5 reasons why you should visit Iceland with a 4X4 campervan this winterPublished: 9. March 2020
Even though most people visit Iceland during summer, there are actually many benefits of traveling during the off-season. Besides a personal, preference, it offers lower prices, fewer tourists, and the amazing northern lights. Check out the Happy Campers Winter Camping Guide for a deep-dive into that topic. But today, I want to bring up why I chose to rent a 4x4 camper for my winter photography tour in Iceland and why I think you should consider renting a 4x4, too.
1. The freedom of having a flexible itinerary
If you are a photographer like me and chase the light constantly, you know the importance of keeping your itinerary flexible and adjust it depending on the weather. Most of the campgrounds are first-come first-served with full amenities. So, you can roam Iceland with the wind, plan your nights as-you-go and even same some gaz money with less driving.
Having that flexibility is even more important during winter, when you should expect the unexpected. It's all well and good to have the perfect itinerary and the perfect plan, until the Icelandic weather punches you in the mouth. Or on a more positive note, until it presents unexpected gifts that you want to enjoy for longer. In a camper, you can quickly and easily adjust to road closures, avoid winter storms, and tour cancellations.
2. Watch the northern lights from your window
Even with the long nights of winter, the Northern lights can be shy. This is where staying in a camper comes handy to be sure not to miss them. You have a constant view of the sky and can keep on the lookout for any Aurora activity! If you choose to stay up all night chase them, you can come back to your cozy and warm van at any time, and wait for them to show up again!
Not only does the heater make it more enjoyable to experience the aurora, but having the WiFi, a fully stocked fridge, all of my warm clothes accessible, extra battery to charge my camera gear, and other features of the van like that become priceless.
3. Drive with a peace of mind
Driving in Iceland during winter time can be quite a challenge, especially if you are not used to drive in harsh and slippery conditions. Getting a 4X4 will definitely help you not get stuck and will hold better while driving on snow and ice.
It's also comforting to know, in case I would get stuck, that I have a heater operating from solar power and extra battery and a fridge full of food. So I know I would be safe and comfortable while waiting for help. Finally, Happy Campers has some great safety features that give me peace-of mind as well. They have a tracking system in their vans to see exactly where I'm located if needed. They have a SMS-system that warns me of any storms in the area, and their service is just more comprehensive and personal in general compared to the large, traditional car rentals.
4. Hang out with a view
Feel like cooking yourself dinner while watching the sunset? Possible. Or having breakfast watching the sunrise from the comfort on your van? Absolutely possible. Travelling in a van will allow you to make sure that you don’t miss a single opportunity to see Iceland’s beauty.
You will also see fewer tourists that ruin your shot and can enjoy those stunning, unique views in peace. This is a great benefit for an introvert like myself.
5. Explore lesser-known locations
There’s nothing better than going on an adventure and taking the roads less travelled to experience the true, raw and untouched Iceland. Travelling in a 4X4 campervan will give you the opportunity do that safely.
6. Save yourself a headache
My least favorite part of any trip are the hours spent researching, booking accommodations, and putting together a bulletproof plan and itinerary. Renting a campervan eliminates this headache for the most part. You don't have to plan your route and the start/end to each day because you can simply roll into the nearest campsite whenever you feel like it. The same goes with activities. Tours are rarely fully booked this time of year, so you can just book your trip with a short notice when it fits into your trip.
If you're traveling in 2021, you'll also get the Driver Guide with your rental, which is very convenient. You can basically use the Happy Campers app to create your own custom itinerary, or use on of theirs, and edit it on the fly when you're in the car. The tablet comes with the car and makes everything as easy as it could be.
Yes, 4x4 campers are actually not that cheap here in Iceland compared to other countries, but compared to other accommodation options, it’s actually pretty affordable. Considering that you’ll get a 30-40% discount on your 4x4 rental or even more during special promotions, you can get an amazing deal during winter.
So compared to renting hotel rooms and a regular 4x4 car, which aren’t that cheap either, and considering all the benefits of a campervan already mentioned, it becomes a no brainer in my mind. Other cheaper options, like hitch-hiking and tent-camping, are just not realistic during the winter months unless you are a serious and experienced arctic explorer.