We all hear and say that company makes or breaks any experience, no matter what you are planning to do. It can be as fancy as staying in a luxury hotel and or something as simple as just hanging out at home with a couple of beers and chicken wings; long story short, the good company makes everything several times good and more enjoyable. Needless to say, something like a trip to Iceland is going to be several times more fun when you are on it with your favorite people in the whole big wide world. There are more experiences, more reactions, more impressions, more connections, and hence more stories to share about your travel.
So, in simple terms, group travel is all about experiencing new and exciting places in the company of each other especially if the concerned place is Iceland. To top of the advantages, our group travel guides can help you get quite attractive discounts and offers that are just too good to resist. Better yet, customizations are easier, private tours do not have to be as expensive as they usually are and you will cover all destinations with your own people.
Planning a Group Trip to Iceland
All good things aside, planning a group trip can be a lot different than planning a normal 2-person or 3-person trip to a new and budding tourist place like Iceland where destinations and options almost always outnumber the number of days tourists have on their hands to spare for the vacation. Moreover, if you will have to take everyone’s feelings into consideration and plan a tour that everyone enjoys. It is very much possible that one person from your group wants to spend more time hiking glaciers and conquering the highlands, the second one wants to spend a little more time soaking the hot springs while the rest of the party just wants to go camping or see the northern lights. On top of that, if there are children in the group, special care needs to be taken when activities like lava cave tours and hiking as very young kids can not join them.
Iceland and Group Travels
Good thing is that Iceland has numerous tours and trip options along with group-friendly accommodation options, eateries, and whatnot. Not to mention, even when you are traveling solo or with one other person, the tours you join are always group tours meaning you will have some other tourist in your group leaving for the hike or lava cave. Although, any trip becomes extra fun when you mingle with fellow tourists if you are a little skeptical about being surrounded by friendly strangers during every single tour that you take then the group is going to be your savior on all these trips. Following are some of the things that you will need to plan for in advance when traveling to Iceland.
Choosing A Mode of Transport
There are three different ways one can commute in Iceland when traveling with a group – Public transportation, self-driving, and guided tours. All three of these modes have many advantages of their own and some limitations as well. Let’s know them from a bit closer.
Public Transport in Iceland
There are 4-5 basic ways one can travel via public transport in Iceland – Strætó Bus System, shuttles, taxies, bikes, and boats. Strætó bus system is the public bus system of Iceland owned by a company named Strætó BS which run the service in partnership with municipalities of various cities. The buses run throughout the week with night buses running on weekends only. Generally, the buses run till midnight on weekdays. Public buses cover most of the capital area, and have a few rides to the countryside each day as well. However, they usually only stop at the cities and villages around the countryside so you won’t be able to stop at all the beautiful attractions that will be on your way.
Shuttle service is another way you get around the capital city. They leave from the airport and travel to most accommodation spots to drop tourists off. Shuttles are a good option to go with if you do not want to spend a fortune on cabs and taxies. The shuttle services are great when going from the airport to Reykjavik, or from Reykjavik to the airport. Bookings can be made online but there is a fair chance that shuttles may be fully booked so be proactive, especially when booking for a group.
Taxies are pretty common in the capital city but a lot less common in remote areas and settlements. Don’t expect to find a taxi easily in any other towns than Reykjavik and Akureyri. You will almost always find a taxi available in these cities except for on occasions like New Year’s Eve and Christmas when almost the whole country is out partying in clubs. Most taxi drivers speak English which makes it quite easy to travel around.
The most versatile way to get around in the country, self-driving gives you a great sense of freedom. You can easily rent a vehicle that suits your requirements the best and gets set on your journey. Most renting agencies have 2×2 vehicles, 4×4 vehicles, luxury SUVs, and even camper vans. Normal, sturdy SUVs are a good option to go with for a group of 4-5 people as they can travel most of the terrains and would also let you all sit comfortably. You can often find cars that take up to 9 people, so there is a lot to choose from when renting a car for your group. Know that Iceland has 3 kinds of roads – paved, adventurous roads or F-roads, and Local access H-roads. Paved and local access roads can be traveled on in 2×2 vehicles but F-roads require a 4×4 vehicle as it is neither permitted nor safe to travel on them via 2×2 vehicles. The best vehicles for a group should be from the range of larger cars and 4×4 SUVs.
Note that it can be ideal to rent more than one car for your group. This would be good if your group wants to split up for some of the activities. Lets say that a part of your group would like to go glacier hiking while the other part would like to go kayaking. If you have rented more than one car, it means that both parts of your group can drive to their activity.
Another best way to get to different destinations around the country, guided tours offer great services which include comfy transportation, accommodation services (in case of multi-day trips), a professional guide that accompanies the tourists and all other things which are required for the tours in consideration. The best thing about guided tours is that you don’t really have to do anything after you choose and book your tour. You just sit back, relax, and enjoy the tours. Moreover, guided tours cater to groups exclusively with some very attractive discounts and deals. This means that you can save a fortune on travels as well.
From affordable small hotels to the luxury ones, hostels, and local houses that take-in house guests, there are several accommodation options that you can opt for depending on your budget. Know that almost all accommodations rent rooms in a maximum of triple occupancy so you should decide on roomies beforehand. If you are joining a guided tour that is supposed to last a few days then your accommodations will be taken care of by the tourism company itself. We will book rooms in the closest, most accessible hotel as per the schedule on a triple and double room basis. If you are looking for a more permanent and affordable option then hostels are a pretty good choice along with local houses that entertain guests.
For lovers of leisure, there are countless options that you can opt for such as Deplar Farms and Iceland Luxury Lodges which are perfect for a large group of people. Deplar Farm offers everything from special spa services to specially cooked meals, themed rooms, and several other exclusive services these hotels are an attraction in themselves.
Packing for the trip can be tricky especially when you have to travel with other people. If the other people in your group are adults, then you will probably pack just for yourself which is relatively easier. Although, if you are traveling with children, there is a whole new list of clothes and other accessories that you need to keep with you. So, before packing, ensure that you have taken a few factors into consideration which are as follows:
- The people – are there any kids? Will you be traveling with your spouse? Are you share-packing things with your friends? Talk about the things that can be shared among everyone to avoid extra luggage such as hair dryers, day pack bags, toiletries like shampoo bottles, lotions, creams, sunscreens, etc. You might want to check out the kids packing list to Iceland if you are traveling with kids.
- The season – identify the items that you will need in Iceland according to the season you are making the visit. Even though Iceland is cold all year long, there is a huge difference between summers and winters. You will need extra heavy coats in winters but a normal warm jacket with the mandatory shell clothing during summers.
- Activities – Your packing list can change drastically depending on the activities you are trying to cover on your trip. For example – camping would require your group to have a stove, cooking utensils, tent, sleeping bags, and other related things. Some of these can be shared while others like sleeping bags have to be personal. Run a list of the activities to determine what you will need.
- Parties – It would be a waste if you do not experience Reykjavik’s fabulous nightlife when to travel to the country. So, if you do plan to get so some clubs and move to some sick tunes, then do not forget your party clothes.
The Cheat Sheet – Golden Rules for Group Travel in Iceland
So, planning a group trip for Iceland can be a pain if a system is not followed. And it is more important to understand that staying calm during your travels, agreeable, open to new and uncommon things which someone else would enjoy, and being collected is of utmost importance. Rest assured, the fun you will have, your pictures, and the experience alone will be something that all of you will discuss and treasure forever.
Understand the Group Dynamic
The very first thing you need to determine is who are you traveling with. Are you going with your family? Are there any seniors in the group? Will you be accompanied by young children? Or is it just a friends’ getaway? The answer to these questions is very important as it will decide the whole paradigm of the trip for you guys. Traveling with family would mean that there will be people from different age groups, possibly children and seniors. So, you will have to choose activities which are suitable for all of them to attend and enjoy. Most activities have a minimum age limit bar, which differs with every agency and activity in consideration for example hiking, snorkeling, lava caving, ice caving, snowmobiling, and whatnot.
If your group is all friends or friends of friends then the planning should be a bit easier. It is best to make a group of some sorts on iMessage or other common texting application that everyone uses and interact with. Always ask everyone about what they would like to do and try and make a list of activities which have something that everyone can enjoy. Accommodations should also be in-line with everyone’s taste. So, find a way to communicate all the decisions ideally with the group so that there are no hard feelings. It might also be a great idea to hire a travel guide to help with this. Our travel guides can help you plan all kinds of adventures, and communicate with the whole group.
Choose a Trip Planner in your Group
It can be very messy if everyone in the group starts to take lead and make all the decisions. The chaos can be so huge that no one will be able to control it. It is best to choose ahead a travel planner, if the group agrees, with consensus. Choosing a planner would save you from the troubles of planning everything and solving unnecessary messes. To make things even easier, you can have each member of the group to handle one single task so that everything is organized and no one feels left out. For example, one person can be in charge of the accommodations, one can handle the flight bookings, etc. Understand that there can be people who hate planning and then there are others who enjoy this extreme sport. Let the enthusiasts take the lead and the rest can handle smaller tasks. If you have all this figured out from the beginning of the trip, there will be no mess-ups for you to clean later on.
Consider Splitting Up
In a group of, say, 6 or 7 or even more people there are bound be some disagreements. There could be times when 4 people want to go whale watching but the rest want to go and take a dip in some natural, off the road hot springs. This is why, understand that splitting from the group for small, spontaneous, or major, planned activities are absolutely fine. Thinking ahead and being mature about interests will go a long way for sure. Although, if someone from the group is skeptical about joining a major activity like hiking, try and convince them to try it because they may come to regret it if they don’t.
Agree on Finances
Budget is the biggest part of the trip. All the bookings, tours, accommodations, and literally everything else depends on the budget that you decide upon. It is no secret that some people can afford to spend more than others so the whole should decide on a communal budget and stick to it no matter what. Big and fixed expenses like travel and accommodations should also be fixed beforehand so that the trip expenses do not come off as a surprise to anyone. Note that most tours in Iceland do not contain meals unless specified on the booking page. So, take the food expenses as a separate fixed expense. It is wise to keep some money aside for any additional activity that you may want to try once you are there but keep it to a minimum.
Always Opt for Group Deals
If you are booking a trip for your group, you can almost every time let our travel guide know about it and they will offer you some great tour deals for larger groups. Choose a good group deal that will cover the major attractions of the country so that you have more money to try some off-road activities as well.
Advance bookings - Be One Step Ahead When Making Bookings
Advance bookings are the way to go when planning your trip. Choose the activities that you want to enjoy, circle out the ones that sell out pretty quickly, and make advanced bookings right away. For example, if you want to visit the Blue Lagoon on your trip to Iceland, consider making a booking at least a few months prior because the lagoon gets booked in a snap, especially in high season. Moreover, the closer you book your flight tickets to the departure date, the more price you will have to pay. Be smart and save a few extra bucks on every small step to end with a lot of extra saved money. On that note, most flights offer group rates as well. Check that and take advantage of it.
Avoid Falling for Peer Pressure
If you are thinking that we are talking about the peer pressure that would take out in the night to try some cool bars and pubs in Reykjavik then you are not really on the right track. By all means, give in to that and go explore the nightlife – you will not be disappointed. The peer pressure that you should not fall for is the littering around the country or showcasing disrespectful behavior towards nature, animals, citizens, or the country in general. Always respect the country you are starveling to and the safety guidelines as well. Follow them and make sure that everyone else is following them as well. Nothing is more important than safety after all.
Assume Concrete Responsibilities and Be patient
Take on responsibilities and stick to them to ensure that everything stays organized on your travels. A slight mishap can cause big troubles, especially in a foreign country. Always ensure that everyone in the group has their own kind of fun. Getting into someone’s personal space can be quite daunting for them and every member of the group should avoid that. It can be as simple as sharing a room, being cramped in a small car, or photobombing the snaps.
Include At Least One Suggestion from Each Member
Be aware of the fact that the experience of each member matters. If you are traveling with kids, include some child-friendly activities in the mix like a visit to the theme parks of Akureyri or museums or the zoo. If you are traveling with your peers then make sure that everyone has at least one place that they would like to visit with the group on the list so that no one feels left out. Keep a day out for a casual outing so that the group has time to split up and explore the country or the city on their own if they like.
We hope that your group will have a marvelous time exploring Iceland. Our Group Travel Guides are always happy to help you when it comes to planning a group trip to Iceland.