On the first day of my five-day roadtrip around Iceland’s Ring Road, I picked up my car at Keflavik airport at around midnight and drove through the night toward Dyrholaey on the southern coast. The first couple of hours I was driving through dense fog and was excited and jet-lagged and nervous all at the same time. I’d never rented a car on my own before, much less driven so many hours in such a short time. Around 2:30 in the morning the fog lifted and I saw the gorgeous summer sunrise and I knew that I had made the right decision in coming to Iceland.
I pulled over about 15 km outside Vik at around 4:00 to sleep a bit. Most of my friends and family believed (and probably still believe) I was crazy to sleep in my rental car for the week, and I was honestly unsure about the situation at first, too. But I simply could not afford accommodation (even campsites cost about $10 per night!) after budgeting so much for the rental car and associated costs. In the end, though, sleeping in the car was the best possible scenario. I was able to sleep in completely isolated areas, with beautiful views, in total silence. I had absolute freedom to drive when I wanted to, sleep when I wanted to, and eat when I wanted to. I could visit the major natural sites around the island in the off hours, which meant no crowds. My first night in a hostel in Reykjavik I was homesick for my car!
I finally got to Dyrholaey at around 8:00 and was tickled to see puffins at my first site! I believed it was an auspicious beginning, a feeling which proved true. From Dyrholaey I went to the village of Vik, but just stopped to fill up my tank and observe the architecture for a few minutes. I then traveled further east to Skaftafell National Park for some hiking and finally to Jokulsarlon, where I viewed awesome icebergs and a black sand beach.