Iceland & Switzerland Travel

It’s been a minute since posting about how the planning is going on our upcoming trip to Iceland and Switzerland. So, what’s been happening? A lot actually.

Since the route is planned out we started looking at places to stay. We did this by mapping out how long we wanted to drive, along with sightseeing. We use Booking.com a lot for booking, but we do compare using Trivago, AirBNB, Hotels.com, and Agoda. Let us know if there is another site that we have not mentioned that is good.

We have a combination of hotels and apartments. All which meet our needs of a privacy and private bathroom. We refuse to do a shared bathroom. It’s just us, but tends to be a European thing. All rooms are booked, but we did make a mistake, so learn from us. We had booked a place late at night while lying in bed. Well, we forgot to log it on our TripIt (another app we use for keeping things in line). Move forward a week or two and we booked another place for that same night. When we realized that we had booked 2 places for the same night we tried to cancel one of them. However, we lost our money which was about $107. Who has $107 to just throw away? No one I know. Lesson learned.

Something new from Booking.com. They now added the ability to pay for your stay at the time of booking. It used to be you could only book the stay and you would pay upon arrival. We think paying for it at the time of booking is going to be less stressful on the money saving part.

With that being said, we have paid for our flight. Well, this was quite the challenge. Why? Because we were trying to find the best deal as we are doing this in a budget. After looking at many airlines and comparing one way versus multi city flights, we found the one way to be the less expensive deal. However, you must check carefully as we learned another lesson.

When flying overseas you will normally arrive the next day ( not always, but normally). Be aware of the +1 or +2. This will tell you how many days it will take you to get to your destination. Make sure to check the details. This is where a couple lessons learned comes into play. For each layover, which is 1 from Ohio to Iceland, 1 from Iceland to Switzerland, 2 from Switzerland to Ohio, we are to collect our bags, recheck them, and go back through security. There is another catch.

Coming from Iceland we land at Luton London Airport at 11:55pm and take off for Switzerland from Gatwick London Airport at 11:30 am. We were like WHAT????? Yes, we land at Luton Airport London at night and need to travel to Gatwick London Airport the next morning. We have a few choices on how to get from Luton to Gatwick. We can take a bus (that picks up at the airport) that costs about €17 per person and takes 3+ hours. We could take the train, which requires taking a bus from the airport to the train station (not sure the price) and takes a bit over an hour. The other option is to hire a personal car, like Uber or a cab.

This will pick us up at the airport and take us to the next airport. Since we arrive late evening and take off early the next morning, we have opted to stay overnight at a hotel connected to Gatwick London Airport. This flight option has taken a bit of planning and we lose a whole day just traveling. This required us to have to cancel our stay at an AirBNB. This wouldn’t be a huge deal, but the website for our rental does not show an icon to cancel or change a reservation. It tells you how to do it, but they have left the icon off. We contacted AirBNB support and they were unable to figure it out. They have bumped up our issue to the top and we are currently waiting to hear from them. I could contact the host, but she only speaks French and Italian, which is a problem because she only has a phone number listed, not an email.

Back to the air. There were not a ton of options for the leg of travel from Iceland to Switzerland. By choosing the one way flight options, the transfers, and the overnight layover, we are saving over $400. We will let you know if it’s worth it. I’m not sure it will be, but we shall see. If we had booked the flight using the multi city option we still would have had an overnight layover, but we may not have had to collect our bags and recheck them.

To keep from collecting and checking bags over and over, and to eliminate stress we decided we would each take a carry on suitcase. This will allow us to skip baggage claim each time. However, we will still have to check in and go through security.

We did buy brand new pieces of carry on luggage for each of us in the appropriate size and have been discussing what to pack. Not sure at this point what those suitcases will really contain, so, more to come on the packing.

Let’s talk about rental cars. It’s not as easy or as cheap as it appears on the website, at least in a different country. It’s not until you start getting into the details that it starts adding up. Iceland, for example, has some gravel roads, therefore they offer gravel insurance. This would cover any paint damage from the gravel. There is also glass coverage from any kind of breakage to the windshield or windows. Tires can be covered as well, along with roadside assistance. We feel you should not go cheap on this. You are driving a car you have never driven, let alone the condition of the roads. You must check the roads of where you are planning to go. In Iceland there are certain roads that will only allow a 4×4. Make sure you are renting the correct type of car. We purchased all the insurance we could. We feel less stressed about what could happen.
Switzerland is a bit different. For some reason it is much more expensive to rent a car. Most rental companies in Switzerland require a 3000-5000CHF deposit to be held until you return the car.

There are also places in Switzerland that do not allow cars at all. This money will not be available, so it must be above what you are planning to spend. There are some companies that will allow you to use a debit card and no deposit if you purchase their “platinum” insurance. Many rental companies will put their insurance into packages. You can take the work out of finding a place by using a company called Indigo Car Hire. We have used them twice and had no problems.

Be aware that not all rental companies are the same. We have read some stories about rental companies marking damage that was already there upon rental. Make sure you video the car, hopefully with good lighting, and really look over the car. It seems if the company representative feels you are being very cautious they will try not to take advantage of you. Once the marks are on the paper and you pull off the lot, that’s it. If there was a mark on the car, but not in the paper there is no way to prove it was already there. Make sense? Take your time. If you are someone that put down the big deposit you want to get it back! You do not want to pay for damages you didn’t cause.

To sum things up. We are currently waiting to rent the car for Switzerland from Indigo Car Hire. Waiting to hear from AirBNB to cancel the one rental. Deciding on which personal car hire to use for our pick up at Luton and take us to Gatwick. Deciding what to pack. Setting up our pet sitter.

A few bumps, a few learning lessons, but still fun!

Make memories not excuses!