Planning a Trip To Iceland

Planning a Trip To Iceland

July 08, 2019 , BoostCommerce Collaborator

By Tim Monaghan

As a landscape photographer I love photographing locations close to me.  I’m lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places in the UK, Dorset, but its great to step outside of that and explore other amazing locations around the world.  One of my favourite places to visit is Iceland.  This beautiful country has so much to offer us photographers all year round. 

In the winter months you have the beautiful landscape covered in a carpet of snow, the stunning ice caves and who can forget the aurora borealis.  The summer is just as beautiful, with vast vistas covered with lupin, puffins and the long days where golden hour lasts for hours and hours. 

Therefore, I am returning for my 3rd visit in June with friend, photographer and vlogger Ben Kapur.

Here is a quick guide on the locations we’ll be visiting in Iceland, what we are packing for our trip and some handy tips if you’re thinking about making the trip yourself. 


Let’s get something straight, Iceland IS expensive so unless you have an unlimited budget, you have to be clever with your planning.  

First of all, flights. You can pick up a flight to Iceland for as little as £30.00 (one way).  The total costs of my return flights to Iceland in June is £72.  You heard me correctly…. £72!!  It’s actually going to cost us more to park my car at Luton airport, than it is to get to Iceland.  Crazy. 

Make it easier for yourself and try and find an Air BnB.  You can find accommodation that is so reasonably priced it’s ridiculous.  I found a beautiful cabin over Christmas that cost me just over £500 for the week.  For this trip however, I have booked a camper van to make things a little easier for travel and staying near our locations.

Food! Now this is what will cost you the money.  Or will it?  If you eat out at a restaurant you will easily spend a couple of hundred pounds per couple.  Iceland is basically one gigantic volcanic rock and growing crops is pretty much impossible, especially during the winter.  You will notice giant greenhouses littered around the country where they grow plants under artificial lights.  With that in mind, perishable food is at a premium, however, non-perishable items pretty much cost the same as you would find in the UK.  So be sensible. Go to a local supermarket like Bonus and stock up on food as you will save an absolute fortune. 

Route planning and locations

Before making the trip plan where you want to go and where you want to photograph.  Planning and preparation are the most important things you can do before heading out on any photography trip, let alone one to a location that you’re unfamiliar with.  Do some research.  In the age of the internet, you have so much information at your disposal. Use it. 

Use Instagram, Flickr and 500px to research locations.  Take inspiration from pictures you have seen from that location and get your creative juices flowing.  You can get a real feel for a location and the sort of image you want to capture when you get there.  On top of that use apps such as Photo Pills and TPE to work out where the sun will be at any given point of the day.  We all know that light makes all the difference, so plan for where it will be. 

Once you have got your locations, you can plan your route.  I find using Google Maps or a website call “Road Trippers” are perfect.  You can plan how quickly it will take to drive between locations and you can plan your timings around this. 

One important thing to note is supermarkets and petrol stations.  The further you travel away from the capital, Reykjavik, the sparser the petrol stations get.  My advice would be, locate petrol stations and make sure you have enough in the tank to get you from A to B.  Sounds simple, but its not like the UK where you have a petrol station on every corner.  So prepare each journey with that in mind.

Travelling around Iceland is relatively simple.  There is one major road that circles around the whole of the island which is Iceland’s version of the M25, but with 99.9% less traffic.  Most of the “honeypot” locations are located just off of this road.  Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule.

Crashed DC3

Wild camping / Camping

If you are hiring a van or camping, please bear in mind a total misconception that people have about Iceland.  It is illegal to wild camp or sleep overnight in a van or tent if you are on private land, unless you get permission from the landowner.  Bearing in mind that almost all of Iceland is privately owned, it is more than likely that you will have to retire to a local campsite each evening.

Unfortunately, tourists in the past (and present) have given us respectful tourists a bit of a bad name - leaving litter, being disrespectful and fouling on the land. So, in November 2015 a bill was past to make wild camping illegal.

You are also not permitted to camp outside of designated areas within any of Iceland’s three National Parks: Þingvellir National ParkVatnajökull National Park and Snæfellsjökull National Park

To reiterate, if you are in a camper van, caravan, tent trailer or something similar, including a 4x4 vehicle with a tent on the roof, you must retire each night to a campsite, no matter where you are in the country.

Luckily however, camps sites are really reasonably priced, around £10 per person, which sometimes incorporates the use of shower blocks and access to commodities such as WiFi.  When you bear in mind some of the locations of these camp sites, this is a bargain and you will be awaking up to some of the best views in the world.  In most cases, you will not need to book in advance.

My Itinerary and Locations

This seven day trip will be focused on the exploring and photographing the South Coast of Iceland.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 – Wednesday 19th June 2019

Day 8

  • Travel back towards Reykjavik (various stops)

Day 9

  • Fly Back

Gear / Equipment

When travelling it is important that you check luggage allowance and what items you can carry on to the aircraft as many airlines have different rules on dimensions or weights.  You can check this on the airlines guides, which will more than likely be on there website. 

Lucky, both Ben and I have the Vanguard Alta Sky 45D Backpack which sits inside airline carry on regulations.  This bag is a godsend when it comes to travelling abroad with all of you photography equipment.  This is the smaller version of the award winning Vanguard Alta Sky 51D, which is literally the best bag I have ever owned. 

The Alta Sky 45D is perfect for travelling abroad.  With its spacious interior and padded material, not only can I fit everything I need into this bag, I also know its going to be safe.  All this without the worry of “will it even be allowed on as hand luggage”. Perfect.  Believe me, my bag has taken a battering in the past and it still looks like new.


So, what will we be fitting into this bag and taking with us to Iceland?

My Photography Equipment:

Ben’s Photography Equipment (also using the Vanguard Alta 45d Bag):

If you’re interested in seeing the updates and pictures from our trip to Iceland, we’ll share a follow up Blog here, or you can follow us live on Instagram here:

 About the author

Tim Monaghan is a Dorset based photographer who has a passion for Landscape and Adventure photography. 
Tim has travelled the world photographing and experiencing new cultures.  Being outdoors and among the mountains is where he is happiest. 

Along with his Vanguard gear, Tim is a Nikon D810 user and loves his 16-35mm wide angle lens.  

"Being a Landscape photographer it is vital that I have sturdy and reliable equipment.  This is why I use Vanguard as my go-to tripods and bags. When you are halfway up a mountain the last thing you want to worry about is your equipment failing or not being up to the job.  With Vanguard, that worry no longer exist and can solely focus on my creativity"







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