Monday, January 06, 2014

Doing the Math

Helgafell, October, 2012

While some may consider it gauche to discuss money in a blog-post, when describing travel plans sooner or later a monetary reckoning must be made. The Weaver and I had discussed a trip to Iceland in the coming summer. We could afford it and our hearts both said “Go for it!” Still, before I reserved lodging and transportation (how easy it is to make that simple “click”!) I made a breakdown of estimated expenses. In my previous solo visits, I had certain economic advantages: minimal lodging, no vehicle, flexible plans and shoulder-season rates.  This trip would be full fares for two, with a car and a bigger lodging and meals allowance.

The tentative trip was to be from July 11th through July 22nd, non-stop flights, MSP to KEF and returns. I had found a magnificent summer cottage for let that was situated about 40 minutes outside of Reykjavík. We would stay there for seven nights, followed up with three nights in a studio apartment in Reykjavík. The cottage would be great as a base for touring the countryside while the apartment would allow us several days to do the town.

   Here's the breakdown:

   Airfare (including fees)................$2300 ($1400 if I used my credit card miles)
   Car Rental (including est. gas)....$1500
   Cottage rental..............................$1180
   Apartment   rental.......................$720
   Food (est.)....................................$1200
   Misc (est.).....................................$500

   Total..............................................$7400 ($6500 using cc miles)

   Ouch. The killer is the car rental. Airfare is also quite a bit higher in the peak season, but lodging is actually pretty reasonable—actually a little less than other "destinations" not nearly as exotic. Food is high, similar to Hawaii for an example, but that is to be expected, the estimate includes a couple of “nice” restaurant meals.

We could shave off $300 if we didn’t have a car in Reykjavík, If I used my credit card miles, and if we didn't stay the extra nights in Reykjavík. We could probably get the cost under $5000 (but what fun would that be?) In contrast, my solo trips (off-season, with credit card miles) have been around $2000 for a similar length trip.

One other option would be to go with another couple, it would cut lodging and car expenses almost in half—any takers?

We decided to pass on it this year but next year, barring unforeseen circumstances, looks like it will be a go.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Pearl said...

Ai yi yi! That is an expensive trip!

Of course, after a winter like this, one can be excused for indulging...

Greetings from Minneapolis!


Blogger Professor Batty said...

Hi Pearl, thanks for stopping in! I spend a lot of time in "Nordeast", the true arts capital of Minneapolis. I'm living in Anoka now, but lived in Minneapolis for over thirty years.

It is easy to "bleep over" the true, unavoidable costs of a trip, but making a list like this really brings it all into focus. It is possible to do Iceland on the cheap (they have excellent hostels) but I've found that sometimes a little luxury is worth it. And Iceland is so worth it!

Anonymous I'd Rather Be In Iceland said...

What about going in May or September? Probably a lot cheaper and weather not necessarily great in July anyway.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

This is going to be the "Midnight Sun" vacation. It is much cheaper then, and the weather is pretty fickle any time of year, I've had good weather in October but not so much sunshine...

Blogger Jono said...

I'd have to opt for the low budget version. The end of May would give you plenty of light with off-season rates. I'll probably go with my brother next year as the Cooker doesn't fly.

Blogger Mary said...

If I can convince the "Coder" , I would like to go to Iceland in the summer and drive all around on the Ring Road. Probably not this year, maybe next. I see a lot of my friends who are my age running into physical problems that prevent them from traveling so I am becoming more willing to blow our savings. Our kids will take care of us in old age, right?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Mary ~ I know exactly what you are talking about, time is tight.

Anonymous Car Rental Iceland said...

Thank you for a very informative article. It's true, Iceland is expensive but there are ways to visit without going bankrupt. For example I advice everyone to stay away from the hotels in downtown Reykjavik. If you are feeling very adventerous I reccommend CouchSurfer :)

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