It was years and years in the making. I had the trip planned back in like 2012. The photo above was my original motivation. I could sense the magic that this place had to offer and I wanted everything to do with it.
At the time, I was seeing a guy that wanted to join me on the trip. (Seeing, but not dating. Know how that goes? Anyway..) We would catch a private flight to Denver, Colorado and then fly internationally to Iceland. As things go, that guy disappeared a long time ago and so did my Iceland dream. The years leading up to this point still flickered of Iceland – day dreams of Northern Lights, rugged wilderness draped in waterfalls and friendly Icelandic ponies. The past two jobs I had made travel nearly, if not completely, impossible, thus keeping the dream at bay.
Working in a hospital makes snagging time off difficult at best. Especially when you are the new underdog and you just haven’t earned your time away from rowing the oars of the ship. I left the hospital to work privately in an office and it turns out that that job did not allow time off… period. Well, okay I guess they did but not without a guilt trip from hell. I snagged two days off around Christmas time while I worked there, and one solitary day around summer time. I understand when you are THAT important to your job and no other office staff can do what you do, but to discourage time away from your job to that degree is mental and emotional suicide. That was the first job I had that drove me into a mini depression. It’s not that I want a lot of time off mind you, I actually enjoy keeping busy. But the fact that the option was not even available somehow killed me inside. My wings felt clipped and I was caged. Hell, there was even a lock on the cage door. Again, the Iceland passion was choked and eventually burned out.
Until, that is, my new and current job comes along that immediately begins to heal my wings. Sure it’s a desk job and I have to talk to people on the phone daily (yes, I struggle hard with this. It’s the introvert in me.) But one of the first things I noticed in the employee handbook is the phrase, “We encourage employees to take time off and use their vacation time. We understand that life outside of work is important and has a direct impact on your performance at work.” Wait, say that again! Firstly, as a new employee you are granted a week of paid vacation. A WEEK…. PAID. This did not include sick time, that was a separate 40 hours. Let alone the fact that they WANT us to use that vacation time. Well, well, well… the tables of fate had begun to turn.
Fast forward to late October 2016 and that cache of vacation time had been completely forgotten. My teammates were taking all this time off and I kept wondering how they could afford to do so. Turns out, that vacation time is a use-it-or-loose-it situation with the closing of the year. That means I had 40 hours, a whole week, to use up before the dawning of January 1st. My dear friends, the flood gates broke free and the dreams of Iceland came rushing back in full force. The question immediately arose: could I pull this off in just a few short weeks?
First thing first was to figure out if a flight was even feesable. Turns out there are a few discount flight companies that travel directly to Iceland: IcelandAir, RyanAir, and WOW. Maybe others as well. Delta flights were in the $1200 range. Nope, not happening there. However, WOW airline was a whooping $360 round-trip out of LAX the first week in December. I called my friend Chris, who I knew would: A- be down for this sort of radical adventure; B- have the funds to do it; C- (most importantly) could actually get that time off in such short notice. There was an air to the conversation of, “wait, are you seriously considering this?!” If I had a week off to use, then dammit I was going to make it count. That night we both purchased our tickets.
*On a side note, I will be doing a whole other article about flying with WOW airline. It’s dirt cheap for a reason and they get you in other ways. I will disclose all the tricks and traps behind this airline to make sure you are not caught off guard as a majority of travelers are.
A week or so later we added a third member to our crew, another good friend Miles. Both these guys are from my overland truck group. Miles was a solid addition for his mapping and planning skills. Oh and his photography! Well… and he is hilarious. Entertainment for days!
My dream was coming true. On a whim of a decision our flights were booked (non refundable by the way) and we were committed to Iceland. I cannot believe it took this many years to finally execute. But we were going, hell or high water. To add to our trip, the weekend we were coming home there was an overland trip planned for the North rim of the Grand Canyon. Trucks, friends, off-roading, and more camping. We would land Friday afternoon and drive straight to the first campsite outside of St. George, Utah. All in all, nine days of adventuring madness!
Stay tuned… another post all about the trip with all the juicy details and photos soon to come. Additionally, I’d love to touch on my packing list for anyone out there that is researching for their trip as well, just as I had done continuously leading up to departure. Tons of research with many clothing purchases and returns to dial in the packing list.
At the end of the day, and your take-away, I would recommend Iceland in a heartbeat. If you’re considering going, do it! Go! Stop making excuses. It’s as incredible as it looks and is truly as magical as I had dreamed it would be.