Gameplan: 7 tips for traveling to Iceland

Mara Lopez
Gameplan: 7 tips for traveling to Iceland
Fancy a trip to Iceland? Gameplan's Mara Lopez shares her encounter with the Northern Lights and tells us how traveling changes her perspective.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Traveling opens up so many things within. It gives me clarity and peace as I explore ideas that I would have never considered before. It gives me courage to step out of my comfort zone and to find comfort in not knowing what’s next.

Iceland was never on my bucket list but my friends who visited the island described it as heaven on earth. When my friends invited me to this adventure of a lifetime, I committed myself to the trip and made it happen. This is how we did it: 

1. Book early! The earlier you book, the cheaper it will be. My friends and I booked in January and the trip was around September. I got a promo flight to London for $700 then a flight to Iceland from London for $100. Another option is to get a promo flight to Amsterdam and fly to Iceland from there. 

2. Research. Plan ahead so you know what to do and what to bring. Check the season too! If you want to see the Northern Lights, you have to go during winter. If you want to go camping and hiking, summer might be the smarter choice. We went just before winter and did a lot of hiking and camping (plus surfing for me). We brought everything from camping equipment to rain jackets to surfboards. The weather in Iceland is erratic – it can shift from sunny to heavy rains in a minute so make sure you bring your windbreakers, thermals, and rain coats! 

3. Set your budget. If budget permits, I suggest staying for at least 10 days. I stayed for two weeks and it still wasn’t enough. There are just so many places to visit and you won’t want to rush going from one area to the next. It’s nice to be relaxed when you’re traveling and actually feel that you’re on vacation. You get to really know the place when you have more time. 

There are a lot of things to do in Iceland aside from hiking and sightseeing. I didn’t know I could surf there, but after doing some research, I discovered that Iceland is a surfer’s paradise. You can also go diving, whale watching, and glacier hiking. (For TIPS ON SURFING skip to #7!)

4. Rent a car. You can explore Iceland on your own easily. Rent a car or a camper van and go to the places you want to visit. Follow @kukucampers on Instagram. They will have everything you need! A 4×4 is a good idea if you want to visit places that can’t be accessed by smaller cars. You can also book 4×4 buses to get to the remote areas. My friends and I left our camper van in a campsite for a few days and took a bus to Thorsmork to hike and see the view of the glacial rivers because it was only accessible by 4×4.

5. Find compatible travel partners. It’s fun to travel with your family and friends, but just make sure that your travel companions want to do the same things as you do. You can get more out of your trip if you are on the same page as your travel partners. 

6. Relax in your own hot pot! Iceland is known for natural geothermal baths. It’s all over Iceland and there’s an app that can help you find some secret ones. It’s the best place to relax. Enjoy the view while soaking in your own personal hot bath.

7. Arctic surfing. Iceland is not the place to go to get surfing lessons but if you already know how to surf, it is a surfer’s paradise! Bring your own board, wetsuit, gloves, booties, and hood. I used a 5mm wetsuit but during winter, a 7mm will be the better choice. Oh and don’t forget, cold water wax. Trust me, it’s not as cold as it looks! You can find breaks all to yourself. The locals are really awesome too but there aren’t a lot of surfers in Iceland. For safety, surf with a buddy.

It was exciting exploring the unknown! Traveling makes me feel limitless because it reminds me how we’re such a tiny part of this whole universe. At the end of the day, I am grateful for every opportunity to see God’s creation. Life’s meant to be enjoyed and adventure is always good for your soul. Plan your next trip today!


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