"Takk fyrir" the airline stewardess thanked us as we left the plane. It was early June, and the sun was still shining full strength at 5 AM as the land of the midnight sun came into full view. Tired travellers shuffled their feet as they made their way through the airport, but there was an excitement that could not be denied- we were in Iceland!
Iceland, like the rest of the world, is in the midst of an economic recession. Hence, cheap flights can be found, and we were lucky enough to find a return flight for only $580 from Halifax to Rekjavik, Iceland's legendary capital city. But just because we found such a cheap flight didn't mean we had extra cash to blow; we were students and had bills to pay. How could we possibly avoid spending a lot of money in a place known for being one of the most expensive countries in Europe?
There are many ways to save some dough when travelling, and the surefire best way to save money is on accommodation. There are certainly a multitude of hotels and hostels to choose from, but for those of you who don't mind roughing it in rugged terrain, why not pack your tent along with you? There are designated camp sites, but we just ended up pitching our tent wherever we felt like it. Our favourite site was in Borganes, not only because it is the location of the Vikings in the legendary Egils saga, but also because it seemed to take the edge off our mood. We had argued on the trip from Rekjavik to Borganes, but once we set our tent up in this beautiful land it seemed as if all was forgotten. The tent was surrounded by flowers, the ocean was to the west, and the mountains were our backdrop. What a beautiful picture!
Another great way to save some money is to bring some of your own food from home. There are certain limitations on what you can bring on the plane and into the country, so it's a good idea to check what's allowed beforehand. We brought items like cereal, dried toast, and tuna, and during our stay we also shopped at the local supermarket and bought some of their famous skyr yogurt. By shopping at local supermarkets, we were able to talk to friendly locals, but we also saved $100 per day!
So you can save money on food and accommodation, but what about other fun stuff like getting around and seeing the countryside? By taking public transit instead of renting a car, we saved about $125 per day. In fact, our 2 hour bus ride from Rekjavik to Borganes cost us $2 CAD (or 200 kronurs for you Icelanders). The added bonus? The busdriver taught us how to say "goodbye" in Icelandic!
Even though we only spent about $250 each for the entire week, we still managed to have a great time. The atmosphere, the people, and the beautiful views- what's not to like? Saving money is part of the fun too!