Around Iceland sleeping in the car – What you need

September 2013, Iceland, temperature average recorded: 7°C during the day, -3°C during the night.
10 days to visit the country, no time to lose, not a lot of money and so easiest decision: Rent a car, sleep in it and enjoy the visit; if you’re well prepared of course. My first experience to travel like that.
My friends told me that I was crazy to do it by my self and alone but it was one of the best experience of my life.
Here a little list of advice to enjoy your stay in the best conditions.

Just a huge WARNING! Iceland still Iceland. It’s nature, unpredictable, wild and can be dangerous. Your preparation and knowledge about the area you want to visit is more than important. Safety first!


Why by car?

– Transportation are rare from September to June. The main bus lines are really limited and there are sometimes only 2 buses per day for a destination. Then, a 10 days pass is as much expensive as renting a car.
There are the travel companies but it’s so expensive that I directly remove this option.

– Campsites are mainly closed after the first week of September, so not a possibility. Hostels and B&B still opened. Hostels still affordable. There are also deposits for hikers but often closed at that time of the year.
After calculation, between the Bus and hostel option, an impossible flexibility, I chose the Adventure in island, do everything with your car!
Rental and petrol, it was less expensive and I also saw amazing sunsets and sunrises in the middle of nature.


– The Cold.
Iceland is not a destination for everyone and nights are cold, very cold.

– A car issue.
In the middle of nowhere, it’s not the dreamed situation, I agree.

– Can’t find a place to sleep or that I’m being asked to move by the police.
It never happened.

Must Have for all types of travelers

– Food and water
The weather is unpredictable so you really need to have them in your car. I was stuck in a Snow storm for many hours so believe me you MUST HAVE that.

– A gourd
No need to buy the expensive water. All sources provide drinkable water. It’s sufficient to use. With the cold, you drink, a lot.

– Good height and waterproof mountain shoes
No advertising but I like the Gortex technology and height shoes to protect your ankle.
Also think about a spare shoelace.

– A proper raincoat, but not too warm
Weather and temperature changing a lot. It’s easier and more comfortable because of the weight to add a sweatshirt than having to carry a big coat during a warm moment or a physical activity.
I advice again Gortex technology.

– Waterproof warm gloves

– A Buff
This kind of scarf will protect your neck, your ears and your head. If it’s too warm, wear it as a bandana.
Multi-functional, light.

– A small waterproof rucksack
To keep with you your documents, a meal, water and map during hikes.

– A rain trouser

– Warm socks, special for walks

– A minimum of first aid kit
Bandages, gauze, disinfectant, tape, drugs against migraine, tweezers.

– A swimsuit
You can not visit Iceland without trying at list one geothermal source.

– A credit card with an electronic chip
In Iceland, people are buying everything with their cards.
If you’ve got a car, the gas station are mainly working with this and some of them don’t have any office opened late.
If you want to refuel during the night in small villages, that’s you’re only chance.

Required for a stay outside of hostels or B&B

– A good sleeping bag, minimum level 3 from -5°C to 20°C
Some nights, I needed extra clothes.

– A map of the country
Even if you have a sat-nav, it’s not enough at some location.

– Tire chain
I thought it was directly given with the rental in Iceland and actually, no.
I did not thought to check it and I was stuck in a snow storm.
1:30 to drive 1km with a small Chevrolet Spark and finally leave after many difficulties.

– Keep informed
The weather can change really quickly in Iceland, some volcanic area still actives and dangerous that’s why it’s important to really plan your trip according the area and always keep informed on what’s going on.


– Microfiber towel and washcloth

– A retractable bowl
To wash your dishes, clothes or yourself…
I already hear some ‘yuck’… The last option is not required. There always are alternatives: swimming pools, campsites with a shower that you can use for a decent price or boxes with toilets, sink… Most of them still have water in September.

– Soap and shampoo
Some soap can be used for both.
I also recommend this soap without water required. That’s an antibacterial product.

– Cream
Your skin will love you afterwards because the cold is not a gift.

– Baby wipes
To wash yourself but also to clean your hands…


– Solar charger
Useful for phone or MP3 player.

– A car converter
For about £30 you’ll be able to charge and use your equipment in USB and electric plug.
I could charge the batteries for my camera, my tablet and my phone.


– A little gas stove and bought a bottle of gas
You can buy the bottle of gas in shops around gas stations.
If you don’t have any checked baggage, you will not be able to carry it in the plane.

– A metal bowl
To warm food and boil water.

– A spoon, fork, knife combo.
In plastic for the same reason of the bottle of gas.

– A lighter or equivalent to turn on the gas stove.

There are no supermarkets outside the rare big cities. Mainly, gas stations are also shops and sell the necessity products.



– Another light pair of shoes
To not let mud everywhere in the car.

– A torch
A dynamo head torch is nice to find everything in the car and read by night being in a good position and without the need to keep it in your hand.

– A tablet
To read, watch a film…
I like reading in nature, that’s my light traveler alternative for a book.

In addition to this list, clothes, toothbrush and toothpaste, a brush and everything will feet in a 45L – 65L rucksack.
No checked luggage require.

Have a good night!
Have a good night!

Being organised is essential if you don’t want to spend hours to find your things, get cold in the morning or have a car problem.

– Store your equipment in the trunk, by category.

– Allow an easy access to objects used every night like the lamp or the car keys.

– Switch off equipment before bedtime to be sure that the batteries and the car are not unloaded upon awakening.

– Prepare the clothes the night before to wear them quickly in the morning to avoid being cold.

– If the night seems cold, do not hesitate to wear more warm clothes.
Temperatures can drop at the middle of the night.

Never have cold is a paramount rule!

– Find a good location to sleep.
Avoid windy areas because there are sometimes strong storms during the night.
Car parks with information panels. They are good walls and close to the roads.
Note that it is strictly forbidden to camp near seaside or waterfalls. Understandable!
In addition, following the wind, no vertices to opened sky or places surrounded by empty.
Avoid the vats at the summit of mounts. Especially in the North. Snowstorms can happen anytime; even in September.
Never sleep in restricted, dangerous area recorded by the country with a risk of volcanic activity, snow storms…

Organisation in the trunk
Organisation in the trunk

Voila, I guess you are ready for your tour of Iceland either by car or not 🙂

12 Replies to “Around Iceland sleeping in the car – What you need”

    1. Bonjour Charlène, ravie que vous ayez apprécié.
      Le budget n’étant pas le thème de l’article, les conditions d’hébergement et hygiène étant très spécifique dans ce cas, je n’ai pas abordé ce point.
      De plus, il a eu lieu il y a un peu plus de 3 ans et j’avoue que toutes les données ne seraient plus d’actualité.

    1. Ce n’est pas de la folie c’est juste une énorme expérience mais fais attention aux conditions météo et surtout parler avec les locaux, ca évite des mauvaises surprises. L’Islande est un pays sauvage, il ne faut surtout pas l’oublier 🙂
      Bon voyage à toi!

  1. Bonjour
    Je compte faire exactement comme toi
    En solo, et je me demandats justement sil j’étais pas un peu folle
    Tout ça est bien rassurAntoine
    Aurais tu un Facebook ou autre ou je puisse te contacter pour plus de précisions ?
    Merci d’avance

  2. Bonjour,

    En préparation pour un roadtrip Novembre en solo avec couchage dans la voiture de location, tu parles qu’un sac de 65L suffit, pas de nécessité de bagages en soute. Sans mettre en doute tes dires, les sacs de 65L sont acceptés en cabine? ils sont plutôt imposants !

    Et les parkings sont ils fréquents le long des routes pour s’y arrêter et dormir?

    Cordialement (et bon voyage au Canada)

    1. Salut, perso j’avais même moins de 65 litres car j’ai du matériel très compensé. La taille de sac passera en fonction de la compagnie, du poids… donc je ne m’avance pas. Moi c’est passé car mon 65 litres n’était pas plein, l’avion n’était pas plein, le sac ultra bien rangé et la taille ne dépassait que de peu.
      Le long des routes il y a pas mal de points info qui permettent de se stationner, ensuite il y a des possibilités dans les villes… Je n’ai jamais eu de problème pour ce point.
      Par contre en Novembre, sachant qu’il faut laisser la fenêtre entre-ouverte pour limiter la condensation et l’effet givre dans la voiture, je te souhaite bien du courage, cela risque d’être très très froid 🙂
      Merci, j’en reviens après un road trip et plein de dodos dans la voiture de nouveau 😉

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