Just the name of the country is enough to scare many travelers from other countries, because they envision roads covered in ice every month of the year and frigid temperatures that rival the arctic. Actually, for a country as far north as Iceland, the weather is much more moderate than you would believe. That is not to say that the country doesn’t see its fair share of snow in the winter. But even that should not be a deterrent.
It really is only the interior terrain which ‘can’ be a bit hazardous if you don’t work with a car rental Iceland company that will help you choose the vehicle best suited to your needs. In fact, Iceland car rental is no different than anywhere else on earth because no matter where you go, you will want a vehicle that gets you around safely and comfortably for your entire trip. Having said that, let’s look at the real mistakes to avoid when touring Iceland by car!
Being Unaware of Weather Warnings
This is a huge mistake no matter where you are visiting. For example, can you imagine having rented a car in Louisiana and trying to drive through the city when Katrina was about to hit (or just thereafter)? Of course, the police would have probably stopped you or the traffic jams may have been so intense that you’d have gotten out to walk, but you get the idea. With high wind warnings, especially in the ‘tunnels’ between mountains, you will probably not want to be out on the roads in a high-profile vehicle. Believe it or not, many SUVs fit that description! Rent a car Iceland roadworthy at the airport from experts like Reykjavik Cars, be mindful of the weather warnings, and you should do just fine. Reykjavik Cars can even arrange to have your car waiting for you at the airport when you book in advance, so there is no need to waste time booking one when you arrive.
Not Pulling Off the Road for Photographs
While Iceland is a very small country and the roads look as though they may not see copious amounts of travel, you had better think again. There have been many fatal accidents wherein tourists stopped to admire or shoot a photo of the lovely landscape when a fast-moving vehicle appeared from seemingly nowhere, hitting the stopped vehicle with lethal force. Also, bear in mind that Icelanders take manners very seriously and this is just not something that shows a great concern for others. Be respectful at all times when travelling the roads of Iceland and you will have a pleasant journey.
Not Minding Your Manners
As mentioned above, manners are very important in Iceland. They take these kinds of offenses very seriously and this means using common courtesy in traffic. When travelling the roads in Iceland, always allow the right-of-way where it’s called for. You may be accustomed to driving in major cities like Sydney Australia or Seattle Washington, but bear in mind that the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, only has 120,000 residents, so it is really small in comparison to most cities on earth. Remember, be mannerly and you will not experience irate drivers.
Littering the Roadways
This is going to be one of the biggest social mistakes you can make as well as a mistake when touring Iceland by car. From the first moment you step on Icelandic soil, you will notice how clean everything is around you. They take great stock in the environment from the water they drink to the absence of litter on sidewalks (where there are sidewalks!) and roadways. You won’t see litter scattered about their roadways like you may in other European countries and elsewhere in the world. Not only can you be slapped with a hefty fine, but you will be slapping the locals in the face, figuratively to the point where they ‘feel’ the impact! Their land is special to them, so let’s keep it so.
Remember – You Can’t Build Rome in a Day
Finally, this is a cliché that should be remembered when visiting Iceland. It is a beautiful country and there is so much to see and do that you will want to get it all in. Because it’s such a small country geographically, visitors believe they can tour several daytrips from Reykjavik in a single day. When they overstay their ‘allotted’ time at one location, it makes them hurry to the next and in traffic, that can be a lethal combination. It really is better (and safer!) to see less so that you have time to enjoy and get the full impact of what you are seeing. Hurrying about makes for a stressful holiday and can lead to serious incidents on the roads.
Take your time, enjoy all the lovely landscapes and villages throughout Iceland, and you will have a safe and happy trip to remember. While many of these ‘things to avoid’ are the same anywhere you go, they are of vital importance in Iceland simply because of the terrain and culture. Keep these tips in mind and enjoy your road trip through Iceland.