I have a system for planning my trips that involves a delicate balance of getting in early enough so tickets/rooms aren’t sold out, and waiting until the last minute for flexibility and time to change my mind. In the past I used to book vacations well in advance, sometimes 6 months out. I’ve also tried the plan as I go method, which doesn’t bode well for me. I end up wasting too much time looking for things to do instead of actually doing them. I will never be the person who lands in a new country and seeks out a place to sleep on foot with my luggage in tow. It stresses me out just thinking about it. Now I tend to start bookings about a month out from my scheduled departure. It puts me under a slight time crunch, which helps to push me into making decisions, but it’s still far enough out that I can get the flights and rooms that I want. That was the case, until Iceland.
Iceland’s tourist season is very short. Many people visit in the winter, but for the most part the summer months June-August are ideal. This means tourists flood to this small country during that time. I decided early in the year that I wanted to do a four-day hike while visiting, which meant two things. I had to go in the summer, and I needed to book my trek quickly as spaces were already filling up. Like a good girl I quickly decided on a date and book the trek. Then life happened.
In the months following I was working non-stop towards deadlines, and then quickly whipped together an itinerary for my trip in May to Washington D.C., Portugal, and Spain. I did a little research pricing out flights to Reykjavik (which at the time were very affordable) and possible itineraries, but I never pulled the trigger. There was also a pending move in the works and I wasn’t sure which airport I would need to fly out from. The whole time I knew I should have been making bookings for Iceland, but it kept getting pushed back.
Which brings me to last week, when I finally decided to sit down and figure everything out one month before I planned to leave. What I found was disheartening, but not wholly unexpected. With limited flights into the country I was left with only expensive options. Expensive for me anyway, probably a reasonable cost for everyone else. It took me three days to finally book because I just couldn’t accept that this was my only option. I travel often because I’m able to keep my costs down. I just couldn’t imagine throwing all that money away on just the flight, but it is Iceland after all so away it went.
Booking rooms was no less painful. In the smaller towns where I wanted to stay, there were NO guesthouses left with vacancies. I decided to just book whatever I could find in the relative vicinity of where I wanted to be. This will mean wasting time driving and back tracking to get to my lodging. Also there was no possibility of shopping around for the best prices, which translates into the continued hemorrhage of money. In fact, I haven't added it all up yet, but I'm pretty confident that this will be my most expensive trip to date. I still have a few things to plan out, but at least I have my flight, lodging, and trek booked. Everything else is a little more flexible.
I’m not mad at Iceland, I’m mad at myself. I knew better and now I’m paying for my mistakes. The blow to my pride and pocketbook are starting to heal, and the silver lining is a big one…I’m going to Iceland!! By July 4th I will be knee deep in my trek through the wilds of Iceland, and that is worth much more than the money it cost to get me there.
Another plus is that since I paid so much for the flight, I feel like I need to make the most of it. I’m looking into extending my trip to include a few more stops in Northern Europe. I’ve been longing for Ireland lately so I see a quick visit in my immediate future. I saw Saoirse Ronan on The Tonight Show the other day, and her accent made me tear up. No joke, I got it bad.