Northern lights, hot spring geysers and the Blue Lagoon have been dominating the social media game since the first photo of glacier walks took viewers by storm (ice storms, preferably). What you can’t see behind those perfectly edited photos is the incredibly unique and remarkable culture of Icelanders. Having adapted to the unimaginable environmental challenges, the only way to experience the adventure, danger and excitement behind these locked moments of time is to book your ticket now. Don’t just get ready to see more of the world, be prepare for it to change your world.
You Will Face Your Fears
…That you didn’t even know you had. Although standing in high places always made me relatively uncomfortable, I had no idea just how uncomfortable I could get until we took a ‘short cut’ off Ring Road that caused us to be less than 12 inches from a fjord that dropped thousands of feet off into the ocean. Oh dear me. Fears I hadn’t even known existed started to pop up with each new challenge. Luckily, Iceland gives very little room for u-turns (literally, and figuratively), so you’re forced to work your way through your worrisome mind games until you come out on the other side. There’s little time to think of worst case scenario, so you’ll learn to pay attention to the details in front of you, rather than the imaginary ones in your head. Fears, squashed.
You Will Learn Your Limits
…and be okay with them. It’s important to know that Icelanders have pretty much abolished the word ‘strenuous’ from their vocab. Having adjusted to the unpredictable weather, rugged terrain and constant traveling difficulties (mid-June snowstorm? Sure, why not), they’ve accepted these seemingly disastrous issues as the norm. Unlike me, who opts to stay indoors if there’s so much as a grey cloud out my window. This means that it’s extremely difficult to prepare for many of Iceland’s adventures due to their unique composition. It’s inevitable that one hike will simply be too steep for you to keep breathing and/or climbing, or your balance is just tipsy enough that you sliding across the shiny rocks underneath a rushing waterfall makes your eyes water..and that’s okay. There’s strength in knowing when to forge ahead, and when to hang back.
You Will Find Excitement in the Unexpected
…Even if you’re type A (cough, me, cough). My to-do lists and organized excursions were thrown into the heavy Iceland wind as soon as we landed. Due to the constantly changing atmosphere, the only thing you can count on is not counting on how you thought your day will go. However, although you might not be getting the excitement you had so accurately accounted for, you’re sure to get a curve ball thrown your way. when the winds picked up and it was too dangerous for us to hike through the glaciers, we took a turn to an abandoned place crash in a volcanic field. No agenda needed.
You Will Redefine Alone Time
…And learn to love your own company. At home, being alone means shutting your bedroom door for a couple hours of uninterrupted self care time, but Iceland has redefined the idea of seclusion. There are times where you could travel a whole day on Ring Road and not come across another soul. You begin to see peace and openness in other’s absence rather than an anxiety of looming loneliness. When it’s simply not possible for you to give yourself to others, whether it be your time, attention, or simply your presence, you have the opportunity to fill yourself up with nature, tranquility, and self-reflection.
You Will Discover Life Beyond Cell Service
…and like it. A moment still exists whether or not it’s posted online, really. Although there’s no harm in finding joy when scrolling through your photos and filtering them to perfection #guiltyascharged, it can’t be the only reason to explore. With little to no cell service across most of the island, you’re forced to share the experience with the people you’re with, rather than your followers. Also, most Iceland expeditions require two hands which means you couldn’t even hold a camera if you tried.
You Will Absorb the Culture of the Locals
..That have been uninfluenced by the world around them. Many of the small villages can only be reached by boat and thus have left these towns relatively untouched by foreigners, at least for now. As Iceland becomes exceedingly popular on the instagram world, expect to see shifts over time as Iceland becomes more of a melting pot. But for now, find a town whose name you can’t pronounce and indulge in conversations with the local farmers, the bookkeepers and those at the pub next to you. Their stories are worth more than any guided tour you could ever sign up for.
You Will Try New Foods
…That you didn’t even know were foods. Saltfiskur, Dried and salted fish, might not sound appetizing, but it’s a hearty snack after a day caving beneath the volcanoes. Skyr, a yogurt-like cheese is another favorite that’s often made into a dessert. While you can stick with the classics (the hot dog, Ein með öllu, is a infamous trait of Iceland), consider venturing out for some puffin or shark.
You Will Have a New Standard for Bad Weather
…And learn to dress accordingly. Layers upon layers are not only a Icelandic fashion statement, but necessary for the ever-changing conditions you’re going to encounter. While you’re hike may start out on a beautiful balmy 60 degree day, the weather gods are waiting for you to get comfortable before the sky opens up for Noah’s flood part two. The lesson here is to make sure you have the ability to waterproof an wind proof every part of your body at any given time.
Actually, You Will Ignore Weather All Together
…Because nothing will spoil your good time. Because of it’s unpredictability, it’s rare for Icelanders to change their plans simply because a minor volcanic ash dust storm is suddenly upon them (unless there’s an extreme safety issue). Always be prepared with appropriate clothing for a large range of temperatures and get over your fear of having a bad hair day. Remember, the worst off you hair, the better off your memories.
You Will Get an Appreciation for 90s Hits
…Icelandic radio is a bit behind when it comes to current music selections. Now’s the time to enjoy busting out Oasis’ Wonderwall (I know you know all the words) along with every other car on the road. No shame in the alternative 90s game.
If the icy glacier hikes and powerful waterfalls haven’t gotten you yet, the hot spring baths and friendly horses are sure to convince you that Iceland should be your next destination. Stay tuned for itineraries for each diverse direction of the island, this is only the tip of the iceland-berg (#sorrynotsorry).
Have you been to Iceland? What’s was the scariest moment you’ve had on a trip?