Iceland camper van road trip tips

What to bring, and what not to pack:

Definitely bring the following:

  •  old or cheap beach towels for the pools, hot springs, and hot pots (we just ditched these before returning home to save space in our luggage)
  • rain jackets AND rain pants for everyone
  • two pairs of shoes: one WATERPROOF pair for hiking plus one pair for light hiking/pools (we opted for Keens and Chacos for the second pair)
  • wool socks
  • soccer ball if you play!
  • wool hat or beanie
  • gloves (yes, even in July)
  • hiking pants (we loved Craghoppers and LL Bean)
  • long-sleeved shirts (think layers…lots of layers)
  • plenty of portable chargers (we love our Brunton Revolt)
  • a converter that you can plug USB cords into (we use Eagle Creek‘s)
  • WiFi hot spot (we love GlocalMe, or you can rent one from Kuku)
  • day packs for everyone (into these go rain wear, extra layer, water bottle, swimsuit, and towel each day)
  • swimsuit
  • puffy jacket for everyone (or any insulated jacket)
  • sleeping bags (yes we managed to pack four sleeping bags and still be carry-on only…it’s possible)
  •  shampoo, soap, and all your usual toiletries
  • water bottle for each person: Icelandic water is all potable and tastes great

iceland tips

Day packs, rain gear, and waterproof shoes needed!

What you don’t need to bring:

  • hair dryer (I’m mad I lugged mine there and back…every shower had some to use)
  • kitchen/camping items (our Kuku camper had everything we needed to cook meals, including can opener, knives, serving utensils, pots and pans, cutting board, dish soap, etc.)
  • many shorts or t-shirts (sadly)
  • anything resembling formal or even business attire
  • many devices you’ll need to charge: it was hard to keep four phones and one laptop charged…I left Apple watches and Kindles at home!
  • any currency except credit cards (I never needed to change any money). That said, make sure your credit cards have a PIN and you know what it is.
  • fuel for your camping stove (you can’t bring it on the plane, and you can buy it from Kuku)

Extras worth the upgrade at Kuku:

Originally, we planned to turn our camper in and get a hotel the night before our departure. Then I realized a hotel near the airport would cost over $350 and a transfer from the Kuku Camper facility (halfway between KEF and Reykjavik) would cost over $60 for four people by taxi. Instead I used Kuku’s option of dropping off our van AT the airport, for a fee. We got one last night of camping, which gave us more time on the road beforehand, and didn’t have to pay for the bus or a taxi to the airport.

iceland

Rain gear needed almost every day!

We also opted for the option of an airport pick-up at the start of our trip. Again, we felt this was worth the cost (of about $60 total). Kuku met us at the airport (though they were a few minutes late, making it necessary for me to call their office to be assured they were on their way), and drove us to the facility to get our van. The cost was about the same as a taxi, and a little more than the bus (though the directions for walking to the facility from the bus station were a bit daunting).

Our Kuku service experience:

Overall, we had a good experience with Kuku. We did have the aforementioned delay at the airport, but once we were picked up, we were walked through how to use our van very efficiently. There are waivers to sign, of course, and they do try to sell a lot of extra insurance (I was advised by others to upgrade to gravel insurance, which was $10/day, and I felt this was worth it, as we drove a lot of gravel roads). We bought the Camping Card from Kuku when we picked up the van, as well as a disposable BBQ, which we used a lot. We declined extra insurance, as well as other extras like camping chairs, camping table, sleeping bags, and extra tent. We never regretted passing on these.

Kuku promises quick assistance should anything go wrong with the van on the road (though you are required to change a tire on your own). Thankfully, we never had an issue. We did have one hiccup, which I want to mention because of the good way Kuku handled the situation: as mentioned, we paid $172 for the Camping Card at Kuku. They gave us the booklet of campgrounds, but neglected to give us the actual card. I didn’t notice this until we were two hours’ drive away at our first campground. I called Kuku and they came up with a solution quickly: I’d buy a second card at the campground (they are available at most), and Kuku would reimburse me the amount on my credit card. I did as they requested, and saw the refund on my card within 12 hours. I was happy with the quick customer service (and the fact that they promptly answer their phone in person).

kuku camper

Our top five favorite Icelandic campgrounds:

As noted above, all campgrounds (called campsites, actually) have their perks, but our favorites combined desired amenities with natural beauty (and in one case, its own hot pot). You can find all of these in the camping card booklet:

Laugar: This campground has it all: a lovely public pool onsite, a small hotel and restaurant if you want to splurge, beautiful hiking trails, and best of all, a natural hot pot with quaint changing hut. It’s located on the west side of Iceland at the gateway to the Westfjords.

Alfaskeid: Hopefully I don’t ruin it by recommending it, but we had Alfaskeid all to ourselves. This campground in the south is down a dirt road and is short on amenities (just a hut with bathrooms and sink), but is spectacularly isolated. You’re surrounded by rolling hills.

Kleifar-Mork: This campground is just outside Kirkjubaejarklaustur in the south of the island, and has its own waterfall. The village is in walking distance, which features a waterfall hike to a lake and one of our favorite public pools.

For more on Iceland trip planning, see our posts on Icelandic national parks and Icelandic hot springs and geothermal pools.

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About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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