We have 17 more sleeps to Iceland!
We have incredibly busy lives, and I think sometimes it amazes our family and friends how unexcited we may seem about all our adventures… but I can assure you, we’re excited on the inside (while looking exhausted on the outside :))
I’ve been itching to blog about something (I started something about travel douches that I may get back to at some point) and I’m sure you’ll get an earful (eyeful?!) once we get back from our trip. But in the meantime I’ve decided to babble on about how we plan our adventures… because people have asked, more than once, and while I make no claim to be any kind of expert, here’s how we approached this one. Bear in mind, I am not one of those neurotic planners that have things down to the minute daily… it may work for some, but it sounds like a personal form of hell to me 🙂
1. Where do we want to go?
There are so many places I want to see in the world that this is sometimes challenging for me. This trip is for our 10th anniversary and we were originally planning to go to New Zealand – it’s been the plan for over a decade. But then last year I decided that I didn’t want to work for the man anymore and our income structure changed … a lot. So we decided to see what we could do on a smaller budget and Greg left it to me to figure it out (because I love it and I know what his interests are). We narrowed it down to Iceland and Ireland, two places I’ve always wanted to see… and then picked by flight prices. IcelandAir with their appropriately time seat sale won the contest (momondo is generally my go to airfare search, but lately I’m finding the carriers themselves to have better prices).
We’ve done a lot of cruising over the past few years, and it’s quite structured and becoming less and less interesting to me (unless it’s in Europe, where you can’t beat the value). I wanted wide open spaces and nature and no schedule. So we’re actually doing a lot of winging it on this trip… and I love winging it. No hotels, no cruise ships, no one day per country. We’ve rented an apartment in central Reykjavik so we can work within our own schedule – and Iceland is a fairly expensive country, so it’s a budget-friendly decision as well.
3. What do we want to do?
In a former career, my job was essentially to research stuff… IT stuff… but stuff all the same, and the skills transfer to something much more interesting to me… finding ways to travel more and interesting things to do when we get there!
In everywhere but where I live, I am a tourist. So of course we want to see a lot of the touristy things in the places that we go. But I want to see them when I want to see them and not surrounded by a kazillion people (I hate people in my pictures of stuff). I want to do things the locals do. I want to eat where they eat, drink where they drink, and make friends. I want to go places when the light is good. I do not want to spend hours on a bus, I have no interest in shopping, I don’t want to be herded around or forced to listen to boring tour guides pander to annoying people and their annoying questions.
We like food, we like beer, we like nature, and we like culture. So this has translated to us to be a food tour the day we arrive – we always have fun with these and it’s a great way to get a lay of the land at the same time.
It’s also translated to us picking one thing that we really want to do that we might not normally pay for – because it’s our anniversary. Then it was a question of doing it ourselves with a rental car or booking a tour if we could find a company that suits our requirements. We’ve opted for a tour (car rental and gas in Iceland is also pricey) and I’ve found a company that does what we want for small groups. Glaciers, icebergs (I live in Canada and have never seen one), waterfalls, and villages – all in one super long jam packed day!
4. How long do we want to stay?
All of my income depends on me being somewhere on the weekend, so we timed this so I would only miss one weekend and matched it to the days with the best prices for flights. This one was pretty much a no brainer.
5. What do we need to know that we can’t just figure out once we are there?
Obviously there’s some things one needs to know before they go to another country. Pretty much for this one, we just checked to see if we needed a visa and how Iceland’s currency compares to ours.
6. What else?
We’re winging the rest. We’ve planned out a full 15 hours or so of our trip. We know how to get from the airport to our apartment. We have wifi in the apartment. We want to check out some combination of their flea market, the harbour, a place with Icelandic beer, the blue lagoon (likely en route back to the airport the day we leave), and whatever else we find fun or interesting along the way. My camera wants a chance to run free. We do too. We’ll ask locals for recommendations or Google it up based on what we feel like doing or the weather. We want to take as long as we want to do whatever we want. It’s going to be awesome.
So in total, I’ve probably spent about 5 hours sorting this one out… Stay tuned for the results.
Have you been to Iceland? What are your must-dos and must-sees?