We don’t typically write long reviews like this one but our Cozy Campers experience was just too awesome and unique to not talk about in-depth!
Link: Cozy Campers
After years of dreaming of visiting Iceland, we finally made it happen! We stayed in the beautiful country for 8 days, and with all that time we knew we wanted to experience as much as we could.
But for months leading up to the trip, we just couldn’t decide how we wanted to make the most out of Iceland. Would we join a tour group to see all the hot spots by bus, or rent a car and stay at hotels around the island? If we’re being honest, we hate the idea of traveling on someone else’s itinerary, and it seemed like all the hotels we looked at cost an arm and a leg.
So, if we were to experience Iceland without being cooped up on a bus and without feeling like we had to penny-pinch on everything just to afford accommodations, we knew we had to…
Rent a camper van!
We knew a camper van would be the best way for us to experience the country fully. After all, we do love us some road trips and the idea of #vanlife, and we certainly aren’t afraid of getting cozy. 😉 That’s why when we were invited to try out a Cozy Campers camper van for our tour of Iceland via the Ring Road, we were ECSTATIC!
Our whole experience with the company – from picking up the van the day we arrived to dropping it off on our last day in Iceland – was just phenomenal.
The Cozy Campers camper van
The camper van we rented was one of their brand new 2017 Cozy 4 x 4‘s. The four-wheel drive, diesel Volkswagen T6 Extreme would have been perfect if Iceland’s F- roads were open when we visited in May. It’s okay, though, we settled for its automatic transmission (yes, we’re American 😀 ).
The van was fully equipped with bedding for two, cookware, a small refrigerator, running sink, a heater for nighttime use, blackout curtains to block the midnight sunlight, and even a giant
sun northern lights roof. We also got some extras like a 4G WiFi hotspot device*, a GPS, an inverter for charging electronics through the cigarette lighter*, the Cozy Start Pack (a table and two chairs), and a BBQ grill.
The van’s interior was custom designed and built by the owner of Cozy Campers himself. It was very well-thought out and almost every nook and cranny could store things. The sofa-bed was especially delightful (surprisingly comfortable), as was the unique LED mood lighting.
Throughout our 8 days living in the van, Kyle and I were super impressed at the quality and luxuriousness of it. We were actually quite surprised with how spacious and high-quality the van was compared to some of the smaller, outdated Icelandic camper vans we saw driving around. It was obvious that most of those other camper vans were just big enough to sleep in, so when the weather was less than ideal we were especially grateful to be able to stay warm and dry while cooking our meals.
Check out our 360-degree video tour of the van:
Cooking inside the van
Speaking of cooking, most of our 8 days worth of meals were indeed made right there inside the van. They weren’t extravagant meals per se – most of them were one-pot meals/soups/stews – but they got us by. (I like to think I’m a good enough cook to make anything taste good 😛 )
By default, Cozy Campers vans come with dinner plates, snack plates, bowls, and silverware for two people, as well as a cutting board, can opener, basic cooking utensils, a pot, pan, tea kettle, coffee press, and a single burner gas stove. These were all sufficient for the meals we made. However, there was one day when the weather was good enough that we were excited to pull out the grill (an extra cost) and grill up some of Iceland’s famous marinated lamb (oh my!). Also worth noting, to keep things sanitary, almost all our meals were vegetarian or vegan, with the exception of the lamb.
I’ll admit, washing the dishes was a bit tricky. The van’s sink wasn’t very big, and we quickly discovered that we would get water everywhere if we tried to wash the plates, so we ended up using the bowls for almost every meal. We found it very helpful to wipe our dishes clean with paper towels immediately after we were done eating, and to mix dish soap (provided) and self-boiled hot water in the sink in order to properly wash the dishes…one by one. Since it wasn’t an efficient process, we spent a lot of time washing dishes. Like, a lot. Luckily, time was on our side and we wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice our wallet or health on expensive restaurant/gas station food for 8 whole days, anyway. There were a few times, though, that the thought of washing dishes was enough to send us searching for the nearest gas station for pizza and hot dogs.
Downtime in the van
Not that we had a lot of downtime (we only had 8 days to explore a whole country, mind you), but when we needed a break, Kyle and I got cozy in the back and worked or watched movies. These were the times when the inverter and WiFi hotspot device (both an extra cost) and heater were super handy.
Our tips for staying in a Cozy Campers camper van
- Get the Premium Insurance Package that Cozy Campers offers. With the extreme weather in Iceland, you’re better safe than sorry by getting extra coverage on the van.
- Add an extra driver…because the Ring Road takes at least 18 hours. Enough said.
- Go to the bathroom every time you stop. Just do it. 😉
- Don’t worry about living in the van. No one really cares. Hell, they might not even realize you’re doing that. Before this trip, we had this preconceived notion that we would have to be stealthy. Maybe it’s just because we were in Iceland – where I swear camper vans make up like 60% of the vehicles on the Ring Road – but we didn’t once feel like we were being watched or pressured to leave.
- Find campgrounds to stay at…if you want. If anything, stay at them if you fancy hot showers. 🙂 But otherwise, it’s easier than you might think to find little hidden spots to park overnight for free!
- When the weather gets tough, tough it out…but do make an effort to find a parking spot that is sheltered from the wind. Also, park at a slight angle with the head of the van facing into the wind. This will help minimize rocking.
- Make cleaning a frequent part of your routine. We would unavoidably track in dirt and tiny rocks anytime we got into the back of the van, so it was imperative that we use the hand brush (provided) at least twice per day. Otherwise, the experience would have easily gone from “glamping” to camping!
- Make use of all the hidden space to store things. There were lots of nooks and crannies to hide our things in which helped keep the van open and spacious.
- Don’t bring a ton of stuff to begin with! We only had 4 carry-on size bags and even that almost seemed like too much to have in the camper van.
- Dish washing: wipe your dishes clean with paper towels immediately after you’re done eating. Also, mix dish soap into hot water (which you must boil yourself) in the sink so you can properly wash the dishes.
- Wipe down the windows every morning. Hot bodies + cold climate = condensation. Another good use for that four-pack of paper towels you get from Bonus. 😉
- Plan to refill your water tank every day. Water is freely available at gas stations and camp grounds.
- Be prepared to get a little too close for comfort to your travel partner. Kyle and I once started building a tiny house on wheels (but never finished the project…long story) so we’ve been fascinated with living tiny for a long time. However, I think it’s safe to say that a van might be a little too tiny for us. We have actually enjoyed being with each other 24/7 for the past 9 months, but there were a few moments during our Iceland trip where we both wished we could just go sit in another room for a minute.
- Think everything through before taking action. For example, during cooking I would need to make sure I got everything I needed out of the cupboard before I started cooking. This was because everything would eventually sit on top of the cupboard door. We had one too many flavorless meals before I learned that lesson! :/
- Just appreciate the processes/routines involved in van life (or at least accept them). As mentioned earlier, the process of washing dishes wasn’t efficient, but it gave the dish-washer a lot of time to meditate (lol!). Or, when bedtime came around, moving all our luggage into the front of the van was just something that had to be done if we wanted to sleep.
How much we spent staying in a camper van
In addition to the variable costs of renting the camper van, here are the totals we spent per category in 8 days:
- Food – ~$260 USD ($200 of which was spent at grocery stores)
- Gas – $357 USD
- Campgrounds – $98 USD (3 nights)
- Parking/tunnel fees – $14 USD
Compared to renting a car + staying in $300/night hotels + eating at restaurants for every meal, I like to imagine that we saved quite a few dollars going the camper van route.
But a camper van experience shouldn’t just be about saving money. It should also be because you want to have fun. We just loved everything about it – the freedom to explore the beautiful country at our own pace, the ability to stop literally anywhere to have lunch or dinner, saving money by combining the costs of a rental car and hotel rooms into one, and the ability to stay healthy by cooking all our own meals.
Now that our trip is over, we are absolutely certain that everyone should travel Iceland in a camper van! So cheers to Cozy Campers for allowing us this unforgettable experience!
Questions about the van? Ask away in the comments section 🙂
Would you do a camper van for a week in Iceland?
Many thanks to Cozy Campers for partnering with us in exchange for exposure to our online audience. We should note that without the partnership, we would have chosen to do a camper van rental, anyway.
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