travel trending

{VIDEO} A Life-Changing Trip To Iceland + A Lesson On Expectations

July 5, 2016

So you’ve got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Lately I’ve been writing my travel posts with the hope that they would not only be entertaining, but also informative for those of you planning trips to these places. Sure, I want you to enjoy the pictures and writing, but also want to be helpful for those of you out there who also have the travel bug.

But then trips like this happen, that turn out to be more powerful than a simple travel guide. The pictures and “What to packs” don’t encompass how life-changing it truly was.

I wouldn’t be doing Iceland justice by writing out a list of places to visit. It is a country that requires more.

So while I intend to give you everything you need for your 5 Days in Iceland Travel Guide, I also need a few minutes to just talk and share with you what this trip really meant to me. Feel free to watch the video or scroll down to the travel guide below if you’re not into my babbling!

 

I’m the type of person who can get really caught up in expectations.

When I imagine something to be a certain way, and it falls short, I kind of lose it. Planning has always been a coping mechanism for me, but it can also be dangerous because too much planning means setting expectations at a level that is virtually unachievable. It means setting myself up for failure and anxiety.

So over the years I’ve actively learned to relax and let things go with the flow, but inklings of this bad expectations habit still exist in my mind and they became all the more evident during this trip to Iceland.

Iceland has been on C’s bucket list for as long as he can remember. It’s certainly a place I’ve always wanted to visit but never the top of my list. But when we spotted a cheap flight sale, we jumped on it…despite it basically being the most insane time in our lives to go to Europe. But yeah. Such is life. YOLO.

I’d heard so much about Iceland and all the amazing sights we needed to see. I started keeping a list but tried my best to keep the planning to a minimum. We booked an incredible Airbnb 3 weeks before leaving, and our rental car was booked 2 weeks before. But then I went on a rampage and researched the shit out of everything we HAD to see while we were there. I was so excited about 23 hours of daylight because it meant more places to visit. I even told people that we planned to just not sleep so we could pack more in…

I think you can see where this is heading.

So even though I didn’t plan an epic Iceland adventure 6 months in advance, I was still building up what the trip might look like in my head. I could already envision the rainbows over the waterfalls and 10 mile hikes through volcanic eruptions. Iceland was going to be quite the adventure.

And this is where my entire plan goes to shit.

A lost bag, 2 hour rental car delay, sleep-in, pouring rain and drone fiasco later, I learned once again (and hopefully for all) that what I least expect is often exactly what I need.

For so many reasons, the world felt like it was working against us on this trip. Delays led to us sleeping through our hike through Thingellir National Park, time prevented a visit to Jokulsarlon Glacier, a lost bag full of food meant spending more on food than we expected (Icelandic food is expensive homies!) and torrential rains meant I basically lived in my rain coat and the drone didn’t get as much use as we anticipated.

But as I sit here looking back on the pictures and video, all I can think about is how perfect this trip truly was. It was nothing as I’d imagined and beyond any expectations I could have set.

Not only did I get to spend 5 days travelling around Iceland with my best friend, but I also came home with the important realization that you won’t always get what you want from the universe, but the true joy in your life can be found in how you react when things go off course.

Iceland is a country full of extremes. Extreme days, extreme weather, extreme natural elements that will truly blow your mind. It will push you to your extremes too. All you can do is hold on tight and embrace what comes next.

So with that, if you’re heading there for a couple of days (as a destination or a stop-over), here are some suggestions on what to do. And if none of this happens, know you will still have the adventure of a lifetime!

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

Where We Stayed

By a landslide, our Airbnb was the highlight of our trip. We’re total last-minute bookers and scored the jackpot with this beautiful cabin in the middle of the Golden Circle close to Selfoss. Some people prefer to make their way around the Golden Circle and move from place-to-place but we preferred having a home base from which we could head out on day-trips. Admittedly, because our little cabin felt so calm and serene, we felt less desire to explore but we have no regrets taking our sweet time enjoying our breakfast and coffee and lazy hot tub evenings. Watch the video to see more of the inside of the cabin and if you’re interested in getting a credit of $30 towards your next Airbnb, visit this page.

On the last night, we stayed at Loft Hostel for a night in Reykjavic on our way out of Iceland. It was a perfect place for a temporary stay. We ended up with our own 6-person room and everything was clean, quiet and perfectly located. If you’re just passing through Reykjavic, we highly recommend.

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

Where We Went

There is truly no way to tackle every beautiful sight and activity in Iceland in a single trip, let alone 5 days. You have to pick and choose your adventures and just hope you’ll come back one day. So within our means, here’s what we tackled…

Laugarvatn Fontana – a beautiful hot spring at the top of the Golden Circle. You can spend an afternoon in the geothermal baths and steam rooms. We also learned how they use geothermal heat to cook rye bread in the ground! So so cool. It isn’t nearly as fancy as the Blue Lagoon but it’s a nice and authentic way to enjoy the natural elements of Iceland.

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

Geysir and Gullfoss – I’ve lumped these two together as they’re only about 10 minutes apart. Geysir is a series of well, geysers and hot springs that are seriously impressive. Be sure to hang around to watch their largest geysir, Strokkur erupt. Gullfoss is a spectacular waterfall (one of many in Iceland) that will definitely blow your mind.

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Reynisfjara BeachDyrhólaey Peninsula (Vik, South Iceland) – Both of these places are turn-offs on your way to Vik and you MUST STOP. Reynisfjara beach was spectacular and everything you imagined a black sand beach to be. 

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Skogafoss – If you haven’t picked up on it by now, “Foss” means waterfall and there’s quite a few of them in Iceland! This was one of our favorite places to get drone footage since it was pretty crowded on the ground.

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Sólheimasandur Plane Crash – In 1973 a US Navy Plane crashed onto the black sand beaches of South Iceland. The farmer’s whose land it crashed on has closed access by car so you have to hike in 3-4km but it’s so worth it. It felt like we were walking on Mars!

Sólheimasandur Plane Crash -So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Sólheimasandur Plane Crash -So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike – It was pouring rain but that didn’t stop us from hiking out to the beautiful natrual hot springs in Reykjadalur. It was so serene, private and probably my favorite activity of the trip. If you do one hike, do this one.
Reykjadalur, Iceland- So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Reykjadalur, Iceland- So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.Blue Lagoon – I think this place might be the most photographed in the world. And for good reason, it’s absolutely stunning! I heard mixed reviews from people before going (namely that it was overrated) but honestly, I feel like we got our money’s worth. We spent about 4 hours soaking in the silica-filled lagoon, I face-masked like a champ and we hardcore steamed. This is my kind of place! Make sure you book in advance.

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

Exploring Reykjavik – We really only had about 12 hours in Reykjavic, which proved to be not nearly enough time! If we go back to Iceland we would love to spend more time there, but we really enjoyed wandering the streets, taking in the murals, the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja Church and the waterfront.

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

Where To Eat

Food in Iceland is expensive. It’s a fact you’ll need to accept before going. But because we stayed in an Airbnb, we made it our mission to eat in as much as possible. I packed a bag full of nonperishables (within the legal limit) like beans, rice, quinoa etc… along with every snack possible and this allowed us to only do a $40 grocery shop for fruits and veggies. I have a video coming out soon with what we ate in Iceland so stay tuned for that!

But we did eat out for two meals, one in Reykjavic and one outside of the Blue Lagoon and both were delicious.

Sæmundur í Sparifötunum at Kex Hostel (Reyjkavic) – Worth every penny! It’s super low-key but delicious Icelandic food in a funky hostel in downtown Reykjavic.

Bryggjan (Grindavik) – this is 10 minutes from The Blue Lagoon and it’s an adorable coffee shop that’s along the marina of this tiny fishing town. Also bottomless soup, coffee and bread YES!

What to Eat in Iceland - So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.What to Eat in Iceland - So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

How To Get Around

You pretty much need a rental car to get around Iceland. While, Iceland certainly isn’t big, the sights are all over the country with quite a bit of space between them. And honestly? Half the fun was spending hours looking out your car window and watching the landscape change around you.

I highly recommend getting a 4 x 4 if you plan to do any off-roading. If you can drive manual, you’re in luck since the manual cars are cheaper, but if not expect to pay a pretty penny. Gas ain’t cheap either. I think you’re catching my drift here, Iceland is beautiful but expensive.

We got our rental car complimentary through Sixt Iceland and while they’re may have been a few hiccups along the way, we really did feel that our beloved Suzi the Suzuki contributed a large part to our trip enjoyment. Without her we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere!

Sixt Iceland is offering a 15% off code to anyone who books with them using THIS LINK. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, 15% can go a long way!

So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.So you've got 5 days in Iceland? This full travel guide will teach you how to make the most of your Icelandic adventure for your next trip to this beautiful country.

Pictures and video footage were shot on my Canon 6D and 50mm lens or on the DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter (drone)

Have you ever been to Iceland? Do you struggle with expectations?

DON'T WANT TO MISS THE NEXT ADVENTURE? Join the THM Community!

Join 5000+ members of the THM Community to get access to exclusive info about travel, places I've visited and how to stick to your healthy lifestyle on the road.

Powered by ConvertKit
  • Reply
    Alicia
    July 5, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Wow so beautiful!! One of my yoga teachers is doing a retreat in Iceland in November of this year. I wish I could go but planning other travels. Iceland is definitely on my bucket list though. Your video footage was amazing. Love the drone shots.
    Alicia recently posted…July 4th Weekend: MIMM#78

  • Reply
    Kaitlin
    July 5, 2016 at 8:52 am

    ah your time in Iceland looks amazing!! We are going in October as a surprise 60th bday trip for my dad and I cannot wait!

  • Reply
    Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It
    July 5, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Absolutely gorgeous photos, Davida!! Iceland looks breathtaking and is next on my travel bucket list. This guide is SO HELPFUL. Thank you! 🙂
    Marina @ A Dancer’s Live-It recently posted…“America” Oatmeal

  • Reply
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs
    July 5, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve been working on letting go of expectations for trips. I used to plan, and plan, and plan, and now I have a few plans, but am really embracing seeing where life takes me.
    I’ve had a few friends go to Iceland and it’s a place I’d absolutely LOVE to visit!

  • Reply
    Alana
    July 5, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Oh man, I hear ya on setting expectations and being disappointed! I’ve been working on that as well. My husband and I recently returned from an 18-month around-the-world trip. The times we arrived in a new city with no expectations were probably the most memorable parts of our trip. It’s so hard though because you don’t want to miss anything! 😉

    Your photos and video footage are absolutely beautiful. What an awesome keepsake for you guys to always remember this trip.
    Ps. I’m a huge Airbnb fan. I’ve added your place to our wish list for Iceland. Hope to get there this time next year!
    Alana recently posted…Our Story With Fathom Travel

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      July 7, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Aw so happy you added it to the list! Definitely try to visit if you can. Can’t wait to check out your blog and see some of the places you’ve travelled to!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Eat the Gains
    July 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    The views and landscape there is stunning!! Iceland isn’t on my list to places to go, but might have to change that.
    Kelly @ Eat the Gains recently posted…Healthy Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta {vegan/whole30}

  • Reply
    Hilary
    July 5, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    If I didn’t even read the post about the struggles you guys had and just looked at the video, it looks like it was such a beautiful place! I think part of Iceland’s charm was the weather! Perfect cuddle and coffee/hot beverage weather! It made me want to see it some day!
    Hilary recently posted…Peanut Butter Raspberry Cookie

  • Reply
    Beverley @ Born to Sweat
    July 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Okay but seriously tho, that video, like i wanted to CRY. you two are so amazing and adorable and the personable/intimate bits were a really great touch to the whole thing. Also who knew that stock music was so inspiring haha.
    Beverley @ Born to Sweat recently posted…June Love + My New Favorite Pastime

  • Reply
    Lindsey Bomgren
    July 5, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    That’s some tough love from the Universe but it’s that just how life goes! Love that you made the best of the situation and now I want to pack my bags for an Iceland adventure! xo-L
    Lindsey Bomgren recently posted…Comment on blackberry basil kombucha cocktail {a healthier cocktail or mocktail} by lindsey

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      July 7, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      You need to add it to the list! Now it’s time for me to unpack my bags and enjoy some summer at home!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    July 5, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Iceland looks incredible!! That video was so lovely to watch with you two 🙂
    And I love what you said here… “but the true joy in your life can be found in how you react when things go off course.” – YES!
    You have made me wan to go to Iceland. Looks simply stunning!
    Lauren recently posted…The Darker Side to Things Like The Whole 30

  • Reply
    Lexi
    July 5, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Amazing message here and what an amazing trip! HUGS to you and C!
    Lexi recently posted…Loving Lately

  • Reply
    Kelsey Preciado
    July 5, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Looks so amazing – always wanted to see a cheap flight somewhere fun and book it!! That also might have been the cutest video ever – i just love love, you and Curt are so adorbs!!! 🙂
    Kelsey Preciado recently posted…Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • Reply
    Victoria
    July 5, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    These pictures are absolutely stunning! This definitely makes me want to go visit!
    Victoria recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday

  • Reply
    Cassie
    July 6, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    The photography is so breathtaking and the post is so well-written! I do agree that you just have to be in the present and accept surprises! Sometimes I plan things out so much to the core that I end up getting stressed out and disappointed that nothing turns out 100% the way I pictured. The beauty of life is that you always find surprises!

  • Reply
    Kaylin@EnticingHealthyEating
    July 6, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    This is such a neat recap! I loved the video, I need to learn how to do videos like that! Need to get a drone first…but my fiance has always wanted to go to Iceland, it’s also at the top of his list (a guy thing?…). I wasn’t convinced because I don’t do well in the cold, but after reading through your post and seeing the video I think I’d go if I had the chance!
    Kaylin@EnticingHealthyEating recently posted…Vegetable-Packed Recipes for Eat Your Vegetables Day

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      July 7, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      In the summer it isn’t too cold! Prepare for rain but with a hat and rain jacket it’s totally doable!

  • Reply
    Sam @ Barrister's Beet
    July 7, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    I love your post!! The trip looks amazing and I love your take on going with the flow. Some trips that go that way turn out to be the best trips!! Gorgeous photos girlfriend.
    Sam @ Barrister’s Beet recently posted…Feeling Rushed? How to Have a Slower Morning

  • Reply
    Katie @ 24 Carrot Life
    July 9, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Girlfriend, that video is SO amazing! You totally inspire me to start making travel videos. What camera are you using again these days? I tried searching through your blogging posts but couldn’t find it.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      July 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Hey, lovely! All info on camera gear is at the bottom of the post 🙂 But to recap, my Canon 6d, 50mm lens and the DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter!

  • Reply
    Gary
    July 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Davida,

    Wonderful pictures, video, and story. I know you said the video was done with a Phantom, but is that your Phantom that you (or C) flew yourself, or did someone else do that for you?
    Gary recently posted…DJI Keeps All Y’all Flying Right

  • Reply
    Casey
    August 28, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Hi Davida,

    Beautiful photos and video. Iceland looks unreal! What time of year were you there? June?

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Yup! End of June. Right after the summer solstice so it was basically light all day! Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Emily
    October 14, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    What time of year did you go on this trip?

    • Reply
      Emily
      October 14, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Never mind — I didn’t see the comment right above mine!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    November 25, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Hey what a great video.
    Can you tell me what a bikini you wear on the cover? The blue-yellow-white striped.

    Thx

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    January 11, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Love this article and all the photos. I have a Canon T5i with the 18-55mm lens, should I use this lens in Iceland or should I grab another lens? I really want to capture the Northern Lights and everything else.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      January 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      It’s less about the lens than about the settings on your camera! Capturing the northern lights is challenging as you’ll need to keep your shutter open for a long time. A tripod will be key for this!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Arnold
    January 20, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I am sending my husband your post right now! We are planning his 30th birthday trip the first week of June this year! What month of the year did you go? Any must take clothing recommendations?

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      January 22, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Went in June! Biggest thing: rain jacket/wind breaker. Definitely isn’t warm there even in the summer. Think fall weather 🙂

  • Reply
    kb
    March 20, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Davida,

    I couldn’t get past the overly-revealing bikini. When will someone live a life not based on sex appeal? Someday you, too, will feel saddened by this.

    I admire your healthy blog, but I was surprised and quite disappointed at the opening pic.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      March 20, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you for your feedback. Unfortunately, I don’t see it that way at all. I am simply in a bikini, comfortable in my body and sharing my experience in a new country. It was not intended to be sexual and quite frankly, I’m saddened by the fact that you jumped to this conclusion. What I’m most struck by is the fact that if I were bigger, you would not have jumped to this conclusion at all. We live in a world of thin privilege (a privilege I never asked for btw but a result of the society in which we live) and with this comes oversexualization of any thin woman in a bikini. Just some food for thought. -Davida

  • Reply
    Greg
    May 16, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Hey mate,

    Love your site 🙂

    I was hoping you could steer me in the right direction…

    I’m heading overseas (from Australia) for 2 months, hitting up Switzerland, Scotland, Iceland and Sri Lanka. I’m chasing a travel-backpack that can also double as a day-hiking backpack? At the same time I wanted to try and have it maintain an element of ‘style’ but to be honest that’s the least important part… I need it to but functional in the first instance.

    I carry a DSLR Canon 50D with me as-well, and 2 lenses.

    Is there a ‘middle’ bag that can swap in and out to do both? Or am I better getting 2 bags for different purposes?

    How do you guys manage it?

    Cheers,

    Greg

  • Reply
    kb
    June 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Hi Davida,

    What gave me pause was the fact that your bikini doesn’t cover much of your bum, not whether your backside is curvy or flat. To me, it’s a matter of worth and social justice. We live in a world where the sex trade is thriving, and as individual women the response is so typically “I feel good about what I’m doing” not “how can I change how society views women? How can I stand in solidarity with women who are used or persecuted? How do my simple acts impact those around me?”

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      June 26, 2017 at 1:05 am

      Thank you for your perspective. Something else to think about is the millions of women who are not allowed to show any of their skin and are forced to feel shame about their individuality and sexuality. But to be honest, I’m just wearing a bathing suit that I feel comfortable in and call me ignorant but I’m not thinking about either sides of the spectrum when deciding what to wear to go swimming.

  • Reply
    Teresa B. Schaefer
    August 9, 2017 at 8:57 am

    I recently went out for a 1 day fishing trip on the Varma. The weather was horrible but my guide Ari did his absolute best to keep a positive attitude and get me on some fish. At the end of the day I did end up with a few small sea trout and a nice brown. I would absolutely fish with these guys again and would recommend them to anyone looking to fish in Iceland.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Join 5000+ members of the THM Community to stay up to date on the latest life happenings and behind-the-scenes of The Healthy Maven!

FOLLOW THE HEALTHY MAVEN ON INSTAGRAM!