Why Iceland Does It Better

Iceland

Chelsea Brinkley

We spent 10 days in Iceland and while we were there picked up on some things they did that we wish would be done in the United States.

  • THE HONOR SYSTEM STILL EXISTS

Most of the places we stayed were bed & breakfasts where we paid with cash (Icelandic Krona) rather than our debit card. It ended up being cheaper due to foreign transaction fees (if you want to know more about that you can check out THIS post). The hosts would never ask us to pay until we checked out the next morning. We could have easily just skipped out – not that we would have ever done that – but it just showed us how trusting they are. In the states, you’d definitely need a card on file before staying somewhere. A few places we were staying even had open drink stations with a jar for people to put cash in for anything they took. What!? You wouldn’t find that in the states. If you did, you’d find all the drinks taken and no money left in that jar.

Like I mentioned above, we paid cash for a lot of things. At the gas station in the states, if you want to pay with cash, you have to go inside to pay the amount you think it’ll be, go back to your car to pump your gas, and then go back inside to get any change. Such a run-around! However in Iceland, you simply pull up to the gas station, pump your gas, and then walk inside to pay for it. Whelp, they made that a lot easier than we do.


  • RESTAURANTS ARE MORE EFFICIENT

Have you ever been at a restaurant in the states where you feel like everyone is always waiting on each other and it’s this whole “restaurant etiquette” dance back and forth? Here’s what I mean by that – the customer waits on the waiter/waitress to come over at the end of the meal to ask if you’re done and ready for your check. First, you sit waiting for it, and then when it arrives, put your payment down and have to wait again for them to come pick it up. And then do it all over again… waiting for them to bring it back so you can sign and leave. They have other tables so this could take a while. And this is just an example at the end of the meal. I won’t even go into the whole ordering dance that happens.

Iceland has it figured out. They put the flow of the entire experience in the customer’s hands. When you’re ready to order or need something, you raise your hand and a waiter/waitress will come around. You order whatever you’d like… drinks, entree, dessert all at once or at separate times. At the end of the meal, you simply get up and go pay at the front counter. I love this because the meal can be as quick or as long as you’d like. And if you do want to have a longer meal, that’s absolutely okay and you’re not frowned upon for taking up a table in the restaurant (like here in the states). And not to worry, the waiter isn’t losing any tip money because you’re having a longer meal – tipping isn’t a social norm there and the restaurant pays them a normal wage. It’s also factored into your meal price.

  • COMMON SENSE PREVAILS

We explored a lot of geothermal areas, so many waterfalls, hot springs, a crashed plane, cliffs, glacier areas, a couple volcanic cones, etc. And you know what we noticed? None of these areas were roped off with big warning signs like you would find in the states. They expect you to use common sense and not touch the boiling mud pots or steaming fumaroles in the geothermal areas. That makes sense. I suppose they’re not used to everyone suing each other.

  • THE OUTDOORS ARE FREE

Everything we did outdoors (mentioned above) was free. We could have easily been charged to see the most powerful waterfall in the world, Dettifoss, or the Hrossaborg Crater where the movie Oblivion was filmed, but nope, we weren’t. I loved that not only because I like free, but because it spoke volumes. Here in the states, many outdoor things are free, but it’s definitely not a given. I would never be surprised to be charged for a natural attraction. It just seems like everything is seen as a money-maker here… even the outdoors.

A few other random things I really like about Iceland… it’s clean, people are friendly and hospitable, and it’s safe. That’s not to say there aren’t places in the U.S. that are like this… it’s just that their entire country (although small) was.

Basically, I love me some Iceland.  And I could have put many many more photos in this post so if you want to see more photos go HERE.

If you’ve ever been did you notice these things too… What did you think?

Published: September 8, 2017

Chelsea Brinkley

Travel Planner with a heart to explore the outdoors as much as possible.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.

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