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TIPS on TRAVELING to ICELAND

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First advice when planning to go to Iceland: take a deep breath, it is not as intimidating as it seems. When I was first researching Iceland, I became overwhelmed. Both the massive landscape and the language make Iceland a highly unrecognizable culture to most American tourists, and this feeling can be very scary when embarking on a new journey.

I am here to tell you, take a breath, it is worth it. Reykjavik is a lively city with a large industrious economy and new construction popping up around the city. Their infrastructure welcomes tourists, so take advantage! Icelanders are very proud of their native language, but English is also taught in school, therefore everyone also speaks fluent English.

Though I only traveled to Iceland for a brief two days, I was able to make the most of my time there. Most people when traveling to Iceland rent a car to travel the country and camp, since camping is free and the cities can be costly. I was traveling alone, and did not feel comfortable with the prospect of camping by myself in the national forests, so I chose to stay at a hostel. Hotels are available as well.

Though the city centers are full of life, do not miss out on the nature this country has to offer. Located in an arctic zone, Iceland is unique with its combination of glaciers and volcanoes. I decided to take a series of bus tours to experience the landscape. This way you pay for a car rental, gas, and guided instruction all in one! You also are not alone, and can make friends along the way. The bus picks you up and drops you off right in front of your hotel so you don't have to worry about navigating.

There are a plethora of options when it comes to bus tours. With my limited time, I chose the Golden Circle Tour with an afternoon at the Fontana Wellness Center (a spa constructed by geothermal hot springs) as well as a black beach, waterfall, and glacier hiking tour along the southern coast. If you chose wisely, your tours can include the cost of admission to geothermal hot springs, museums, or gear and guided instruction for adventure sports! The guided tours are helpful because you hear from enthusiastic locals about aspects of culture you would not have known otherwise. I also benefited from the glacier guide's experience in ice sports while hiking a glacier for the first time.

Iceland is an incredible experience, and different than any other. If planning a camping trip becomes too stressful, I recommend the hostel/hotel and bus tour combination for a stress free yet exhilarating vacation.

By Summer Perlow

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