Before going to Iceland, Porter and I had never gone anywhere by camper. I think this was due to a combination of being intimidated by driving such a big vehicle and not really having gone to many places that mode of travel made sense in. In Iceland, though, it seems like for every hotel there’s a camper rental company to match, which is the first tip-off that this country is incredibly suited to camper travel. In fact, I would go as far as to say that going to Iceland and not staying in a camper or camping out is a mistake, a big one actually.
Looking back on our time there, I’m already anxious to return, but am absolutely convinced I wouldn’t head back if we weren’t going by Mink Campers again.
In Iceland, your hotel “home base” will probably be a good distance from the majority of things you want to see. Reyjavik, although ideal for people who want the creature comforts of easily accessible shops and restaurants, is in no way near the majority of sights people come to Iceland to see. You can take long day trips by bus to and from where you’re sleeping, or you can rent a camper and move your way along the Ring Road without having to backtrack to that “home base” until the day you leave.
Having a mobile place to sleep makes seeing all that you want to see, even in a short time, so much more doable and enjoyable. There’s no sense of a clock counting down the number of minutes you have at each sight before needing to get back to your hotel or hostel for dinner (or before you’re too tired to drive all that way). If you like to explore undiscovered spots and make your own agenda, a camper makes far more sense. You’ll spend more time sightseeing, and less time trekking to & from those spots.
Compared to other areas in Europe, Iceland is far from crowded. We visited in peak season, and even then, it felt “comfortably crowded.” Sure, there were a good amount of tourists, but not enough to make you feel claustrophobic or distracted from whatever hike you were on or sight you were seeing.
But, with that being said, there’s still a huge benefit to being in a camper in the summer in Iceland and being able to park, make a meal, and wait out those peak tourist times (about 9 am to 5 pm) and to pick & choose some places you’ve been especially looking forward to for after those hours, when it’s likely you’ll have a certain trail or lagoon or geothermal pool all to yourselves.
As photographers, especially, not having to stress about shooting with loads of tourists passing by was a big stress reliever.
If you’re heading to Iceland in the summer, it’s likely that you’ve been advised to book your accommodation as early as possible. Rooms book up quickly here in the summer, and if you wait too long, you might find yourself scrambling. This means before you even arrive in the country, you’re likely to be glued to some kind of plan, and that changing that plan would throw a wrench in the mix. This just doesn’t happen if you’re staying in a camper.
We can (and did) change our plans multiple times, skip and add things that would’ve been too far from accommodation without wheels. Campers allow you to be so spontaneous and really just go where the wind takes you. Iceland has so many “undiscovered” gems you’ll likely want to explore, that even if you think you’ve done all the research beforehand, more than once you’ll be blindsided by a trail or geographical anomaly you just have to check out. Our camper made all those impromptu stops stress free, and made our time in Iceland really feel like an adventure.
Okay, so hardcore campers might scoff at this one because our Mink Camper was outfitted with WiFi, heat, a plush comfy matress, and an electric stove, but STILL, we spent far more time outside purely because we weren’t staying in a building but a miniature teardrop-shaped pod on wheels. It’s well known that time outdoors relieves anxiety and provides mental clarity, and not to be lame but I genuinely felt that cooking late dinners outside under a 10:00 pm sun.
Shockingly, there’s network coverage pretty much everywhere in Iceland, too, but Porter and I made a conscious effort to put the phones away and not spend too much time editing or focusing on getting content up during our time there (we try to do this most of the time when we’re traveling, but we aren’t always the best at it). Being in the camper induces that camping mentality that makes unplugging seem more like second nature and less like peer-pressure.
#5: Quality Time
You’d think the fact that Port and I have basically been within five feet of each other all day every day for the majority of the past ten months would mean that “quality time” was just not a priority. BUT even if you spend a ton of time with someone, there’s something different about road tripping and being outdoors that fuels the kinds of meaningful conversations that are just fun and refreshing. I think anyone, whether going to Iceland with a significant other or just a good friend or sibling, would find this to be the case. When you’re stuck in close quarters with someone or on a long car ride it’s get along or be bored, and anyone familiar with “road tripping” knows that even if you dread it, you somehow always look back with fond memories of the time spent listening to music or chatting for hours about literally nothing. I think camper life increases the likelihood that kind of quality time will occur.
So, there you have it, traveling Iceland by camper is just BETTER. Also, going with Mink Campers and getting to avoid lugging a gigantic vehicle everywhere you go is a win-win! Did I mention that the whole roof of the camper is a sun roof – perfect for viewing the Northern Lights through in the wintertime? Might have to make the trip back just for that….
*A huge thank you to Mink Campers for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts & opinions remain my own.