There are two kinds of travelers: those that flow freely with the ebb and tide of travel, making plans as they go and hoping that everything rolls out for the best. Then there are those that like to have all their ducks in a row, all their roads mapped out, and all their rentals and reservations confirmed beforehand. Usually, if you are of style A, you shouldn`t be traveling with someone who leans towards style B, lest frustrated and murderous thoughts lead you to making some poor choices.
|Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland. Image courtesy: bluepueblo.tumblr.com|
As much as I`d like to be someone who just flits along merrily, assuming the universe will roll out a red carpet for me as I go, I`m not. I need to know that when I land at the airport, I know how to find my hotel. I need to know my hotel is expecting me, and that I won`t be sleeping on the streets that night. I need to know that when I want to drive through the beautiful countryside, I have a car (or if necessary, a 4x4) waiting with a full tank of fuel and a spare tire in the trunk. With these things prepared and ready, I can then enjoy my time in a foreign country, seeing the giant list of things I`ve researched in advance.
Yup, I`m a travel nerd. An obsessive, type-A-personality, PowerPoint-havin`, reservation-callin`travel nerd. And that works for me.
My husband is a bit more free-spirited. He doesn`t mind bouncing from hotel lobby to hotel lobby until he finds a free room, even if that free room is a 10-bed dormitory with one shared bathroom. He doesn`t like having an itinerary of things to see and do - he`d rather float through the city or countryside and discover things for himself.
|Shared dorms are not my style - sorry! Image courtesy: travelblog.org|
Now I`m not saying that his style is wrong. But my argument is: a) EW! on the 10-bed dormitory style hostel with one nasty shared bathroom... that is all I have to say about that. And b) when you don`t research the country you are about to visit, you will inevitably miss out on some of the hidden gems. Sure, signs and pamphlets at your hotel or the airport will tell you about the major attractions, but what about the little places that, unless you speak the nation`s language fluently and can chat openly with locals, you will no doubt miss out on? I prefer to have a plan of attack, thank you very much.
|Iceland, here I come! Image courtesy: pinterest.com|
In July, we are headed to Iceland. I have been researching Iceland since November when we began tossing ideas back and forth about places we might want to visit in the summer. Six months have gone by, with me doing the following to prepare:
1. Created a Pinterest board with Iceland ideas - big attractions, tips from locals, amazing photographs of waterfalls and geysers, and places I`d like to see and things I`d like to do.
|My obsess-much Pinterest page on Iceland|
2. Dug deeper into some of those Pinterest photographs and looked up websites on locations, driving distances, costs, hours of operation, and reviews from past travelers and locals alike.
3. Charted a pretend trip itinerary and slapped my must-see destinations in logical calendar order to ensure we`d be able to get through it all in a 12-day trip. Along with this pretend itinerary I made multiple notes about my must-see destinations.
|Notes, notes, and more notes on Iceland trip ideas!|
4. Pre-booked a rental car, flight plan, and a few hotels, to get an approximate cost estimate before cornering Joey and forcing him to agree that Iceland was the right choice.
5. Researched the national language of Iceland and learned some preliminary necessities (hello, goodbye, how much does this cost, where is the bathroom, can I have a beer).
6. Calculated the conversion rate between the Icelandic krona (ISK) and the Canadian dollar (CAD), and created a budget for the trip.
|I love the power of the Internet for research!|
After all of this obsessive behavior, my husband realized the trip was most likely going to happen with or without his blessing, and he booked the time off work. This allowed me to do what I had been dreaming of doing since November: I hit `BOOK IT` on the Expedia website and formalized our trip plans!
Now, I am compiling all of my data and research into a Google Docs PowerPoint (yes I know, here`s where it gets REAL nerdy) and am in the process of nailing down the details.
|Making travel PowerPoints makes me feel organized and oh-so-excited!|
This includes booking the bus from the airport to the Blue Lagoon and then to our hotel in Reykjavik (check).
|Headed to the Blue Lagoon in July - yay! Image courtesy: tumblr.com|
This includes booking the rental SUV to tackle those bumpy highland roads (check).
This includes booking our tour of the Golden Circle outside Reykjavik (check).
|Gulfoss in the Golden Circle. Image courtesy: s598.photobucket.com|
And this is where Joey stepped in. `Why don`t we just see how it goes when we get there?` he asked when I expressed frustration over the fact that most hotels were full or sold out. (On a side note, one of the Icelandic B&B owners told me that big travel companies block out entire hotels or sections of hotels for their tours, then release the unsold rooms in the late spring. If you are having trouble finding rooms on the island now, try again in late May.)
|Reykjavik from above. Image courtesy: 500px.com|
Remember that note I mentioned above, about two travel partners having to be similar? I myself need to be reminded of that from time to time. For the second half of our trip, while I still do have a list of things to see and do, I am going to try to flow with the ebb and tide of travel. We will talk to the locals and get their take on what we should experience, and try to find places to stay as we go. I sure hope it works - I wonder how much divorce costs in Iceland? Just kidding!! Wish me luck!