Our trip was a few weeks away. I remember thinking about how happy I was with our cheap tickets. Round trip was only $240 pp! It was probably one of the cheapest international flights from the U.S. I have ever purchased at full price in my life.
Suddenly, I look towards my left monitor (where I have the news) and notice a headline stating: Wow Air ceases operations… I did a double take and read the article. I couldn’t believe it. The airline, with no warning, creased all operations and left so many people stranded. Wow air publicized the following notice:
TL;DR Pray that your credit card company can refund you and beg other airlines for discounted tickets to help you if you are stranded.
The crazy part was when the notice came out, you could still buy tickets from their website! The abruptness of the bankruptcy was absurd. Pro Tip: Always have at least $500 pp in your budget as emergency money. I’m usually very good at managing risks while traveling but I promise you, possible bankruptcy of an airline was not a risk I had in mind.
“There goes my cheap airfare!” I said very annoyed. Like everyone else with a ticket, I called my credit card company who easily refunded it (I’m not sure, but I think credit card companies hold on to the money until around the day of the flight). On the bright side, at least we weren’t like the thousands of people literally stranded at their destination or home airports.
My problem now was I had to buy new tickets, possibly rebook the Airbnb, and make sure we could travel within the allowed date range of Yagmur’s 4 day, Schengen visa. It’s a pain to have limited options when you are trying to travel on a budget.
“Done” I told myself when I booked our new flights. Given the limited date range her visa was valid for and wanting to fly out Thursday night and back Sunday afternoon, I had very few options to choose from which made the decision easy. We rebooked for a weekend in May and changed our Airbnb booking as well. Unfortunately, the round trip ticket more than doubled to $581 pp 🙁
The Blue Lagoon
There are buses that take you from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, and later to Reykjavik. Fair warning, Iceland is very expensive. Round trip tickets to Reykjavik and the airport (with the Blue Lagoon in between) was 45 USD pp.
The Blue Lagoon is very touristy but if you get there right when it opens, it’s perfect.
It’s pretty pricy to enter at 98 USD pp! That price includes entrance and one drink at the bar. They have different packages which can get more expensive if you want to include massages or other amenities.
I’m not sure about you guys but floating around hot water with cold wind hitting your face and a drink in your hand is hard to beat.
The Blue Lagoon is pretty big. I’ll emphasize it again, best to get there when it opens (or any touristy place for that matter).
Similar to the Scandinavian countries, Iceland is super expensive. Our first stop in Reykjavik was a restaurant called Icelandic Street Food where you can get unlimited lamb stew for the price of one. Being one of the cheapest places with only one $ on Google Maps, it still came down to about 30 USD for the both of us!
Reykjavik is a small city. You can explore everywhere on foot in one day.
For you to get a better idea on food prices, here is our check for when we went to a restaurant called Old Iceland. We ordered 2 starters: Meat Soup and their Fresh Salad, 1 main dish in two plates: Fillet of lamb, and 1 beer: Einstok which came out to 84.60 USD!
The Golden Circle
I highly recommend anyone going to Iceland to rent a car. That way, you can set your own itinerary and explore a lot more. If you don’t, I recommend booking directly with Gray Line for all tours/long distance buses (including the Blue Lagoon).
We didn’t rent a car so we booked a one day tour for the Golden Circle which takes you to 3 main locations: (1) Thingvellir National Park (where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet), (2) Gullfoss Waterfall, and the (3) Haukadalur Geothermal Fields.
(1) Thingvellir National Park
(2) Gullfoss Waterfall
(3) Haukadalur Geothermal Fields
We had a great weekend in Iceland. Although expensive, there are a lot of beautiful places to see and visit. 🙂
Total Costs: $2,022 (SRB: $961; YA: $1,061)
Wow Air filing for bankruptcy really impacted our budget this trip. Forcing us to purchase last minute airfare, our tickets increased by 341 USD (+142%) from 240 USD to 581 USD pp. Our Airbnb also increased by 13 USD pp due to the date change. Not to mention that Iceland is an expensive country for most foreigners, it’s tricky to keep things cheap.
Her Budget (60.32% LTD)
The only difference between our expenses was Yagmur’s Schengen visa cost (100 USD). We saved money by renting just a room for our Airbnb which came out to 32 USD pp (private room totaling 64 USD a night).
Food is very expensive in Iceland. You can easily spend 40 USD on an average meal with a drink. We did buy some groceries and cooked a little in the Airbnb to save some money.
Overall, it was definitely an expensive weekend driven by the last minute bankruptcy and high costs in Iceland. Her budget sharply rose by 7.07% landing her at 60.32% LTD.
Our Progress (73.33%)
“Welcome to Europe” said the customs agent in Iceland as she stamped Yagmur’s visa. “Thanks for letting us in…” I replied looking at Yagmur’s 4 day Schengen visa. 4 days is better than no days!
Iceland can be just a little bit chilly 😉
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