Lots of questions about a month-long trip to Iceland.
I've been wanting to travel to Iceland for a while now and I've got some questions.
First, a bit of background. I'm a 22 year old computer programmer, bassist, photographer, and swing dancer that will be graduating from college in about six months. I plan on working full time for a year or so after that to get settled and get some more spare money before I go.
I want to go for three weeks to a month so I have time to really experience things. I'm not the kind of person that would enjoy one of those guided-do-standard-things-and-get-back-on-the-bus tours; I'd like to go on my own and meet new friends, see what I want to see for as long as I want to see it, etc.
I've looked at some of the other Iceland questions here but none of them addressed all the questions I have. So anyway, here we go:
- Is three weeks to a month too long or not long enough? I'm sure Iceland has plenty of things to hold my interest for much longer than a month; my main concern is actually my next question.
- Money: how much will I need? I'm not being unrealistic and expecting to go for a month and spend $500, but since I'll be fresh out of college I won't be exactly rolling in cash either. I'll probably have a few thousand US dollars I can manage to spend on the trip; is this going to limit me enough that I should think about shortening the trip? I'm not the kind of person that wants to go drink pricy stuff at a bar or do the glitzy guided tours but I've heard how expensive Iceland is in general and want to make sure I'm not getting in over my head.
- While I'm on the issue of money, what's the best way to live while I'm there? I'm sure hotels would be expensive, but are there any cheap hostels I should look into? I've never stayed at a hostel while traveling because I usually stay with friends but since I don't have any Icelandic friends I'm out of luck. Do I need to worry about securing my luggage/valuables at a hostel?
- Is it safe to assume that a US passport will be all I need to get in and out of the country, or will I need some other things too?
- I'm thinking about taking my laptop to pull images from my camera and also keep in touch with the rest of the world. Is this a bad idea? Would it be better to invest in one of those little hard drives you can plug an SD card into and store the pictures on? Either way, what do I need to know about power/voltage issues coming from the US?
- I'd love to learn some Icelandic before I go, but I can't find a class anywhere near me. Does anyone have any advice? I know this question has been asked before and I've looked at the answers; I was just wondering if anyone had any new advice for me.
- When's the best time to see the northern lights? It's not something I'm dead set on but I'd really love to see them if I can. I'm planning this trip far enough ahead (1.5 to 2 years) that I can schedule my trip at almost any time of the year that I want.
- On that note, aside from the northern lights, is there a specific time of the year that I should visit? I'm sure each season has its own benefits; what are they?
- I also play bass and love jazz; what's the jazz scene like in Iceland? Are there any good jazz clubs I should definitely visit? Is there any chance I could sit in at a jam session while over there and if so where could I rent or borrow a bass (electric) for a night?
- Recommendations of places to see are welcome too; I'm still in the process of making a list of things I really need to go. Flickr is great for this!
If there's anything else you think I should know please share! Thanks in advance!