Financial Friday 2

Welcome to the second installment of Financial Friday. Where I tell you how much I shouldn’t have spent traveling…or at least that’s what it felt like this week…

Travel

Nothing happened here until Tuesday when I went back to the airport super early. The return bus trip to Keflavik was $24.35.

The flight from Keflavik to Frankfurt via WOW Air was $109.28 after the baggage fee for my carry-on.

On Wednesday, I hopped a flight from Frankfurt to Athens via Ryanair which should have cost me $33.96. Except I was a dumb ass, and forgot to check in until it was past the 2 hour window. Yeah…that little blunder cost me an additional $62.18. Bringing the total cost of the flight to $96.14.

Since the Athens airport is quite a ways from the city center, I caught the train into town: $12.44.

Accommodation

Bus hostel was still $30.44 per night for 4 nights this week.

The Meininger hostel in Frankfurt set me back $74.68 for one night…but at least I was close to the airport…. I guess. Still, ouch.

And Athens Backpacker hostel ran me $129.61 for 7 nights which comes out to $18.52 per night. This is, by far, the best price for accommodation yet!

Food

I managed to get away with 1 more grocery run in Reykjavik: $13.30. Between what I got then and on the previous grocery runs, I was able to feed myself for the remainder of my time in Iceland. I even had 2 bananas left over that I put in the ‘free food’ box.

I was pretty stuffed trying to finish off my food in Iceland so I only got one meal in Frankfurt: a personal sized pizza, a cheese pretzel, and some water…that turned out to be sparkling water. I should have known better, and read the label more closely. Anyway, that was $6.72.

When I got to the Athens airport, I got a salami sandwich with some water: $9.92.

When in town, I stopped by a couple gyro places. The first was with chicken: $3.65. The second was with pork: $3.78. And both those prices include the $0.50 bottle of water.

I liked the chicken gyro so much, I had them for two more meals on Thursday: $7.30. They’re so good…and so cheap!

Other

There’s the obligatory travel insurance: $3.07 per day.

I broke down and bought a USB-C cable at the mall in Reykjavik: $23.80. Those are the cables that my GoPro uses.

I also had the GoPro cable I left at home mailed to the hostel in Athens: $26.17. Forgetting that cable was not a cheap mistake.

On Saturday night, a few friends I met at the hostel in Reykjavik wanted to go out dancing. We ended up hitting the Paloma bar/club downtown: $9.99. It was a good time, and a lot of dancing.

On Thursday, I ran down to the laundromat and did my first load of laundry since I’ve been on the road: $8.82. About a week and a half before I had to do my first cloths cleaning…not bad.

Summary

Week 2
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 133.53 108.58 0 242.11
Lodging 30.44 30.44 30.44 30.44 74.67 18.52 18.52 233.47
Food 0 13.3 0 0 6.72 17.35 7.3 44.67
Other 26.87 13.06 3.07 30.24 3.07 3.07 11.89 91.27
Total 57.31 56.8 33.51 60.68 217.99 147.52 37.71 611.52

So another week way over budget. Granted, about $100 of it was my own fault between the airport check-in and the GoPro cable. At least now I’m in a ‘cheap’ country though. I think I should be able to keep my expenses under $50 a day. And maybe…just maybe…I can make up for the expensive beginning.

Tips and tricks for traveling in Iceland

I’ve been to Iceland twice now, and wandered around pretty much all of Reykjavik (not that that’s hard, but…). I’ve also talked to quite a few fellow travelers at the hostel I was staying in the last time I went so I think I’m fairly qualified to give a few pointers.

  1. Do not take the tours. They’re expensive, you’re traveling with a butt-load of other people, and you’re stuck on their schedule. If you want to see the fantastic, natural beauty that is Iceland, rent a car. You’ll thank me later.
  2. Use the IRCA app. The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has an app that tells you all about road conditions. It’s highly accurate. If the app says it’s dangerous, don’t go driving there. The last thing you need is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, and wait the hours it will take for someone to rescue you; that is if you manage to call an emergency number of some sort. Iceland outside of Reykjavik is isolated.
  3. Book your bus tickets with a return trip. If you don’t rent a car at the airport, book both your bus tickets at the same time. This trick saved me a few dollars.
  4. Don’t book all your nights in Reykjavik. If you’re renting a car, and traveling around the island, it’ll take you a few days (even if you didn’t stop for anything). So it’s a good idea to book a couple places around the island. Even if you just want to run around the south side and get to the diamond or black beaches, you’ll probably need to get a place in Vik.
  5. Book your Icelandic Sagas tickets in advance. I was like “I’m in Reykjavik. I should go see this Icelandic Sagas play thing I keep seeing adds for.” Then I discovered they were booked until after I was going to leave. That was probably the biggest disappointment of my whole trip. The rest of it was pretty awesome though so it didn’t get me too bummed.
  6. Do not go to the Blue Lagoon. If you want hot springs, there are more than you can count outside Reykjavik for free (well, minus gas). Or if you don’t want to leave town, go to any of the ones listed here, and it will be way cheaper and almost just as good. I have some friends that went to the Blue Lagoon, and said it was worth it. I think that was their coping mechanism for watching their bank account drop like a rock.
  7. Make your way to the Perlan. The Perlan (pearl in English) is an amazing structure. Even if you don’t go to the ice cave in the basement or eat at the restaurant on the top floor, you should at least hit up the balcony and take every panoramic shot your camera can hold. The whole city’s visible for free.
  8. Do not pay for the tower in Hallgrímskirkja. This is the church that’s visible from everywhere in town. Do go there and have a look around, but do not pay to go up the tower. If you want a fantastic view of Reykjavik, see #7 above.
  9. Visit some museums. I’ve reviewed a few of them in my ‘A few Icelandic museum reviews’ post. There are a bunch more, though, that I’m sure are also quite good.
  10. Buy your groceries at Bónus. I thought I’d be clever once and go to a non-chain, local grocery store thinking it’d be cheaper. It was actually the opposite. Plus, Bónus has a larger selection than the similar sized grocery stores. $0.35 packets of ramen noodles were a serious budget saver.
  11. Keep your eyes peeled for grocery deals. Once when I was grocery shopping, I saw one of the employees stocking bananas; and everyone was grabbing them. Soon, only the expensive bananas were left. Another time, I found $1 instant oatmeal cups (trust me, this is actually a fantastic deal for Iceland). A few days later, they were all gone. I totally should have grabbed more.
  12. Check out the graffiti. There’s graffiti all over the city, but there’s this one tunnel that goes under 49 at Langahlíð that’s covered wall to wall. I’m pretty sure most tourists don’t know it’s there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few locals didn’t either.
  13. The Aurora Borealis. If you’re there in winter, you should definitely try to see this. Drive out during the end of the day to one of the hot springs in the middle of nowhere. Soak yourself at night while waiting for the lights. That way if you don’t see them (which is a strong possibility), at least you got to enjoy a hot spring and the trip wasn’t a complete waste.

Hopefully, this has been helpful, and can save you at least a little money. While the airfare might be cheap, the country as a whole is anything but.

Financial Friday 1

Welcome to the first installment of Financial Friday. In these, I’ll tell you what I spent on everything. Your spending may vary, but the general idea is for me to see if I’m meeting my budgetary goals…and a secondary benefit could be to show you about how much traveling costs (at least for me).

Travel

On Monday…. Uber from ‘home’ to the Greyhound station: $22.16. Greyhound bus from Indy to Chicago: $31.50. Uber from the Chicago Greyhound station to O’Hare Airport (Chicago): $37.11.

Overnight flight from Chicago to Keflavik: $139.98. Base price on the WOW flight was $100. A carry-on bag and a few taxes brought it up to the total.

On Tuesday, FlyBus from Keflavik Airport to the Reykjavik Bus Station, and back: $48.69. I saved about $5 by purchasing a round-trip ticket. Half of that for the inbound journey is $24.35.

I walked about 10 minutes to the hostel for free! I also walked all over Reykjavik to see things for free. Everyone loves free work-outs!

Accommodation

Bus Hostel Reykjavik, booked through Hostel World: $203.10 for 7 nights in a 10 bed room. As I don’t travel with a sleeping bag, I also had to rent a comforter (or as they call them, duvet) for $9.95. Add it all up, and divide by 7 comes to $30.44 per night.

Food

On Monday, I got a burger and fries at O’Hare Airport: $14.31. In retrospect, I realize this was the only meal I had all day. Not the best decision, but it worked due to a huge dinner the night before, and sleep deprivation while traveling.

On Tuesday, I got a large sandwich from a local deli: $10.70. I don’t know if it was just that good, or being really hungry, but that was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had! The deli’s called Bakarameistarinn, and it’s just across 40 from the Kringlan Mall.

I had an afternoon tea at Te & Kaffi: $5.72. It’s expensive, but it’s also how I relax. So, for me, this is probably the best value out of the whole day.

For dinner, I got a chicken, feta burrito from the Kinglan Mall food court: $16.11. It’s expensive, but I didn’t want to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

Groceries from the Bónus in the Kinglan Mall: $11.96. I got some bananas, instant oatmeal, butter, and eggs. So basically, the cheap stuff. All food in Iceland is expensive due to the (relatively) small population and distance from the rest of the world.

On Wednesday, I got a light breakfast from the hostel: $5.69. Travel tip: always check to see if your hostel offers free breakfast…preferably before you order something.

And I made another grocery run: $11.88. This time I got some tea, a few ramen noodles, and some pears…because fruit.

On Thursday, I just made another grocery run: $10.68. Shopping list: more bananas, more oatmeal, and yogurt. After all those grocery runs, I think I’ve got enough food to not spend anything on it for a few days.

Other

There’s always the obligatory travel insurance which comes out to $3.07 per day. And I lost my toothbrush. Purchasing one from the hostel was $3.62.

On Wednesday, there was the Þjóðminjasafnið (National Museum of Iceland): $19.88. On Thursday, there was the Landnámssýnigin (The Settlement Exibition): $16.50. More on what I saw there in a future blog.

Summary

Week 1
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 230.75 24.39 0 0 255.14
Lodging 0 30.44 30.44 30.44 91.32
Food 14.31 44.49 17.57 10.68 87.05
Other 3.07 3.07 26.57 19.57 52.28
Total 0 0 0 248.13 102.39 74.58 60.69 485.79

So yeah, this is way over budget. Even the ‘cheap’ day as over $60, but then, no one said Iceland was easy on the wallet. Time will pass, I’ll hit up cheaper countries, and I’ll likely travel much slower, so the average should come down significantly.

I hope at least someone other than myself found this helpful. Next post: Icelandic museum review…or at least that’s the plan.