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As you may or may not have read in other posts on Ladies What Travel, I’m a massive fan of the ‘Land of Ice and Fire‘. I’m often one of those annoying people who overhears friends or someone in the office saying they’ve planned an Iceland visit, and before they know it I’m reeling off a huge list of things they should definitely see, do, eat and whatever else (sorry if you’re reading this – it’s a compulsion).
My obsession with this little island and its people didn’t even begin in a natural way – it wasn’t a documentary or a blog written by someone who had visited – it was a film named ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘, starring Ben Stiller. If you haven’t seen it, watch it, not just because it’s generally brilliant but because the soundtrack and storytelling is incredible. I challenge you not to have a strong pang of wanderlust after watching it.
Prior to seeing this film, my now husband and I were planning on getting hitched in NYC. You know, the whole married in Central Park thing with food at The Lake House afterwards (not to belittle anyone who has done that). But after watching it, our minds were changed forever and we knew that we had to go and tie the knot in this mysterious yet awe-inspiring country. But it was only when we got there, that my love for this place was truly confirmed. It’s when I became inspired by this magnificent country…
Why my Iceland visit inspired me
Iceland inspires me because it takes me back to nature – it’s a form of escapism that only comes from being surrounded by incredible beauty. Although day-to-day I may spend hours looking at a screen, whether that be my mobile or laptop, in Iceland it’s the last thing you want to do. It’s an opportunity to ‘free your mind’.
It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling overwhelmed with life because when you’re in Iceland, it all melts away. You become so absorbed by the world around you that you forget what is troubling you. With such expansive landscapes, you begin to feel like a speck in the universe, and then you begin to realise how unimportant the daily stresses of life can be.
Not only that, there’s this sense of adventure everywhere you go, even if you’re in Reykjavik for a quick city break, you’ll always be encouraged to visit further out – from going to explore Reynisfjara’s shoreline or going to see Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. You’re encouraged to pack a rucksack, make sure you’re suitably dressed and head out for a little exploration to see what the world can offer you.
I have had incredible tour guides on all my trips to Iceland, who filled us in on what local families and friends get up to on the weekends/in general life. I’ve learnt it’s all about reconnecting with the landscapes around them and enjoying the time they have with their loved ones. Forming close bonds with one another is incredibly important in Icelandic culture and where best to do that where there are no distractions – surrounded by fresh air and awe-inspiring views. Needless to say, quality of life out there is far more important than it is in most countries.
So not only does Iceland make you escape your day-to-day worries, explore the natural world and create closer bonds with those around you; the thing that really inspires me is that this little island makes you feel like anything is possible. It challenges you to be the best person you can by taking you out of your normal life and turning it on its head. It forces you to re-prioritise what’s important to you and for your wellbeing in order to live the life you want. Each time I’ve come back, I’ve changed something about my life –whether that’s my job, my diet or simply my perspective.
With that in mind (because after reading that, why wouldn’t you want to take a trip yourself?), here’s a few top tips for planning your adventure…
Iceland Travel Tips
- Plan early. Seriously. Hotels, excursions and flights book up at least six months in advance, especially if you want to go during the Winter season.
- You can use a card for nearly everything, so only take a minimal amount in Icelandic Króna – use it mainly if you’re going anywhere outside of Reykjavik.
- Tipping is not required, but appreciated. Do tip your tour guides, it’s always welcomed with a smile.
- Book your excursions beforehand for your Iceland visit, once you’re there, the price increases – especially when booked on the day.
- Make sure you are renting a car or book a transfer from the airport on your Iceland visit, it’s a 40+ minute trip into Reykjavik (the nearest inhabited area).
- Try everything once – Iceland is a land of adventure, including its native delicacies e.g. puffin hearts and rotten shark.
- Look after yourself and pack for the appropriate season you’re travelling in. It’s very easy to put yourself in a risky situation in Iceland, so make sure you’re well informed.
- Take a camera for your Iceland visit. You do not want to miss out on making memories here. Just remember to take it all in through your own eyes too.
- Travel with a relaxed attitude. Iceland’s culture is very laid-back, which takes some getting used to. Just know that all will be alright in the end and you’ll be fine.
If you’d like to read more about Iceland, have a read of our other blogs, written by Laura.