Iceland: a Roadtrip around the Ring Road
BITS AND BOBS:
Currency - We did not take out a single krona in Iceland - everywhere takes card, and I never saw a minimum usage on them. Save yourself the atm withdrawal fee!
Weather - Infamously unpredictable. Although we'd check the weather every morning for where we would be that day, the weather was liable to change dramatically. It's good to check in the morning, but don't get too optimistic or pessimistic! It can all change, depending on what patch of Iceland you're in.
Reykjavik Airport - As I'm sure you've noticed from any map of Iceland, the airport is far away from Reykjavik, about an hour's drive. Plan accordingly - and also check what office you're renting your vehicle from - could be a very expensive cab ride.
Renting a car
You have to rent a car. There are very few options if you don't, and I don't think it's worth waiting for someone to pick you up - your time there is precious. Like renting a car anywhere, renting a car is stressful and annoying - I'm always certain I'm getting ripped off in one way or another. That being said, I'd recommend a 4x4 car, unless you are specifically only driving the ring road (Highway 1). Anything remotely off of it, including many of the roads to get to Airbnb's, hotels, etc. can be quite vicious. For those of you that are doing a little weekend stopover, and only doing the Golden Circle - a 2WD is likely fine.
We debated for awhile on whether to rent a 2WD camper (4WD campers being obscenely expensive) or a 4x4 car and staying at hotels + Airbnb's. I think we made the right decision in the end, and opted for the 4WD car. We met some guys driving a 2WD camper and bumped into them later, trying and failing to go up a particularly nasty hill and had to give them a ride to the top to see the glacier. Even on regular roads, we felt much safer and happier in a 4x4 - especially because much of Iceland is so unpopulated, and sometimes without service. It's good to feel like you can trust your car.
We rented our Dacia Duster from Blue Car Rental, highly related online, and I can see why. They were really great, flexible, and delivered exactly what we asked for. Our car wasn't brand new (had about 90,000 km on it) but she was sturdy and dependable. We dubbed her 'Dusty'. Blue Car Rental comes with most of the regular insurances (SCDW, CDW, Theft Protection, and Gravel Protection) but we also added the Sand and Ash protection as a precaution. Sand and ash protection is only necessary if you plan on driving in the south, which we did. I think it's relatively optional - but it was nominal cost, and it made us all feel better. The total cost for 10 days ended up being 112,240 ISK or $1,065 USD or £807, and I found it to be about what others were charging or cheaper. It's an insane cost for a rental car anywhere else, but that's Iceland for you. If you don't rent from Blue Car, please get gravel protection! A friend of ours didn't get it and chipped her windshield. It's worth it. There is a LOT of gravel in Iceland.
We picked up the car the next morning at the Reykjavik Office, which is a nice half our walk from the center of town. It worked out to be cheaper than paying to pick up the car the night before, and we also didn't want to have to deal with the mess of renting a car after a long, late flight.
Day 1: The Golden Circle
I'm going to say it right now - the Golden Circle is stunning, but I don't recommend anyone go there. It's too damn crowded. It's honestly not worth the hassle of fighting through crowds of selfie sticks and illegally flown drones. There were grouchy Chinese teenagers berating the poor man whose job it was to clean the disabled bathrooms, because they didn't want to touch the port-a-potties. I saw people just dropping trash on the ground. It makes you question your reasoning in coming to Iceland.