Solo Travel in Iceland
Some people believe that solo travel is a right of passage. For others it is a daunting prospect and not something they would consider. For others still it is their travel style of choice and perfectly commonplace. Whatever your stance in this article we will explore the pros and cons along with travel tips and advice. So if you are considering solo travel in Iceland read on.
Why choose solo travel?
There are many different types of solo traveller. Packing a rucksack and heading out into the world in your twenties and thirties is all about self-discovery. Backpackers are often testing boundaries, learning self-reliance, resilience and gaining experience and independence through their adventures. As you grow older solo travel might be something that is harder won. In a world where responsibilities start to build up far fewer people are able to just take off. With work, family and financial commitments our time is far more tied up. Carving out a space to travel solo might bring a precious moment to reconnect and reassess. Iceland with its low population and immense beauty offers the perfect place to do just that.
All sorts of travellers visit Iceland but there is one thing that nearly all of them have in common. This is a sincere love of nature and a desire to experience the wild places of Iceland. If Iceland has long been on your bucket list then you should definitely consider a solo trip. Picture yourself hitting the open road and exploring the ring road on a road trip. Closing your eyes and luxuriating in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon or hiking across a glacier. Exploring Iceland on your own can tune you into these experiences on a deeper level. Without travelling companions you can give your full attention to where you are and choose exactly where to go next!
Would it be easy for me to travel Iceland by myself?
Iceland is the perfect destination for solo travel and especially so if you are new to it. It is one of the most peaceful and in some estimations friendliest countries in the world. With its low population there is a real sense of community across the whole country. People stop and talk easily and generally look out for each other. Perhaps partly because of the low population the crime rate in Iceland is extremely low. Visitors will almost always feel safe whether in the city or out in the countryside.
Another factor that makes a solo visit to Iceland so easy is the language. As long as you are speaking English then you will not have any issues with a language barrier. Almost the entire population of Icelanders speak English very well. Locals are usually more than happy to switch to English to include people in their conversations. Visitors can also ask for directions without any trouble and read menus without mishap. Iceland is very used to welcoming travellers of all types and you will find arranging tours and onward travel easy and smooth. Solo travellers will also be able to chat easily to locals and will feel far less isolated for it.
Another reassuring fact is that mobile and Wi-Fi coverage in Iceland is excellent. There are few places where you will be unable to get a signal even way out in the wilds. So if you do run into any difficulty when out exploring you can easily call for advice or help.
Solo Female Travel
Travelling in Iceland as a solo female traveller is very safe and easy. Iceland has a strong culture of gender equality. In some countries people may find it strange that a woman is travelling alone. Women might experience unwanted attention or perhaps cat calls in the street. This is very much not the case in Iceland and there is nothing unusual about a woman travelling alone here.
What is the best way to travel Iceland independently?
One of the best ways to travel independently in Iceland is to rent a car or hire a camper van. If you are booking into hotels as a solo traveller it is obviously going to be more expensive. Iceland is quite a pricey enough place to travel as it is. There are some good hostels dotted around the country where travellers can book dorm rooms. But by far the best way to travel Iceland on a budget is by rental campervan or motorhome. You will have both your travel and accommodation sorted and can be incredibly free in where and when you go.
If you are travelling alone then you will need to do all of the driving by yourself. But if you enjoy road trips and amazing scenery then this should not be a problem. What you can do to counter this is to take shorter drives. Perhaps not taking on the full Ring Road if you are limited on time and don’t feel like spending it all behind the wheel. You might choose instead to just drive the Golden Circle or stick to the South coast of Iceland.
Advice for solo hiking
If you do choose to travel solo then you will need to take full responsibility for your travel plans. This may sound obvious but you won’t necessarily have the back up of another person to lean on in tricky situations. This means that if you are heading out on a solo hike then you should be extra prepared. Make sure that you have a fully charged mobile phone and perhaps a spare battery pack. You could also inform your hotel or campground staff of your plans for the day.
If you are taking one of the longer multi-day hikes in Iceland then this is especially important. You can register your plans at safetravel.is so that search and rescue can be alerted if you fail to check in. If you are hiking in winter or during the shoulder season months then be extra vigilant on timings. You should always make sure that you have plenty of daylight hours to return to camp.
What if I get lonely?
One thing for sure in Iceland is that if you don’t want to be alone you don’t need to be. If you have ever travelled solo before you will know that when people are on vacation they are much more open to meeting people. You can easily strike up a conversation with people in a bar or café. Just say hello to your hostel roommate or campsite neighbour or invite them to share a meal or a drink.
Another really easy way to meet people on your trip is to join a guided tour. Joining a group for adventurous activities like glacier hiking or delving into an ice cave will help find like-minded travellers. There are innumerable group day tours you could join. From whale watching boat trips, to searching for the Northern Lights or hiking in a national park. Hot springs and thermal pools are also great places to strike up conversation. Icelandic people consider swimming and visiting hot springs an integral part of life. It is a way to unwind, stay healthy and to socialise. It may not be the obvious place to socialise but if you think about it everyone will certainly be relaxed!