I’m going to take a short pause from blogging about my wedding and start off abit about our Honeymoon in Iceland..
In a campervan.
Yeah, a Singaporean newly-wed couple traveling to their first foreign country together, where the weather is erratic and gravel roads aplenty and vehicles are left-hand driven (Singapore vehicles are right-hand driven).. In a campervan.
Seasoned adventure-seekers would probably go “Pfft that’s nothing. We cycle around Iceland and sleep in tents” but many of our family and friends were like “People go honeymoon to relax and look pretty, but you guys go for adventurous honeymoon instead.. and sleep in a campervan?!”
Well, if there’s one thing that I learnt from all the near-traumatic experiences we encountered there is that it builds character! 😀
But frankly speaking, going around Iceland in a campervan was such an adventure and I loved every minute of it. I’ve always dreamt of going on road trips since young (my family doesn’t do road trips) so knowing that Han is a capable driver (he’s driven PA vans, lorries, cars), I suggested to go on a road trip the moment we decided that Iceland was going to be our Honeymoon destination. (Yeah, pretty evil because I don’t drive so he had to do all the work. Oops.)
We initially thought of just renting a car and then book rooms at different parts of the country but we felt that it would be too much of a hassle to keep changing places. Plus, we wouldn’t be able to go at our own pace. So, campervan it was!
Campervans are really common in Iceland and there are quite a lot of rental companies you can choose from. I was initially drawn to HappyCampers because their vans are so cute but we decided to go with GoCampers instead. Their Renault Trafic van, GoLite camper, was more cost competitive!
But we were in luck though! On the day we came to collect our van, we were informed that they had sent their GoLite vans to the workshop to get the wheels studded for winter so they gave us the GoBig van, a Renault Master, which is as big as an ambulance (haha ya that’s how I describe it to everyone)
Was so glad we got the bigger van because we had more space to store our things. Also, our bed was as big as a Queen-sized so we could stretchhhh. I don’t really have a proper picture of the interior except for the one with Han in it below on the left. But see the picture on the right? We can dismantle the table and turn it into a bed if we wanna.
Our campervan came complete with a fridge, sink with running water, portable stove, cooking utensils and cutlery, heater, pillows and blankets… it was just like a simple, portable home for us! Well, except it didn’t come with a toilet.
So naturally, when we returned to Singapore, we got loads of questions – the most frequently asked question being:
Where did you pee?
Or poop. Everyone we talked to was particularly concerned about this.
Well, in the bushes, of course.
I’M KIDDING!!!! Hahaaa.
Well, in the first place, there aren’t many bushes, just lots and lots of big rocks along the road.
Haha but no, we managed to attend to nature’s call as civilly as possible – in a proper toilet. WCs (Water closets, as they prefer to call it) are easy to find in almost every town – be it gas stations, restaurants, swimming complexes so it was really a non-issue. Well, unless you’re on a loooong stretch of road between towns where there’s no signs of civilisation, then God forbid you get a major, urgent tummy-ache along the way. (but please don’t poop in the wild, no matter what)
So, after we’ve cleared that first question which was burning in everyone’s minds, it will always be followed by:
Did you shower?
Yup, we did! But the frequency of our showers depended on where we stayed for the night. There are plenty of campsites around Iceland – some are awesome and have facilities like heated showers, washing machines, kitchenette and dining area and on the other hand, there are those that aren’t open at all during winter season (between October to April). So on days we stayed at open campsites, we showered, washed our clothes, rested in the dining area and met other fellow travelers.
Here’s a short video of the Egilsstaðir campsite’s facilities (one of the campsites we stopped at) that I managed to take to WhatsApp my mom back then. As you can see, it’s pretty clean!
On the days we wild-camped, we didn’t shower. But hey, the weather’s cold and we didn’t sweat or stink at all, so it’s all good, right? Hehehe.
Apart from campsites, almost every town has a heated public pool regardless of the size of its population. Yes, Icelanders just love their pools – swimming is like the country’s favourite pasttime. And because the pools are very lightly chlorinated, swimmers are expected to shower thoroughly, naked, before they get in. They even have a guide!
Han and I didn’t bring our swimming attire so we didn’t swim but we did pay to use their showers (separate gender showers, of course). And oh my God, what an experience it was because there were no stalls in the shower area so uhm, I had to shower nude with other strangers around. I think it was the fastest shower I’ve ever taken hahahaha.
Didn’t it get cold sleeping in the van?
Our GoBig camper had a heating system, thank Goddd and had loads and loads of blankets so we managed not to freeze to death. There were nights when it did get unbearably cold though and the heater wasn’t sufficient so we wore layers, zipped ourselves up in our sleeping bags and cover up with additional blankets. Because we tended to steal each other’s blankets at night (ok maybe it was just me), Han decided to take the extra step and wrap me up like a burrito. IT WAS SO WARM AND COZY!
And because it was so cold at night, we always stayed inside where it’s warm.. and then we ended up falling asleep damn early (like at 8PM, 9PM) and I’m always filled with regret whenever someone asks us..
Did you get to see the Northern Lights?
No, we didn’t 🙁
Not our rezeki ah because when we were at the South, the skies were cloudy at our side but there were sightings in the North. And when we were in the North, there was no activity at all. But there was this one night when the aurora activity was supposedly very strong at where we were but…. we slept early.
Yeah so we were pretty unlucky. There were some travelers we met at a campsite who traveled clockwise (West – North – East – South) and got to catch the Northern Lights a couple of times in that same week. We went counter-clockwise. Boo.
We usually checked vedur.is for the Aurora weather forecast.
Was there internet coverage everywhere? How did you charge all your items on the go?
We bought a prepaid data-only SIM card from Síminn and the coverage was pretty good everywhere we went! It came with 1GB of data when we bought it but we can top-up the data later on, which we did.
Our saving grace for the whole trip was our car power inverter, which we rented from GoCampers! Because it only works when the engine is running, we made sure that all the sockets/USB cables were charging something when we were on the road- be it Osmo or DSLR batteries, laptop, phones, anything.
What did you eat? Was it easy to find Halal food?
Nope, it wasn’t. In fact, based on what I read, there was only one restaurant which served Halal Syrian food in Reykjavik but we didn’t even bother finding it.. because our campervan had a mini kitchen! Hurray for home-cooked food!
It was a test of our kitchen skills and teamwork right from the first meal we cooked together. Tempers did flare occasionally (lol) as we both adjusted to each other’s style (Han likes doing things fast, fast, fast while I prefer to take things at my own leisurely pace and just ~chill~) but we still ended up with pretty darn good-tasting food. We’re no Masterchefs so we only managed to cook simple dishes like spaghetti, pan-fried salmon with potatoes and veggies, eggs (lots of it), veggie soup and mashed potatoes.
On days we wanted to eat Asian food, we heated up the packs of Brahim’s cooking sauces I brought and ate Salmon Fish Curry and Egg Sambal Tumis. The salmon went exceptionally well with the curry sauce!! (Picture below. I am pretty aware my photo-taking skills are pretty horrendous at this point haha and that the curry looks super unappetizing but it’s nice ok)
Another reason why campervan-ing is so great was that we could just cook at wherever we wanted. “This place is so pretty, can we stay longer and have our lunch here?” Sure! “I’m too tired to drive and I’m hungry. Can we stop and cook here?” No problem! As long as you’re not on private property and not obstructing anyone, then you’re free to stay however long you want. Just don’t leave a mess of the place. That’s not a very nice thing to do.
We bought all our groceries from the local supermarket, either Bónus or Netto. I personally prefer Bónus because I liked how the logo was bright yellow with a cute, bright pink wonky piggy bank in the middle. Yeah, just that. Now that I think about it, that’s a pretty lame reason to like a supermarket more but LOOK AT THIS!
DOESN’T IT LOOK SO CHEEEERY & INVITING? 😀
Well, I also heard they’re slightly less expensive than its competitors but truth be told, I didn’t really notice the price difference much, which brings me to our next FAQ:
Was Iceland expensive?
Yes and no. It really depends on what you’re looking at.
Personally, I think the tourist activities were the most pricey, which was why we only went for Whale-watching and skipped the others like Horse-riding, Glacier walks, Snowmobile. We paid 130SGD each for a 3-hour Whale watching session and that was kinda within our budget because the rest were like, about 200SGD each and above. Ummm, maybe next time, Insya’Allah!
It’s also pretty expensive if you choose to eat out all the time. There were days when Han and I didn’t feel like cooking so we did try to find suitable places to eat seafood at. One of it was in Höfn, a town popular for its lobster. We had a 6-inch lobster sandwich at a small, simple restaurant for 2000 ISK, which is equivalent to 25 SGD. I also took a photo of the menu – hmmm, a plate of chicken nuggets with fries cost 19SGD, so yeahh, you get the idea.
Groceries were priced relatively ok and I didn’t really see much of a difference between the stores. A bag of potatoes cost about 3SGD, which is pretty much similar in Singapore. But I know there was one item that kinda surprised me – a packet of cheese cost about 21SGD. o_O But we still bought it anyway because I like cheese.
Accommodation, on the other hand, was pretty affordable with prices for an AirBnB apartment averaging about SGD100+. I’ve also seen places that go as low as SGD29 so it’s really up to what you’re comfortable with. We spent about SGD2.8k for our campervan over 9 days, which may seem pricey but technically, we were paying for both accommodation and transport so all’s good.
I’ve written a more detailed itinerary of our trip with expenses, which you can view HERE.
So how would I rate my Campervan honeymoon? 15 out of 10 damn honey stars.
Would I travel in a Campervan in Iceland again? YES but only if we’re going as a group with more than one capable driver. It was really tiring for Han to drive the whole trip by himself but I think even if I had a driving license, I wouldn’t dare to because I’m a scaredy-cat. Iceland’s weather can get from super bright to super dark, windy and foggy the next so you’ll really need someone who can drive really well to navigate your way there.
Kinda looking at traveling to NZ in a Campervan next, though. Hehehe.
So, if you’re into an adventurous holiday and willing to forgo some luxuries and are not afraid to drive through scary stormy weather and gravel roads, try campervan-ing in Iceland! It’s a great way to experience Iceland and all it has to offer – mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, bad weather and all hahaha.
If we survived it (with some bruises here and there, more on that in the next post), so can you! Feel free to ask questions and I’ll try to answer! 🙂