Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 1): Renting a Campervan and 8 Tips on Self Driving in Iceland

Iceland has a story to tell. The beauty of Iceland travels far and wide and we knew in our hearts that it is a must to visit this country – someday. Reality cannot compete with imagination. The beautiful landscapes look so stunning in pictures and they were breathtaking during our trip there.

We kick off our Iceland’s travelogue by introducing the best way to travel. That is self driving. The Golden Circle covers more than 300 km and the Ring Road (the main national road) covers over 1,300 km. By self-driving, we get to travel at your own pace and explore Iceland’s majestic nature, with its national parks, beautiful waterfalls, striking glaciers, magnificent volcanoes and geothermal areas.

RENTING A CAMPERVAN

Driving in Iceland is a different ball game. The driver’s seat is on the left-side and driving is on the right lane. That’s 360 degree different from our driving in Singapore. We scouted many car rental companies and finally managed to rent a Fiat Ducato campervan which the best we could find. As it is winter season, renting any bigger vehicle may not be readily available as Iceland’s weather is erratic and unpredictable posing dangers to bigger vehicles.

Hey, back to driving manual gear after a long time.

After arriving at Keflavik Airport, we were picked up by our car rental company personnel and here we are, at the warehouse going through car inspection and briefing before hitting the roads.

One of the best features we love about renting a campervan is the availability of beds to sleep while we are on the go. For this trip to Iceland, we were adventurous and didn’t book any hotel accommodation before arriving at Keflavik Airport. We have many places to cover and having heard many stories of harsh weather conditions and impassable roads, we have no idea where we will be stopping at the end of each day.  Thus, it doesn’t make sense to book hotel accommodation and realizing that we may not be able to reach the destination due to unforeseen circumstances. So, we take each step as it goes.

The campervan has sleeping facilities for up to four. It has a kitchen with a stove, sink, small fridge with a freezer and basic utilities including heater. Everything is included in the price, toiletries, kitchen appliances, covers for the bed and propan gas for the stove.

There is a toilet with a washing basin. The campervan can fill up to 100 liters of water for usage.

Mum’s little kitchen. We get to cook and eat along our way 🙂

We can also store our luggages at the back of the campervan.

8 TIPS ON DRIVING IN ICELAND

Singaporeans do not need to apply for international driving license to drive in Iceland. Some important tips to know if you decide to self-drive:

  1. Download 112 Iceland App.

The 112 Iceland app can be used for two things, both for added safety on your Iceland trip.

Red Emergency button – When you activate this red button, your location will be sent by text message to the 112 response center. Remember that even though your phone shows no signal there is a possibility that you can send text message.

Green Check In button –  For you to leave your location for Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue if something happens they have more information to worked with. It is able to store your last 5 locations.

2. Apply for Maximum Car Insurance Coverage

Check here for more information on safe travel in Iceland. Better to be safe than sorry. Get the maximum coverage for a peace of mind. The conditions can be dangerous and unpredictable especially during winter. Even the most experienced driver may never know what will happen. We personally experience storms, blizzards, blind hills, blind curves and extremely low road visibility during the night that we need to use high beam for most of the journey. At times, strong winds were slapping the campervan vigorously at both sides that the steering wheel had to be held tightly before the vehicle veered off the tracks.

Accidents are real and can happen anytime. Our campervan almost flipped when the side tyres fell into the slope and couldn’t recover back to the road.

It was raining and we were in the middle of the forest. We thank the Lord for His protection as we met an Icelandic couple who helped us to call the farmers to use a jeep to pull our campervan out of the slope.

3. Credit Card Pin Number is Required

We never know credit card pin number is needed until this trip. The petrol kiosks in Iceland are self-service and you need to key your credit card pin number in order to activate the pump. The cheapest fuel station is Orkan.

4. Speed Limit / Speed Camera

The general speed limit is 50km/hr in urban areas, 80km/hr on gravel roads in rural areas, and  90km/hr on asphalt roads and 70km/hr in tunnels. There are speed cameras located all over the country monitoring the speed.

5. Road Assistance

The Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA) uses this website to circulate information about road conditions and the weather. Roads may become impassable the next moment and you may not be able to reach your hotel. No wonder it is more popular to visit Iceland during summer. Check here to get the updated information on road conditions and weather.

Image Credit: http://www.vegagerdin.is

6. Local Weather Website

Click here to get updated latest weather forecast. You can plan your itinerary beforehand but always be prepared to change your course during the road trip due to changing weather conditions.

Image Credit: http://www.vedur.is

7. Aurora Forecast

Here’s the real deal. Aurora Borealis season in northern polar latitudes (Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Siberia) runs from August to April. Everyone is chasing the aurora and so are we! There is no guarantee of sighting the aurora but you can still refer to the forecast here to increase your chances. The white shaded part indicates the sky clear from clouds, increasing likelihood of aurora sightings. Green shaded part indicates the sky is covered with clouds, so very low chances of catching Ms. Aurora 🙂

Image Credit: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/

8. Cheapest Grocery Stores

The 3 cheapest supermarkets in Iceland are Bonus, Kronan and Netto. Stock up your supplies in these stores during your road trip.

WE EAT, COOK & SLEEP OUTDOORS

Hey, we experienced brand new adventures everyday in Iceland! Thousands of miles were covered…

And for first time, we get to sleep outdoors in a campervan. No parking fee is required. We can park anywhere that is safe from other traffic. We rested at petrol station, next to motel, waterfalls, volcano, glaciers and many more.

Some say Iceland is the most beautiful country on earth. What do you think? You should be here too! Stay tune for more blog posts on our Iceland travelogue.

Interested to visit Iceland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
Disclosure: All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.
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10 thoughts on “Lost in Iceland Travelogue – (Part 1): Renting a Campervan and 8 Tips on Self Driving in Iceland

  1. Beautiful trip! Really love the adventurous spirit of your family 🙂
    Awesome experience to just park anywhere and wake up to a new “landscape” everyday!

    cheers, Andy
    (SengkangBabies)

    Like

      1. Yes they are very hospitality and responsive. It’s a family-owned car rental business. We were picked up at the airport over to the car rental. When returning the car, just drive it back to the site and they will drive you back to airport.

        Like

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