01 April 2017

Reddit Travel Rants, No. 5: Everyone and their Mom in Iceland

Ever since long-haul low-cost carriers have made Iceland and other countries in Scandinavia their hub, then you suddenly saw travel newbies gung-ho on visiting Europe. It used to be the case that whenever Americans travel to Europe, they go to the United Kingdom, France, or Italy, with London, Paris, or Rome/Venice being their target destinations. However, now that you can fly with long-haul low-cost carriers across the Atlantic for cheap prices that have never been seen before, then you suddenly see a surge of interest in new destinations, like Iceland. This creates rather interesting situations.

First of all, Iceland is basically what New Zealand was back in 2005. It seems that there's a shortage of tourist infrastructure now, since there's just so many visitors. I used to have Iceland as a destination I was considering, but given the current demand, I think I would wait until the demand subsides a little bit. After all, it seems that American visitors are now outnumbering Icelandic locals, which then contribute to the Disney-fication of the country.

Now, let me talk about these travel newbies and low-cost carriers. Most of the time, these are people who don't know the basics of travel. People who don't know the difference between legacy carriers and low-cost carriers. People who don't know that there are things that are given in legacy carriers but are not free in low-cost carriers. People who don't know that food is not automatically provided in long-haul low-cost carriers. People who don't know that low-cost carriers typically have worse customer service, who will not rebook you to a partner airline (because they rarely have partners) in case your flight is delayed or canceled.

Basically, plenty of travelers are out there who see the "sale" and immediately book a ticket without reading the fine print, and when what they expect doesn't happen, then they get their panties tied up in a bunch.

I've perhaps successfully visited Myanmar and Iran before the surge of visitors: I visited Myanmar in 2014 and Iran last year, and so I avoided this situation of having more demand than what the infrastructure can supply. I might have missed the boat on Iceland, as well as Cuba, but we'll see. There are other destinations worth visiting. And of course, this is a cycle, a boom will go down eventually. Nowadays, however, I just find myself scratching my head sometimes when I see people who have no clue about international travel trying to "see Iceland" in 2 days.


  1. Problem is with these low-cost flights, there were originally great for a quick city visit, as in "spend a weekend in Paris/Rome/Prague" etc. Which is arguably too short but it made sense. Now, you aren't supposed to rush through the entire country just because you damn flew there...

    1. Zhu,

      Exactly. Coupled with the checklist attitude to traveling, this results in a whirlwind trip that I doubt anyone can comfortably enjoy.