Planning Your RV Rental Trip in Iceland

Daniel Cramer

(Updated: )
14 min read
Planning Your RV Rental Trip in Iceland

Key Takeaways

  • Choose the Right Vehicle: Select a motorhome that fits your group size and travel needs, considering comfort, space, and functionality.
  • Understand Local Conditions: Familiarize yourself with Icelandic roads, weather, and driving regulations to ensure safe travel.
  • Plan Your Itinerary: Map out your route and stops in advance, considering distances, attractions, and available campsites.
  • Pack Wisely: Bring essential clothing, gear, and supplies tailored to Iceland's unpredictable weather and your daily needs.
  • Stay Safe: Prioritize safety by preparing for emergencies, understanding local hazards, and having necessary contact information.
  • Embrace the Experience: Enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with RV travel, immersing yourself in Iceland's stunning landscapes and rich culture.
Rent a Motorhome in Iceland today!

Choosing Your Motorhome Rental in Iceland

Embarking on an Icelandic adventure in a motorhome offers unparalleled freedom and comfort, allowing you to explore the island's breathtaking landscapes at your own pace. Selecting the right motorhome for your journey is crucial for maximizing your experience in this unique terrain.

Assess Your Travel Needs

Before selecting a motorhome, consider the size of your group and your itinerary. Are you venturing into the rugged highlands or sticking to the scenic Ring Road? The motorhome you choose should not only accommodate your group comfortably but also be equipped for Iceland's diverse landscapes. Motorhomes in Iceland range from models suitable for couples to larger vehicles designed for families or groups, complete with comprehensive amenities including kitchens, bathrooms, and comfortable sleeping areas.

Image of a traveler in Iceland, standing outside of this motorhome rental
Assess your travel needs

Seasonal Considerations and Budget

The time of year you visit Iceland will significantly influence your motorhome rental choice. For winter travel, a motorhome with adequate heating and insulation is essential for navigating the colder, snowy conditions safely. During summer, while the weather is milder, it's still important to prepare for all conditions due to Iceland's unpredictable climate.

Your budget also plays a vital role in the selection process. Larger motorhomes offer more space and luxury but come at a higher rental and fuel cost. It's important to balance the level of comfort you desire with the amount you're willing to spend on your rental, fuel, insurance, and other associated costs.

Research and Early Booking

With your requirements and budget in mind, research various motorhome rental options. Customer reviews are invaluable for assessing the quality of the rental service and the reliability of the vehicles offered. Platforms like Northbound allow you to compare different motorhome rentals in Iceland, facilitating an informed decision.

Booking your motorhome well in advance is especially crucial if traveling during Iceland's peak season from May to September. Early reservations ensure you get the best selection of vehicles at more favorable rates.

By carefully considering your group's needs, the season of your visit, and your budget, and by researching and booking early, you can find the perfect motorhome for your Icelandic adventure. This preparation ensures a journey filled with comfort, freedom, and unforgettable moments amidst Iceland's stunning landscapes.

Understanding Icelandic Roads and Conditions

Navigating Iceland's roads in a motorhome requires an understanding of local driving conditions and regulations. The country's diverse landscapes present unique challenges, from winding mountain paths to gravel tracks leading into the wilderness.

Familiarize Yourself with Road Types

Iceland's road network includes everything from well-paved highways to rugged F-roads. The Ring Road (Route 1) encircles the island and is mostly paved, offering easier driving conditions for motorhomes. However, when venturing off the main routes, be prepared for gravel roads and single-lane bridges, which demand slower speeds and heightened awareness.

F-roads, accessible only during the summer months, lead into the highlands and are strictly for 4x4 vehicles. While most motorhomes are not designed for F-road conditions, understanding which roads are accessible to your rental is crucial for planning your journey and avoiding areas that could pose a risk to your safety and rental agreement.

Weather and Seasonal Impacts

Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable, with conditions that can change rapidly. Before setting out each day, check the weather forecast and road conditions online at the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration websites. Be particularly cautious of high winds, which can be hazardous to high-profile vehicles like motorhomes, and sudden weather changes that can lead to poor visibility and challenging driving conditions.

Winter travel requires additional precautions. Snow and ice can make roads slippery, and daylight hours are significantly reduced. If renting a motorhome during this season, ensure it's equipped with winter tires and carry necessary emergency supplies.

Image of a motorhome driving in Snowy conditions in Iceland
Snowy conditions

Speed Limits and Safety Measures

Adhering to speed limits is essential for safe motorhome travel in Iceland. Limits vary by road type and conditions: 90 km/h on paved rural roads, 80 km/h on gravel roads, and lower in populated areas. Always adjust your speed to the conditions, especially when navigating unfamiliar terrain or during adverse weather.

Be mindful of Icelandic laws and customs, such as mandatory use of headlights at all times and the prohibition of off-road driving to protect the delicate natural landscape. Familiarizing yourself with these rules will ensure a safe and enjoyable journey through Iceland's stunning but sometimes challenging terrain.

By understanding the types of roads, preparing for variable weather conditions, and adhering to local driving laws, you can navigate Iceland's roads safely and confidently in your motorhome, ensuring a memorable and stress-free adventure.

Planning Your Route and Stops

When embarking on a motorhome adventure in Iceland, strategic planning of your route and stops is essential. This ensures not only a smoother journey but also helps you make the most of the Icelandic landscapes and attractions.

Mapping Out Your Journey

Begin by identifying the key sights and regions you wish to explore. Iceland offers a plethora of natural wonders, from the geothermal areas of the Golden Circle to the majestic fjords of the East. Consider the length of your stay and the distances between destinations to create a realistic itinerary that allows for leisurely exploration without the rush.

Utilize online tools and maps specifically designed for RV travel in Iceland to outline your route. Pay attention to campsite locations, as you will need designated areas to park and stay overnight. Remember, wild camping in a motorhome is not permitted in Iceland.

Booking Campsites in Advance

During the high season, from May to September, campsites can fill up quickly. Booking your spots in advance ensures you have a secure place to stay each night. Many campsites in Iceland offer facilities such as electrical hookups, waste disposal, and even Wi-Fi, providing comfort and convenience for your motorhome experience.

Check the amenities and opening dates of campsites, as some may be seasonal. Also, consider campsites that are strategically located near major attractions or along the Ring Road for easy access to Iceland's natural beauty.

Check out our best campsites for RV rentals.

Flexibility in Your Plans

While having a plan is crucial, so is flexibility. Iceland's weather can be unpredictable, and you may find yourself needing to adjust your itinerary. Allow for spontaneous detours and changes based on weather conditions, road closures, or newfound interests. This flexibility can lead to unexpected discoveries and enrich your travel experience.

Safety and Preparedness

Ensure your motorhome is equipped with necessary safety equipment, including a first aid kit, spare tire, and emergency supplies. Familiarize yourself with the vehicle's features and how to operate them, especially if you're not accustomed to driving a motorhome.

Plan your driving times to avoid fatigue ? the vast landscapes can be deceiving in scale, and driving in Iceland can be tiring, particularly on gravel roads or in adverse weather conditions. Regular breaks will keep you refreshed and allow you to enjoy the stunning views safely.

By thoroughly planning your route and stops, while remaining adaptable to the unpredictable nature of Icelandic travel, you can ensure a fulfilling and memorable motorhome journey across this unique island.

Image of the inside of an RV
Interior of an RV available at Northbound

Packing for Your RV Trip

Packing for an RV trip in Iceland requires careful consideration to ensure you have everything you need for comfort, safety, and enjoyment. Here's how to prepare for your journey:

Essentials for Comfort and Convenience

  • Clothing: Iceland's weather is notoriously changeable, so pack layers that can be easily added or removed. Include waterproof and windproof jackets, thermal wear, warm hats, gloves, and sturdy walking boots.
  • Bedding: While some motorhomes come with bedding, check beforehand. You may need to bring sleeping bags, pillows, and extra blankets, especially for colder nights.
  • Kitchen Supplies: Most RVs come with a kitchenette. Pack essentials like pots, pans, utensils, dish soap, and basic condiments. Consider pre-planned meals to simplify cooking on the road.
  • Toiletries and Hygiene: Pack all personal hygiene products including towels, soap, shampoo, and toilet paper. Don't forget a first-aid kit with medications for common ailments.

Safety and Navigation

  • Maps and Guides: While digital navigation is useful, having physical maps can be a lifesaver in areas with no signal. Also, carry guidebooks for information on campsites and attractions.
  • Flashlights and Batteries: Essential for navigating around your campsite at night. Also, consider headlamps for hands-free convenience.
  • Emergency Kit: Include items like a fire extinguisher, warning triangles, a spare tire, and tools for basic repairs. Check if your rental comes with these, and know how to use them.
Image of an RV available for rent at Northbound
2024 Crosscamp Lux 600

For the Icelandic Environment

  • Water Containers: For storing and transporting drinking water. Some locations may have limited water facilities.
  • Waste Bags: Be prepared to carry out your trash, respecting Iceland's pristine environment.
  • Weather-Resistant Gear: Binoculars for birdwatching, waterproof bags for electronics, and thermal flasks for hot drinks can enhance your experience.
  • Sun Protection: Despite the cold, the sun can be strong, especially in summer. Bring sunglasses, sunblock, and lip balm with SPF.

Entertainment and Leisure

  • Books and Games: For entertainment during downtime. Consider travel journals or sketchbooks to document your journey.
  • Outdoor Gear: Depending on your activities, pack fishing gear, hiking poles, or bird guides. Remember, safety comes first, so inform yourself about the areas you plan to explore.

Food and Snacks

  • Non-Perishable Food: Stock up on items like pasta, rice, canned goods, and snacks that are easy to store and prepare.
  • Fresh Produce: Plan to buy locally where possible, keeping in mind storage space and refrigeration capabilities of your RV.

Remember, space is limited, so pack wisely. Prioritize multi-use items and consider the length of your trip and the activities you plan to undertake. By packing efficiently, you ensure a comfortable and enjoyable RV experience in Iceland.

Related Posts

Renting a Car in Iceland: Pain Points, Common Questions and Tips

Make the Most of Your Layover in Iceland

Rent a Tesla in Iceland: Camp Mode.

Safety and Emergency Preparedness

When embarking on an RV trip in Iceland, safety should be your top priority. The unique Icelandic conditions present specific challenges, so being well-prepared is essential. Here's what you need to consider:

Understanding Local Laws and Regulations

  • Driving Laws: Familiarize yourself with Icelandic traffic laws, including speed limits, alcohol consumption regulations, and requirements for driving in different conditions.
  • Wildlife and Livestock: Be aware of roaming livestock and wildlife. Slow down and give animals space to avoid accidents.

Preparing for Icelandic Weather

  • Weather Updates: Keep a close eye on the Icelandic weather forecast. Conditions can change rapidly, so staying informed helps you make safe travel decisions.
  • Appropriate Clothing: Pack and wear suitable clothing for cold, windy, or wet weather. Hypothermia can be a risk, even in summer, if you're not properly dressed.
Image of a person in Iceland standing in a very windy weather
High winds are common in Iceland

Navigational Tools

  • GPS and Maps: Ensure your RV is equipped with a reliable GPS system and carry updated physical maps as backups.
  • Itinerary Sharing: Share your travel itinerary with someone reliable. In case of an emergency, it's crucial that someone knows your planned route and schedule.

Check out our motorhome rental terms.

Emergency Supplies

  • First-Aid Kit: Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit accessible in your RV. Include items for treating minor injuries and any personal medications.
  • Emergency Contacts: Have a list of emergency contacts, including local emergency services, your RV rental agency, and the nearest embassy or consulate.
  • Survival Gear: Pack survival essentials such as extra food, water, blankets, a whistle, and a flashlight. In remote areas, help may take time to arrive.

Vehicle Safety Checks

  • Regular Inspections: Regularly check your RV's condition, including tires, brakes, lights, and battery. Before setting out, ensure everything is in working order.
  • Fuel and Spare Parts: Keep your fuel tank full and carry spare parts like tires, fuses, and bulbs. Knowing basic vehicle maintenance can be invaluable.

Related Posts

Planning Your RV Rental Trip in Iceland

Two Unforgettable 3-day Iceland Motorhome Rental Itineraries

Motorhome Rental in Iceland: The Ultimate 5-Day Itinerary

In Case of Emergencies

  • Stay Calm and Informed: In an emergency, stay calm and assess the situation. Use your emergency supplies as needed and seek help if necessary.
  • Communication Devices: Carry a charged mobile phone and a portable charger. Consider renting a satellite phone if you plan to travel in extremely remote areas.

By preparing for safety and emergencies, you can significantly reduce risks and ensure a more secure and enjoyable RV experience in Iceland. Remember, preparation is the key to dealing with unexpected situations effectively.

Enjoying Your RV Rental Experience in Iceland

Renting an RV in Iceland opens up a world of adventure and unparalleled natural beauty. To make the most of your journey, here are some tips to enhance your experience:

Embrace the Freedom and Flexibility

  • Spontaneous Exploration: One of the greatest advantages of RV travel is the freedom it offers. Don't be afraid to explore off the beaten path and discover hidden gems.
  • Flexible Itinerary: While it's good to have a plan, be flexible. Allow yourself the freedom to stay longer in places that captivate you or change your route based on local recommendations.

Connect with Nature and Culture

  • Outdoor Activities: Take advantage of Iceland's stunning landscapes by engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking, bird watching, or even a midnight sun walk.
  • Cultural Immersion: Visit local museums, cultural landmarks, and participate in community events to deepen your understanding of Icelandic culture and history.
Image of a waterfall in Iceland
Beautiful waterfall in Iceland

Sustainable Travel Practices

  • Respect the Environment: Follow the Leave No Trace principles. Dispose of waste properly, stay on marked paths, and respect wildlife and natural habitats.
  • Support Local: Whenever possible, shop local, eat at local restaurants, and choose eco-friendly activities to support the community and reduce your carbon footprint.

Socializing and Networking

  • Campsite Communities: Use campsites as an opportunity to meet fellow travelers and locals. Exchange stories, tips, and maybe even plan joint activities.
  • Social Media Groups: Join RVing in Iceland social media groups before your trip to get advice, meet up with fellow RVers, or share your experiences.

Comfort and Convenience in Your RV

  • Home Comforts: Personalize your RV space with small comforts from home. Bring your favorite snacks, a cozy blanket, or a playlist of your favorite music.
  • Practical Living: Keep your living space organized and clean. Regular maintenance will make your RV a comfortable and stress-free environment.

Capturing Memories

  • Photography and Journaling: Document your journey with photos and a travel journal. These will be invaluable keepsakes to look back on and share with others.
  • Sharing Your Experience: Consider starting a blog or vlog to share your adventures. This can be a great way to connect with others and offer valuable insights to future travelers.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your RV rental experience in Iceland is not just a trip, but a memorable journey. Embrace the unique opportunities that RV travel offers, and you'll leave Iceland with a heart full of memories and a deep connection to this extraordinary land.