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Northern Lights Iceland: best tips for beginners

Watching the northern lights in Iceland, also known as the aurora borealis, dancing in the sky is something special. With this step by step guide you know how, when and where to see the northern lights in Iceland. Go prepared and be amazed! This guide includes useful information for beginners about how to photograph the Northern Lights Iceland with your smartphone. Be prepared and make good pictures with your (cheap) smartphone even with cold weather conditions and low aurora activity! The picture below was taken with aurora activity 2 which is very low!

northern lights iceland
northern lights Iceland

In this blog all frequently asked questions are bundled together for you. As the northern lights are unpredictable, knowledge of how and where to see them is crucial. Visit Iceland in the winter months from September to April and you will have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland.

The pictures of the Northern Lights we made, were taken with a Samsung Galaxy A71. We tried also very quick with an iPhone but for some reason these pictures were all shady and blurry so we moved on with the Samsung Galaxy A71. Given the fact that aurora activity was very low and not optimal weather conditions to take pictures of aurora this was the best result so far.

What month is best to see Northern Lights in Iceland?

The Northern Lights in Iceland can be seen in Iceland in the months of September to April. The months of mid-September to mid-October and February to March are very popular for chasing the Northern Lights. This is due to the darkening and brightening days. However, if you want to see the northern lights during winter, you need to stay prepared for the cold and snowy conditions. Of course your chances to see aurora will increase if you go to the North of Iceland because aurora is stronger there.

Good place to see the Northern Lights
Good place to see the Northern Lights

We went in February and were very lucky to see the Northern Lights in the south of Iceland thanks to the northern lights forecast and the aurora app. A great benefit of coming during winter time is also that the prices of your entire journey are much lower than in summer time. You can read all about saving money during your trip in winter time in this blog.

Tip: in winter a lot of roads to the North of Iceland are closed due to the bad weather conditions. So if you want to go to the North of Iceland in wintertime to see the Northern Lights check the road and travel conditions first. An experienced ‘Aurora hunter’ in Iceland told me the Northern Lights are often very strong in October. A benefit of visiting Iceland around this time is that the main roads to the North of Iceland are mostly still open. Check the travel and road conditions at road.is. On the picture below you can see it is all snow everywhere even in the south of Iceland.

Pingvellir National park=good spot for Northern Lights
Pingvellir National park =good spot for Northern Lights

How do I know if I will see Aurora Borealis?

It’s a lot of luck and a bit of science to see the northern lights of Iceland. As mentioned before it is important to visit Iceland in winter (September-April). The northern light is active 95% of the time but the chances of catching a glimpse depend on the

  • weather conditions; bad weather makes it harder to see the Northern Lights;
  • cloud coverage: if there are almost no clouds you have a better chance to see the Northern Lights. Although if aurora is very strong you might even see it through the clouds. But no or partly clouds will help to see aurora better.
  • level of darkness: the darker the better. In summer season it won’t get dark enough in the evening to see the aurora.
  • light pollution: in a big city like Reykjavik the changes are less to see aurora because of all the lights in the city;
  • full Moon: a full Moon can have a negative impact on your pictures.
  • the level of aurora activity: if aurora activity is high you chance will increase to see the Northern Lights. The activity is measured from 0-9. With a level of 4-5 you have already a good chance to see aurora. However, even with a low activity of 2-3 it is possible to see aurora if the other conditions I mentioned before are in place.

Check out this northern lights forecast prediction to find out if northern lights are in the forecast. Clouds, light pollution and the full Moon make it difficult to see the aurora. Look all around you, not only north: auroras may appear anywhere in the sky. If the conditions are right you have a chance to see the northern light everywhere in Iceland.

Are Northern Lights guaranteed in Iceland?

Your chance to see the northern lights in Iceland will increase if you go outside of the cities. The reason is that you don’t have a lot of light pollution outside of the cities. If you don’t want to spend much time checking for the northern light yourself, you can book a tour with an operator. In that way, these guides will do all the preparations for you regarding ‘aurora hunting’. Here you can book an Aurora tour with GetYourGuide. A benefit is that they have a flexible cancellation service and a great customer service support. If you book a tour you don’t need to spend time looking on the northern lights forecast Iceland all day and night or just waiting in your car all night.

Organized tour

Tip: if you want to book an organized Northern light tour it is best to book it on one of your first days in Iceland. Why? because if you don’t see the Northern Light during the first days of your stay in Iceland, some tours offer a free retry. You can reschedule for another night and get a second chance without extra costs.

You can choose between bus tours, mini-bus tours, luxury bus tours and a boat tour. The bus tour is the cheapest option. Second cheapest option is to book a mini-bus tour if you want to aurora hunt with a small group. Both bus tour and mini-bus tour offer a free re-try if you were not able to see the Northern Lights the first time. If you want to have an even more exclusive experience a luxury bus-tour with a glass roof might be an option for you. Last but not least you can book a boat tour. A tour on a boat to see Aurora can be amazing. However, if you are planning to make pictures on the boat, the movement of the boat can be challenging to make good pictures of aurora.

Do the Northern Lights happen every night?

Not every night, but you can increase your chances by learning when to visit and where to go. The best time of year to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is usually late September to April. During this time frame, the nights are long enough for darkness to settle in and create optimal viewing conditions, but the weather tends to be too cold for people to stick around outside for hours at a time. So, if you have a choice between summer or winter, I recommend winter!

What’s the best time of night to see northern lights?

The best time of night to see it is usually around midnight, although the northern lights are visible any time it’s dark enough and there is a minimum of clouds. You can see the aurora borealis in Iceland whenever the sky is dark. However, due to the Earth’s rotation, atmosphere, and magnetosphere in relation to Iceland’s position on the globe, they are most likely to be seen between 9.30 p.m. to 1 a.m. We started to check at 10.30 p.m ourselves and were lucky around 00.30 a.m. We stayed in the car for 2 hours which we parked at this hostel we stayed that night. It was very cold even in the car so we were happy to put on a lot of layers with clothing. We had a thermos with hot tea in the car to survive the cold hours in the car;).

Where is the best place to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

The further north you go in Iceland, the better your chance to see the Northern Light. However, during winter time some main roads to the north can be closed due to the bad weather conditions. So this means the only options to see the northern lights remain in the south of Iceland.

If you want to have a good chance to see the Northern lights in the south of Iceland these places below are the best places:

  • Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. This beautiful lagoon is located in the south of Iceland. You find this location by driving along the Ring Road from Vik. For lodging I recommend these places to stay:

Hali Country Hotel: this hotel is only 7,5 miles away from Jokulsarlon and has private bathrooms where they serve breakfast as well.

Dalshofdi Guesthouse: this is a nice budget-friendly modern guesthouse/ hostel with shared bathrooms in Kalfafell. At almost a coincidence w saw aurora on this location.

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: this is a very fancy and modern hotel to stay. This is a more expensive option to consider.

Jokulsarlon black beach
Jokulsarlon black beach
  • Black sand beaches. These beaches are located near Vik as well. Here are some places that are nice to stay:

Glacier View Guesthouse: the guesthouse is 27 miles away from Vik.

Adventure hotel Geirland: this is a 50 minutes drive from Vik.

church Vik
church Vik

Pingvellir National Park. This park offers clear night skies necessary to see the aurora as well.

Borealis hotel: this hotel is a relative budget-friendly option and a 10 minutes drive to national park Pingvellir.

ION Adventure Hotel: if you want to have luxury stay this is the place to be. This is not a low-budget option but a beautiful location. Only 11 miles away from Pingvellir National park.

Staying in one of these locations will not be a guarantee to see the Northern Lights. However, under the right circumstances the chances will improve to see aurora.

What is the cheapest way to see Aurora Borealis?

If you are in Reykjavik you might have a chance to see the Northern light. Several people we have spoken to have seen aurora while they were there. So if you are lucky you can see Aurora during a late night walk. If you don’t want an organized tour, the cheapest way to see the Northern lights is driving by car to a location nearby with a clear and dark sky away from the city. If you check the Northern light forecast you see where you have the best chance to see the northern light. As I mentioned before we were at a hostel located in Kalfafell when we saw the Northern Lights. We had quite the view at the public space of the hostel. So no need to book a very expensive hotel because you can’t predict where the Northern Lights exactly will appear.

How do you photograph Aurora Borealis?

Especially the first time you want to make pictures of the Northern Lights with your smartphone this can be challenging and very disappointing if it didn’t worked out. Why?

  • Because it can be very cold outside when you want to take pictures. For example if you don’t have a tripod and want to take a picture with your hands with shivering hands your pictures will fail. In order to see aurora your hands need to be entirely still. And trust me, if it is very cold and windy this is not do-able. We have experienced this ourselves and the first pictures failed.
  • If you don’t install certain settings on your smartphone you will not capture aurora properly.

Therefore, it is essential to make some preparations regarding the settings of your phone. With the below simple settings for your smartphone you will increase your chance for a few good shots.

Northern Lights in Iceland
Northern Lights in Iceland

When aurora can be seen?

Step 1: know the best conditions when to see aurora

  • come to Iceland in winter time;
  • looking for aurora during the evening/ night;
  • go or drive to a place with less light pollution;
  • know these 3 basics factors to see Aurora: no clouds and clear sky, darkness and Northern Lights activity is high.

Step 2: know the importance of time and place

To photograph the Northern Lights in Iceland, importance is time and place. To know the correct place and time it is important to use both the Northern light forecast of Iceland and the aurora app on your smartphone. For android go to the Google Play Store and type ‘aurora’.

Step 3: how to use the Northern Light forecast

Know how to use the Northern Light forecast.Check on the Northern light forecast to look for low, mid and high clouds and find a spot on the map that is white on all of them. This might be confusing since the white spots presents the spots where you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland. So the white spots are not clouds! The first image with the green color is the most important one to check. The white spots represents the areas where the sky quality is the best to see aurora. So with no or partly clouds. On this website they mention also the level of aurora activity. However, this level is for entire Iceland and not for a certain area of Iceland. That is why it is important to use the aurora app as well.

Northern Lights forecast Iceland

Step 4: how to use the aurora app

In addition check on the aurora app for the strongest aurora activity. If you click on the aurora map, you see the aurora wave position and the direction depending on the color. 1-3 is hard to see and 4 up to higher is best. Below you see print-screens of how the app looks. If you want to know the aurora activity you click on the Aurora map which is the first screen of the app for more information.

Northern Lights aurora app first screen
Northern Lights Aurora app first screen
Northern Lights aurora app aurora activity
Northern Lights aurora app aurora activity

Grey = 1% -9% chance to see aurora. This means almost not visible.

Green = 10% -29% chance to see aurora. Very hard to see with the naked eye.

Orange = 30% -49% chance to see aurora. Visible with the naked eye.

Red = 50%+ chance to see aurora. Well visible with the possibility for multiple colors.

Smartphone equipment to photograph Northern Lights

Step 5: take these smartphone equipment with you

Take a tripod with you. This is very important since the camera may not move while taking a picture of the Northern Lights. Make sure you have one or two spare phone batteries aka power banks with you (because of the cold you run out of battery very fast) and have an extra memory card with you.

Smartphone settings to make pictures of the Northern Lights

Make sure you already know the settings you want to adjust so if aurora will show , you don’t lose time by figuring out the picture settings. Secondly, if you have a car, drive to a nice place outside of the city where you have a good chance to spot the Northern Lights. Both the Northern Light forecast and the aurora app will guide you at what spot you have the best chance.

Step 6: check below smartphone settings in advance

  • Night mode: if your smartphone has a night mode you switch on this option. This is the easiest way of taking picture of the Northern Lights. It depends on the brightness of aurora if only the night mode is enough to use. Just start taking pictures if you see of aurora and see the results. Go to ‘picture’- ‘more’ and click on ‘night mode’.
  • Pro mode: if the night mode doesn’t give you the best results it is time for a more advanced setting. Within this pro-mode you can adjust a few settings in order to get the best pictures. Go to ‘picture’- ‘more’ and click on ‘Pro’.

Within this setting click on ‘ISO’. If aurora is already visible with the naked eye you can adjust the ‘ISO’ between 50-80 until 800 if auror is very bright. if the aurora is not very bright and it is very dark, increase the ‘ISO’ between 1600-3200.

Click on ‘shutter’ option. This option is right next to the ‘ISO’ option. Adjust the shutter to the maximum. In this case to 10. The shutter means the exposure time. If you see a very fast and bright Northern Light two seconds are enough.

Adjust the ‘WB’ option. WB means White Balance. You can adjust the ‘WB’ around 3000k.

Use the ‘timer’ function.You can find the timer option on top of your screen. The icon looks like a watch. Set the timer between to to more (depending how much time you need).

You can adjust the ‘MF’ function. ‘MF’ is also known as the ‘infinity’ option on regular cameras. This means taking pictures of things that are far away. Adjust the ‘MF’ by swiping from left to the right. So on the left you see a flower icon. Make sure you swipe entirely to the right where you see the mountain icon.

Northern Lights aurora picture
Northern Lights aurora picture taken from inside against a window

Tip: if you are outside and it is almost too cold for you to take pictures this tip will save your pictures! When we tried to take pictures it was so cold we couldn’t take proper pictures because our hands and bodies were shaking. We didn’t had a tripod with us so not well prepared. And the aurora was not strong that night. But we found out this method that saved our pictures!

If you are with two persons and at a location in a house, apartment, hotel or hostel and you see aurora from outside your window, place your smartphone against a window and windowsill. If you see aurora through your smartphone, let the other person that wants to be on the picture , go outside where you have the best view. Simply take the picture with your smartphone pressed entirely against the window. Because it is nice and warm inside you will not move your phone and it is easy to make adjustments inside instead of changing some settings in the cold. You can also try this in your car if the window is straight.

Install an app taking pictures of the Northern Light with your smartphone.

This is for the iPhone users. Did you know you can install an app on your smartphone (iPhone) in order to make pictures of aurora that captures the green of aurora very well? The settings can be compared to a DSLR camera. With this Northern Lights Photo taker app it is possible to share your pictures right away on social media. I haven’t discovered an app for Android smartphone.

What steps can I take to have the best chance of seeing Aurora?

  • Visit Iceland in winter time. This means between September and April;
  • Extend your holiday. One weekend can be too short to see the Northern Lights. Like I mentioned before, there are several factors you need to take into consideration in order to see aurora. Bad weather, not enough darkness, light pollution, clouds can influence the aurora activity. Having a few days extra in Iceland will increase your luck!
  • Explore different places in Iceland during winter time using the Northern Lights forecast. So if the roads to the North of Iceland are open during winter time, it is worth to explore this area as well.
  • Find places out of town to stay during the night. Book a hostel, guesthouse, AirBnb or hotel out of town located in nature and far away from popular tourist stops. The lights of the tourist buses can harm your pictures as well:(.
  • Be patient and check very night. If the aurora level is 3 or more go outside and look for it. Yes, you might skip some sleeping hours but it is really worth it once you have seen the Northern Lights in Iceland yourself.
  • Book an organized tour. In that way you don’t have to worry about all conditions and factors that will influence the aurora activity. The guides from the tours will drive you to the places where the Northern Lights are predicted according to the forecast.
organized Northern Lights tour
Organized Northern Lights tour

Northern Lights Aurora Show in case you missed the real thing!

If you missed the real Northern Lights and you are so frustrated by it, this might be a good alternative for you. In Reykjavik you can see an Aurora Light show in the Perlan Museum. At least you skip the cold nights looking for aurora and all preparations! Just sit on your chair, relax and enjoy the beautiful lights.

FAQ

Can you see Northern Lights in January Iceland?

Yes! During winter time which includes January, you have a great chance to see the Northern lights. There is less hours of sunlight which makes the chance even better.

Can you see Northern Lights from Reykjavik?

Yes, you can see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik if the aurora activity is very high.

What are the Northern Lights in Iceland called?

It is mainly called Northern Lights. However, the scientific name is Aurora Borealis. The Icelandic people call it Norðurljós (Dawn of the North).

How long can the Northern Lights last?

The Northern Lights are most of the times only visible for about 15-30 minutes at a time. If it is your lucky day, the Northern light could even last for a few hours.

Can the Northern Lights be white?

Yes, the Northern Lights can be seen as white-gray sometimes. For example on a cloudy night you see a white-gray aurora. But in general, the usual color most people will recognize the Northern Lights is green.

Do the Northern Lights have color?

Yes, the Northern Lights can have different colors. The main color is green. If the Northern Lights are showing on a top night you might even see a combination of red, blue and purple colors.

How do Northern Lights work?

You see Northern Lights because of charged particles like electrons and protons collide with gas in the atmosphere. Tiny flashes are the result of collisions between the particles with the gas and that is why we see the Northern Lights with beautiful colors.

Do northern lights make noise?

Yes. Others have witnessed that the Northern Lights do make noise. The noise is described as quiet and almost imperceptible crackling, whooshing or whizzing noise. We haven’t heard the sound ourselves unfortunately but we hope to see and hear aurora another time again.

How likely are you to see the northern lights?

The best time to see the Northern Lights is during the winter months between September and April. If you book an organized tour in winter, the guides will do their best to drive to the best places to see the Northern Lights. Are you willing to go aurora hunting yourself, the best is to check the aurora app or northern lights forecast. And of course to look for aurora during the evening or night.

What percentage of people see Northern Lights?

The percentage of people or visitors to experience the Northern Lights during a vacation in winter time lays around 80%.

icelandic flag

Iceland travel: best tips how to save money in Iceland!

If you have plans to travel to Iceland than you might have noticed it is an expensive travel destination. An Iceland travel can be challenging if you haven’t done proper preparations. A cup of coffee with a piece of pie may can cost 15 to 20 euros per person. Or a hotel room may cost you 200 euros. However, it is possible to visit Iceland with a limited budget. This blog is for you if you are traveling low-budget, don’t need luxury and don’t want to spend too much money. I share with you my best tips how you can save money in Iceland based on our personal experience. This will help you travel on a budget in Iceland. After reading this blog you know exactly where en how you can save money in Iceland!

seljalandsfoss winter
seljalandsfoss winter

1. Make a plan of your budget

If you travel to Iceland it is really important to plan your trip thoroughly. This is to avoid unexpected surprises once you are in Iceland and hopefully don’t end up broke with no more savings:). Once you made a plan of how much your vacation approximately will cost, this will give you a better understanding how much you need to save and if it is affordable in this stage of your life. Or if you already saved an amount of money if you are willing to spend it on Iceland.

We made a plan before but we were not quite prepared about certain expenses like gasoline, eating out and grocery items. In order to get an idea how much the costs are in Iceland you can check this website Numbeo for prices in Iceland in restaurants, supermarkets, public transport and gasoline. You can also filter on city like the expenses only in Reykjavik. If you go to the library you can find travel guides of Iceland with tips and advice about your trip to Iceland as well.

What does a budget planning for your Iceland travel look like?

A good planning of your budget starts with all major and predictable costs. This means expenses for:

  • flights;
  • transportation: rental car (insurance and fuel), ferries and buses;
  • lodging/accomodation;
  • tours and activities;
  • meals (based on the website Numbeo you get the idea of the costs);
  • camping gear rental costs;
  • sightseeing admission fees;
  • souvenirs, shopping and snacks;
  • coronatest: check the corona rules for Iceland before you go. We paid almost 40 euros per person for a test in our own country .

Make sure to be a bit flexible with your expenses and save some money for unexpected expenses. If you don’t have any room for a little extra budget than you need to think if you are going to have fun on your trip if your budget is too tight.

flight iceland
Flight iceland

How can I still travel to Iceland even if I don’t have the money?

Traveling to Iceland can be challenging if you are on a budget. If you have investigated the estimated prices of your trip and taken the budget tips into consideration and you don’t think you can afford it now? No worries, there are different solutions to every problem.

Firstly, you can decide how much money you need to save and start saving money on a weekly or a monthly base. Check out for yourself how long it is going to take until you reach your saving goal.

Secondly, check out if a shorter trip to Iceland will cut a lot of expenses. It can really make a huge difference if you are going 1 week instead of 2 weeks. Or if you are planning to go 6 days you could check if 3 days in the area of the capital Reykjavik are within the budget?

Thirdly, check if you can earn extra money to use for your Iceland travel. Be creative, for example, start de clutter in your house and get rid of stuff you never use. Sell your stuff online via several marketplaces like Ebay and earn money! Do you expect a holiday payment from your employer? Or a promotion? Or maybe you get a tax return? Do you have a room you almost never use? Maybe you can rent it out via Airbnb for a while. The list is endless of things you can do to earn a bit extra money with your skills.

2. Iceland travel Off season

Mostly all tourists will come during the summer months. This is also the most expensive time to travel to Iceland. During summer, especially from June until the end of August the prices of flights, hotels, car rentals and activities are almost always much higher during summer. This is one of the reasons we decided to travel to Iceland in winter. Another reason was that we love winter time and the magical landscape of Iceland in winter. If it is possible for you to travel to Iceland Off season, it is a good option since the prices are much lower.

Another benefit to travel to Iceland Off season is that you will avoid the most tourists at the famous highlights of Iceland. However, the weather during summer is of course the best. Summer time is also the best and safest time for hiking, driving and camping and see wildlife. A disadvantage of Iceland travel Off season can be that not all the attractions and activities are open. But this blog is about saving money while traveling to Iceland so I will cover our experience of Iceland travel during winter (Off season).

black sand beach Iceland
Black sand beach Iceland

3. Compare flights and book the cheapest flight

You can save a lot of money by comparing flight prices and book a flight months before you want to go. Traveling during weekdays can also be cheaper. I always use Skyscanner to compare and book the cheapest flights. You can go to the website Skyscanner here. One of the cheapest airlines to Iceland are Icelandair and Play. These airlines are popular as stopovers if people are traveling between Europe and North America and vice versa. Iceland is a good option for a stop over since you can have a break in Iceland for a few days and enjoying some highlights of Iceland. This way, you basically only have to buy one return airline ticket while discovering two destinations.

It depends on where you live in the world to find the cheapest airline fares. You can check on both Icelandair and Play but it is actually the smartest to compare as many flights as possible on different dates via Skyscanner. It is possible to score a cheap ticket to Iceland that starts with 60 euros. These are often simple tickets where you can only take one piece of hand luggage, the price becomes a bit more expensive if you want a more comfortable seat or want to take more luggage. So it is a good thing to check the baggage guidelines if you want to book a flight. A good period to book cheap flight tickets to Iceland is for example from March to July, but also outside that period you can have a chance on low priced flights.

Tip: with this luggage hack you don’t pay extra for your luggage! How? take a pillow case with you. You may always bring a pillow with you for free in the airplane. If you have a little pile with extra clothing that doesn’t fit in your suitcase? Put it in your pillow case and take it with you for FREE! You also have some extra comfort during your flight:).

Important! Please be advised that there is a difference between Reykjavik airport where the domestic flights of Iceland are operating and Keflavik International Airport where all international flights arrive and departure. In your case you choose Keflavik Airport if you want to travel to Iceland.

4. Iceland travel where to stay

The next step is to check where you want to stay during your holiday. I would highly recommend to sort out your lodging options since it can be very stressful to find a place to stay on a short notice. It depends on how much you want to spend for lodging and how much time you want to spend checking your options and comparing prices. In the capital Reykjavik you have the most options from simple to a luxury hotel. But in Reykjavik it is almost always more expensive than in other areas of Iceland. You find more bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in the less populated places in Iceland. I will share with you my own experience and all the alternatives. Since hotels were not amongst the cheapest options I will not discuss this in this blog.

Hostels

Hostels are very popular since it is an affordable way for a nice and modest but not a very luxury stay. Mostly there is a shared kitchen with all the facilities to cook your own meal. You can check before if you share a bathroom with others or that you have your own bathroom. There are hostels with both dorms and separate rooms for 2 or more persons. I personally don’t like sleeping in a dorm since I get awake very easily by every noise and snoring, so I always book a separate room for 2 persons.

Since I don’t mind to share a bathroom with others, I always book a separate room with shared bathroom. A lot of hostels use a self-service check-in. This means you receive one day before your stay an access code to enter the hostel and to get your key. If you are allergic to woolen or down and feather blankets you can mention it as a comment on the reservation. You need to check if they serve breakfast as well or if you need to make your own breakfast in the kitchen. Below you see a list with my favorite hostel options in Iceland.

  • Hostelworld– this is a website I would recommend if you want to look for hostels not only in Iceland but all around the world. Except for camping this is one of the cheapest options. We also booked on this website for a stay in Reykjavik when we arrived.
  • Hostel.is– this is a platform with hostels in both Reykjavik and all around Iceland. If you are with a group they offer also hostels where you can stay with a group.
  • Hotel Vatnsholt– This is a renovated farm which is made into a guesthouse with little cozy rooms for 2 persons with your own bathroom and toilet included. This is an ideal location if you are doing the Golden Circle route and want to explore more of the south area of Iceland. It was a surprise for us that the rooms were amongst the cheapest of all other hostels that we booked. There is no breakfast included but you can book a nice breakfast in addition. You get free coffee and tea in the restaurant and they have coffee and tea to go cups.

If you check directly on their website you see the more expensive prices of hotel rooms. However, they offer a lot of smaller rooms for good prices. We paid 60 euro per night for 2 persons. When we were there in February there was a snow storm one day and they offered an extra stay immediately so we would not worry because we couldn’t make it to the other hostel in Vik.

Food tip: in hostels you can find a lot of times a ‘left over’ section of food that people bought on their trip but couldn’t take with them on their trip back home. So if you booked a hostel, before you buy food check at the hostel if you can use food from the ‘left over’ section. We saw several times that people left rice, pasta, pasta sauce, fresh fruit and cereal behind. This can already save you a lot of extra costs!

gullfoss winter
Gullfoss

Booking.com

  • Booking.com– I used this platform a lot to find hostels. On Booking.com you find all kind of lodging options. Besides hotel accommodation you can find guesthouses, holiday homes and hostels as well. Just use the filter function at ‘accommodation’. How we found the best prices with Booking.com I will share with you in the 5th paragraph.

Airbnb

This can also be a good option for you to check. If you book an Airbnb accommodation you can choose between a lot of different holiday homes, rooms and apartments for all sort of budgets. Because we weren’t quite sure where we would be 1 or 2 days during our Iceland travel we booked a room last minute via Airbnb when we already were in Iceland . We were in the area of Skaftafell and needed a place to stay in that area. I checked on Airbnb and found Dalshofdi Guesthouse.

It is on this location where we have seen the Northern Lights / Aurora. I must say this was also one of my favorite low budget accommodations.I wrote a blog about when, were and how to photograph the Northern Lights with your smartphone with low aurora activity. The rooms are stylish and modern and the shared bathroom is very clean. A friend of mine who has also been to Iceland told me she had an Airbnb in Reykjavik once for only 30 euros a night so this could be an affordable option as well.

VRBO

VRBO is a popular platform where you can find holiday homes and places to stay as well. If you filter on price for example below 100 euros, you see a lot of rooms you can rent from private owners. I don’t have any experiences myself with this platform but it is worth to check the prices.

Farm holiday

If you would like to stay on a renovated farm during your stay then Icelandic Farm Holidays is a nice option for you. They offer several farms where you can spend the night. This is not the cheapest option but I mention it just in case you want something else besides hostels or camping. Most farm animals you see are especially Icelandic horses. There are also a lot of Icelandic horse tours to find for tourists if you are interested to spend time with these beautiful animals.

Couchsurfing

Have you ever heard of couchsurfing? Couchsurfing is a service where you can stay at a host for free who is registered at the Couchsurfing platform. This is not an option for control freaks but for the one who is seeking adventure and the unknown it is worth a try. There are hosts in Iceland as well who are willing to let you stay at their place for a night. You need to make a profile about yourself on the Couchsurf online platform first. Once this is done you fill out out the place you want to visit in Iceland and check if there are any hosts located in that area.

You can read other reviews about their experience with the hosts to minimize the risks that you end up with someone that you don’t feel comfortable with. The place to stay at your hosts’ home can vary from a real couch to a room entirely for yourself. I haven’t experienced it myself but for what I have heard from friends of mine who went couchsurfing, it was a good experience.

Camping

Staying on a camping site is next to couch surfing and wild camping one of the least expensive way to overnight in Iceland. During wintertime this is not an option since a lot of campsites are closed in winter. Therefore, it is a good idea to check the campsites’ schedule to be sure they are not closed. It is not necessary to book in advance. Several campsites do not take bookings in advance.

You might also check where you can find all campsites before you start your journey. In that way you know you have a place to stay for the night. Not knowing where to sleep at night can be very stressful so better safe than sorry. It can be hard to find all campsites in Iceland online but if you are renting a camper van in Iceland you can ask for a list with campsites and campsite information. I found at least these campsite locations here and here. Another option is to ask at a Visitor Center for all the campsite options in that area.

Buy a Camping Card

If you want to use camping sites a lot during your travel to Iceland you can check out the Camping Card. With this Card you can stay on approximately 42 camping sites for up to 4 days maximum. It costs around 167 euros and you can buy it online or buy it in Iceland at a camper van and car rental agency or tourist information office. It is for maximum 2 adults plus up to 4 children under the age of 16. The card remains valid until 28 days. So if you want to visit camping sites mostly of your time this Card will save you money.

Wild camping

If you want to spend as little as possible on accommodation when you are in Iceland, wild camping in Iceland is the best choice. You can bring some camping gear with you from your hometown if it fits in your suitcase or you can rent it in Iceland. Wild camping in Iceland is only recommended during summer time. The weather in winter is very cold and you need to put on good quality clothing. Wild camping is only allowed in some places and under very strict conditions, if you do not adhere to this then you can risk a fine. However, wild camping is next to couch surfing the cheapest option during your Iceland trip. On camping sites you often find BBQ and cooking areas, making cooking a bit easier as well.

wild camping in Iceland
wild camping in Iceland

According the Law you need to sleep in a designated campsite even though you sleep in a camper van, RV, tent or trailer. They make an exception if you have explicit permission of the landowner to overnight on their property. If you have plans to do the real thing like camping in a tent far away from main road and building, you may still camp for free for 1 night at a time in Iceland. This can also be a solution if you have plans to go for a hiking tour that will take several days. You can check out the list with restrictions here.

Mountain huts

If you want to plan a hiking tour for a few days than you can book a mountain hut. How cool is that? You find the prices here.

5. Investigate what you want to see traveling in Iceland

If you are planning your lodging options your first step is to investigate what exactly you want to see and do in Iceland. My proven strategy is to get a local guide of Iceland like the Lonely Planet or whatever is available in your country. I went to the library and got one that I can use for a few weeks so it only costed me a few cents. There I check the highlights of Iceland and write down what I would like to see.

Secondly, I would join Iceland Facebook groups and ask for advice regarding the highlights. Usually, people like to share their experiences and best tips. There were a few ladies in the group who already had written blogs about their experiences in Iceland. Thanks to this information we could orientate better where we would stay for the nights. Now, we knew what we wanted to see it was time to check if there were hostels in the area nearby.

In our case we wanted to see these highlights in the south of Iceland:

  • drive the Golden Circle route
diamond beach Iceland
Diamond beach Iceland

How to find the cheapest prices traveling in Iceland online?

Check Google maps

When traveling to Iceland you want of course find the best prices for your accommodation in hostels and guesthouses. How did I do it? I went to Google maps and printed out the map of Iceland. There, I would put marks on all highlights we wanted to see. Secondly, I went back to Google maps again and checked the map of Iceland again. In the search bar on top I would write ‘hostels’. Google gave all results of hostels in Iceland.

I would compare our marked highlights on the printed map with the hostels in that area that Google suggested. If you already clicked on one hostel you see that Google gives you new suggestions of hostels in the area. And as a surprise there were a lot cheap hostels to choose from. If you click on one hostel with a good price you see immediately the best prices of several booking websites. In our case there were a lot of good prices if you booked via Booking.com.

Below you see our ‘beautiful’ marked not exactly blog and Instagram worthy map of Iceland 🙂 But I only wanted to show you this to get the idea:).

Iceland map
Iceland map printed out with marked highlights

Below you see all hostels with current prices in Iceland if I write down ‘hostel’ in Google maps. If you click on one of the prices in the map you see the hostel of your choice. There you can see the price of the hostel as well and my experience is that if you want to book the room, Booking.com is the cheapest most of the time. Please see the print screen of Hotel Vatnsholt where you see the prices (60 euro p. night).

Hostels in Iceland
Google Maps: Hostels in Iceland
price of a hostel via booking.com
price of a hostel via Booking.com

6. Save money traveling in Iceland by booking in advance

If you book in advance for a hostel or Airbnb this can really save you a lot of money. Because the prices are lower and you have more options to choose from. If you book last minute in summer time the prices can be insanely high compare to bookings you do months before. On Booking.com for example you can book your accommodations and cancel it without extra costs. You can check the booking until a certain date you are allowed to cancel the booking. In that way you know you have a place to stay but you have the freedom to change it in the meantime if your plans have changed.

Booking.com

7. Explore your Iceland travel options

If you travel to Iceland it depends on the time of the year and how many days you are traveling, how you are going to travel through Iceland. You can check out your options below:

Rent a car

In Iceland you can easily rent a car. This is not the cheapest option. However, the advantage is that it gives you a lot of freedom to make your own plan. If you take your time to compare car prices, There are several providers of rental cars in Iceland. We went to Iceland in winter (February) by airplane. Because of the cold weather conditions we wanted to rent a car. We had a good experience with this platform Discover Cars. It got us the cheapest deal with full insurance.

Find Your Rental Car

We booked online approximately 5 weeks before we went to Iceland. It is best to book online in advance (cheaper) and if you do this online it is mostly cheaper. I have heard from a lot of other people that they have good experience with Sunny Cars. I don’t think this is the cheapest provider but I heard the customer service and handling of insurance is very well handled by them.

Insurance

This is a very important one. Sometimes, when booking a rental car, you may find that you need to take out all kinds of extra insurance when you pick up the car, these are all unforeseen extra costs. I highly recommend to book full coverage in addition. Why? Because the Basic Insurance (CDW) that is obligated by Law, doesn’t cover damage like windscreen cracks, wind, water, sand, ice and scratches. If you drive in Iceland this damage is common and to be expected given the extreme weather conditions and gravel roads.

If your coverage is only Basic (CDW) and you face one type of damage I discussed earlier, the labor and costs to replace car parts is very expensive and can cost you hundreds to thousands of euros extra. if you only go for the Basic Insurance, you also have the issue regarding ‘own risk’. This means if you had a car accident and the amount of your ‘own risk’ aka ‘high deductible’ is between for example 1000-2500 euros, you still need to pay this amount yourself. You can check at the car rental if they can decrease the ‘own risk’ or ‘deductible’ amount to 0 euros for the Basic and (optional) Full insurance if you pay a little extra.

We also got ‘unlimited mileage’ in our insurance package. We didn’t know exactly how much we would drive exactly and didn’t want to be surprised by unexpected costs if we reached the limit of mileage. This is all a personal consideration so just choose what suits your needs.

rental car in snow
rental car in snow

Creditcard

The car rental provider in Iceland will ask you to pay with your credit card. Be prepared that you need to place a high deposit amount into their account temporarily. In our case we got a rental car via Discover Cars. We already paid the rental amount online weeks before. However, when picking-up the rental car we needed to put a high deposit amount of 2.700 euros into their account. So make sure the amount on your credit card can go this high. Of course, we received the full amount back on the credit card after we handed over the car with no extra damage. A lot of gas stations have self-service where you need a credit card that works wit a PIN set up.

Make pictures of the car

To avoid issues afterwards, it is best to walk around the car once you picked it up at the rental provider. Make pictures of the entire car. More importantly, make pictures of all scratches, bumps, marks etc. you can find. In that way you can prove to the rental company this damage was already there and was not caused by you. Normally, the rental provider will do the same before you leave with the car.

Iceland 4×4

If you travel in winter renting a 4×4 car is in our experience a must. Why? Because the main roads can be full of ice and snow even though they do their best to keep the roads clean. We traveled in February and saw a lot of people having issues with their car stuck in the snow (on the roads) and even helped a few people who were stuck to get out. Most of them didn’t have 4×4 wheel drive and the slippery and icy roads can make driving very challenging. Without this 4×4 rental car we would have been stuck several times.

Especially during winter time you don’t want to get stuck on these roads where it can be very cold and windy. Waiting for help can take a bit and sitting in the cold is not the best scenario. In summer you don’t need a 4×4 for the main roads. If you go off-road during summer it is recommended to rent a 4×4 to avoid getting stuck on gravel roads or rivers.

iceland 4x4
iceland 4×4

Rental car costs

The rental car costs can vary tremendously. When I started comparing prices there were rental car companies who asked 600-800 euros for only one week. So it pays-off to do your homework in advance. Via Discover Cars we got our selves a Dacia Duster 4×4. For 7 days we paid 250 euros with full coverage of insurance. This was in February so the costs may be a bit higher during summer time. Furthermore, a full tank costs around 90 euros! by the time I am writing this blog, but you can drive a long way with it. How much you need to refuel depends of course on the number of kilometers you drive. It also depends if you drive gasoline or diesel. The fuel prices in Iceland are extremely high and even though in the Netherlands we consider fuel prices to be high, in Iceland it was even higher.

Save money on fuel with this website

I received this tip from a local. If you go to gasvaktin.is you can check the cheapest fuel price in your area in Iceland. Not all gas stations have the same price. It can be rewarding to check the prices of the gas stations before. If you find the cheapest gas station in your area check if you can fill empty jerrycans with fuel to save money. You might check if the gas stations use discount cards as well. In that way you can save a few % on fuel or discount at the restaurant. Sometimes they have coupons for free filter coffee as well.

Refuel you car regularly traveling in Iceland

If you make a road trip where it is to be expected not to find gas stations everywhere, make sure you refuel the car often. Our strategy was to check on Google Maps where all gas stations were located on our trip. If we expected to not find a gas station for a long time we would refuel the car at all gas stations we could find making sure we had a full tank.

rental car iceland
rental car iceland

Go carpooling and save money

If you want to save even more on your fuel and rental costs, taking hitchhikers and travelers with you could be an option for you. It is not uncommon to see hitchhikers in Iceland. You can charge a fee or ask them to pay a compensation for the fuel. A second option is to check out the carpooling website Samferda.net. On this website you can register your ride and others will see which route you are going to take. You can fill out the costs for them if they want to join you.

Calculate how many days you need the rental car

You can save money by renting the car only on the days you are going for a road trip. If you are planning to stay in Reykjavik for one or 2 days you can maybe explore other options like walking, biking or public transport. If you planned a guided tour than you might not need a rental car for that day.

Check the travel and road conditions of Iceland every day

Since the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and change quickly, you better check the travel conditions every day. It will keep you save and the risk of damage and extra costs to your car will be less by avoiding bad weather. It is common that you face blocked roads in winter due to bad weather and can take hours to days until they open the road again. Since we traveled to Iceland in February we had bad weather conditions and even had a snow storm the entire day. We were stuck at the hostel we were staying for a day.

I would highly recommend to listen to the weather recommendations. If you ignore it and just start driving the roads even though there is a warning to stay home, the insurance will not cover anything if you get stuck somewhere. Or if you need help it can take a lot of time to get assistance since these companies are very busy keeping the roads clean and helping others.

Here you can find 2 websites we used to check the travel and road conditions in Iceland:

road.is– here you can find all road conditions and if certain roads are blocked due to the bad weather.

Safetravel.is-the colors on the map will tell you the condition of the road. You can also apply for weather warnings on your cell phone.

roadtrip iceland
roadtrip iceland

Public transport traveling in Iceland

The public transport is very good in Iceland. It is relatively cheap compared to taxis or a rental car. You can book your bus ticket through the website Re.is or pay the bus ticket in the bus with cash or using the website straeto.is. You can also download the straeto app on your phone if this is more handy for you. If you are in Reykjavik and bought a Reykjavik City Card you don’t need to pay for the bus tickets. When you are in the North of Iceland , the city Akureyri offers free city buses for tourists.

The public transport schedule you find here. Keep in mind that the regular buses mostly cover Reykjavik and the surrounding area. So if you want to travel with a regular bus to the highlights of Iceland the bus stops will not be near the tourist stops. The solution is to buy a Buss passport. These (hop-on hop-off) buses do run most in the summer and much less in the winter, so keep this in mind when planning your trip.

Iceland travel by boat

If you drive to Denmark from a place in Europe, you can take the Smyril Line ferry to Iceland from there. The ferry runs between Hirtshals in Denmark and Seydisfjordur in Iceland. If you travel this way you can take your own car with you to Iceland and save on the cost of a plane ticket. Of course, you will be traveling longer (easily 2 full days at sea, so about 48 hours and that does not include the drive to Denmark), but it can save on the price because you do not have to rent a car and do not have to buy a plane ticket. This also allows you to take camping gear more easily and you may not have to pay for ho(s)tels in Iceland either.

Iceland travel with a group

To save money in Iceland you can explore the option to travel with a group. This can be family members, friends or other like-minded travelers. If you rent a car you can split the costs. Or if you rent an apartment or book as a group in a hostel you can split costs as well. Sometimes it looks expensive to get on a group bus tour. However, if you calculate all costs like transportation, accommodation, sightseeing, breakfasts it can be cheaper or the same than plan it all yourself.

Camping

I mentioned before the possibility to camp. Your transportation can be a rental car, public transport or a camper van.

Hitchhiking while traveling Iceland

The cheapest form of transportation is hitchhiking. If you travel in Iceland I would not recommend this for your entire trip. The distance between one point to another can take very long if you can’t find anyone to drive you and there is not always a safe place to stand near the road. But this is of course a personal choice so it is up to you with whatever you feel comfortable with.

8. Avoid paid activities during your Iceland travel

There are many highlights and sights in Iceland that you can visit for free. The popular Glacier Walks and Glacier Tours run quickly to over 100 euros, while sometimes with your own car and a short hike you can get close to glaciers in Iceland. Things like hiking, checking out an Iceland volcano, bird watching, biking or swimming in nature is free. If you are a hot spring lover and don’t want to pay much you should avoid the popular Blue Lagoon. The price can be around 80 euros per person. In stead find yourself a free hot spring in nature like in Reykjadalur and visit the The Hot Spring River .

reykjadalur hotspring river
Reykjadalur Hotspring river

Or you go to Rhunalaug Hotspring. This is a beautiful almost magical place to go to! We were stuck one day in the area of Selfoss and we went to the local swimming pool with hot whirlpools and a sauna for 10 euros per person.

A lot of waterfalls, beaches, geysers and lava fields are free to enter as well. If you are in Reykjavik you can do a ‘free’ walking tour where you can pay the guide whatever amount you want. If you travel in Iceland during winter you can go Northern Light ‘hunting’. Sometimes hotels offer free access to their hot tubs and spa, swimming pool or free bike rental. If that is the case it might be worth to pay a bit extra for the hotel. In Reykjavik and Akureyri a lot of events or festivals have free entrance. They have even free museum days so it might be worth to check it out.

free hotsprings Iceland
free hotsprings Iceland

9. Buy food at the supermarket

During our Iceland travel we bought almost all food at the supermarket. We cooked our meals we bought at the supermarket at the hostels and Airbnb where we stayed. I recommend these supermarkets: Bonus, Kronan and Netto. Look out for the budget brands in the supermarket like the Euroshopper at Bonus or Coop at the Netto. It is smart to buy food for several days the first day you are in Iceland once you find a budget supermarket. The Iceland currency is Icelandic Krone. It is best to pay with your creditcard like EURO/ Mastercard or Visa. If you pay with your creditcard in the supermarket it is the cheapest to choose the option ‘pay in Icelandic currency’ in stead of choosing your own currency. If you choose your own currency on the payment machine (ATM) the bank charge more exchange rate.

For breakfast we bought cereal, fruit and yogurt. As lunch we ate sandwiches and some sweets. Our dinner plans varied from sandwiches to pasta with a red sauce. We wanted to eat traditional lamb soup at a restaurant once but because it costed more than 20 euros per person we decided to buy the soup at the supermarket for way less. Soup is mostly the less expensive meal on the menu in a restaurant.

Tip: you can check if the restaurants offer free (unlimited) refill of soup with some bread. In that case it can be rewarding to go out and eat soup at a restaurant.

Tip: what to do if you don’t have a fridge for your food in winter? At one hostel we didn’t have a fridge so we left our food in the car during the night since it was winter time and very cold outside.

Cheap fast food during your Iceland travel

We also discovered the best hotdogs of Iceland at Selfoss. It is called Pulsuvagninn. This drive-in fast food restaurant is very popular amongst the locals. And we know why! They have amazing Icelandic hotdogs at a fair and cheap price. I believe you get more hotdogs elsewhere but our experience with this drive-in restaurant was amazing.

best hotdog Iceland
best hotdog Iceland

A second option is believe it or not, eating at the restaurant at the Icelandic IKEA near Reykjavik. Compare to other restaurants the prices at IKEA are cheap. But remember that the prices are still higher than you are used to. The children’s meals are cheap so if you don’t have a big appetite this could be an option for an adult to eat as well;).

10. Drink tap water and limit Alcohol during your Iceland travel

If you drink tap water and limit alcohol you can save a lot of money. The water quality is good (avoid hot water) and you can bring a reusable bottle with you. Because we traveled during winter we got hot water from a hot water cooker at the hostel for tea or coffee.

Some hostels gave us free coffee to go in the morning so that was a bonus. You can refill your bottle of water in sinks and water fountains. The alcohol is very expensive and the highest of the world. The cheapest place to buy alcohol is at a duty free shop at the airport. If you are going out, seek for happy hours. Prices can be 50% cheaper and you get often 2 for 1 deals. Better avoid driving a car after you drank alcohol because the fines are very high if you get arrested with a (low) alcohol percentage in your blood.

What did we spend traveling to Iceland on a budget?

To give you an idea of our costs traveling to Iceland during winter, I want to share our expenses for 7 days during winter in February. Due to the cold weather conditions we stayed at hostels and guesthouses. We also rented a car at Discover Cars to have the freedom to make our own plan. Because we booked in advance and in winter time we could choose from enough relative cheap lodging options. We only visited the south of Iceland due to blocked roads in winter and limited time. Here are the costs:

  • Airline tickets: 175 euros per person (return) via Skyscanner;
  • Rental car: 250 euros with full insurance and 4×4 Diesel for 7 days via Discover Cars;
  • Full tank: 94 euros. At time of writing the price was 1,88 euros per L. 1,88x50L tank=94 euros;
  • Corona tests: 40 euros per person. Some corona test locations have discount coupons or codes so you get discount on the test. You can google if this is the case in your country. A negative antigen test was obligated to take before we went to Iceland. As the rules changes so quickly it is best to inform about current rules in your country.
  • Hostel costs between 50 euros to 80 euros for 2 persons. Cheapest lodgings was Guesthouse Pavi in Reykjavik (50 euros). Don’t expect any luxury or modern room. Guesthouse Vatnsholt was the second cheapest option (very nice and costed 60 euros per night). Most expensive hostel was Puffin Hostel in Vik (80 euros).
  • Food in the supermarket: 35 euros per day. This includes breakfast and dinner;
  • Coffee and tea: thanks to coupons in a magazine (were provided at the car rental company) you get free filter coffee at the gas station N1. We had our own little thermos with us so we filled it with hot water everyday at the hostel when were leaving. Some hostels had a good coffee machine with coffee to go cups. So besides the hot water in our thermos we started our day activity with a nice coffee to go:).
  • Fast food: the hotdogs were 5 euros per person in Selfoss.

Dust Mite Allergy: best tips how to treat it

Dust mite allergy can be a very serious and annoying issue if you score high on this allergy. Dust mite symptoms can lead to isolation by avoiding certain public places or households from your friends and family. Luckily, there are several options for dust mite allergy treatment. You don’t need to accept your symptoms! There are good treatments for you available! I have struggled with dust mite allergy since childhood. In this blog I share with you my best practices and how I deal with dust mite allergy and treatment for dust mite allergy.

What is dust mite allergy?

Let me first start with explaining what a dust mite allergy is. It is an allergic reaction to the feces from the dust mite. Dust mites are tiny little bugs related to ticks and spiders. You can’t see them without a microscope. Dust mites eat skin cells from people and they are mostly seen in warm and humid environments. In your house you can find them in your mattress, blankets, sheets, pillows, carpets, wool, fabric curtains, clothing and upholstered furniture. If you have a dust mite allergy, the immune system sees the feces from the dust mite as an intruder and overreacts. This results in the symptoms I cover below. Like I mentioned before, the good news is that there is developed dust mite allergy treatment.

What are dust mite allergy symptoms?

There are several dust mite allergy symptoms. My symptoms were all of the symptoms I mention below. I also developed asthma due to untreated and not-acknowledged allergy.

This dust mite allergy reaction can easily be mistaken for hay fever like sneezing and a runny nose. You might experience:

  • Red or watery eyes
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose and itching in mouth or throat
  • Pressure in your forehead and nasal cavity
  • Swelling under your eyes
  • Always wanting to rub your nose
  • Nasal congestion

Allergy and asthma

If you also have asthma you might experience below dust mite symptoms:

  • Wheezing that can become worse if you have a cold or the flu
  • Heavy breathing
  • Wheezing sound when you are exhaling
  • Pain on your chest
  • Sleeping issues due to lack of breath, wheezing and coughing

The dust mite symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms are watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing if you are exposed to areas where dust mites thrive.

Chronic symptoms

If you have severe symptoms the symptoms become chronic. Symptoms in this case are continually sneezing, coughing, feeling pressure in your face, eczema or asthma attack. I developed asthma as well because my symptoms firstly were not seen as an allergy. The doctor thought it was hay fever and it would go away by itself. If the doctor would have run blood tests in an earlier stage and acknowledged the symptoms, my asthma would not be developed as such. I also had difficulty breathing all the time and had symptoms like you are having a cold or the flu 24/7.

So first it started with bronchitis. Again I didn’t got proper medication because of this old-fashioned doctor who thought I just needed to grow over it. And guess what? I didn’t grew over it and the breathing issues and allergy symptoms became more severe. What ‘saved’ me was a new doctor who examined me, took blood tests and started treatment right away.

I would highly recommend to see a doctor if you can find yourself in the symptoms above. If you indeed have this allergy, with the right treatment you can avoid more severe allergy symptoms and even asthma. Below you see my inhalation Powder I use for the asthma.

Asthma: Ventolin Diskus inhalation Powder
asthma: Ventolin Diskus Inhalation Powder

When do you have higher risk of developing dust mite allergy?

  • Allergy runs in the family. If more family members are having allergies, you are at higher risk of developing a dust mite allergy.
  • High exposure to dust mites. There is a higher risk if you were exposed to high levels of dust mites, especially in your childhood.
  • Being a child or young adult. During childhood or as young adult you may develop more easily this allergy.

In my case I met all 3 criteria. My allergy began in my childhood. Both of my grandparents and parents were having mild symptoms. My parents also had mild symptoms. In our household it was a ‘dust mite paradise’ thanks to the woolen carpets, curtains, a lot of stuff and furniture. Therefore, it is not exactly a surprise that I inherited this allergy.

Can dust mite allergy go away?

No. It is not possible to be cured entirely of this allergy. There will always be dust mites even though you minimize the exposure to dust mites. If your environment contains a minimum of dust mites, your allergic reactions will be less severe. It depends on how much you remain in a dust mite friendly environment.

Dust mite allergy treatment

Blood test results

If you have a lot of the symptoms I mentioned earlier, than I would advise you to go the doctor. You can ask to run a few blood tests to know if you have dust mite allergy. Once you receive the blood test results, you can start with the first precautions. You can check my blood test results below. It is written in Dutch. “Huisstofmijt’ means dust mite. I score the highest level ( klasse: 4) on dust mite as you can see.

Dust mite allergy blood test results
Dust mite allergy blood test results

Tip: There are different blood tests for allergies (at least here in the Netherlands). At the doctor’s practice I didn’t get an extensive blood test like this one from this image. This means you don’t get so many substances tested. Therefore, I asked for a test where they test more substances. I needed to go the nearest hospital for this blood test. As you can see they test is not only dust mite but allergies for animals and food as well.

This blood test results dates from 2018. Because of the treatment I started, I needed to have recent blood tests results. Of course there were taken tests in my childhood as well eventually so I already knew that I was highly allergic to dust mites.

Dust mite allergy home treatment

Once it was clear that I had dust mite allergy my parents got instructions how to treat this allergy at home. The goal of this home treatment is to reduce the amount of dust mites. I will write down the remedies at home below. These precautions are important to improve your health and prevention of more severe symptoms.

Dust mite allergy bedding

  • Replacing of bed linen: this is really important. Anti-allergic and dust mite bed linen is key to a good night sleep. This means a new anti- allergic pillow cover and mattress cover.

Tip: if you have a health care insurance you may ask if they can re-reimburse the amount you pay for the pillow and mattress cover. I got these special anti- allergic mattress and pillow cover paid by my health care insurance. The pillow and the blanket were partially re-imbursed by the health care insurance.You can also try to claim these expenses from the Tax authority if you don’t have healthcare insurance or it isn’t covered by your insurance. In the Netherlands you may claim expenses for allergy bedding every year if not covered by your insurance.

Sanitize: reduce or avoid exposure to allergens

Removing of carpets and curtains in the house

One of dust mites favorite environment. We had a lot of woolen carpets and curtains. We removed everything. Under the carpets we had old wooden floors and this was also not ideal at that time but back then it was the best alternative. You can replace the carpets for example by hard flooring like laminate, parquet flooring or tiles. The most important is you remove every fabric which contains a lot of dust mites.

Removing and replacing of curtains

Our curtains were replaced by cotton washable curtains. For curtains it is important to avoid wool, silk or fabric blends. Best to choose for cotton, linen or fabric or synthetic blended fabric. Ideal is to vacuum clean the curtains twice a month and wash the curtains every 3 months.

Buy or get furniture with a smooth surface

Dust the furniture every week with a wet towel. If you have furniture that contains fabric, make sure to vacuum clean it every month.

Vacuum clean regularly

If you vacuum clean on a regular base you can remove a lot of dust mites. I would recommend a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter (High-efficiency particulate arrestance filter). You can buy one on Amazon and in the Netherlands on dogs we vacuum cleaned every day. I know every doctor would say to get rid of animals in the house if you are allergic but to me they were like my kids so I managed.

Remove not necessary home decor and accessories

If you like your rooms to be full of stuff I have bad news for you. All these home decorations are dust catchers and will not improve your allergy symptoms. In my case we bought several closed cupboards and removed a lot of home decorations. Books were stored in a closed cupboard and nice table ware were put in a display cabinet. This was the perfect start to de-clutter. I think Amazon or on the Dutch online store

nasal shower allergy
nasal shower allergy

Allergy nasal spray

It is best to use nasal spray with an anti-inflammatory included. Normally you need to use this nasal spray daily for the best result. Consistent use is important for a good effect. Nasal sprays often contains corticosteroids to help if you have a stuffy nose. Ask your doctor or allergy specialist to get the nasal spray you need. A nasal spray often has a good effect on eye symptoms as well.

Tip: I have used nasal spray for a while and I would not recommend to use a nasal spray for a long period. Why? because you can get addicted to it. Meaning you can get so used to the nice feeling of an open nose that you use it all the time even if it might not be necessary. The corticosteroids in the nasal spray are also not very healthy if you use it for years. I still have nasal spray for ’emergencies’. So if I am going on vacation or to households where I expect my allergy will pop-up. I take the nasal spray with me just in case. My own house hold is so allergy-friendly now that I don’t need nasal spray on a daily base.

If you have insurance you might check if they cover the costs!

Allergy pills

Allergy pills are aka antihistamine pills. The body responds to an allergic reaction by releasing histamine. Histamine is mostly responsible for your allergic reaction. By taking these anti histamine pills your body will not respond so intense to the allergy. Anti histamine pills are mainly used for symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing and red or watery eyes.

Some antihistamines should be taken at the time you are exposed to the substance causing your symptoms, or some time before you expect this to happen. Always consult with your doctor about using symptom medications such as antihistamine or corticosteroids.

You can buy anti histamine pills without description in the store. In my case these pills from the local store were not helping me so I got these pills below on doctor’s prescription. When I still had my dogs I used these pills every day. I know you shouldn’t keep animals if you are allergic and I would not recommend it at all. However, because of my love for them I made certain sacrifices regarding medication etc.

If you have insurance you might check if they cover the costs!

allergy pills dust mite allergy
allergy pills dust mite allergy

Dust mite allergy immunotherapy

Did you know dust mite allergy immunotherapy exists? Are your symptoms severe and does it affect your daily life? Then perhaps it is time to discuss with your doctor or allergy specialist if immunotherapy is an option for you. You don’t need to accept the symptoms anymore. So if you still have a lot of symptoms even though you use nasal spray and allergy pills it is maybe time to take action! Immunotherapy treats the cause of the allergy.

Allergy immunotherapy is an allergy treatment that causes your immune system’s response to the substance you are allergic to to change. By exposing your immune system to the (right amount of) substance that triggers the allergic reaction, your body gets used to it and, in the case of a respiratory allergy, you may experience less to no discomfort from a runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.

Tip: allergy immunotherapy is also possible if you are allergic to, for example, insect venom from bees or wasps.

immunotherapy for allergy
immunotherapy for allergy

What to expect?

Total treatment takes 3 to 5 years. Your body needs this period to build up tolerance to the substance you are allergic to.

Allergy shots

Immunotherapy via allergy shots/ injections always takes place with your treating doctor or allergy specialist. Treatment with injections has an introductory phase and a maintenance phase. During the introductory phase, injections are administered and the dose is gradually increased. When the highest dose has been reached, the maintenance phase begins, with one injection being given each time. This form of immunotherapy is available for people who suffer from a severe allergy due to grass pollen, tree pollen, house dust mites or cats.

immunotherapy dust mite allergy
immunotherapy dust mite allergy

In my case I needed to visit the hospital every week to get an allergy shot for approximately 2-3 months. After the shot I needed to wait in the waiting room for half an hour just in case an allergic reaction would appear due to the shot. After this introductory phase I only need to get an allergy shot once a month. I get the highest dose now. I never had any side-effect. Okay, only one: a little bump on my arm for a few days due to the physical reaction. Sometimes it could tickle a bit but this could be neglected.

What has dust mite allergy immunotherapy done for me?

I started 3 years ago with immunotherapy (allergy shots) for dust mite allergy and I am very happy that I made this choice. It is time-consuming but the reward is worth the time. I don’t need my anti histamine pills and nasal spray anymore in daily life. And I can even visit friends who do not have an allergy-friendly household. I am still in my treatment for the next 2 years to make sure the symptoms will be less and less. If you are disciplined and committed than this treatment is really worth trying.

I am so satisfied with this treatment that I started immunotherapy for my cat allergy as well. I have always wanted to work with animals professionally and even passed the exams for vet assistant. Unfortunately, this dream came to an end due to my symptoms. If I would have started in my childhood with immunotherapy there would have been a chance to work as a vet assistant. So for me this treatment means a lot to me.

Allergy tablets

This is another immunotherapy treatment. Fast dissolving melting tablets that you put under the tongue once a day. Currently, the tablet is available for the treatment of allergy to dust mites, for grass pollen and/or tree pollen allergy (intended for patients with hay fever symptoms).

I was given this option as well. However, my doctor said that these tablets haven’t been that long on the market. This makes it not very certain if the treatment will be as efficient like the proven ‘old fashioned’ allergy shots method. I also asked other people who are using these tablets. They mentioned side-effects like swollen tongue and mouth, tingly and irritation of the mouth and tongue. Other side-effects were increasing of headache. And last but not least, they easily forgot to take the tablet everyday. It is very important for the best result to use the tablet everyday.

How much does immunotherapy allergy costs?

The costs of immunotherapy allergy can vary. In the Netherlands the injections cost twice a year an amount of 506 euro’s. So 1.012 euro every year. My health care insurance covers the most part. Before you start treatment the doctor will run both blood tests and breathing tests. The amount was 400 euro’s. This was also paid by the health care insurance. Ask your doctor or specialist for the costs before you start. If you have a health care insurance, ask if and how much the cover.

Best advice to you!

If you have symptoms that are manageable in your daily life the precautions in your household are maybe enough. Or your symptoms are manageable with nasal spray and allergy pills.

However, if your daily life is influenced tremendously by your symptoms I would recommend immunotherapy.

If your friends and family don’t take your symptoms seriously, than stop explaining over and over again to them. Some people simply don’t understand how miserable you can be from an allergy. If you go to visit family or friends be honest about your allergy. In my case my parents and sister would always clean and ventilate the living room if I would visit them. Some friends would be so kind to not smoke inside the house. If your friends are not that flexible you could shorten the duration of your visit. And you could use your nasal spray or allergy pills before the visit. Or you could invite them at your place. Last but not least you could do outside activities with your friends like hiking, or go shopping in public places.

grief of losing dog

Grief Dog: how to deal with the loss of a dog

To grief about your dog can be a very painful and overwhelming process. I get that since I have lost 3 dogs in my life who were very important to me. In this blog I want to share my own experience and tips to deal with the grief and loss of your beloved dog. I also highly recommend reading a few books about grief for your dog on Amazon since it has helped me during the process of grieving. You can buy these books here.

When is the right time?

Your dog is part of the family.  They are part of our lives for a long time.  In cats it can be twenty years, in dogs sometimes fifteen years.  Smaller animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits, ferrets, mice, rats and birds often have shorter lives.  But we all love them and want to keep them with us as long as possible.  However, there often comes a time when you as owner have to decide about the life of your dog. It may be that your dog is older and gets more and more complaints, such as pain due to osteoarthritis or tumors.  But of course a younger dog can just as easily get a serious illness or might have an accident etc. How do you, as an owner, decide when is the right time to say goodbye and opt for euthanasia?

As an owner, you can look at your dog yourself and ask yourself:

what else can it  do?  Eating and drinking, walking, hearing, seeing?  Does your dog still enjoy the things it always liked, such as cuddling or playing?  Is it still a dignified life?  What are your own considerations, what makes it extra difficult to say goodbye to your dog?  Did your dog have a strong bond with someone who is no longer there or can you no longer have a dog because of your own age? 

Good to know with this difficult decision, you can ask for help from your own veterinarian or assistant. They are experts in the field of veterinary medicine and have experience in making this decision.  For example, you can also discuss with them what you can do at home to make the last part of its life as pleasant as possible for your dog. 

The right time for my last dog Didi was when she didn’t want to drink or eat anymore and just laid in her dog bed. She died because of chronic kidney failure and you can check this blog post about chronic kidney failure here.

Grief dog. Didi resting during last weekst
Grief dog. Didi resting during last weeks.

Grief for my dog Didi

I might say that I did already grief for my dog Didi already weeks before she died because I saw the end was coming nearby. I felt depressed, sad and every time I looked at my dog Didi I almost wanted to cry because I knew she got worse and worse. She felt almost like a child to me and I felt like a part of my heart was starting to die. But regardless how hard it already felt I tried to make it the best time possible for my dog Didi. We had lots of quality time and sometimes I just started to cry when I was petting her. And I just convinced myself that this is okay and normal.

For 16,5 years she was my most loyal companion and the best company to have. I can say we had a very strong bond since she was a traumatized stray dog from Portugal and always had issues to trust strangers. I became her ‘protector’ even though I tried her to be more social towards other dogs and people. So the last stage of Didi’s life I had mixed feelings: I tried to be as positive as possible to remember this as a memorable and great last time. On the other hand I was so incredible sad and needed to grief for my dog Didi even though she was still alive. I started assembling old photos.

Grief for dog. Didi in happy times

The euthanasia itself

If euthanasia is the best option for your dog, it is good to list a few things.  For example, the place of death.  For many dogs it is less stressful if the euthanasia can take place at home.  They then no longer have to be brought into practice, but remain in their familiar environment.  This is also often more pleasant for you as an owner.  There you can mourn and grief of losing your dog in your own way and on your terms. You can decide for yourself how long you want to say goodbye and that way any other dogs are there if their roommate dies.

Take control what you want with the euthanasia

You may have a preference for a particular veterinarian from a practice to perform the euthanasia.  Or you want your children to be there to say goodbye to your dog.  You can discuss this with your vet or assistant.  They can tell you what options the practice has.  Home euthanasia is usually possible, but not always at any time.  It is useful to have this conversation in advance and not at the time of the euthanasia itself.  Every vet will do his or her best to make the euthanasia as smooth and pleasant as possible.

I highly recommend to be with your dog during the euthanasia. Your dog knows something is going on and if you leave your best buddy alone during the last moments this will be very stressful and scary not having his best human friend around in his darkest moments.

Grieving for my dog Didi during euthanasia

We planned having the euthanasia in our home. However because of the weekend and that she got worse sooner than expected, we went to the vet. My partner and I went to a special room and waited for the vet. I had the dog bed with Didi on my lap and the vet gave her a shot to sleep. Somehow Didi still wanted to live and wanted to snap the vet when the vet gave her this shot. To me this was heartbreaking and I grieved so intense and what I felt was guilt! Guilt because I decided this moment for her and she resisted so strongly.

After she fell asleep I had her in my arms and thanked her again for the wonderful time together. The vet came sooner back than expected for the second shot. I wanted to get more time to say goodbye and I wasn’t sure if she was actually fallen in a deep sleep. So I asked the vet to give me a few more minutes with her before Didi got her second shot.

Take your time to grieve your dog during euthanasia

My advice to you is to take your time you need and don’t let a busy or impatience vet control your last moments with your dog. I believe that these last moments are very important for your process regarding grieving for the loss of your dog. If you are in the clinic you can ask to be left alone for a few minutes if that is what you prefer. I know you might feel that you aren’t capable of nothing during this stage but please stay strong to speak out your needs. And of course make sure you choose an emphatic vet that you trust.

I want to save you the little trauma we had with the first dog . This vet lacked empathy, was impatience and wanted to get over it as soon as possible. So he decided to give my first dog the second shot directly in the heart. This was very painful and unethical to watch and this meant not a quiet and peaceful euthanasia. Every time I think about my first dog this image stays in my head. So please make sure you take control over the last moments with you and your dog. No one can take these moments from you.

After euthanasia 

As the owner, after euthanasia, the question remains: what do you want with your dogs’ body?  There are several options. You may check in your country what the rules are.

In the Netherlands you may bury your dog in your own yard.  This is allowed under certain conditions throughout the Netherlands, with a few exceptions (check with your own vet or the municipality where you live). 

You can also have your dog buried in an animal cemetery. 

Another option is to have your dog cremated.  There are several animal crematoria in our country.  Cremation is possible for every budget.  With an individual cremation you can receive the  ashes of your dog back.  You can keep the ashes in an urn, jewelry or art object.  You can also choose to scatter the ashes. 

A fourth option is destruction.  If you leave your dog at the vet without giving a preference, your animal will be industrially destroyed along with other animals and animal waste. 

Finally, you can make your dogs body available to science via the Animal Donor Codicil.  Your dog will then be used for education to veterinarians in training.  A dog would otherwise be used for this education.  Veterinary practices can register to participate in the Animal Donor Codicil.  Your own vet can tell you more about this.  Think carefully about which choice feels best for you as owner.  There is no right or wrong.  When making this choice, it can also be a good idea to  discuss the options with your own vet.

Grief dog Didi: individual cremation for Didi

We decided to cremate Didi since bury her in our garden was not an option for us. We chose an individual cremation and have the ashes in an urn. I am super happy that we chose for an individual cremation. Why? because the people from the animal cemetery know exactly how to make a worthy ceremony. We went into a nice light room with appropriate music in the background.

Didi laid on a nice dog bed with a beautiful dog blanket wrapped around her. Some flowers were left between her front legs. A few candles were put around her. This sight of her laying there so peacefully brought tears to my eyes. We had a half hour to be with her and say goodbye and costed 28 euro’s. And hell yeah, we grieved so intense as possible but it was good for the grieving process. Afterwards, we decided to drink coffee in one of our favorite coffee shops in our neighborhood and tell stories about Didi. This was our way of dealing with the loss and grief process for our dog.

Grief for dog

After the loss of your dog, the grieving phase begins, this process often feels the same as after the loss of a loved one.  In the beginning there is often a lack of understanding: you cannot imagine that your dog is really no longer there.  You may also feel anger because your animal is no longer there.  All those feelings are normal and allowed to be.  Finally, there is the stage of acceptance that your dog is no longer there and that life goes on. 

You might experience:

  • loneliness: you might feel that no-one understands what you are going through. Especially when people say things like: ‘it was only a dog’ or ‘you can simply buy a new one’. Please note that most people don’t say this to intentionally hurt you. They say this out of concern or not know what to say even though they don’t know how hurtful this can be to you.
  • Extreme sadness and depression: you might feel like one of your closest family members or friends have died.
  • Guilt: you can have feelings of guilt because you were responsible for your dogs’ life and you could have prevented your dogs’ death. Maybe you ask yourself ‘what if i would have’ or ‘if only I could have done..’. After a while it is possible you feel guilty for not grieving and cry that much anymore like you did before.
  • Concentration problems: especially during the first period of time focusing and concentrate on a task can be very hard to do. Remember this is part of the process when you grief of losing your dog.
  • Feeling your dog is still around you: it can be the case you think you can still hear, smell or see your dog like your dog is still around you. Or you are so used to your daily routines you think about walking the dog and think about feeding your dog. This can be very painful because you start to remember your dog isn’t there anymore.
  • Reliving or Re-visioning the Death: for weeks or months you may focus on your dogs’ death and play these last moments over and over in your head. Especially if your dog died in a traumatic way your mind is trying to heal itself by repeating this event over and over again in order to eventually letting this go.
  • Grieving for your dog let you think about other losses: the grief for your dog can be a trigger for you to think about other people or pets you have lost. This can be very confusing since you don’t know anymore for whom you are grieving.
  • Your other pets are looking like they are grieving as well: animals can also bond with each other and the death of their friend can be hard for them as well. Both the dynamics and structure within the family is changed and your other pets need time to adjust to the new situation.
Grief for loss of dog. Didi having her power nap in the last weeks.
Grief for loss of dog. Didi having her power nap in the last weeks.

Grief process: how long does it take to get over the death of a dog?

Acute grief normally one to two months up to a full year.

How long this grieving process takes varies from person to person.  Previous experiences with the loss of loved ones can play a role in this.  And of course it matters what kind of bond you had with your dog.  It is important when dealing with grief to talk about it with people who  understand you.  This can be within the family, family friends or acquaintances.  But your vet or assistant, who has known your animal for years, can also offer support and a listening ear.  Most people who have lost a dog of their own, understand that very well.  Sometimes it can be nice to make a photo book of your animal or to make a memory in another way.  Walking in places where you always walked with your dog can also be beneficial in coping with your loss.  Do it in a way that feels right for you. 

Does the loss of your pet have such an impact that you can no longer function properly?  There are special care providers who are committed to supporting people in grief and grief.  check in your area if there are some support groups.

Why is losing a dog so painful?

It is not only about losing your beloved dog. You miss the unconditional love, the security, stability and comfort. Another very important reason is the change in your daily routine. It can be very stressful to change your daily routine. Since your dog might be the reason for you to plan your entire schedule around your dogs need, the loss of your dog can seriously disrupt your daily routine. This is also an important reason you feel you might grief more over your dog than over a close relative or friend since they don’t disrupt your daily routine and lifestyle that much.

My best practices and tips to grief your dog:

  • Make the last moments and time as comfortable as possible for your dog. Give your dog the best food, treats, love and care there is. These moments are precious and you will never regret yourself anything. Take time off from work if possible and simply be in the now with your best buddy. It’s okay to grief!
  • Euthanasia in your home: my experience is that the less stressful option is to do the euthanasia at home. Your dog and you are in your save haven and is the most comfortable option. For Didi this wasn’t possible but for my second dog, Zeus the Rottweiler, this was a really peaceful option.
  • Euthanasia done by emphatic and patient vet: these last moments you will always remember so better make it count! For my dog Zeus I had a really involved vet who cared and took her time. I can’t thank her enough for the kind and correct way of handling this horrible situation. If your vet wants to get it over with as soon as possible showing no understanding for your emotions and pain, this might effect you on the long term. You don’t feel this situation was taken seriously and you will remain with a forever bitter sweet memory.
  • Individual cremation: since we didn’t have the possibility to bury her in the garden we cremated Didi. I am very happy with the decision to cremate her and pay for an individual cremation. Meaning she would not be cremated with other animals and we could say goodbye to Didi in a very peaceful and respectful way. I believe for the grieving process we made the right decision. Because we chose for this cremation we took our grief very seriously and we allowed ourselves to mourn and grief during the time we could say goodbye. Also the employees of the animal cemetery were very kind, respectful and caring.
  • Create your own service or ceremony: we went for a nice cup of coffee in a cozy coffee shop nearby ordering our favorite latte and pastry. Because we already had an official individual cremation at the animal cemetery, this was our little ceremony. We talked about the good times with Didi and what she meant for us. Again we had taken our grief seriously by making time for it. You can do a service or ceremony in your house or in the garden or wherever you feel comfortable.
  • Read books or articles about grief dog and dog loss: you don’t feel so alone if you read the stories from others who have gone through the same grief process. And you may find new tips and insights from other people who also experienced this intense grief and sadness.
  • Make a photo book: collect all the nice pictures you have from your dog and make a nice photo book. You will see that it might be hard to be confronted with the death of your dog. However, being occupied with making this nice collection is good for your grief process. You take time for your beloved dog again and every photo represents one of the nice moments you had.
  • Mention on social media: I never thought I would say this but after my partner gently convinced me to put a message on facebook, I did it. I simply posted a message like ‘rest in peace dear Didi, thank you for all the good years, we will miss you!’ with a picture of Didi in good condition. I didn’t expect so many kind responds of my Facebook friends and it felt so good that other people cared. It is maybe good to mention that you probably only mention it on Facebook, whats app status or private Instagram and not on LinkedIn. For the grief process this was very good. And if there would be weird responds it would be a sign for me that these people don’t fit with me and my values. This could be a moment to think if I want such people in my life:).
  • Talk about your grief of your dog to the right people: I started talking about my grief and loss with other people who I knew were dog lovers. I felt heard and supported. because of my post on Facebook support came from unexpected corners and I talked about my grief to the right people. Avoid talking about your grief with people who never had pets or you know they don’t understand!
  • Give you and your family permission to grief and mourn. Don’t think it is not appropriate to grief and mourn because it is a dog and not a human. As I mentioned earlier, the loss of a dog can sometimes feel more intense then the death of a relative or friend. This is due to the unconditional love and daily routines you had with your dog.
  • Explain the loss to your children in a way they understand.
  • Maintain other pets’ schedule and routines. If you have other pets than try to keep the same routines as usual. Try to maintain your walking schedule every day.
  • Attend a pet support group or talk to a therapist. If you don’t feel you can talk about your loss wit other people around you than check if there is a support group nearby. Ask your vet about it or check on internet or if there are Facebook support groups you can join.
  • Write a letter to yourself about what you are going through. Write down everything that comes to your mind when it comes to the feelings you are experiencing. This can really help you to get some of the pain and grief out of your system.
  • Write a blog and share your experience with the world. I was encouraged by others to write a blog post about the grieving process. Why? Because there are so many people struggling with the same feelings who don’t feel heard or feeling alone. Writing about this grief both helps me in a therapeutic way and I hope that I help others like you.
kidney failure dog: Didi stage 1

Kidney failure in dog: what is it and how to treat it

What is kidney or renal failure in dog?

Kidney failure in dog also known as renal failure can be caused due to several different diseases.

Kidneys have several tasks in your dogs body. They are very important for the regulation of hydration. Kidneys remove toxins out of the body. They release hormones that are necessary for the production of red blood cells. They also are important to maintain a normal electrolyte balance. If you have a dog with kidney failure these functions are not longer working properly in the body. There are 2 kinds of kidney failure in dog:

Acute kidney failure

Acute renal kidney failure means that the kidneys are no longer working as they should due to suddenly decline. (few hours until days). Acute renal failure in dog has several causes:

Acute kidney failure causes

It can take a few hours or days until the dogs kidneys are not functioning properly. Mostly caused by infections or toxins.

Causes for acute renal failure can be:

Acute kidney failure in dogs may have several causes like dehydration or a bacterial infection. A bacterial infection can be caused by drinking or swimming in contaminated water. There are also other external factors that can cause acute kidney failure:

  • Antifreeze ( if your dog licked antifreeze by accident from the ground, please make sure you don’t spoil antifreeze in your garage or driveway where the dog has access to)
  • Raisins and grapes (check what is in some food to make sure there are no grapes or raisins in it)
  • Human heart medication (please make sure your dog never has access to your own medications)
  • Ibuprofen (if your dog has an infection or is in pain ,please never give your dog your own medication but consult your veterinarian).
  • Overdose of canine medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Chocolate (I know you want your dog to be happy because chocolate can make you happy but giving your dog chocolate is not one of them.
  • acetaminophen or paracetamol ( for humans used to lower fever and a pain reliever)

Of course this list is not complete. To avoid acute kidney failure to the minimum make sure you keep your household items out of the reach. Your beloved furry friend will be forever grateful!

Luckily, in my case my dog Didi didn’t have the experience with acute renal failure . However, I want to mention this type of kidney failure anyway. I believe it is very important for people to know what the consequences are if your dog has eaten the above items.

Symptoms of acute renal failure

The symptoms of acute kidney failure will appear rapidly. Within a few hours or days after drinking or eating the toxins or after the infection you will notice. Here are some symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • having ulcurs in the mouth
  • tired, lack of energy and depression
  • drinking too much or drinking almost nothing
  • urinated too much or almost not want to urinate
  • uncoordinated movement like stumbling
  • no appetite
  • breathing smells like chemicals

Chronic kidney failure dog

If your dog suffers form chronic kidney failure it means the kidneys are losing their function gradually over weeks, months or years.

Causes chronic kidney failure in dogs

  • Aging: the kidneys are degenerating mainly due to aging (geriatric decline). It is natural for kidneys to have a natural lifespan but some kidneys will simply fail more quickly than others. The size of the dog also plays a part when the aging of the kidneys start. Mostly, small dogs will show early signs of kidney failure in between ten to fourteen years of age.
  • Congenital disease: there are some diseases your dog might have inherited like being born without one kidney or abnormal development and cysts.

Chronic renal failure prevention

Here are 2 reasons I want to mention . You can take these into consideration that could effect your dogs’ kidney. These causes are mainly on the long term as well. This is based on my own experience with my dog Didi. It could have been prevented if I knew this before:

  • Commercial wet dog food: if you feed your dog mostly wet dog food the teeth can develop plague, gum disease and cavities. Especially small dogs like Jack-Russell’s and Yorkshire terriers are very sensitive to bad teeth. Not only this is very painful for your dog but it can also lead to other diseases. For example heart, liver and kidney failure on the long run. If not treated, your dog can lose his appetite caused by the pain of the teeth. Therefore, it is very important to ask your vet to check the teeth of your dog. This can be done once or twice a year. If the vet recommends a teeth cleansing treatment to prevent further damage than it is definitely worth considering it. And it is probably not popular to say this but try to feed your dog mainly dry food. It is very important for your dog to chew the food properly in order to clean its teeth naturally.
  • Bad teeth: if your dog has problems with his teeth than it can effect the kidneys on the long run. If your dog has a bad smell, brown teeth and does not want to chew or eat food, this is a good warning that your dog has bad teeth. Your dog might need a professional teeth cleansing treatment provided by the vet.

Importance of teeth examination and cleansing

In the case of my dog Didi I detected her kidney failure in time thanks to her bad teeth issues. She didn’t want to eat anything. After the vet ran some random blood tests on her as well the chronic kidney failure was detected’ in time’. I was able to start her kidney treatment from that point on. The chronic kidney failure was detected by accident so to speak.

In Didi’s case she had the disadvantage that she was a Jack-Russell mix and was sensitive for having bad teeth. Because of this, she had several professional teeth cleansing treatments in her life.

Maybe if I only could clean her teeth with a toothbrush myself I could have prevented a few teeth cleansing treatments. Unfortunately, she was so scared of the toothbrush and so stressed out I haven’t forced her again. Since she was a very traumatized dog (stray dog from Portugal)she panicked of almost everything.

Additional info cleansing treatment

Lastly, the vet asked to remove possible inflamed anal glands as a preventive and free service. This would be done during the teeth cleansing treatment. I agreed to it since Didi wouldn’t feel anything. However, this turned into a big problem afterwards. The anal glands were squeezed out too hard (there was blood coming out afterwards) and the result was that Didi didn’t want to poop anymore since it was too painful. After 5 days not having pooped the vet used anal medication to make Didi poop instantly. This treatment was repeated twice.

So I want to warn you that if you want to preventive remove inflamed anal glands even though your dog shows no signs of discomfort please think again. I would not recommend it if it is not necessary.

Kidney food dog: Didi stage 1
Kidney food dog: Didi stage1

Symptoms of chronic renal failure dog

Chronic kidney failure of a dog can be presented within months or years. The signals can vary from small and gradually develop into severe chronic kidney failure. These symptoms can be a warning sign that your dog might have kidney disease:

  • Drinking too much
  • Urinating large volumes and too much
  • Overall weakness due to low potassium in your dogs’ blood
  • The volume of the urine in the bladder is increased
  • Depression signs caused by elevation of waste products in the blood.

Advanced symptoms of chronic kidney failure dog

In a more advances stage of chronic kidney failure you might see these signals:

  • significant weight loss
  • no or bad appetite
  • uncoordinated movement like stumbling or drunken behavior
  • pale gums
  • blood in urine
  • tired, lack of energy and depression
  • vomiting
  • breathing smells like chemicals
  • intestinal seizures
  • ulcurs in the mouth

Once your dog is showing these signs and you start noticing, the kidney disease has advanced. Please go to your vet to examine your dog.

My dog Didi was early diagnosed due to blood tests and urine tests before her professional teeth cleansing treatment. After the kidneys started to get worse she showed signs like drinking too much and urinating more than usual.

Diagnosing chronic kidney failure in dog

Chronic kidney failure can be detected by running a couple of blood and urine tests. This is to confirm your dog has chronic kidney failure. If your vet wants to have a complete view of the disease than ultrasound, X-rays and urinalysis are normally used when diagnosing chronic kidney failure. This depends on the situation. Running blood tests and urine tests are also good to exclude other diseases like diabetes mellitus. Diabetes can also have some symptoms that look quite the same. My dear Rottweiler Zeus who was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus had similarsymptoms. The symptoms were drinking and urinating too much and could easily be confused with chronic kidney failure.

Your vet will consider the type of renal failure and the progression of the condition. He or she will also look for the cause and the extend of loss of function of the kidneys.

Diagnosing chronic renal failure Didi

In Didi’s case she had blood and urine tests to begin with. After a few years her symptoms worsened. The vet wanted to know exactly what the stage of her kidneys were. She got an ultrasound. The vet could see on the ultrasound that one of her kidneys was almost not visible anymore. The kidney had shrunk in size. This can happen because of aging.

The ultrasound was done without anesthesia and for Didi very stressful. Why? Because she needed to lay on her side and back with (over) stretched legs. The vet needed to shave her belly so the ultrasound device would easily slide on her belly. Because the vet couldn’t locate one kidney. Because it shrunk, he needed to put more pressure on her belly and Didi was terrified and I needed to hold her legs and keep her quiet. I held her since she hated going to the vet and never liked strangers. This was caused by her traumatic past. If I would do this over again I would ask the vet to give her something to calm her down. Maybe some anesthesia. Why? Both for Didi and I it was very stressful and after this treatment she didn’t wanted to enter the veterinarian office.

Kidney failure in dog stages

There are 4 stages of chronic kidney failure according to the International Renal Interest Society. In what stage your dog is in can be examined by running blood and urine tests. The severity can be measured by checking the blood waste product and abnormalities in the urine and level of protein.

Stage 1 is the lowest stage and stage 4 the highest. If your dog is in stage 4 , you see the symptoms very clear. Lots of drinking, urinating, vomiting, not want to eat or bad appetite are regular. So the sooner you start the treatment to support the kidneys the better to prolong your dogs’ life.

How long does a dog live with kidney failure?

It depends on what stage your dog is at. If discovered and treated in an early stage, your dog might have a good quality of life for several years ahead. According the statistics, the overall survival time for a dog in stage 1 is more than 400 days. In stage 2 it lays in between 200-400 days, in stage 3 in between 110 to 200 days. Please note this is an estimation and every dogs’ situation is different.

How long did Didi live with kidney failure?

My dog Didi has lived with her kidney disease almost 5 years so there is hope if early detected! Thanks to the special kidney food diet her kidneys didn’t got worse too fast. I believe (and is confirmed by the vet), that her special diet is the cause her lifespan prolonged for so many years. And also the early discovery of the kidney failure before Didi showed serious symptoms, has contributed to her long lifespan.

If your dog has very bad teeth, please ask your vet for a professional teeth cleansing treatment. This might be the cause of early chronic kidney failure as well. You can combine this treatment with running blood tests to see if there are some underlying issues like kidney failure. Your dog is under general anesthesia during the teeth cleaning treatment after all. Therefore, running an extra blood test will cost you and your dog no extra stress.

Kidney failure in dog end stage

What are the symptoms of end stage kidney failure in dogs?

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease. By the time your dog show signals like vomiting, bad appetite, not eating, nauseousness, depression, diarrhea and very bad breath, this disease has increased into stage 4.

Kidney failure in dog stage 4

How long can a dog live with stage 4 kidney disease?

In stage 4 your dog shows the most symptoms as mentioned before. The estimated survival time for a dog in stage 4 lays in between 14-80 days according to the IRIS.

My dog Didi didn’t recover properly from her last teeth cleansing treatment (she was almost 16,5) . The symptoms got worse and worse. Because her teeth were again in such a bad state ,we were advised to let her teeth professionally clean again. Even though she only ate dry food, her teeth were bad. Seven teeth were removed. Of course, this treatment could mean Didi would not survive it. But it was this treatment or a slow death of starvation. After the treatment she slowly started to eat again but unfortunately her kidneys got worse. On one hand we needed to make sure she just ate, but on the other hand she needed to eat her kidney diet. So we investigated a lot about the ingredients in kidney diet and made a lot or recipes ourselves. From the day of the surgery until the day she died she lived 2,5 month. I have written a blog about grief and how to deal with the loss of a dog if the time has come to say goodbye to your beloved friend. Check this blog here.

Can a dog recover from kidney failure?

It depends if the dog has acute or chronic kidney failure. Acute kidney failure is very serious and unfortunately the prognosis is often not good. Some dogs might survive and other dogs don’t. However, acute kidney failure can be reversed if treatment is provided in an early stage by the vet.

If your dog has chronic kidney failure than it can only be treated with a kidney diet. This diet will be advised by your vet. This diet only helps in the first stages of the disease. In stage 3 or 4 your dog might need other treatment. This means your dog will not recover from the kidney failure since the cause is often aging or inherited disease. If the kidney failure in dog is detected in an early stage your dog might have a good prognosis. Your dog might still live a few more extra years.

Ask your vet to examine your pet by taking blood and urine tests. For a complete view your vet may recommend X-rays or ultrasounds etc. As mentioned before, to support your dogs’ kidneys it is very important to give your dog a special kidney diet. To prevent kidney failure, keep your dogs’ teeth in good condition.

chronic renal disease dog: Didi stage 1
Chronic renal disease dog : Didi enjoying life stage 1

Kidney failure dogs treatment

Blood and urine tests to check kidney failure

Firstly, your vet needs to perform blood and urine tests to check for kidney disease. In addition your vet can do a physical examination. To get a complete view of the stage, and to discover the cause of the kidney disease, your vet might take an X-ray or ultrasound.

If your dog is still in an early stage, you can support the kidneys by giving your dog a special diet dog food. This special kidney food is advised by the vet.

My dog Didi has eaten special kidney diet since she was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. I would highly recommend to stay in good contact with your vet if your dog is showing more symptoms in order to adjust treatment. If your dog is a very picky eater due to the kidney failure I have some recommendations based on my own experience . I will share my best dog food tips during the different stages.

I have good experience with this kidney dog food from the brand

Please consult your vet for professional food advice before purchasing kidney diet food!

Medications for kidney failure

Your vet might prescribe several medication:

Phosphate binder: can be used to reduce positive phosphate balance. It lowers serum phosphate levels. This helps to prevent progression of chronic kidney disease.

Blood pressure medication: medication that helps to lower the blood pressure can slow down the progression of kidney failure.

Other more intense kidney failure treatments

Secondly, if the symptoms are increasing gradually over time, other treatments might be done. For example, providing your dog extra fluids under the skin. However, once the disease has progressed even the extra fluid can not help your dog properly. A more aggressive treatment to consider is hospitalization. This means your dog receives either fluid therapy, dialysis or even a kidney transplant.

For Didi both fluid therapy or dialysis were too late since she got into stage 4. The vet didn’t recommend these treatments since she was already too weak due to her teeth treatment. She was too old (16,5 years old). It was just a matter of prolonging her life for a few extra days, without good quality of life. We decided that we would do anything we could, to make her last days as comfortable as possible.

How can I make my dog with kidney disease comfortable?

By giving your dog small meals during the day. Instead of two to three meals a day you can give several small portions during the day. Give fresh food and make sure your dog always has access to clean water.

In the end stage we gave Didi the best food we could find. She wouldn’t eat dog food anymore anyway. There was no change she would recover after all. All in small portions.

How do you re-hydrate a dog with kidney failure?

Always provide fresh water. Maybe a water fountain is an option for you. You may put clean bowls in several rooms around the home.

What can I expect?

All treatments are meant to support the work the kidneys and to reduces accumulating wastes. Keep in mind that your dog might respond very slow to the fluid or dialysis. It can take weeks to months to see some progress. However, these treatments can prolong your dogs’ lifespan. Ask your vet for the possibilities and costs. Both fluid therapy and dialysis are not cheap and they can be time consuming and stressful for your dog. Therefore it is very important to ask your vet for advice.

Lastly, chronic kidney failure cannot be cured. It depends on what stage your dog is at what the life expectancy might be.

Is kidney failure painful in dogs?

In an early stage your dog can be treated with a special kidney diet. For most of the dogs kidney disease is uncomfortable in stead of painful. This depends on the stages. If your dog is in stage 4 your dog might experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, nauseousness, poor appetite. This is rather uncomfortable than painful.

My dog Didi had all the above symptoms and in addition she couldn’t control her bladder very well . This resulted in lots of ‘accidents’ in our house. This happened during the last days of her life. Before she reached stage 4, I never had the idea that she was in pain or in discomfort besides her picky eating habit. She was also drinking a bit more than before.

chronic renal failure dog: Didi stage 3
chronic kidney disease dog stage 3: Didi last year

I hope this blog post has given you some answers to your questions. You now know what to expect if your dog has chronic kidney failure.

*Disclaimer: I am not a vet and this information is only informative. No rights may be derived from this information. For professional medical advice please contact your veterinarian.

**This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. The commission will be used for maintaining this website. However, the products that are advised are all used and based on own experience and never would I recommend a product that I haven’t used or I don’t have a good experience with. This does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

dual citizenship norway

Dual citizenship Norway: what is it and how does it work?

What is dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship Norway or having a dual nationality means that you are a citizen of two countries at the same time. You have the same responsibilities and rights in both countries. The rules about dual citizenship can be different in every country so in some countries they allow dual citizenship and in other countries they don’t. Dual citizenship means you are entitled to have two passports. You have the same rights and obligations in both countries and are entitled to receive consular aid and help from the authorities of both countries.

Can you apply for Norwegian citizenship?

This depends on certain criteria. You can apply for Norwegian citizenship if you need to meet a few criteria, like your current nationality, if you have one Norwegian parent but don’t live in Norway, your immigration status, if you have work in Norway etc.

Is it hard to get citizenship in Norway?

This depends on your situation. It can be a time-consuming process and might not be easy.

If you have lived in Norway or other Nordic countries for at least 7 years continuously it is possible to apply for Norwegian citizenship. Are you married to a Norwegian citizen or registered partners it is also possible to apply or if you have lived together with your spouse for the last three years.

You need to speak the Norwegian language as well and have a valid Permanent Residence Permit.

If you are half Norwegian and don’t live in Norway it is also possible to apply for keeping/ renewing your Norwegian citizenship. You can apply at https;//udi.no and contact UDI at https://www.udi.no/en/contact-us/

Does Norway recognize dual citizenship?

Yes, Norway recognizes dual citizenship if you for example are Norwegian and live in another country.

Previously, it was not possible to keep your Norwegian citizenship if you would live in another country and want to have the nationality of the country you live in. You would lose the Norwegian citizenship if you would want to become a citizen of the country you are living in. However, as from Januari 2020 it is possible for a Norwegian to keep the Norwegian citizenship without losing the Norwegian passport by becoming a citizen of the country you are currently live in. You can check the rules at https://www.udi.no/en/important-messages/news-regarding-dual-citizenship/

This means that your home country must also allow dual citizenship. So if you live in another country than Norway this country needs to allow dual citizenship as well. If this country does not allow dual citizenship , you need to give up your Norwegian citizenship.

Can I get Norwegian citizenship by descent?

Citizenship by birth or descent is not possible in Norway, unless you have a Norwegian parent. If you are a child of a foreign-born couple you do not automatically become a Norwegian citizen. It is also not possible to get Norwegian citizenship by birth if your grandparents or other relatives are Norwegian.

Norwegian by descent

if you are Norwegian by descent/ birth because you have one Norwegian parent and you don’t live in Norway it is still possible to have dual citizenship. For example, if you live in the Netherlands and have one Norwegian parent and never lived in Norway it can still be possible to keep renew your dual citizenship. You may read on other websites that it is not possible to renew your Norwegian dual citizenship after the age of 22 but they haven’t mentioned the exceptions if you are Norwegian by descent and want to keep your Norwegian dual citizenship.

I have written an e-book about the application process if you are half Norwegian, never lived in Norway and you are older than 22. In this step-by-step guide you will learn everything about the process, the criteria and exceptions you need in order to keep your Norwegian citizenship.

Can I get a Norwegian passport if my father is Norwegian?

Yes. You are automatically a Norwegian citizen by birth if you have a Norwegian father or mother. It doesn’t matter if you are born in Norway of abroad, if one of your parents is Norwegian you are a Norwegian citizen by birth.

a child born to a Norwegian mother or father acquires Norwegian citizenship automatically at birth. This applies no matter if the child is born in Norway or abroad, and no matter if the parents were married or not.

How do I apply for Norwegian dual citizenship?

To start your application for dual citizenship in Norway you go the the website of https://www.udi.no/en/want-to-apply/citizenship/. You start this process online at the website of the UDI and it depends on your situation what documents you need to hand in.

After you have completed the online application and collected all the required documents, paid for the Application fee, you need to hand in the documents at a Norwegian consulate in your country. Via the website of the UDI , you can make the appointment online.

What documents do you need to apply for Norwegian citizenship?

It depends on your situation (applying for dual Norwegian or just Norwegian citizenship, age, time spent in Norway, immigration status) what document you need to hand in to apply.

In general these documents below are standard to hand in at the UDi:

  • current passport;
  • birth certificate;
  • marriage or partnership certificate (only when you are married);
  • proof of residence (this can be found in your passport or a registration letter at your community;

What is the waiting time for Norwegian citizenship?

There is not an exact time frame regarding to the waiting time. It can vary from 2 months until 12 months. The waiting time starts from the day you deliver the documents to the Norwegian consulate. You can check the waiting times at https://www.udi.no/en/word-definitions/guide-to-case-processing-times-for-applications-for-norwegian-citizenship/.

In case the UDI needs more information or documentation this can lead to an extend in the processing time.

Does the United States allow dual citizenship?

Yes. However, please note that just because the United states allows dual citizenship it doesn’t mean your country of origin allows that too. if you are for example a Norwegian who also wants to get the American passport it is possible. But other countries like India or China do not tolerate for example a naturalized American in their country. This might lead that you could lose your citizenship automatically in those countries upon becoming a U.S citizen.

Can you be a dual citizen in the US and Norway?

Yes. As mentioned before, due to a new rule starting Januari 2020 you will not lose your Norwegian citizenship automatically if you become a citizen of another country.

How strong is Norwegian passport?

Strong. The ranking of the Norwegian passport is high. According to the Henley Passport Index the Norwegian passport ranks 7th overall in terms of travel freedom. With your Norwegian passport you have visa-free or visa on arrival access to 185 countries and territories.

Do you need to speak Norwegian to live in Norway?

No. it is not obligated to learn Norwegian to live in Norway. As a foreigner who has a temporary job it is not required to speak Norwegian. The majority of the Norwegians can speak English but it limits your job opportunities if you don’t speak Norwegian. However, if you are going to apply for Norwegian citizenship as a foreigner it is obligated to pass a language test (Bergen test). If you are going to apply for dual citizenship because one of your parents is Norwegian you don’t need to pass this language test because you are Norwegian by descent.

Does the UK allow dual citizenship with Norway?

Yes. It is allowed to have dual citizenship in the UK. So you can be both a citizen of another country and be a British citizen as well. No need to apply for dual citizenship. You keep your British citizenship and apply for foreign or in this case Norwegian citizenship.

Can I have a British and Norwegian passport?

Yes. As mentioned before, dual citizenship is allowed in the UK so you are entitled to have 2 passports.