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A beginner's guide to hiking Iceland on a budget

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As the second most expensive country in the world, Iceland can be a frightening prospect for those seeking adventure on a student budget.

However, an affordable Icelandic escape is possible. Here are seven money-saving tips I picked up whilst hiking the world-famous Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails this August.


1. Choose budget flights

Start your trip right by flying to Reykjavík with Wizz Air, EasyJet or WOW. These airlines provide affordable flights to Iceland’s capital from London Gatwick, Stansted, or Luton.

2. Be prepared to camp - everywhere

People generally begin the famous Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls hiking trails in Landmannalaugar and finish in Þórsmörk or Skógar. Along the route there are huts every 15-25km, providing beds which can be pre-booked, as well as nearby camping grounds for tents.

A stay in a hut will knock you back approximately £50 per night versus £12-15 per person when camping – the choice is yours. Hut bookings will usually also exclude a hot meal, expecting guests to cook for themselves over shared stoves.

Of course, one downside to camping is that the weight of your bag may creep up to near 20 kilograms, especially if you carry a tent as part of your kit.

Camping is also available close to the centre of Reykjavík for approximately £17 per night. This is a great option if you have a couple of spare days at the end of your trip to explore the capital, especially since the campsites have considerably nicer amenities than the sites on the trails.

3. Pack food and bring a stove

It is essential that you pack enough food for at least the five days of the trek. My friend and I packed ten packets of Uncle Ben’s rice each, porridge for breakfast, as well as energy-dense snacks including nuts, cereal bars, dried fruit and crackers. Many people bring freeze-dried meals purchased from camping shops in the UK, though these packets tend to be costlier. Snacks can be purchased at some of the campsites, but the few choices available are very overpriced.

Naturally, for camping it is essential to bring a gas stove as you will not be allowed to cook on the hut stoves. The Campingaz stoves and cook sets available at Mountain Warehouse tend to be a cheaper option than buying a full Trangia set.

4. Don’t buy cooking gas

Don’t make the mistake of shelling out £19 for a can of cooking gas. My friend and I made this mistake before realising that previous campers leave boxes filled with partially-used cooking gas cans for the next group.

5. Be prepared for VERY erratic weather

Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable. This can lead to unexpected costs if you arrive underprepared. Invest in high-quality hiking gear in the UK before departure. This means a waterproof – not water resistant – jacket and trousers, waterproof boots, and warm layers.

Being prepared for poor weather will reduce your chances of impulse-buying bed space in a hut when you are soaked through and shivering post-hike.

I would recommend to always hike in trousers as opposed to shorts. A clear, bright day can turn into a hailstorm in a matter of minutes, and, once you are wet, it is very difficult to get warm again.

6. Don’t shower

It may sound unhygienic, but one of the easiest ways to save money is to avoid showering. Showers are not included in the camping fee and cost £3.60. Wet wipes are your best friend!

7. Try hitchhiking

Our major expenditure was bus travel with excursion companies who profit from tourist transfers to-and-from Reykjavík. The transfer from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar, costing around £50, is unavoidable due to the few cars on the track to the start of the trail. However, hitchhiking from the end of the trail at Skógar is more probable due to the huge number of tourists driving to visit the magnificent waterfalls in the area. If you have a day to spare, it is not unlikely that you could find a friendly car-owner to accompany back to Reykjavík.

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