Read more about our Iceland adventures in our ebook
Iceland: A Stormy Motorcycle Adventure
by Sherrie McCarthy
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The first thing that most people consider when they begin to plan a trip is “can I afford it?” You check out the guide books and websites so you can start to get an estimate of how much you need to save (do I need to eat the cheapest pasta I can find for 6 months before hand) to make the trip a reality. A country like Iceland is NOT CHEAP. However, that does not mean you can not do it cheaply, we budget 1000 Euros a month for our motorcycle trips and we hit (but did not go over) our budget in Iceland.
That was the same budget we had for Turkey and Bulgaria, it works out to be about 30 Euros a day per person, and that covers food, gas, tourist stuff and accommodation. We try not to hit that on a daily basis so that there is also a little “wiggle room” if something expensive occurs (like, errr, accidents) that cost extra, or something breaks on the bike. Getting to a place like this is wonderful, easy on the bike it is not!
Iceland Budget Breakdown: What We Spent & Where (based on 2 people and a little over 4 weeks)
Camping card: 100 Euros (covered us about 90% of the time. Two nights we were in hospital, 4 or 5 nights we camped wild, one night it was too stormy to ride to a free camp site, and one night there was a gale and our tent ended up flattened and we HAD to move from the camping site into the camping bag accommodation.)
Paid camping at a site not covered by camping card: 14 Euro
One night sleeping bag accommodation: 42 Euro (In Iceland you can save a chunk of change if you bring your sleeping bag with you even if you decide not to camp. A bed without linen can be as much as half the price as a bed with linen, and after taking a look at the price above for one night sleeping bag accommodation you can see why you might want to bring a sleeping bag along).
Laundry: 15 Euro (half were free at the camp sites we were at, the others charged about 6 Euro on average)
Supermarket (self catering on campsites and in the middle of nowhere, includes toiletry extras such as shampoo and toothpaste, we were on the road 6 weeks, we ran out of what we brought with us): 416 Euro
Coffee (not counting the instant stuff we bought at the supermarket that is included under the supermarket budget): 38 Euro
Restaurants (at gas stations, once a pizzeria): 122 Euro
Swimming pool entrance fees: 27 Euro
Postcards and stamps: 17.50 Euro
Entrance to Myvatn Thermal Baths: 27 Euro (with my student discount and Patrick’s ADAC member discount).
gas: 423 Euro
oil (that story to come later): 11 Euro
replacement light & brake fluid: 11 Euro
new helmets (after accident): 241 Euro
New tire and tubes: 247 Euro
New rain jacket for Patrick (his was shredded from falling off the bike): 8 Euro (on sale!)
Bus from hospital to campsite: 25 Euro
Toll From Akranes to Reykjavik: 8 Euro (2 Euro per bike each time)
that was the money spent in Iceland.
Not counted in our daily expenditures however was the ferry ticket itself as we had bought this a couple of months before leaving. But of course how you get there needs to be factored in, its not like you can swim there. That was another 425 per person (motorcycles included) and was one passage in high season and one in low season.
We also spent 140 in gas between us to get to the ferry terminal in Denmark from Stuttgart, another 100 to get back (the ferry leaves further north and returns much further South). We spent another 100 on food between us with the 6 days in total we spent on the ferry (we paid for the breakfast buffets and gorged ourselves, and had food from the supermarket for the rest of the day).
Also not included in that is the money the insurance paid for our accident. NEVER travel without insurance! If we had not been covered we would have been out of pocket 3000 Euro for the hospital visit (which in fact could have been much higher) and the tow to pick up our bikes, which came in at just under 900 Euros. Quick way to ruin your travel memories! Our accident was in the first week of the trip, without insurance our trip would have been over and our favorite parts would have been missed:
But as you can see, most of our money went towards food and gas (not counting the accident, herrr) , but I think non motorcycle travelers can count on at least what we spent on gas for bus rides. The camping card really helped us stay on budget, as the campsites in Iceland (usually) come with fully equipped with a communal room to get warm and cook, as well as showers and washer and dryers (which are also sometimes free!).
The other place we saved a lot of money was in self catering. But even self catering is expensive. We ate a lot of pasta and ramen noodles on this trip. I did not even eat that bad in uni! However I did live at home and my father was a professional cook in his youth. My friends used to mock me (and rightfully so!) when at the age of 19 I would still experience shock that the man had put something in my lunch that he should have known I did not like. (Yes, throughout uni I would walk out the door and grab the lunch my father had made for me off the kitchen counter, having no idea what was inside. Ahem.) Through trial and error we managed to find a meal that was cheap and that we both liked with chocolate melted in oatmeal. But we were not fine dinning on this trip.
Staying within budget however required sacrifices (not just before the trip but also during) and I would recommend reading How To Save For A World Trip (Or Any Trip) that I wrote a while back (again I rambled, scroll down to find the actual points in giant letters). Number one being KNOW YOUR TRAVEL STYLE. If camping is not your style, or you hate the idea of self catering on your trip, then don’t count on it to save you money. Save longer or make the trip shorter!
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