' of the activities, not about what they assumed you'd like.

So, to recap, they gave you lots of pointers and advice in a very reasonable manner, and in return you respond with THIS? I am not a moderator, and I'm not the manners police, but I think you owe gaja an apology.

Edit to add: Also, you can't go out of your way to ask people for their opinions about your holiday, then shoot them down for telling you about what might make a good holiday. You're right - we don't know you nor your circumstances, so we don't have much to go on, but we can still offer what we know. If gaja offered something you didn't like the sound of, or was wrong about something, how about explaining that to them rather than generally spitting venom all over the place?
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 06:07:48 AM by MrOnyx »

Dicey

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #44 on: January 14, 2019, 08:19:35 AM »
^ LOL at the massively d**chebag arrogance you have to begin to even tell me what constitutes a worthwhile vacation when you donít know me nor my circumstances. Thatís the polite response that I have for that last post.

Was this in response to gaja? Because at the very beginning of this thread, you asked if an Icelandic trip could ever be Mustachian, and gaja gave you a very thorough breakdown of what you could do to make an expensive trip more Mustachian, and included a lot of knowledge that they gained from having been to Iceland themselves numerous times. I mean they called it a facepunch, but aside from that very last paragraph, I thought their response was very mild-mannered and thoughtful. At no point did they make any assumptions about you - they even went out of their way to list a variety of things you can do and see in Iceland, just in case you aren't only one type of tourist. They looked only at the cost and 'Mustachian-ness' of the activities, not about what they assumed you'd like.

So, to recap, they gave you lots of pointers and advice in a very reasonable manner, and in return you respond with THIS? I am not a moderator, and I'm not the manners police, but I think you owe gaja an apology.

Edit to add: Also, you can't go out of your way to ask people for their opinions about your holiday, then shoot them down for telling you about what might make a good holiday. You're right - we don't know you nor your circumstances, so we don't have much to go on, but we can still offer what we know. If gaja offered something you didn't like the sound of, or was wrong about something, how about explaining that to them rather than generally spitting venom all over the place?
I was thinking that it was a long way to go for such a short time as well. I was only reading idly, as I had no plans for Icelandic travel, but @gaja's lovely post (along with others on this thread) has got me thinking now...

When I got to the end of that lovely post, I was surprised gaja characterized it as a facepunch. As an old-timer, I assure you that was an astute observation, not a facepunch.*

The OP's response was shocking, even post-moderation. Thank you to whoever reported it, and thanks to the mods for applying the red ink.

* https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/off-topic/weird-fourm-coversations-has-the-community-gone-soft/

Zola.

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #45 on: January 14, 2019, 09:33:45 AM »
It looks nice, but it's a cold and expensive country, I would rather spend money going somewhere with a bit of heat...

EricEng

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #46 on: January 14, 2019, 11:12:17 AM »
You can do it frugal and cheap.  We took our honeymoon there for 10 days and it was under $1500 including airfare, room, food, and activites.

1. Stay in an AirBnB to save money.  We had a nice one bedroom condo.
2. Rent a car, they are cheap compared to shuttles and paying for bus tours.  Gas is expensive, but cars get better mileage than USA.
3. Grocery shop and make your own meals as you are on and island and food is expensive.  Going out to eat is more expensive, but keep in mind it pre includes tax and tip and the conversion rate makes it look more expensive than it is.
4. Most of the museums in town are a waste of money (and I love museums).  The best sights are outdoors, free, and an easy drive.
5. You can get a city pass which will get you cheap access to lots of the sights in town (including museums)
6. Best Escape room we have ever tried was in Iceland: https://www.reykjavikescape.com/
7. Black sand atv tours were our one splurge, but worth the experience.
8.  Bring some crampons with you if you want to wander the glaciers.  Only $20-30 in US, but min $100+ in country.
9. Hike Glymur, by far our favorite activity.  Bring a towel if you plan to cross the waterfall. https://guidetoiceland.is/connect-with-locals/jorunnsg/hiking-to-icelands-highest-waterfall---glymur
10. Travel in Spring or Fall to save money.  Weather is cool, but comfy 45-60s F.  Despite what people say, Iceland is not brutal cold (that's Greenland) and has mild winters due to ocean breeze.

deborah

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #47 on: January 15, 2019, 05:27:51 PM »
Greenland is beautiful, and much of it isnít that cold.

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #48 on: January 15, 2019, 05:52:28 PM »
My wife, myself and some friends are going to Iceland for a few days this coming fall. The flight was a very good deal on Wow Air. Everything else is out of this world expensive.  A Ramada level hotel easily runs $200 plus per night. Transportation from airport to hotel easily $50 plus. A sub at Subway $10 plus. Sit down dinners $40-$50 per person. Swimming in Blue Lagoon hot springs $70 plus. I've wanted to go forever and am not MMM level frugal. I'm just wondering how/if it could be rationalized to ever be so inefficient to travel to a place like that?
It looks nice, but it's a cold and expensive country, I would rather spend money going somewhere with a bit of heat...

Iceland is much too cold for me as well.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Would a Mustachian Ever go to Iceland?
« Reply #49 on: January 16, 2019, 09:26:41 AM »
Love all the great content in this thread.  I was talking to my son about travel and he mentioned wanting to go to northern Europe some day.  I kind of blew it off because airfare is typically $1500+ from my city, but I looked at options anyway.  It wasn't quite as bad as previous times I'd checked, but round trip tickets to Iceland were $600 on a major carrier with carry-on, checked bag, and chosen seats.  All stuff that I know WOW charges extra for, plus the flight options for WOW in my western US city just weren't attractive.  I also don't really want to fly on a carrier that's flirting with bankruptcy.

Anyway, we reserved the small rental car for about $45/day with my company's discount code, staying at a very nice AirBnB for about $200/night with all fees included that has a full kitchen and is walking distance to two grocery stores and all the major attractions we want to see.  All together we'll have about 4 full days there and I'm estimating $2800-3000 in total cost, although my son is kicking in $600 since he's working now and wants to contribute by covering his air fare.

IMO the whole reason I am frugal with my money on a regular basis is so that I can afford to do things like take a trip to Iceland in peak season with my son on something of a whim.  I'll certainly be going over a lot of the things mentioned in this thread by people who have gone and using that to maximize the bang for the buck of my own trip!