My Top 10 Favorite Travel Items

I had a minor setback with blogging thanks to my computer crashing, but I will be getting Iceland blogs out soon. With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be a good time to share great travel items with you in the meantime! Lately, I have had many people asking me what is the best down jacket, water bottle, socks, etc. and I decided to share some go-to gear from my travels. I am kind of a snob when it comes to the products and gear I use because the best items really make a huge difference. Every person has a different preference when it comes to travel items and what works best for them, but I thought it might be helpful to see what someone else uses to get ideas. With the holidays coming up, you might even be able to get some gift ideas for the wanderers at heart!

  • S’well Bottle: One of my favorite products I stumbled upon a few years ago (I like to pride myself in finding this before it got popular) is my S’well Bottle! Sadly, my first one got left on a plane a few years ago, but now Alec and I have a total of 5 Swell Bottles. We love them. They keep cold water cold for 12 hours and hot drinks warm for 24 hours. It is so refreshing to take a cold drink of water after a long hike up a mountain. When I use a regular water bottle now, I can’t handle the lukewarm water. Not to mention that the Swell Bottles come in the CUTEST patterns. I absolutely love mine!dpp_0276
  • Smartwool Socks: These were the BEST discovery about 4 years ago. I always wanted my feet to be warm but never wanted to wear wool socks because they are ITCHY! Well, Smartwool designed a product that is soft and not itchy at all. These socks have extra padding in the heels for long hikes and also help to regulate temperature. They wick away sweat to keep your foot dry and clean. These socks can literally be worn a few days in a row before they need to be washed (aka great for traveling light). I have even convinced someone to love these socks who was against wearing wool socks!img_2990
  • The North Face Down Jacket: I personally love my North Face down jacket. It fits me perfectly and slim while still giving room to wear layers underneath. It isn’t too bulky, but keeps me really warm. It is also great at regulating temperature so when the elements change, I’m not constantly having to change my clothes. It even kept me warm when we visited the glacier lagoon!dpp_0218
  • Patagonia Fleece: I personally love Patagonia’s fleeces better than their down jackets. Their puffers always seem to fit me weird and are not flattering, but their fleeces are the most amazing you can find! They are comfy, soft, and warm. You can throw them on with whatever you’re wearing. I definitely recommend them as a gift idea for anyone!img_1911
  • Merrell Hiking Shoes: I just love Merrell a lot. Their hiking shoes are GREAT. These shoes have taken my all over the world to Machu Picchu, Costa Rica, the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Iceland, and soon to be headed back to South America! They are so comfortable and give great support for your foot. They grab onto slick surfaces wonderfully. I would have slipped and fallen too many times to count if I had not worn them in Iceland.dpp_0073
  • Lifeproof iPhone Case: I just recently got my first Lifeproof iPhone case to use in the rugged environment of Iceland. We were going to the Blue Lagoon so it was necessary. Alec even dropped my phone in the mineral-rich water of the lagoon, and the case kept my phone safe and dry. This case proved to be very valuable while we were traveling considering how much it rains in Iceland. I loved still being able to take my phone out for pictures even though it was misting or we were walking under a waterfall. Definitely a great investment if you plan to be traveling in wet climates!fullsizerender-1
  • Osprey Backpack: Alec takes the cake on this one. His new backpack is amazing. It is so lightweight and carries a ton of stuff. We were able to pack a lot of extra items in it. He even carried the tripod around in it all week! He was a valuable pack horse.img_1099
  • Ray Bans: This is one of my snobbier suggestions, but you can’t beat a good pair of sunglasses. I don’t know if I can ever go back to $10 sunglasses now that I have experienced the clearness and comfort of Ray Bans. They are amazing. End of story.img_1132
  • Columbia Rain Jacket: I have had this rain jacket for about 5 years, and it is still going strong. It is a basic rain jacket, but it gets the job done. I love it and I’m so happy that it has stayed in such good shape this long!fullsizerender
  • Canon DSLR Camera (Rebel SL1): We invested in a “nice camera” when we realized we had some extra Amazon cash lying around in our account, and it was one of our best investments. This camera is so small and light-weight that it is great for traveling. We could easily store it in our backpack or hang it around our neck with ease while exploring all day. We are still learning a lot about our camera, but we did finally master a few pictures of the majestic Northern Lights!img_2168

Hope this helps while you are searching for gear to take on your own trips! Good luck and safe travels 🙂

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

Update!

Alec and I have decided to take on international travel planning. We are doing our very first, all-planned-out, on-our-own, international trip together! We don’t really count traveling to an all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica for our Honeymoon “planning a trip.” I mean sure, it took SOME planning, but let’s be honest, we just had to show up for our plane, meet our bus for the hotel, and it was smooth sailing from there (other than when we lost our luggage, but that’s another story for another blog).

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Anywho, this year, we have decided to do more research and plan out a full international vacation to a drastically different climate. And we went all out.

We are going to ICELAND!

Many people, and even myself, have a perception about Iceland being a barren wasteland filled with ice. But remember Greenland is ice and Iceland is nice. There is a running story in which the original Norse settlers left Norway to colonize Iceland and actually planned to confuse everyone back home on purpose. They hoped those coming from Norway would inhabit Greenland instead of Iceland – they wanted to have this scenic island all to themselves. This kept the Icelandic natives safe in their haven while everyone else assumed they were living in a wasteland. Maybe this story is true and maybe it’s just a tale, but one thing to note is that many people still assume Iceland is an overgrown wilderness of sorts.

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I never imagined this would be a destination we would choose, but after my friend and alteration queen, Rachel Swayne (altermyheart.com), told us all about her awe-inspiring trip, our interest was piqued. She told us all about the natives, caves, black sand beaches, waterfalls, geothermal lagoons, mountains, glaciers, and other experiences we could witness while in Iceland. The land of fire and ice is filled with interesting formations and lush nature that cannot be found anywhere else. It has very open, rugged, and unique landscapes; It is a mystical land from our fantasies.

Once we started looking into it, we realized this getaway could be a reality for us. We researched a lot during our pre-trip planning phase, and after crunching the numbers, we realized we could easily make a budget trip out of this destination. We chose to fly with WOW Airlines for our airfare, which is a budget airline that flies to European destinations including Iceland, obviously. This airline is based out of Iceland so airfare from the eastern seaboard of the United States is VERY affordable. I would definitely check them out if you’re thinking of venturing out on an Icelandic vacation.

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We chose to go with a car rental company called SADcars for our transportation – they are an establishment that maintains 10-year-old vehicles to make rental prices cheaper for budget travelers. For our accommodations, we also chose to go a more affordable route than hotels or resorts. We searched all over and ended up choosing 3 different Airbnbs and a cabin recommended to us by Rachel. Choosing an entire home to rent (versus renting out a private room) on Airbnb is not sketchy by any means and is a great tool for budget travelers – we have stayed at them many times with no issues! We will also be staying in a wooden cabin for a couple of nights outside of the town of Vik in hopes to see the enchanting Northern Lights illuminate the night sky with their green and blue hues. September is the beginning of the Northern Lights season. The nights grow longer and the days grow shorter as Iceland moves into the fall and winter months causing the lights to be more visible in the dark. We hope we’ll spot them while we’re there!

After we secured these 3 main components of travel (airfare,  transportation, and accommodations), the hardest part was over. From there, we worked on our activities, itinerary, and restaurants to make the trip our own. As easy as the second part sounds, it was very time-consuming trying to decide what we wanted to see and what would need to be cut. Sadly, we will not be able to see everything in 8 days. I’m so excited to be able to share our trip with you. We have less than 3 weeks until we arrive there! The past 5 months have been dragging on in anticipation of going.

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Most people have said “you’re so brave” when we tell them we planned our own international vacation without a travel agent, but I think anyone can plan a trip if they set their mind to it. It just takes the courage to make the initial step.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

The adventures, memories, and life you experience when you are outside your comfort zone can be amazing and fulfilling in ways you never would have comprehended. Take it from me, it is SO worth it.

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Giving out gifts to the children of Peru

Just always remember: The fun part about a journey is not knowing how your journey will end up.

Be brave and try something new.

More blogs and photos to come on Iceland and its grandeur in the near future. 🙂