Ultimate Iceland Itinerary

Iceland

...has rapidly made it's way to everyone's ultimate destination list over the past few years, and for good reason, but before you rush to put on that parka and jump on the WOW flight, read through these tips about when you should visit, what you should do from the moment you arrive until you leave, and sincerity about how to get the full experience while respecting the land and the locals.

When to go & How to get there

I highly recommend making the trek during shoulder season (mid-November until April). During this time, it's going to be colder, darker, harsher winter conditions, and more of a challenge to get around. BUT you will run into less tourists than in peak months, have a high chance of seeing the breathtaking northern lights, cheaper rental and accommodation options, and see the landscape in a way that not many other tourists do. I have visited two years in a row, both times in March, and both trips were equally as incredible.

Now that WOW Airlines is taking over the international discount airline scene, that is going to be your most affordable flight option. I have flown WOW Airlines for three separate trips now and every experience has been great. Keep in mind that yes, the initial flight prices are low, but you will have to pay extra for your seat, baggage, and anything you may want while in-flight. So if you're trying to travel on the cheap, forgo the extra leg room to snag a cheaper seat, pack as light as possible, and bring snacks and beverages along with you.

How to get around & Where to stay

You are going to want to rent a 4x4 all-wheel drive car if you visit during the shoulder season. While they do a great job of maintaining the roads during winter, it is still snowy and icy. Put in the money for a sturdy car so you can explore more of the region safely. There will still be a significant amount of snow and you also can't go off the main Ring Road (Highway 1) if you don't have a 4x4 regardless of the season. When I say off the main road, I DO NOT mean on to the land, I mean onto any F-roads which are the gravel mountain roads. Also, be aware that there are a lot of roundabouts and one lane bridges. Just be cautious when approaching these because locals will fly through them and you may find yourself playing chicken with other cars. Lastly, be prepared to spend a lot of money to fill up the gas tank, remember you are on an island which makes natural resources more scarce. If paying by card, you'll have to use your debit card and a significant hold will be put on it for a couple days before the payment goes through (and the payment won't be small). BUT it's all worth it; just something to be aware of before you go! 

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If we stick with the theme of visiting during shoulder season, I recommend planning your trip around the southern coast. The weather conditions will be more tolerable than in the northern region and if you're taking a traditional week long trip, there will be more than enough to see and experience along the southern coast.

In terms of accommodations, I always steer people towards AirBnB. There are constantly more hosts and guesthouses opening up due to the influx of tourism. AirBnB is going to be your cheaper option over hotels and provides an opportunity to converse with locals and other travelers. Also- you really should only be there to sleep because there is so much awaiting you outside of the accommodations! Here are links to the AirBnB's I have stayed at and would recommend as affordable, safe, comfortable options.

Hofn

Vik 

Reykjavik 

Reykjavik 

So I'm in Iceland, now what?

Hey, welcome!

If you arrived really early in the morning, know that nothing really opens in Iceland until 9:00am, especially the further away from Reykjavik you are. So if it is painfully early when you arrive, gather your bags then head to Joe & the Juice in the airport for a coffee and/or fresh juice to kickstart your brain and body, because it's about to be an amazing day!

There is an ATM in the airport if you want cash, but you can use a credit card just about everywhere. Just understand the Krono and conversion rate before taking out cash...I made that mistake on my first go round and ended up withdrawing almost $400 (rookie mistake). Since we're on the money topic, Iceland isn't the cheapest place in the world (but don't complain about the prices anywhere; remember, you're a visitor). To save money on eating out, take advantage of the gas station hot dogs (trust me on this one) and bring snacks along. 

Where do I go first?

Once you pick up your car, start driving towards Vik, which is ~3 hours from the Keflavik airport. Don't worry, you'll be stopping quite a bit on your way out there; it's impossible to not be drawn in to every sight. Keep in mind that you will be backtracking on the return to Reykjavik, so save some things to stop at for on the way back.

On your way out towards Vik, stop at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Expect to find quite the crowd here as it is one of the more popular waterfalls. If you’re facing Seljalandsfoss, turn to the left and walk for a few minutes. You’ll pass a couple other waterfalls, but will eventually come across a stream with an information sign in front of it. This is where you can walk back through the stream to see the hidden waterfall. BRING A PONCHO! And wear waterproof shoes. There is a little hill with a rope to guide you down to the stream. It will look like something you can’t walk through (it’s literally a rushing stream), but you can if you don’t mind getting a little wet. Walk back through, stepping on whatever rocks you can, and you’ll come to a giant, hidden, powerful waterfall (Gljufrabui).

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What's the deal with the horses everywhere?

Chances are you will see some Icelandic horses once you get into your drive, and you'll probably even see some people pulled over to get closer to the horses. It's really exciting the first time you see a group of the beautiful horses close enough to the road to touch. Here's the deal with the Icelandic horse: they are a symbol of strength and highly respected animals amongst the locals. They are simply owned for pleasure and what they represent. Two things to avoid doing: DO NOT call Icelandic horses 'ponies' (it's offensive) and DO NOT ever ask a local how many horses they own (also offensive). In addition to the obvious, if you do stop to see the horses: respect the land you are walking on, do not pull off onto land, do not feed them anything, do not taunt/jump fences/try to ride them, or any other absurd action. Take the moment to appreciate how beautiful they are and respect the fact that they do have owners, but are still fairly wild.

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If you're not too exhausted yet, make a stop at the Solheimasandur US Navy DC-3 plane wreck site. This has become quite the tourist attraction so you probably won't be the only one checking it out (unless you go really early in the morning or late at night). You'll park by the road and then walk for 30-40 minutes before reaching the actual plane. It can be a tiring walk, especially after a day of travel, but if it's a nice day out, I recommend it as a way to stretch the legs. They have marked a path now for people to follow that will guide them to the plane. As mentioned, you'll be hard pressed to find yourself alone there now with the popularity of the site so be mindful of others there observing as well. More importantly, be mindful of the state of the plane itself and be respectful to not climb all over it and jump on top of it (even if you see other people acting a fool on it).

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Continue on towards Vik to either settle into your accommodations or grab a bite to eat. There are a few restaurants in Vik with great food (Halldorskaffi and Sudurvegur are two I'd recommend), but be sure to arrive before 8:00pm for dinner as most places (even stores) will be closed by then. The same goes for breakfast in Vik; you'll be hard pressed to find somewhere to get food early in the morning (unless you're staying at a hotel that serves it) so I recommend bringing something for breakfast in the morning or stopping at a grocery store to pick up food.

A couple things to note regarding dining in Iceland:

  • When eating out, the servers don’t work for tips (but they will accept them if given, it's just not customary).

  • You may find that you need to grab their attention if you need anything, rather than waiting for them to stop by the table. Majority of places don’t bring you a bill, you just go to a front counter to pay, usually just telling them what you ordered or what table you were at.

  • Most important tip: if you like sweets, get the apple pie/cake anywhere you see it offered! 

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

If you still have a little daylight left after arriving in Vik, head over to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and watch the sunset. While you're at it, plan to wake up early and watch it rise on the beach as well, because who doesn't want to start and end their day with a sunrise/sunset? Be sure to visit both sides of Reynisfjara as they both offer different, but equally amazing views.

BEWARE: The tides here can be sudden and extreme. There have been numerous tourist deaths due to climbing on the rocks or turning their backs to the tide for a picture. You'll see postings and warnings about the tide; respect those and take them seriously.

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Glacier Galore

Get an early start the next day to start heading towards Skaftafell for all the glaciers your heart could desire. Fjallsarlon Lagoon and Jokulsarlon are ~2 hours away from Vik and you're going to want to beat the crowds to these (especially Jokulsarlon).

Fjallsarlon was one of my favorite discoveries in Iceland. During my first visit, we stumbled upon this lagoon by mistake in an attempt to visit Jokulsarlon. It was the most breathtaking, beautiful mistake we could have made.

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Jokulsarlon will most likely be more crowded as it is a base for a lot of tour companies. This is where you will find the famous "diamond beach". If you're lucky, you'll see groups of seals swimming around and lounging on the glaciers.

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A note about experiencing glaciers, DO NOT climb on top of the ice. Glaciers are incredibly unpredictable; if it's quiet enough, you can hear them shifting and crackling all around you. These glaciers are still part of the land, please respect them as you would the soil.

The one and only tour you should book!

As tourism continues to explode in Iceland, there are tours you can book for just about everything. If that's your thing, great, but I prefer to keep the money in my pocket and explore on my own. Prior to visiting the second year, I knew I wanted to get inside of an ice cave. I assumed they would be close to the glaciers, but I wasn't sure how to go about finding them. I ended up booking a tour with Glacier Journey and I couldn't have been more relieved and happier with the outcome! The tour started out with climbing (literally) inside of a super jeep. The group ended up being four girls total and our tour guide, Laufey. Laufey kicked off our tour with turning back to us saying "Hello, welcome, today is International Women's Day and what better way to celebrate than a tour of all women!" We all roared in agreement and excitement. From there we started the journey to the glacier (you'll realize very quickly how appropriate the name Glacier Journey is). This ride is so much fun, but can also be a whole lot of bumpy. You know the wacky waving inflatable tube man? Imagine turning into that and having no control over it. Laufey is an incredible, honest, real, strong, proud, take-no-shit woman and tour guide. She answered all of our questions we had about the culture and enlightened us about life in Iceland. We all felt comfortable admitting our ignorance to ask the questions and in turn learned so much. Once we got to the ice caves, Laufey not only takes your safety very seriously, but also your experience. She will steer clear of any other tours that may be occurring so you get the most intimate experience of the ice caves. I am here to say, that those pictures you see of the bright blue Diamond Cave are true to what it looks like in person. So if you do feel the need to book a tour, I highly recommend it be the ice cave tour with Glacier Journey; it was worth every penny for me and I would absolutely do it again!

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Höfn

After a couple nights in Vik, continue onward towards Höfn. Being a little over 3 hours apart, you'll want to start your drive fairly early. Höfn is a fishing town so I recommend taking advantage of eating all of the fish you can here. Do not miss out on an opportunity to dine at Pakkhús and have the langoustine soup.

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One of the most unique things we found in Stokksnes area was the abandoned Viking Village. Okay, it wasn't actually built for vikings, but it was a movie set that was constructed and never used. It now sits for visitors to explore. The village was built on a local farmer's land so be cognizant of that and his horses that roam the land. Surrounded by peaks and Icelandic horses, this is a great spot for some Game of Thrones inspired pictures.

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The best way to find this village is to visit the Viking Cafe and go from there. While you're at the cafe, grab a cup of coffee and the apple cake (yes, again).

You'll find another black sand beach in this area, and this one will probably be less crowded than the one in Vik. It was quite gloomy and rainy while we were at the beach, but I think it made it that much more beautiful. Iceland does this amazing thing that makes you see and appreciate the beauty in a gloomy day.

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Hoffell Hot Tubs

The Hoffell Hot Tubs are part of the Hoffell Guesthouse, but anyone that isn't a guest can use the tubs for 1000 ISK per person (paid to a payment box). The tubs themselves are man-made but they are built into the stones of the hot spring that feeds into the tubs. These are definitely worth going to after a long day to unwind and relax.

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While you're in Hofn, if you continue to drive east/north, you will be graced with some amazing views of the coast, stumble upon some deserted black sand beaches, discover more waterfalls, adorable small towns that leave you wondering where people get their groceries, and all that magical stuff that Iceland has. We did some blind exploring by just driving further down Hwy 1 and found all those things and more. That's one of the great things about Iceland, even if you don't have a plan, you're bound to stumble upon something amazing.

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Time to backtrack!

At this point, you'll start the journey back towards Reykjavik. Remember earlier when I said to save some things for on the return trip? Here are those things!

Fjaðrárgljúfur 

What? You don't know what Fjaðrárgljúfur is? Or how to say it? That's okay, that's why you're reading this! A massive canyon thought to be around 9,000 years old and formed during the Ice Age. You've probably seen a lot of pictures of people standing on edges of the canyon or dangling their feet off the edge. Yes, there are a lot of areas to do that here; No, you should not step over the ropes to get the picture. The ropes and railings are in place for a reason, to protect the land and to protect you. When I say protect the land, I especially mean the moss. The moss that grows in Iceland is INCREDIBLY delicate and takes well over 50 years to grow. If it is stepped on or dug up, it will take another 50+ years for it to rejuvenate. Please, please do not mess with the moss! Be smart, be kind, and respect the ropes!

What you can do here is hike above the canyon and down below within it. You should definitely do both to get the different vantage points.

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A SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT YOUR POOP!

"Did she mean to write poop?" Yep, sure did! Here's the deal, Iceland is vast, precious land that locals and others are trying to protect for being built up and ruined. That being said, restrooms can be scarce at times depending on where you are. Over the years, the influx of tourism has brought along the issue of tourists relieving themselves wherever they see fit. THIS IS NOT OKAY! I bring this up now because there is a restroom at Fjaðrárgljúfur, however, when we were there it was closed for repairs. The building of the bathroom was surrounded by trash, articles of clothing, and human waste. It was disturbing and a true example of the effects that tourism is having on Iceland. Imagine for a second, taking in this incredible view, being in awe of these natural formations, all of the moss delicately dressing the canyon, to then turn around and see a tourist shitting against the bathroom shed! Excuse my language, but COME ON! If you don't believe me, just google the issue (using whatever phrasing of your choosing) and you will be presented with a plethora of articles. My advice, stop whenever you come across a gas station and use the restroom there under the impression that the next one may be hours away. Okay, back to the good stuff...

Skógafoss

Ah, Skógafoss. One of the biggest (and most popular) waterfalls in Iceland. It's giant, powerful, breathtaking, and admired by...everyone. I say this so you are aware going into this one that it is a huge tourist attraction and to not expect to have it all to yourself like a lot of pictures portray. It's possible to get a picture of it without a strange family or selfie stick intruding, you just have to be patient or take it at the right angle. Regardless of the crowd, it's impossible to not be drawn into just how massive and powerful this waterfall is. You can observe this beautiful beast from below and feel its power, or hike the stairs for the view from above; I recommend both!

Real life with all your tourist friends...

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But sometimes it's not so bad to have a fellow tourist in your picture to show scale...

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I promise I wasn't here alone at this time, the GoPro just came through clutch for this photo...

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Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool

Yes, this is the hot spring that is so hidden and secret that if you find it, a troll will come out and grant all your wishes!

Obviously, kidding. About all of it. Seljavallalaug is definitely hidden in the fact that you will need to hike for about 10 minutes to find it, but thanks to the wonderful world of social media, it has kind of lost its secret status. As of March 2017 there still weren't any signs or indications leading you to the path to find the hot spring, but you shouldn't have any problem because there will most likely be others making the same trek. The walk back to find the hot spring in and of itself is beautiful so be sure to take it all in as you make your way. It is quite a magical little place tucked in a valley and being towered by Eyjafjallajökull. It is said to be the oldest pool in Iceland, originally built to give locals a place to learn how to swim. There are changing rooms, but keep in mind that it's just a giant concrete room with a few hooks on the walls; so get comfortable stripping down with others or practice changing under the guise of a towel. People tend to leave their towels and clothing behind here (for some reason) so it doesn't appear to be the cleanest, but remember, you have the choice to be a better tourist. Leave no trace and take ALL of your belongings back with you. This is a hard spot to leave just because of how beautiful it is, so continue to do your part to keep it that way for everyone else.

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Laugarvatn Fontana

Laugarvatn Fontana is comparable to the Blue Lagoon (no, I haven't forgotten about that), but with a smaller price tag and different atmosphere. These geothermal baths sit next to Lake Laugarvatn. You may see people going from the hot baths and jumping into the cold lake. There is a reasoning for it and discussion about how it's good for your body, but I enjoy being warm way to much to have attempted it. In addition to multiple geothermal baths, there are saunas that range in temperature. I'm telling you, this is the place to be on a cold day! They open at 11:00am and we arrived around 11:30am which seemed to be a perfect time and beat a lot of the crowd. You do not need to make reservations here and they do have the option to rent towels and bathrobes, which I recommend doing. Treat yo'self!

This is me, in front of the lake that I didn't have the courage to jump into in 30 degree weather and quickly sprinted back to the hot pools after this photo...

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Geysirs

I visited the geysirs on my first trip to Iceland. Not far from Laugarvatn and located within the Golden Circle, you can make the geysir stop as quick or as long as you want. Take note that it is a very touristy spot and will be filled with tour buses (as are most things in the Golden Circle), so if this is something you're wanting to enjoy with a little more peace and quiet, I recommend going early in the day. There are different paths to walk and the geysirs are all surrounded by ropes (for good reason).

Reykjavik

Time to cap off the trip with life in the city for a couple days! Let's start with food, shall we?

Here is a list of some places I ate at in Reykjavik that I would recommend:

Gló For the health-conscious traveler, this is your spot for juices, smoothies, bowls. Refreshing after a week of hot dogs on the road!

BRAUÐ & CO You HAVE to make it here one morning! This bakery is incredible and incredibly popular! You will have to wait in line and it's totally worth it. Get a cinnamon roll and whatever else your heart desires, and then thank me after!

Reykjavík Roasters Coffee lovers unite! My favorite cafe in Iceland. Amazing coffee, chill atmosphere, oh, and right next to Braud & Co so you can conveniently grab a coffee to sip on while you want in line for cinnamon rolls! 

Reykjavik Chips Craving fries? You're in luck! A restaurant that serves nothing but fries paired with different sauces. Just trust me, it's worth the stop.

C is for Cookie This is the very first place I went in Iceland...because this was the first thing we could find open after our early morning arrival. Traditional breakfast and coffee, you can't go wrong!

The Icelandic Bar Yes, it's a bar, but also an excellent restaurant. The food here is so good! Offering a range of selections and pricing, this is a place that will have something for everyone.

The Laundromat Cafe It doesn't get better than this for the traveler; truly a cafe and laundromat in one! They welcome travelers with open arms with a sense of humor and travel inspired decor. This is a must to put on your list!

Bæjarins Beztu This is the infamous hot dog stand in Reykjavik that you will find with a line wrapped around the corner. It's an Icelandic staple and something you just have to do while in Reykjavik.

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What to do in the city

If you're in Reykjavik on a weekend, I recommend exploring the indoor flea market, Kolaportid. It's a pretty typical flea market, but you can find some really unique things to buy as souvenirs here as opposed to an overpriced gift shop. My favorite part is the mini bookstore within the flea market. I bought some worn-in, antique books from here and they are my favorite "souvenirs" I've ever brought back. This is also where I dared to try the hákarl (fermented shark); definitely a "when in Iceland!" experience!

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Hallgrímskirkja

The famous Evangelical-Lutheran Church that towers over Reykjavik and one of the most visited places in all of Iceland by tourists. You can go inside the church for free during open hours, but will need to pay to go into the tower to get the birds eye view of the city. If you are wanting to go to the top, I recommend arriving when it first opens to avoid waiting in a long line. They only allow a certain amount of people up at a time and the longer the day goes on, the longer the line gets.

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Phallological Museum

The Icelandic Phallological Museum is a real place and is exactly what it says it is; yep, a collection of penises and penile parts from various land and sea mammals. There is a cost to visit the museum, but it's worth it for some good laughs, and maybe you'll even learn a thing or two! I'll spare you my pictures from here and let you see the junk for yourself ;)

Reykjavik Bar Crawl

During my first visit to Iceland, we joined in on the Reykjavik bar crawl as a way to see some different bars and meet other people. It was definitely a good time (and will get you drunk quick if you have a drink at each stop)! A note about going out in Reykjavik on the weekend...they get crazy. A lot of bars don't close until 5:00am on the weekends and people in Reykjavik like to party! On my second visit, we got caught up in the partying and meeting other tourists that we didn't even realize it was 5:00am before we decided to head back to our AirBnB! I mention that because it does not make for a pleasant travel day if you have to fly out the following day after going out.

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The Blue Lagoon

Of course I had to include the infamous Blue Lagoon in this! This is one of the most well known spots when people think of Iceland. It is very touristy, but don't let that deter you from including it on your itinerary. A lot of people mention visiting when you first arrive to Iceland because it's close to the airport, but I honestly think it's best to save this for the very end before going to the airport. If you do it right, by the end of your trip you should be exhausted and feeling pretty run down. Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon before having to sit through a long flight is the perfect treat to help relax you and will be much deserved by the end. While planning, keep in mind that you MUST purchase tickets for a scheduled time in advance to visit. There are a couple different packages to choose from; I recommend the package with the mask and complimentary drink. While it is touristy, once you get in it's enjoyable and big enough that there is plenty of room to space out from others and enjoy sipping on your complimentary wine while your clay mask soaks in.

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But what about the Northern Lights?

I saved the best for last! What everyone comes to Iceland in Winter hoping to experience; the magical Aurora Borealis! During my first rendezvous to the land of fire and ice, I didn't end up catching the phenomenon, but boy did my second visit make up for it! You're going to want to take advantage of the time you're in Vik/Hofn or just anywhere outside of the city to get some incredible viewing opportunities. While we were on the ice cave tour I mentioned earlier, we asked our guide about seeing the northern lights and she said "tonight will be perfect, just go outside and look up!" And you will hear that a lot from locals; go outside and look up. So in regards to this, don't bother signing up for those "northern lights chasing" tours. If it's a clear night (not many clouds), you'll get a show if you're patient enough. We went atop a hill in Vik initially and within 10 minutes saw the streaks start to form and tease us. After a few minutes they faded away, but we wanted more. We drove down the road until we decided to pull off to the side and wait it out. At first, we couldn't really tell if anything was going to happen. I was playing around with my camera and making sure my settings were ready until I noticed a green tint in the sky in my test pictures. I started snapping away and it was like the most I snapped, the more they started to form. It was one of the most exciting moments in my life. Standing in the middle of the road in the middle of Iceland, moonlight at our backs, jumping up and down with pure joy and awe as we watched the ribbons of light develop stronger and dance all around us. There really isn't any secret to experiencing the northern lights. It's just a matter of being in a good vantage spot (lack of light pollution), having a clear night, and a little patience. I do hope that if you choose to visit during the winter season that you experience what it feels like to be immersed in this magic.

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I would love to hear your stories about visiting Iceland or answer questions you may have about planning a trip! Iceland is one of my favorite places on this planet of ours, mainly because the land is so protected and makes you appreciate what a gift our Earth is. As with everywhere you go, be kind and leave no trace.

 

Gifts for the Adventurer

We are nearing the end of the holiday season, scrambling to find the "perfect" gift for everyone on our list. It's stressful; navigating the crowded malls, staying within a budget, trying to find gifts at the last minute. Recently, I was asked for suggestions on what to get someone that seems to have everything and likes to travel. Aside from holidays, these can make great birthday gifts or bon voyage gifts. 

Packing cubes

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Packing cubes have become a game changer for packing and staying organized during my trips. The Shake Pak cubes come with multiple different sizes and help save room in your luggage.

Find the cubes here!

Luggage scale

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This has been a lifesaver for me prior to arriving at the airport and taking the guess work out of wondering if my bags were over the weight limit or not.

Find a luggage scale here!
 

Hanks Pocket

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I don’t go anywhere without my pockets! I’ll stuff my pockets with excess things I have that don’t fit in my luggage and wear my pockets to the airport (they don’t see it as a carry on or personal item ;). I’ll wear them while I’m wandering around too in replacement of a purse or backpack. Perfect for both girls and guys.

Find pockets here!

Lululemon Vinyasa scarf

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My Vinyasa scarf has become my security blanket when traveling. There are numerous different ways you can wear it. I wear it while traveling and will lay it out flat and use it as a blanket on the plane. It’s perfect in winter to keep warm, but also makes a great accessory when it’s warmer out and you’re just needing a little extra coverage.

Find the vinyasa scarf here!

Portable charger

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Any kind of portable charger is a must to have while traveling! Find one that doesn’t take up much space and has at least 2 USB ports.

Find a portable charger here!

Essential Oils 

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I always travel with Young Living's Thieves Spray, Digize oil, and Peppermint oil. There is a ton of information on their website about the oils and their uses. If you are interested in looking more into the oils and their uses, visit alternativerr.com and reach out to Monica Hirth, a certified specialist, to receive more information.

Find essential oils here!

Pens! 
 

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Of course a travel pen to go with the Wayward Workbook! Meridian Line has a great line of travel inspired wood pens.

Find Meridian pens here!


NOTICE: I do not receive any kind of commission or kickback on any of these recommendations. They are all just genuinely favorite products and essentials for me when traveling.

I hope this helps give you some different ideas!

The Spoiled Traveler

In conversation recently, I had someone call me “spoiled” for where I travel. They prefaced this with the fact that I travel internationally (as often as I can), don’t have kids, and am not married; therefore being spoiled in their eyes. I was quite taken back by this because it’s not often I have such a negative label directed at me. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, but I couldn’t seem to let go of the negative connotation with that term- spoiled. The more I thought about it, the more ironic it became to me. I put the idea of being spoiled into a different context that I could relate to more and found that I am, indeed, a spoiled traveler.

I am spoiled enough to know that I need to live well under my means if I want to make travel a priority in my life. I am spoiled in the fact that I am able to appreciate the simplicity of a roof over my head; knowing that I don’t need a dishwasher, multiple bedrooms, my own washing machine, cable, etc. to make my house a home.

I am spoiled with the conscious decision and awareness that I have made thus far in my life to not have children. Spoiled to recognize my own awareness that having children is not a decision that would serve me at this point in my life.

I am spoiled to know that regardless of if I’m in a relationship or single, that status will not dictate the pursuit of my passions in life. I am spoiled to be in relationships with those that support me and my desire to experience the world.

I am spoiled to recognize the sacredness of our days in this world and that our time is fleeting; that “later on” isn’t guaranteed.

I am spoiled to have taken the initiative to experience our world far beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone. I am spoiled with an open mind that craves to see more, learn more, and meet more people.

I am spoiled to know that luxury travel plans aren’t required for the best experience.

I am spoiled with the courage to take chances and run risks of going to places foreign to me and immersing myself in unknown situations.

So yes, they were right, I am incredibly spoiled, and I could not be more grateful for that. 

I hope you all know how worthy you are of spoiling yourself with an adventure. Be kind & stay spoiled. 

The Wayward Workbook

Pull up a seat, grab a cup of coffee, and be prepared to get inspired to travel.

Photo: Bri Long

Photo: Bri Long

I want to introduce to you the Wayward Workbook, a minimalist travel workbook. 

Wayward Workbook was born from the desire of returning home from traveling with something to hold and remember all those moments we often forget as time passes. 

While exploring new cities or countries, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all the foreign sights, environment, culture, and people. We often focus on the "bigger picture" things and lose sight of the small, but incredibly significant, moments. Reflecting back on my own travels, I wish I could tell you the name of the food truck I ate from in Egypt, the name of the streets I walked down in Israel, or the beer I drank on the subway in Frankfort. These all seem like easy things to remember, but as time has past since these trips, I've begun to forget more of those smaller details. Those smaller details that you later realize are what make each place you visit so unique.

I've purchased multiple journals and carried them everywhere with me on trips, but then I would be on my way home and realize that I barely wrote anything down. It became daunting to journal everything I was experiencing and simultaneously try to be in the moment wherever I was. I would either forget to write or was too tired by the end of the day to journal. I needed something more straightforward to remind me to stop and remember the smaller moments, but also would leave me space if I wanted to write about more. Thus, the Wayward Workbook was born.

The Wayward Workbook is essential for planning, preparing, and reflecting on your travels. From a section to budget out how much your trip will cost, a checklist to help you ensure that you pack everything you need; to prompting you to write about the food you ate, the people you met, reflect back on how your trip went, and so much more.

My hope is that this workbook helps you have a smoother planning process and inspires you to get more out of every adventure you take. Wherever you may go, may it hold and cherish all those moments, beautiful and messy, that the world overwhelms us with.

I hope it inspires you to just go.


To get your own Wayward Workbook, visit the Shop link.

 

Why you MUST go to Canada in 2017

No, it's not because of the election results (but it kind of is (kidding) ((not really))).

You MUST go because the admission to all national parks in Canada is FREE in 2017!

Order a Discovery Pass here for free admission to Canada's National Parks, Historic Sites, and Marine Conservation Areas.

This is the perfect opportunity to round up the kids and take the first (or second, third, fourth) big family vacation, take a girls/guys trip road tripping from one park to the next, or grab your sweetheart and sleep under the northern stars.

If you need any convincing, look at the picture below in Banff National Park (Canada's first National Park) of Moraine Lake. You need to see this color blue in person; everyone needs to see this in person.

You only need one pass per group, which makes it that much more convenient to get some friends together and head to Canada, eh!

Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, British Columbia

Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, British Columbia

Music for the Wandering Soul

Music can be the perfect complement to any adventure. Whether you’re driving through the mountains of Colorado, walking in the countryside of Ireland, or flying over open water for hours, the playlists you bring with you can set the vibe of the trip. To help you find just the right music to enhance your next adventure, I’m going to be sharing playlists I’ve put together on Spotify. Take these playlists with you wherever you may go and let yourself get lost in the music and on the land.

Hello Adventure.

This first playlist, Hello Adventure, is meant to feed your wandering soul. For the nomads, the dreamers, the ones that appreciate the smaller details in the world. Take this playlist with you as you gasp at the landscape of Iceland, as you gaze at each mountain top in Colorado and wonder whose feet have touched that land, as you stroll through the pines and moss of Oregon waiting to see fairies peek out from behind the ferns. This playlist is for you and your heart. 

Hello Adventure.jpg

5 Ways to Find the Cheapest Flights

Okay, Okay, I know this is the typical travel blog post but don't roll your eyes just yet. Everything I'm going to list are the steps I take to find the cheapest flights possible. Here's the deal: sometimes they work great and other times not as great as I would hope, but they are all worth your time and effort to save a significant amount of money on your next flight.

1. BE FLEXIBLE. 

This will always be my number one piece of advice for anything travel related that you're trying to save a buck or two on. When booking a flight, be flexible on the days you travel. This can mean the difference of $400 from flying out on a Monday versus a Tuesday. Be flexible on your times as well. The pickier you are about the time you arrive or depart could mean a high cost at the end of booking. Be willing to take the red eye flights. Also, consider all airports around you within a 2 hour driving distance. Major airports tend to have higher ticket costs compared to smaller, regional airports.

2. SET ASIDE TIME TO RESEARCH

If you really want to find the cheapest flight out there for your destination, you may have to do some more work than just a single engine search. Spend some time browsing multiple travel based search engines to compare prices. Two of these I'm constantly scouring are www.google.com/flights and www.momondo.com (I tend to favor this one more since it pulls in discount airlines). Check these search engines in addition to multiple air carrier sites on different days throughout the week. Flight prices change throughout the week and tend to run the cheapest on Tuesdays.

3. SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTERS

I'm sure you're probably thinking of skipping this step to avoid all the spam. Trust me, I feel you, and avoided doing this for awhile before finally caving. Because I caved, I was able to snag a $198 round trip flight from NJ to Iceland. I wouldn't recommend signing up for every notification out there to avoid a flooded inbox, but pick a few airlines that you tend to fly the most with and sign up to receive email notifications. You check your email everyday, I'm sure, but probably not airline websites, so it's a good way to stay informed of any special deals without spending the time going to each site. I receive notifications from WOW Airlines, Frontier, Allegiant, Emerites, and Airfare Watchdog. Obviously, you can opt out of these emails at any time, so if you know you'll be flying a particular airline, sign up while you search for tickets and then opt out once you return from your trip. There's also an app for that (of course), it's called Hitlist

4. TRAVEL IN THE OFF SEASON

Traveling in the off season has many benefits, including cheaper flights. The "off season" refers to the time that the destination experiences less tourist traffic due to it not being the ideal time to travel there, mainly because of climate conditions. Along with cheaper airfare, the location will be less crowded with tourists, will have cheaper services (car rentals, tours, accommodations), and will offer a view of the destination that not as many people experience. The off season varies depending on the location.

5. REFRESH YOUR COOKIES

The computer kind...and the chocolate chip kind, while you're at it. Cookies save your search information and websites use those cookies to determine how many people and who is viewing what information. Basically, if you continuously view the same flight information, the price will potentially increase the more you view it. It's basically a way that company websites take advantage of the demand.

I'd love to hear if you utilize any of these tips and how it works out for you!

Happy searching and happy flying!

 

 

You can't take it with you.

The joys of packing for a trip, especially a flight.

"How much liquid can I have?"

"Do you think they'll take away my tweezers?"

"Wait, I can pack a lighter, but I have to portion out my shampoo into smaller bottles?"

"My bag has to weigh approximately 24.26 pounds so I can account for the potential .74 pounds of dirt I may accumulate on the way home."

The packing process can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be if you do a little work before you start throwing all of your "what if's" into a bag. Start with making a list and breaking it up into different sections. I usually do a Clothes, Bath, Necessities/Important, and Misc. I take a day or two to complete the list since I tend to add to it as things come to mind. As I pack, I cross off each item once it's in my bag.

Tut, tut, it looks like rain.

If you can, pack at the latest possible time. I say this for the purpose of weather. Weather forecasts can be so unpredictable. Just because when you looked 4 days it showed sunshine all week, doesn't mean that's still the case. Check the forecast, like really check the forecast, not just a glance on your iPhone, hours before you leave for the airport so you ensure you have the best selection of clothing options.

Roll, Fold, Shove.

This is a trick I wish I would have learned years ago. There are certain clothing items you roll, others you fold, and a few you shove…or tuck for the neat freaks out there.

 

Roll:

Tank tops

Spandex/yoga pants

Athletic shorts

T-shirts

Light long sleeved shirts

Skirts

Dresses*

Fold:

Jeans

Shorts

Bulky sweaters

Jackets

Shove:

Socks

Bras

Underwear

Hats/gloves

Weight of the world

Every airline has different requirements about what kind of bags you can carry-on, how many bags you can carry-on, and the weight of your bags. It is IMPERATIVE that you know this information before you book your flight and before you show up at the airport. Trust me, you do not want to be the person at the check-in counter with their underwear all over the floor because your bag was .25 kilograms over the required weight and now you're trying to figure out how much 3 pairs of underwear and a toothbrush weight together to make up the difference. Been there.

Know these requirements and know them well.

Weigh your bags before you leave for the airport.

Double-check the size of allowed carry-ons.

These things really do matter and they really do check.

The last thing you want is to be the person holding up the line at the check-in counter because you didn't do your homework beforehand. Airports have this portal that everyone walks through as soon as they enter that sucks all patience out of them.

Speaking of no patience…

Security.

Going through airport security can be frustrating, intimidating, stressful, and confusing. Liquids out or liquids in? Shoes off or shoes on? It also doesn't help that the more you travel the more you will notice that every airport has different rules and processes for their security line. Fly out of one airport and they want you to basically strip down to nothing. Fly out of the next and you don't have to remove a single thing. The best thing you can do with this situation is, again, just be prepared and observant. At least know that you are going to have to remove any jewelry/hats/sunglasses. In terms of removing shoes, or taking liquids out of your bag it seems that every other airport makes different calls on this. Observe what those ahead of you are doing and follow suit. Pay attention to the TSA agents too. Are they asking people to take their shoes off? Remove laptops? Remove liquids? Also, be smart when packing your carry-on and don't pack the obvious no-no items.

Stay tuned for more posts about packing recommendations!