Icelandic Trip Planning: Travel Insurance and Top Tips for the Viking Vacation of a Lifetime
Whether it’s the Blue Lagoon of Grindavik that is calling your name or the mystical and unique natural landscapes, the mysteries of Iceland draws tourists from around the world. This tiny country with a mere population of 330,000 feels like an entirely different planet, worlds away from the bustling urban centers around the world, and literally surrounded by glaciers, waterfalls, volcanic vents, and coastlines vistas you can find nowhere else in the world.
But traveling to Iceland does require a bit more preparation and planning before you take off than you might realize. While the country has definitely started growing its tourist industry and moving away from an economy based on fishing and aluminum, there are some particular things you need to make sure you’re covering while making your master plan. From travel insurance coverage to guided glacier hikes, here you’ll find our best tips and must-remembers for planning the perfect Iceland vacation and being a responsible visitor at the same time!
Travel Insurance for Your Vacation to Iceland
We agree that travel insurance isn’t the most glamorous part of trip planning, but nonetheless it’s essential to consider. Traveling is expensive, and because you’re booking and paying for everything before you even step foot on Icelandic soil, you should probably do all you can to ensure that you can get your money back in case something happens.
Travel Insurance can provide you peace of mind when you’re dropping a ton of money on travel plans by providing you a way to get your money back in case you need to cancel for a covered reason. While many places do have refund policies, they usually come with a ton of restrictions. Save yourself the added stress of having to cancel your trip unexpectedly and figure out if your reason is a qualifying one for a (more likely than not) partial refund by getting a travel insurance policy for your trip to Iceland.
And whether you feel like cancellation is an impossibility or you are willing to take the chance with a partial refund, travel insurance can provide more than just pre-departure coverages. Most policies also include coverage for medical treatment in the event of an emergency, which is probably more important than you realize. Even if you do have health insurance, both Medicare and most domestic health insurance companies do not cover treatment in foreign countries, and definitely aren’t going to foot a massive bill to get you evacuated back home in the event of an emergency.
Travel insurance can provide the confidence that you can get treatment and get home without worrying about seeing a massive bill at the end of it.
Fortunately, travel insurance coverage and peace of mind are super reasonable in price. You can get basic coverage for 5-10% of the total cost of your trip, and more premium coverage with higher limits for up to 15%. Actual coverage costs and options will vary significantly by provider, so it’s best to compare your options.
You can get multiple quotes from a variety of providers really easily using our travel insurance comparison website. Simply input your trip information, select the options and coverage limits that are right for you, and instantly receive quotes. Plus, choose your plan and purchase directly through our website with a lowest price guarantee. It really couldn’t be easier, and you can rest easy knowing that you’re protecting your travel investment!
Currency & Tipping
The official currency of Iceland is the Icelandic Kron (ISK). Though part of the EU, they don’t use the Euro because the Kron is actually one of the strongest currencies in the world. If you’re traveling from the United States or most of Europe, you’ll definitely end up paying more in your local currency than Icelanders do, making it an expensive place to visit.
When it comes to cash, the majority of locals in major cities use debit or credit cards for purchases, so there’s no need to have cash on you at all times. This makes Icelandic travel slightly easier with reducing the need to do money conversions and exchanges.
Cash may be useful for using the bathroom, however. Yes, in Iceland, you’ll need to pay for public toilets. Though, many of the public restrooms in the larger areas do take a credit card swipe.
One thing you don’t need cash for? Tipping. There is no tipping culture in Iceland, which may be a shock to many Americans. But don’t feel bad! People in Iceland are paid well enough that there’s no need to depend on tips to make ends meet.
If you do feel moved to tip because you want to, or it feels weird and uncomfortable not to, Icelanders will not be offended and will accept the token with gratitude. However, don’t feel obligated or weird either way—Icelanders won’t be bothered with whatever tipping custom works for you!
Weather & Packing Suggestions
As some who have traveled to Iceland might say, “In Iceland, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” The fickle weather of the North Atlantic pretty much dictates that no matter when you’re visiting the country, prepare for all four seasons, thanks to the unpredictable wind. It can make even the nicest looking, sunny day into the coldest one of the year.
The volatile wind can cause the weather to change a dozen different times in a single day. And while that sweet pair of shorts and vintage Nirvana t-shirt might be your go-to travel outfit for your vacation, you’re going to be really sad if that’s the warmest thing in your suitcase. Prepare for the worst, but expect the best.
If you must travel during peak season in the summer and have to deal with the crowds at all the country’s most popular attractions, you’ll at least be met with one positive: midnight sun. Mid-summer in Iceland, the light will last for a full 24 hours, giving you an “endless day” to travel from point A to point B, and take in some of the more popular natural landscapes in the middle of the night. The amber light filling the sky even during the “late-night hours” will add even more magic to an already enchanting experience!
However, if you’d prefer to sleep during the bright summer nights instead, you’ll want to make sure you pack a sleeping mask. It will not only help you get to sleep when it feels like it’s the middle of the afternoon outside, but it’ll help you better manage your circadian rhythm!
True Cultural Experience in Iceland
Because there are so many amazing things that you can do and see only in Iceland, putting some serious effort into planning is going to go a long way. To ensure that you get the most out of your trip, here are some of our favorite authentic experiences to keep in mind!
Soak in a hot tub! Whether you head out to the natural geothermal pools or a city-located spa, hot-tub soaking is a national pastime in Iceland! And with such a harsh climate, who can blame them? Soaking the time away is a favorite social activity and a chance to catch up with family and friends, and is one of the best ways to get an immersive look at true Icelandic culture.
But don’t forget to shower! Before jumping into Iceland’s city pools, you are required to strip it all down and thoroughly clean yourself. Icelandic hygiene measures are taken extremely seriously.
So seriously, in fact, that all your city pools and tubs have a specific “changing room attendant” whose primary job is to enforce thorough showering before entering the spa.
Enjoy your favorite outdoor activity or try a new one! Glacier hiking, ice climbing, horseback riding, ATV adventures or helicopter rides. Whatever it is that gets your adrenaline going, do yourself a favor and seek out those adventures in Iceland. Not only will you enjoy a unique perspective on the diversity of Iceland’s mystical natural environment, but being able to say that you belayed into a volcano in Iceland and lived to tell the tale is pretty amazing!
Go east! Even as one of the most distinctive areas in the country, East Iceland is often left out of the average tourist itinerary, and you’re missing one heck of an experience if you stop your exploration in Jökulsárlón. While yes, the “Crown Jewel of Iceland” is breathtaking with the Diamond Beach icebergs glittering in the distance, you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice if you end your journey here. Explore the Ring Road further, and experience Viti Crater lake and Hengifoss waterfall, as well as the dramatic coastal mountains of Vestrahorn!
Top Destinations in Iceland
If you’re asking, “so where exactly should I plan on going to Iceland, then?” We got you covered. Here are some of the more popular destinations to check out when planning your itinerary.
And if you’re looking for something a little more laid back, a little more off the beaten path, and a little more unique – check out some of our favorite less-visited, but still spectacular locales:
- The Highlands