Guest post: How to keep adventure optimal and costs minimal in Iceland – by Alex Vogels

In this week’s guest post we have a handy guide to hitch-hiking in Iceland sent by Alex Vogels from the Netherlands who hitch-hiked across this stunning but coarse island for 7 weeks. It’s commonly known that Iceland can be expensive, however, there are ways to keep the costs down. Read Alex’s useful article to find out how…

Tom Vogels stuck hitchhiking in Iceland

If you like camping, trekking, cooking on your own stove, solitude, friendly people who speak fluent English and hitch-hiking: then, Iceland is the country for you.

When to go

Most tourists visit Iceland in the summer between June and September. This has a few advantages: long days (up to 20 hours of sunlight!), it isn’t freezing cold, lots of roads are open and with more tourists this is good news for hitch-hikers. The disadvantages are: lot of couchsurf spots are taken, since Iceland is expensive. Also, because of the summer there will be a lot of melting water on certain treks, so river-crossing is a must sometimes.

Dettifoss, Iceland - by Tom Vogels

Hitch-hiking

I’ve trekked and hitch-hiked for 7 weeks alone, and 2 weeks with my girlfriend. Hitch-hiking alone is a little faster, but with 2 people we were able to easily hitchhike to remote areas in the North-West Fjords. Hitch-hiking around the M1 (the motorway around Iceland) is also very easy to navigate. With large roads and lot of cars, the waiting time will be very low if you pick clever spots. Signs are not necessary, since you go only go “that way” or “the other way”: no complicated network of roads in Iceland. Hitch-hiking inland on Snaefellsjokull and The North-west fjords, is also easy although waiting times can be a little longer. At one time a buddy and I made a bet: We started in Vik (south): one of hitchhiked east, the other hitchhiked west, and the one to be around the M1 and back in Vik first, won. Unfortunately my buddy won: it took him 26 hours, I got stuck during the night just a couple of miles before Vik. Had I been luckier, it could have been a draw.

Camping

Make sure you bring your own tent and you leave nature clean. Wild-camping is, most of the time, no problem, unless you camp right next to a paying campsite, then of course the owners won’t be very happy. There are plenty of little campsites along the M1, they charge a small fee and offer showers and hot water. Whenever you are sick of your tent, or experience a week of fog and rain, you can always find little hostels where they offer you only a bed, so bring your own sleeping bag, and costs will stay low. All water in Iceland (little rivers) is drinkable, and very healthy.

Crossing the Drangajokull, Iceland - by Tom Vogels

Weather

In the summer months temperatures drop to about 3 to 5 degrees during the night, and a northern wind can add a chill to that, which can make the temperature feel a lot lower. During the day  – if sunny – it is around 15 to sometimes 20 degrees Celsius. Be sure to bring some suncream, especially when walking in the snow!

Food

You buy supplies in the BONUS-supermarket; a low cost supermarket like Aldi or Lidl in Europe. Buy spaghetti, rice, pasta sauce, some dried fish, fruit, nuts and bring them if you decide to walk for several days. I walked from south to north in 7 days, and walked from north to south in remote areas for 11 days. Inland you will find very few hostels. So food is a necessity. When you are close to the M1, or when you are on the popular treks like Landmannalaugar food is never far away – but prices rise to 3x BONUS-level.

Thermal caves near Myvatn, Iceland - by Tom Vogels

written by: Alex Vogels

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Read other guest posts and find out how to submit your own stories!

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About Hitch-Hikers Handbook

hitch-hiking, backpacking, budget travelling, travel writing, travel photography
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3 Responses to Guest post: How to keep adventure optimal and costs minimal in Iceland – by Alex Vogels

  1. Pingback: Travel Photography Competition – week 32 | Hitch-Hikers' Handbook

  2. Pingback: Guest post: A guide to hitch-hiking in Slovakia | Hitch-Hikers' Handbook

  3. Emilie says:

    That article could have been summed up in 1 sentance: “it is easy to hitch-hike in Iceland.” I find it both simplistic and inacurate. I heard many stories of people having difficulties finding a ride even on the M1, as most tourist cars simply don’t have any room left. In the tracks outside of M1, hitchhiking is at best unreliable and at worst impossible. Buses are the only alternative, although not a cheap one. In the Westfjords, traffic is scarce even at the highest point of summer. Expect long waiting times and a lot of roadside walk. Basically, hitch-hiking in Iceland requires a lot of flexibility in terms of time and in terms of comfort. Don’t even consider it if you’re more than 2 people. Try not to have too big backpacks, as they also need to fit in a car. 2 persons and 2 huge backpacks take a lot of space. I haven’t generally met too many other hitchhikers although I didn’t visit the more popular south coast. Hotspots (Vik, Reykjahlid/Myvatn, Dettifoss…) can come with their fair lot of hitchhikers aligning on the roadside. Be smarter: position yourself in order to hitch cars before others do, even if it requires some walking. Yes, Iceland is big and yes, it is full of wild and remote places, but other people are looking for it too and this won’t be the solitary adventure you might have been dreaming of, especially if you stick alongside the M1.

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