“Wow! Iceland! How did you decide to go there?” said everyone I talked to leading up to our trip.
I had wanted to go to Iceland since middle school. One of my social studies projects was to select a European country and to develop a travel brochure for that country. We then presented our travel brochure and a “local dish” at a fair held in the cafeteria. I remember being the only person to select Iceland as their country. My mom took me to the seafood store on Main Street in Penn Yan, New York to buy haddock for presentation day.
I had “definite plans” to go to Iceland since becoming an adult who could make his own travel decisions. By “definite plans,” I of course mean that I renamed my savings account “Iceland 2010” back when I was a poor grad student. That was as far as I got for a while. Growing up, our vacations were always on land (my dad hated [still hates!] to fly.) Over the years, we took family road trips to Florida (twice), Arkansas (twice), and Oklahoma. I had never even been on an airplane until an impromptu, and poorly planned, trip to New York City when I was in college. If you know my parents, ask them about this trip; they LOVE to remind me about it.
I caught the travel bug when I visited my brother, sister-in-law, and newborn niece in Bogota, Colombia back in 2009. This was the very first time I traveled outside of the US (not counting America Jr., to our north.) I also made it to the Yucatan Peninsula a few years after that. When I met Luke, we decided that we would make a concerted effort to travel since (1) we don’t have kids, (2) we had always wanted to, and (3) we are getting older and want to see other parts of the world before we get our Hoverounds.
In January 2015, we learned that a low-cost air carrier was going to start flying to Reykjavik, Iceland later in the year. We were able to find roundtrip tickets from Boston for $450 per person. When I lived in Denver, it would cost close to that just to fly home to see my family. We did a bit of research and decided to purchase tickets for a trip in September. This was after the tourist season, before the cold of winter, and still within the timeframe of the Northern Lights. We spent the next several months planning for the trip of a lifetime.
A couple of things you should know about traveling to Iceland:
- Everyone (and I mean everyone) should try to visit, for the following non-exhaustive list of reasons:
- It’s relatively close to the United States (the flight was about five hours)
- Everyone speaks English. This is great for travel newbies (like us!)
- It’s gorgeous
- It’s interesting
- There is a ton to do
- It is expensive to travel to Iceland; it’s an island and most things are imported. 1 US Dollar is equivalent to a little over 126 Icelandic Króna. We quickly got lost in/numb to the conversions. It was nothing to see five figures on a price tag, or to realize that you just spent twice the amount you might at a sandwich shop near your home.
- You should not limit your stay to Reykjavik. It’s a trendy, interesting city and a great home base for your trip, but the rest of the country is crazy-beautiful and completely different than the city.
- You should rent a car. While not cheap to do so, it will allow you to see much more of the country than what you will see on bus trips.
- You should do a bit of pre-planning to get the most out of your stay. There is some seasonality to Iceland. For example, we really wanted to see the Northern Lights. The trade off? Whale watches were done for the season, and all of the puffins had flown to warmer climates.
Our trip was 10 days (including travel) and we did not get bored. There are still things we would like to do there in the future. That said, you could certainly get away with a shorter trip, as long as you plan for a packed itinerary.
Given the length of our trip, we will detail it in multiple posts. And knowing us, it will take us a while to do that. We are happy to answer any questions if you are looking to plan a trip! Leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.