Traveling in Iceland is expensive, and going alone is not a good way to save money. Even the dorm beds in the hostels are pricey (and they charge extra for bedding!).
Often to save money I will look for a home exchange, but for this trip I couldn’t do a simultaneous home exchange since my wife stayed home and so my place was not available for guests. Also, since I wanted to see more of Iceland than just one city, a home swap for the full trip wouldn’t be of much use to me. Still, I didn’t want to pay the super high hotel/hostel prices for my lodging if I could help it.
Enter points-based home swapping. I’ve written a lot about this system of home exchange which lets you earn points for hosting people in your home. You can then spend these points at another time on whatever destination you like. So I went to the websites for LoveHomeSwap and GuesttoGuest to look for a points-based home exchange. I have a bank of points to spend on both sites from times when we let people stay in our home while we were away visiting friends or family.
I found a few listings in Reykjavik, where I planed to spend the first days of my trip, and after sending out some inquiries one person on LoveHomeSwap agreed to my request. He has a vacation rental that he also uses for home exchanges when it’s not booked by paying travelers. I booked 5 nights, just to be safe, starting with the “night” I arrived (WOW airlines flights land around 4am). I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in Reykjavik for 5 nights, but I could take day trips from there and save some money before I set off to explore further afield. It’s not expensive for me (really it’s free, but I do count those points as a currency and hate to waste them), and this was a good hedge on lodging I would likely want to use.
In the end I stayed the full 5 days and it was a great base to explore both the city of Reykjavik and for day trips to the surrounding areas. And such a lovely flat, decorated with artwork made by the owner.
Hostels in Iceland cost at least $30/night in the off season, and quite a bit more in the high season of summer. And that’s for a dorm bed. I consider the value I got for my 2 bedroom flat with private kitchen and bathroom (and laundry) to be quite a bit more than that. The only down side is that staying in hostels is a good way to meet other travelers and connect to share rides. But there are other options for making friends and ridesharing in Iceland.