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Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Chicago, Illinois
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17 posts
8 reviews
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Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Hello all,

I am booking a rental car for our upcoming trip to Iceland. Our plan is drive the Golden Circle and the entire ring road and take the normal tourist detours for waterfalls, etc. We will NOT be driving on F roads, but are thinking about driving the main roads in the Westfjords. We are renting from Avis, unless I find something better. For 4 adults + 2 suitcases + 2 carry-ons, what is the best option (best suited for the terrain, comfort):

Skoda Octavia Wagon - seems roomy enough, I'm worried about undercarriage damage

Suzuki Grand Vitara - more expensive

After reading through the forums, I am more than a little nervous about being charged for damage cause by sand/ash/gravel. I usually don't get rental insurance because my car insurance and AmEx have pretty decent coverage. Avis offers collision waiver, death, and theft insurance. Is it safer to just suck it up and get their insurance to avoid significant damage charges? I'm usually good about documenting the condition of the car before picking up and at drop off, but I'm still worried.

How helpful is navigation? It is $200 USD for the duration of our trip. We are fairly capable with a map but wouldn't mind having nav if people find it useful.

Avis offers wifi as an option - $110 USD for the duration of our trip. Anyone have any experience with this? Is it an onboard hotspot or a hotspot device?

Thanks for the help!

Reykjavik, Iceland
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1. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Personally I would take all the insurance offered, skip the satnav but buy a paper road map in good scale instead. The Ring Road is simple enough. The wifi is probable an onboard hotspot device connected to the 3g and 4g mobile network. Could be useful for researching accommodation, restaurants, sites etc along the way if you don't have a phone with a working data plan.

The Scoda Octavia can take you to pretty much all of the typical sites along the Ring Road and the Westfjords, and undercarriage damage is not likely unless you decide to try out some rough sideroad (which is not necessary).

2. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

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Chicago, Illinois
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17 posts
8 reviews
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3. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Thanks! I think I'll get all the insurance. I'm leaning towards the Skoda. The WiFi seems more useful to me than nav. How reliable is 3g/4g outside the cities? Are the westfjord roads similar to the ring road conditions?

Salisbury, United...
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4. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

A map will be a lot cheaper than a Sat Nav and navigation is easy. Even free maps you pick up are OK or buy a map through Amazon.

Outside Reykjavik and the SW there are few roads, sign posting is good and most of the important sights are close to the ring road. There are also very good information boards in lay byes and by the side of the road. They tell you about the area and the sights in that area.

Most of the settlements are very small so no chance of getting lost, ever Reykjavik is not difficult to navigate.

Enjoy this wonderful country.

London, Canada
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108 posts
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5. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

We just got back from the same itinerary last week and had a fabulous two weeks.We rented a Toyota Corolla without GPS from Bluecar and did just fine. We bought a good Kort map at the tourist bureau in Reyjkavik, although in hindsight I wish we had found the Iceland Road Guide.

Many of the roads in Westfjords were certainly potholed, gravelled, and slow, but not dangerous. Mind you, we did have a blow out flat tire on a recently gravelled steep downhill road en route to the Latrabjarg cliffs. The roads are certainly high and curvy sometimes, but always with enough room for two cars. Just keep your eyes on the road and off the beautiful scenery!

We bought the sand and ash protection but of course did not then face any sand or ash problems! But you never know.

One thing about signage on the road....they exist but oftentimes they are small signs right at the point you wish to turn at, so you need a eagle eyed co pilot at times!

Palmetto, Florida
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5,157 posts
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6. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Hi tsam,

Just our one time recent experience:

We rented from AVIS at the airport. Got the automatic Suzuki Grand Vitara as my husband wanted a higher perch to survey the landscape (but yes, driver should keep eyes on road less he veers off to deep rocky shoulders. We had one slightly close call, yikes). I don't do manual, and thought would be nice to share the driving.

AVIS overall worked out ok, We got an older car with 100k+ miles on it and various dings, one passenger car door closed rather precariously it seemed. But we kicked the tires and took off and had no breakdowns in the 3 days. I declined excess insurance as I put it on my Chase VISA card with this benefit. The weird thing: at the airport desk, the guy asked if I had another card, even though card was good to go. I said no, I need to put charge on this one (rather firmly) and he did not push it. I am loyal customer of American Express and would have used this card as I find their service great in the past. However, my business platinum only covers domestic hires. I had Amex personal Gold before and that helped out tremendously on previous international trips. Anyway, there is no deductibles with the card's insurance; but I believe AVIS and other rental companies have some amounts of deductibles you are responsible for before they cover damage. Take time to read the terms, that is all.

Insurance matter is a case of ones personal comfort. You do what makes you feel safe.

For 3 days it was worth it for us just to get the GPS. If I think I will drive many days, it would be more economical to buy map or download map for Iceland. True you can't get too lost, and waterfalls are easy to pick out from ring road. But like the basalt columns and black beach are not obvious, and if you get to Vik town then you have gone too far. You need to know name of the turnoff point.

About wifi, 110 USD for 2 weeks? that is pricey. What would you use it for? Can you make free phone calls with it? If just to do emails and look up restaurants then I would not bother,. Iceland is not big and the wifi is great and free at all the places we stayed at. Check your lodgings, free wifi or not?

Safe travels

Chicago, Illinois
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17 posts
8 reviews
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7. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Thanks to everyone for the advice! I have booked the Skoda Octavia wagon with Avis for our trip. I'm pretty sure I'll get all the available insurance just for peace of mind. Still undecided on navigation and wifi, but I'm more inclined towards skipping nav and getting wifi, depending on coverage outside major cities.

amatrip - It does seem pricey. I haven't booked all the accommodations yet (I really should!) but some don't seem to offer wifi - I was hoping to be able to make emergency phone calls and look at maps, points of interest, etc with the Avis hotspot. But all of that depends on coverage...

Ohio
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426 posts
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8. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Tsam3....do you have an iPhone or iPad? We brought both with us to Iceland recently and bought a nano sim for the phone and a micro sim for the iPad from Siminn. We had wifi and phone coverage everywhere...not only in the West Fjords, but even out on the ocean while we were whale watching. If you don't have these devices, perhaps you have access to an unlocked phone that you can bring. SIM cards are very inexpensive. And yes, wifi is almost everywhere that you will stay...but, we did find that it was not available at some of our accommodations.

We brought our own Garmen with a SD card for Europe that supposedly had Iceland maps on it.....it did not work for us. So we got a good map and found for us, that there was absolutely no need for GPS. Even in Reykjavik, navigating is easy. Iceland is a fairly easy country to navigate.

Toronto
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305 posts
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9. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

For less than 40 USD, you can order an Icelandic road atlas and have it delivered right to your door in Chicago. Not only can you then use it for planning your trip, but you can keep it afterwards as a souvenir (or lend it to all the friends you're going to be sending on their own Icelandic excursions!)

Iceland really is easy to navigate. There just aren't very many roads, and highway junctions are well signed. (Though, as noted, the signs tend to be right at the junction.) The usual advice applies--pay attention to your trip odometer so that you know when your turns are coming up, check the map for the landmarks immediately preceding your turn, try not to let yourself get below half a tank of fuel, and stop frequently at the provided roadside lay-bys and picnic areas to enjoy the magnificent Icelandic scenery.

Chicago, Illinois
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17 posts
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10. Re: Car rental/Insurance/Navigation for Ring Road

Thanks sinaigirl - very helpful. I think I will skip nav and the wifi hotspot and instead get a SIM card from Siminn and invest in a good map. From what I've read, the Iceland Road Guide is recommended. I read through this thread:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g189952-i223-k4939…

Any other suggestions? Where can I buy the guide (Amazon doesn't have it) and approximately how much is it? Thanks!