2014 marked the 15th anniversary of my annual international travels, and I wanted to do something big. I set out to do a bucket list trip to a prime destination that I’ve always wanted to go to. And I wanted to go it alone. I had never traveled internationally by myself before, and I wanted to check that off my list. I waffled between a few different countries before settling on Iceland. I had originally planned to go in October for my birthday to catch the Northern Lights, but a good friend was getting married in Philly in August, and since I’d be out East I decided to move up the trip.
At first I was a little bummed that I was going to be missing the Northern Lights season, which typically doesn’t start until September (this year it started in August, while I was there, go figure). But when I got there, I realized that everything was exactly as was supposed to be and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Traveling alone was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I am a people person. I thrive on the energy of other people, and it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to do a solo trip – the challenge of being by myself. And it was awesome. I woke up when I wanted to wake up, I ate what I wanted to ate, I spent as much time taking as many pictures as I wanted. Basically, I did everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t.
But the thing about being a people person is that you’re never really alone. If you enjoy the company of others, you’ll make it happen. And actually, what I found was that I met so many more people than I would have traveling with others. One of my absolute favorite favorite favorite thing about traveling is the people I meet while traveling. I’ve met so many wonderful people on the road, under so many unique circumstances. And on this trip, I made some lifelong friends. I met Thomas, Joan, and Theo (above) my very first night in Reykjavik. I was sitting alone eating the best soup bread bowl I’ve ever had, drinking my first Icelandic beer, when Thomas asked if he could join me. I would probably have never met them otherwise.
You probably can’t see her very well, but the girl in the bottom right hand corner is Pascale from Montreal. She, like me, was traveling alone through Iceland and was on the same Golden Circle tour that I was on. We ended up chatting the entire time and taking a bunch of selfies on my GoPro that I eventually lost. Unfortunately, this is the only pic I have left of Pascale, but I’ll never forget that day!
And most importantly … these girls! After I got to Iceland, I realized how big the country was and that I’d be driving pretty long distances by myself. I figured why not see if I could find some like-minded travelers to share some gas and keep me company. I posted a note on CouchSurfing the night before I was about to hit the road and figured if it was gonna happen, it would happen. I got cold feet when I awoke to a response from Aneka & Edwina, two girls from Malta. I started thinking about all the things that could go wrong, hitting the road for a few days with total and complete strangers. But after a quick meeting to feel each other out, I knew instantly that we’d all get along. And boy did we. I made lifelong friends in these girls and we had what I’m going to rank as one of my top 3 trips, ever.
My only regret – and I can’t even say it’s a regret – is that I didn’t book a longer trip. We found out while we were there that the Northern lights were starting to make minor appearances. I tried to get up a few times, but never got lucky. I’m not worried, I’m positive I’ll see them in my lifetime. Maybe not in Iceland, but definitely somewhere.
The gravy on the trip is that I got to make a quick stop in New York on the way back home and got to spend QT with the SP & Cassandra, the fine folks from Swagger.
Thank you friends, for letting me crash at your dope Chelsea loft!!! I hadn’t been back to the city in about 5 years, but all I wanted to do was get a black and white cookie. Check and check. (And check check check check check).
I was pretty exhausted from the flight in from Iceland (Justin Timberlake had a concert that I attended in Reykjavik and his entire crew was on the plane … except for him), so I didn’t do much in the city when I got there. I did manage to find myself a rooftop to get a quick scenic shot in tho =)
And the next morning, I got on a plane to head back home, direct from JFK to HNL on Hawaiian Airlines. Much mahalo to everyone who made this trip as special as it was, including my BFF Beatz, who sent me off with the best “first solo international trip” card that a friend could ask for. Until the next trip …