Europe, Iceland

Finding Myself at 65°N – The Solo Icelandic Winter Adventure: Backstory

Wandering into the Westfjords, September 2018

My second trip to Iceland was not intended to be a solo affair.  But life has a funny way of working out when you have nonrefundable international airfare and two suddenly becomes one (and not in that sexy Spice Girls song sort of way).

I’ve driven across the United States and back by myself, and fly all over to large cities for work.  But the common thread to all of that is it was still the United States.  English is English, and for the most part my rambling, fast spoken English can still be followed by 90% of Americans.  My parents don’t need passports to jump on a plane in case I need rescuing.  And, on some level, I might know someone close by if help is needed.  Though Iceland is probably insanely statistically safer for a solo female traveler than the U.S., it’s still 3000+ miles from home, sitting in the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean.  In case you didn’t know, you cannot drive to Iceland from Wyoming.  Though English is prevalent, I managed on my first trip to find corners where Icelandic was still the name of the game, and knew I couldn’t guarantee my English could be understood.  I’ve racked up an amazing vocab of food terms in Icelandic, but “talar þu ensku?”is probably the only useful phrase I know, and it’s not useful if the person answers with a “nei, eg tala ekki ensku.”  I was NERVOUS.  Winter weather, though very similar to Wyoming’s, is crazy in Iceland.  It’s one thing to bury my car in a snowdrift in Wyoming, it’s another to do it in Iceland.


Was I crazy for taking off to Iceland, by myself… in the winter?  I mean, I knew I was going on the trip.  But I don’t always have the best judgement, especially when I was dealing with my world of the last two years crumbling apart around me.  My coworkers and friends cheered me on, celebrating that it would be some sort of Eat Pray Love adventure, and that I would have the time of my life.  My parents, sitting across from me at Chik-Fil-A at lunch one day, even told me they were “okay” with me going.  OK, cool, my craziness was validated by multiple humans in my life.

Let’s do this!

The itinerary was completely redone, one month before the trip.  The original plan was another camper van adventure.  Which is great, when I don’t have to be the one driving.  But I’m not comfortable driving a van… I’ve never driven a van.  I drive an all wheel drive Subaru Forester with nice big windows to see out of.  So I booked a Dacia Duster SUV, and started looking into guesthouses, which kills any sort of flexible itinerary.  Sure, December and January isn’t the high season in Iceland, but still smart to book out in advance.  Rental car and guesthouses… omg, it’s like I’m going to be an average tourist in Iceland after all!  Last trip I planned for four years… this trip?  About five days to hammer it all out.  Skillz, yo!

Hey, let’s throw some snorkeling and horseback riding on there, too!  And my first 10km run, to boot!

(I did.  Seriously.  Nevermind the fact I’m TERRIFIED of water over five feet deep and won’t put my face in the water when I swim.)


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