All posts by Trevor McDonald

Trevor is a freelance writer and a self-proclaimed Travelholic. He enjoys traveling to parts unknown, sampling local cuisines, and sharing his experiences with the world. In his free time, you can find him planning his next trip or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

What You Should Know Before Your Trip To Iceland

It only takes one Instagram story on a trip to Reykjavik before you permanently ink this destination onto your bucket list.

The scenery is beyond amazing, and a trip to Iceland is bound to make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the stairway to heaven.

But there are a few things you should know before that dream trip to Iceland becomes a reality.

Iceland isn’t for the faint of budget

The first thing you’ll notice when you get to Iceland is that nothing is cheap. Prices on this island can range from costly to exorbitant. Expect to pay $20 for one meal at a fast food joint and about $7 for a gallon of gas.

Airport transportation can be particularly expensive, so if at all possible, avoid taxis. Keflavik Airport has a very efficient shuttle service that leaves from outside the main terminal every half hour. It makes stops at all the major hotels in Reykjavik and the BSI bus terminal at the city’s centre.

The ride costs about USD $25, but a taxi would run you around USD $100. The drive from the airport to the city centre is around 45 minutes, so a $25 shuttle fee isn’t that bad. As a bonus, they have complimentary Wi-Fi on board.

This is not something to scare you off from visiting, but you should be prepared and budget for the extra cost. Expect just about everything to be more expensive in Iceland.

There are alternatives to the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in a lava field near Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Is it amazing? Yes, but it’s also expensive and can get overcrowded.

If you have your heart set on going, just expect to deal with crowds. If you’re open to alternatives, though, you may enjoy the nearby Kópavogslaug in Kópavogur.

Don’t bank your trip on the Northern Lights

Unless you’re visiting Iceland in the winter, you probably won’t see the Northern Lights. A lot of people mistakenly think they can see this spectacular phenomenon any time of year, but that’s simply not the case.

But on the other hand, if you’re visiting at a time when the Northern Lights are visible, you won’t be able to miss them.

In order to see the Northern Lights, you need darkness. And because Iceland sits at a high latitude, you won’t find the necessary darkness in the months between April and August.

The lights typically reach their peak in September and March because these are periods of the equinox. If you’re visiting in the winter and want to catch a glimpse of Aurora Borealis, your best chance is between 9:30 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.

Rent a car

Renting a car is the best way to see all the beauty Iceland has to offer, so you should definitely plan for this. But you should know that Iceland is filled with rugged terrain and weather that’s often punishing.

Most of the roads in Iceland are unpaved, pothole littered and completely jagged. They’re absolutely beautiful to the eye, but they are very rough on your vehicle.

All this is to say that you need to get all the insurance coverage the rental company offers. They’ll ask about the type of driving you’ll do, and you can bet you’ll be off-roading and driving up mountains.

If nothing else, the extra insurance will give you peace of mind as your car is jostled around on Iceland’s primitive roads. You definitely don’t want to be stuck footing the bill for repairs on a new vehicle.

You’ll also need to keep in mind that Iceland’s Ring Road runs about 1,332 kilometres. Bringing the necessary equipment such as a map, a reliable GPS, an extra tank of gas, a flashlight, and snacks are all essentials to help you prepare for the unknown road on your trip around Iceland by car!

The weather changes dramatically

They say if you don’t like the weather in Florida, wait a few minutes and it’ll change. Well, Iceland’s weather can be even more unpredictable and dramatic.

Always dress in layers and always expect rain. Weather changes can be even more dramatic in the mountains, and there’s also more of a chance you’ll encounter ice. Make sure your rental car is equipped with spikes on its tires to get you through these touchy conditions.

Low-grade hurricanes are also very common in Iceland, especially in the winter months. These can have a quick and drastic impact on driving conditions. In a winter hurricane, you may encounter what Icelanders call the “white wall.”

As the name implies, it’s a wall of white snow that takes visibility down to zero. Take the weather conditions seriously and follow or to get driving condition alerts as they happen.

If you have Iceland on your bucket list, you’re in for a big adventure. The sights are amazing, and the experience is completely unforgettable.

But just like with any vacation, you should do your homework before embarking on your trip. This way, you can be prepared for the worst and in a good place to experience the best.

How To Travel Lavishly In Europe On A Budget

Do you want to travel like royalty through Europe, but on a pauper’s budget? It’s easier than you think with a little research and planning.

First, make sure you have all the technology essentials you need if you plan on renting a car, from converters to your go-to must-haves for road trips.

For Americans, the dollar is relatively weak in most European countries, so everything is going to feel like it costs more. One of the most significant money sucks in Europe is buying items you forgot at home.

When shopping for tech, remember to check out the voltage requirements for each country you’ll visit. There are some fantastic voltage converters that work in most European countries.

These cost a little more than a converter for just one country, but if you’ll be travelling across Europe it’s worth it—and helps save room in your suitcase.

Technically, there’s some wiggle room in voltage conversion. As long as the conversion is within ten volts, you and your equipment will be safe.

Don’t forget that there are often two kinds of converters: Those that simply convert the technology so that it can plug into a foreign outlet, and those that actually convert the voltage. You need the latter if you want to keep your tech safe.

Here are a few ways on how to travel Europe on a budget.

  1. Take the train

At first blush, taking a train certainly doesn’t seem more lavish than flying. However, the trains are the best way to really immerse yourself in an authentic culture.

You’ll get to take in sweeping views of rural parts of the country as well as get a front row seat in the heart of metros.

Trains also whisk you from the city centre to city centre, often with no need of a costly cab ride to get to your accommodations once you arrive. You can avoid the time spent at airports, the stress, and the ghost taxis at airports when you travel by train.

Sometimes travelling by train is even a little more expensive, but the costs quickly even out when you consider the money saved with taxis. By design, airports simply can’t be in a city centre.

  1. Eat like a local

Research how what, and when locals eat to maximize your food budget. Many Europeans pick up fresh ingredients every day to whip up delectable meals.

In many countries, you can grab a quick bite in the morning from a local bakery for less than two dollars. Locals know how to actually live where you’ll be travelling, and this means avoiding overspending on the food budget.

For example, a croissant from a local patisserie in Paris and a black coffee is mouthwatering and cheap. However, if you spring for a full English breakfast in England, you’ll be out quite a few pounds (and be the only one doing it).

  1. Rent a room or apartment with a kitchen and avoid hotels

Hotels ultimately all feel the same around the world, and few in Europe are going to have kitchens.

If you really want to experience the culture, check out room and house shares. This gives you access to a kitchen for cooking and often better locations for a fraction of the price.

Depending on how you’d like to travel, you could opt for a homestay with the resident and get insider tips on how to really experience the neighbourhood.

  1. Walk as much as you can

How is walking luxurious? In Europe, it is because this is how you’re going to discover all those little gems that aren’t mentioned in guidebooks.

From a bookstore you’ll fall in love with to the best little shops tucked away down alleys, walking in European cities is an absolute must. It will feel like a simple coincidence that you’re also saving oodles on taxis and Ubers.

  1. Rent a bike

If you want to cover a little more distance while getting around Europe on a budget, you’ll feel right at home renting a bike.

Many shops in Europe offer these services, and many hotels do as well (while renting someone’s home can often come with the use of a bike).

  1. Understand the tipping culture

Tipping is sometimes expected in most European countries, but the average is often much less than the American standard.

Research who to tip and how much in each country to make sure you’re sticking with regional tradition. After all, nobody is going to refuse a whopper of a tip.

  1. Travel in the offseason

The offseason in Western Europe is what you’d imagine it is in the US. Cold weather months mean cheaper airplane tickets, excepting major holidays and festivals.

Yes, you’ll need to bundle up but you’ll also experience certain events, festivals, and experiences that you’d miss in warmer months. It’s a trade-off, but you’ll save quite a bit doing it.

  1. Keep your luggage to a minimum

One of the easiest ways to inconvenience yourself and pay more for flights and taxis is by overpacking. Try to ditch at least one suitcase you plan to take and know exactly what the fees are for your particular airline.

A European getaway is a wish list item for many. Of course, there’s also always backpacking Europe and staying in hostels, but that’s a romantic endeavour that’s often more challenging than you think.

You can start exploring Europe on a budget and feel like a prince or princess without committing yourself to solely hoofing it everywhere.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this travel guide to Europe on a budget. Do leave a comment below if you did.