I haven’t written too extensively about my solo adventures in a public forum, mostly because they are so deep and personal. Every trip provides the exact therapy and soul-searching that I need for that specific point and time in my life.
WOW Air all the way. You can do a stopover in Iceland on your way to many European destinations. I got mine for $70 on the way to Dublin and trust me, you’ll want more than just a layover. Flights are also much cheaper to Europe and you can get a flight from $99-$500.
Check for flexible dates to get the best deals.
I’m a BABY when it comes to the cold (and I’ve been in Florida too long), so a good, warm jacket was top priority on my list.
This heated jacket was like a warm hug from Olaf as I gazed off into the wonders of the mystical Aurora Borealis…get it here.
Pack LIGHT. Especially if you take WOW Air because you are only allowed one carry-on and one personal item.
Pack clothes that are versatile (plain colors, pants, sweaters to layer).
Pack one heavy jacket and one light (put it on top of your personal bag to save space in your suitcase).
Ski pants and waterproof boots/sneakers (this one helped the most when I was at the Glacier Lagoon and had to sit on the wet boat. Everyone else was freaking out and trying to find a dry spot when I didn’t feel a thing!).
They are STRICT about this ($100 per bag). Luckily, I was able to stuff everything into my big bag or I would have racked up hundreds of dollars per flight.
You’ll want to pack light to make room for some souvenirs and so that you don’t tire yourself out while hiking.
Go pro or some waterproof case (for the rain and waterfalls).
Lots of snacks—food is expensive!
Bring a water bottle! (Iceland has some of the purest water in their faucets. Take advantage of the free water).
- Want to do a quick conversion of Krona to US dollars? Take off the last 2 digits. EX. ISK 500 is about $5. (It’s actually $4.80 but pretty close, right?! Helps to round up because then you can ask yourself if something is worth the higher price and have a little extra change at the end if you tally the expenses).
- Keep track of spending throughout and budget
- Cook meals with people
- Stay at hostels (KEX is the best)
- Couch surf
- Play music, draw or write poems for people (very creative culture and can help you afford the trip without going broke).
- Do tours that go to multiple places to save time and money
- Go Sept-March to see the northern lights
- Compare tours and your level (I used Greyline but usually hostels can plan them too)
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
This place was beautiful. I highly recommend taking the boat ride and getting right in the middle of the glaciers. Pure Icelandic beauty.
The focal point of Reykjavik.
They are literally everywhere!
- Cook with others (one person buys pasta, the other sauce, etc.)
- Take advantage of the food left behind in hostels and whip up a meal
- Get food from a grocery store or bakery (fill up on bread)
- Don’t go to restaurants
- Only get drinks during happy hour (a beer will run you about $13 so during happy hour, it’s half-off, which will come to the price of a beer at a higher-class American bar. But hey, who needs to drink when you have all that natural beauty right?).
Things to know:
- Icelanders are very nice but can come off cold (haha!) because at work they are generally professional and do not engage in small talk or personal conversation. Don’t take this the wrong way. There are plenty of other Icelanders you can interact with. Tour guides are one of the best since they are used to dealing with tourists and love talking about their beautiful country.
- Keep your phone with you during the Blue Lagoon. I went in with a Lifeproof case and was careful but the second I got too relaxed, it fell off the ledge. The sulfur seeped through the case and completely corrupted my phone. Thank god for the automatic sync feature on Google Photos.
- Take some pics with a camera you don’t care about or if you use your phone, have someone take the picture from outside or put it back in your locker.
- Try to capture the northern lights with flash (you can’t capture light with more light—it just doesn’t work
- Keep your phone out the entire time (immerse yourself in the experience)
- Stay in a hotel room by yourself (go to a hostel and meet people)
- Let your guard down too much (it’s safe but there are always people who will take advantage of that)
- Walk by a musician without getting their social media and striking up a conversation about life (trust me, it will be worth it)
- Exclude people in a group (Iceland is a very inclusive and happy place. Everyone wants to be included so don’t be that rude person)
- Ignore people who don’t speak English well (have patience and use translate, pictures and music)
- Sleep (part of me is for this and against. Main point is make the most of your trip but self-care is important too)
- Spend too much on souvenirs
- In my experience, everyone took cards so don’t transfer all your money to Krona since the exchange rate will most likely not be in your favor
- Try to speak some Icelandic. The locals will find it amusing and will appreciate you going through the headache
- Go on tours
- Rent an RV if you’re with friends
Here I sat upon a little hill in Reykjavik; looking out upon a mountain and ocean that nourished my soul. I took out my little notebook and did what I did best—wrote my heart and soul on to paper.
Deep in the heart of this wonderous city, I find myself wrapped in the love that the universe so obviously wants to give me. In the form of smiles or fresh cinnamon rolls on the street. It’s shouting, yearning for attention and I am just now opening my eyes and widening my heart as I gaze upon this city from a hill. Reykjavik, you are a marvelous soul wanting to enrapture everyone you meet in your natural beauty
I am currently fulfilling my dream of going to Iceland and back to Ireland! I’m having an amazing time and thinking about how you all have helped inspire me to have the courage to do this for myself and by myself. I have met the kindest people and have allowed myself to do what I want and heal in so many ways. I feel stronger and more capable than ever before. I loved the fact that I felt this while traveling and doing something I’ve always wanted that proved to me that I am worth it. After walking around all morning, I was exhausted and went to sit in a little park. I put down my phone and watched the bees buzz by. I relaxed myself when I started to become afraid they might sting me and thought about how proud I am of myself and how happy I am right now.
Although it’s not easy traveling alone, I’ve managed to do it and feel more empowered than ever before. Last night, I met a ton of new friends and we all cooked and ate dinner together, went out, and stayed up all night talking. Many of the people in the group were guys, which is something I always need to stay vigilant about and can become scared of something happening again. The guys listened to me speak and we all talked about our lives, what we’ve learned and shared crazy stories. They actually treated me like a human being which sadly is not something I get so often.
There was a guy who liked a girl at the bar who was too drunk. He wanted to go home with her but he decided against it because he knew it wasn’t right. When some of the people at the bar made fun of him, I told him that he did the right thing and was a good person. The cool thing is that I was fully prepared to step in if it looked like something would happen to her. I got the feeling from her conversation that she had some history with sexual trauma and I was prepared to explain to the guy just how much sex without consent can affect someone’s life. I felt confident and even walked the girl to her hostel to make sure that she was safe. Although it felt nice to do that for her and it was my instinctual need to take care of her, it took a lot out of me because I began to worry about her safety when she traveled to London the next day. I was fully feeling the responsibility of taking care of everyone else.
Today I got to do a little more for myself and am carrying all of your spirits in my heart as I travel through this mysterious and beautiful land. I find myself making audible moans and wows as I am fully turned on by this landscape. It makes me feel small and powerful at the same time.
The Black Beach: Stones of Truth
I knew it was going to be a transformative experience the moment I saw it. I looked at the powerful beast they called the ocean and saw that the waves were much bigger than me. I was told that if I did choose to go down to the beach, do not go near the shoreline. The waves are too powerful and the current will take you away. It doesn’t matter how strong or how big you are—they will take you out. That was when it hit me. This beach is just like trauma. It hits us where it hurts and makes us small. The first thing I noticed was the sand and how it felt on my skin. I exfoilated myself with it a little bit and walked closer, venturing into unknown territory. I walked toward the crashing waves and admired them. I voiced my wows and let my entire being be in awe of the sight my eyes were on.
The tide rushed in quickly and I ran away, remembering that it was dangerous and I could get carried away by the current. I laughed with relief as I made it out of harm’s way. I looked to my left and saw a young woman running from the current as well. We both laughed and I told her how beautiful the beach was and she nodded. I asked her where she was from and she said Japan. I told her that I went there last year and she said she was from Osaka. I smiled and remembered the amazing people I’ve met in Osaka. I asked her to take some pictures of me and I was going to take one of her. She turned the camera around and took a picture with me. I smiled, knowing the beauty of meeting a stranger and it turning into a memory and a friend. She was also traveling alone. I asked her for her name and she agreed to send me the picture. Another woman saw the interaction and offered to take a picture for us and we threw up the classic Japanese backwards peace sign. It reminded me of when the schoolgirls I met in Japan interviewed me and wanted to take a picture with me. I smiled as she walked off and went back toward the beach.
At first, my heart just wanted to spread love. I admired the beauty of the beach and then started to write in the sand. I started with a basic heart and then wrote Iceland underneath. I figured it would be a cute spot for tourists to take pictures. Then I wondered what words I would need written among the black sand. I chose WARRIOR, the name of my current chapter of my memoir and my life. I took pictures with it and felt strong, remembering all I’ve been through. I saw a couple people and wondered if they would think I was weird but didn’t care. Then I thought about what would feel good in this moment and what would other people would need to see if they are also struggling. I wrote if you are reading this, you are loved.
Then the beach was clear and I knew it was just me and the powerful ocean. No one could hear or see me so I was free to let out what I wanted. As I wrote the previous phrases, I picked up the most beautiful smooth stones and gave a meaning to it. After I wrote the heart and Iceland I picked up the first stone that called to me and said it was for me doing this for myself. It was gratitude. The next one was warrior and it represented my strength.
After I wrote the last phrase, it was kindness for others. These are all things I know I possess. I began to think about things that I possessed that I didn’t like. I found two beautiful but heavy rocks that I couldn’t carry with me even if I wanted to. I named one I’m a burden and the other I am bad. These are the two core beliefs that hold me back and make me miserable. I wanted to throw them into the ocean but I wasn’t ready yet. I stared down that ocean as if it were a demon. I was ready to face it and I was stronger than it, even if people were telling me that it was much more powerful than anyone on the planet. Not me, I said to myself, not me.
I was cautious yet firm in my steps. I knew how close I could get without getting swept away but I also knew that I needed to let go of this rock that was holding me down. I closed my eyes and thought about what I went through. It was not my fault and I am not bad. I approached the ocean and swung back my right hand like a baseball pitcher. I’m done! I said to myself as I threw that rock into the ocean with all my might. I started to feel satisfied for letting it go but I still had the other rock holding me back. I asked myself what kind of strength it would take to let go of the last rock and I said that I could let go of it gently and watch it float away.
I kept approaching the ocean slowly but firmly but the foam would not get close enough for me to gently let go of the rock. I had to keep approaching carefully, making sure I didn’t become too overconfident and overestimate its power. No. You stay away. I said and the tide obeyed. I kept doing this until I could get close enough to let go of the rock without risking my life. It felt amazing to feel that I could control something so scary and powerful. I knew that I could trust myself enough to keep myself safe from the current but also get that rock in there. After several tries I finally accepted that I could not let go of it easily. I got closer and threw it gently in. It washed away and I turned my back and walked away. I gave a smirk and laughed. I’m done, I said.
I turned back around and decided to tell the ocean everything I’ve ever felt. I’m not letting you have power over me anymore. You can take your lies back. I am not bad and I am never a burden. I felt chills down my entire body and my heated jacket provided me comfort. I felt as if I were enwrapped in a warm hug with a dear friend who was telling me that everything was going to be okay. What I did not realize until now was that I was always that friend. I was always capable of loving myself if I just let it happen. I felt fulfilled.
I saw another rock and picked it up and called it truth. I felt that it was time to go back and I did what I needed to do here. I saw another rock and I asked myself if I wanted to pick it up. I said no. It would be too heavy and I don’t need to pick up all the rocks that call to me. I took a picture of myself after and felt strong. I looked for the words that I wrote before but could not find them. It was okay. Hopefully someone will stumble upon them in the future.
I noticed a small volcanic rock lying on the beach and remembered how I admired it before but I couldn’t figure out why. This rock was small but it didn’t get carried away by the tide despite being close to the shoreline. It stayed there unphased. I immediately identified with that rock. I have been able to stay stable through all of the turmoil that life has given me. I’m still here. I’m still here. These words that once produced such sadness made me glad. I felt glad to be alive.
I thanked the beach for what it gave to me today. I noticed that I only had ten minutes before we were leaving and wondered why there wasn’t another soul on the beach. I then remembered that the point was to grab dinner and the beach was sort of a plus if you happened to have time. I figured that people were probably shopping for souvenirs from the beach and buying rocks that they could pick up for free on the actual beach.
Although I knew I should eat dinner, I knew that this was an important experience and this was not me trying to avoid eating. I knew that I wasn’t hungry and I had snacks with me so I could eat on the bus if I really had to. I was shocked that people would actually buy souvenirs from the beach without even stepping on it. I was proud of myself for not worrying about shopping because I know that it is a problem for me. I promised myself a memento with the rocks to remind myself of those stones. I need to remember to hold onto the truth stones and let go of the lies.
Gullfoss: Golden Falls
She met me at the top of Gullfoss. It was raging like nothing I’ve ever seen before. She was powerful and beautiful at the same time. She was full of capacity and pleasure. She was not afraid to say what she wanted. She encompassed my entire being and her power roared within me. There was no more obligation to take care of others. It was now purely what she wanted to do. I looked over out at the waterfall, which was thundering beneath me, and cried as I finally realized I had let go of my rocks and allowed myself to get what I want. I picked up my last rock and found my truth—my grown goddess—I’ve been her the whole time but I wasn’t able to see it.
I picked up my perfectly imperfect rock and it said that it wanted to be let go. I chucked it into the waterfall as tears ran down my face. It was the most genuine and honest moment I’ve ever had in my life I forgot about everyone else and it was just me and the waterfall. I made a promise to do what I want even if it makes someone else unhappy. It never served me to push myself down for everyone else. I thought about how nice it would be to have a picture of this moment but was glad I experienced it fully, without my phone. Pictures could never do that moment justice.
Tears streamed down my face as I was no longer afraid. I stood with all my ages and we knew we could walk down with the strength of all of them. The once raging waterfall began to die down a little bit. It was calmer and my tears fell with it in unison. I finally found myself in such a beautiful way. I let myself relax and then turned around to face some more of the waterfall. As I thanked myself for the trip and thought about the transformation I had made, two children, a boy and a girl stood right in front of me! My original vision with my grown goddess had two children holding her hands. Tears cascaded down my face as I looked at the lovely sight and appreciated the beautiful metaphor and how absolutely perfect this trip has been.
Flutters through the sky
Wavelengths of wonder
Of great, great light
How lucky am I to witness you in your true essence
And on my last night
I was patiently
Waiting for you to arrive
Deep in my eyes lay disappointment
You weren’t bright enough
Beautiful and wonderful enough
I set my expectations too high
You saw that and you conjured magnificent hues of goddess green and threw them across like sky like ribbons
You were a shark
Then an eagle
Your beauty capturing my being
How am I worthy of you?
I stopped and just was with you
Not questioning my worth
And just enjoying who you truly are
People tried to capture you with lights and cameras
You wouldn’t allow it
You were too beautiful to capture
You needed to be witnessed in your truest form
It’s sad that even though you are so so undeniably beautiful
People still take advantage of you