I remember booking my ticket on a whim back in 2018 after my friend telling me about Iceland and the affordable flight deals going on that year with a relatively new budget airline (RIP WOW airlines) I had been to Europe before but never by myself.
I booked my ticket to London and added a 2 day stopover in Iceland which was something cool the Icelandic airline was doing to encourage more tourism. (And it worked. This was at the height of Iceland’s big tourism boom and popularity)
I had travelled solo before domestically but never internationally so needless to say I was a bit nervous. I remember consuming blogs of other solo travelers and guides on the countries I’d be going. Needless to say my anxiety faded as the plane approached Iceland and I witnessed its beauty from the sky, excited to finally land and explore after a 12 hour flight.
I waved a taxi down at the airport ( Iceland has no Uber or Lyft, believe it or not) and was on my way to the BnB I had booked. After getting a tour from the owners and settling in I went out and explored the tiny town of Keflavik.
During the summer the sun doesn’t set until nearly midnight and my flight had gotten in around 5pm or so.
As I was hiking some of the cliffs nearby I asked a fellow hiker to take some photos for me and we became instant friends. He told me about his time in the military and how he had flown in from the base in Greenland to check out a bit of Iceland.
We hiked and talked for a few hours until the jet lag was beginning to set in and I needed to get back to my hotel to rest. The kind stranger bought me dinner and then we both went out separate ways.
In hindsight, as a woman traveling alone going hiking with a complete stranger while jet lagged may not seem like the safest idea but I listened to my gut and I’m glad I did.
I spent the next day exploring again as well as on Couchsurfing trying to see if there were any other travelers who wanted to meet up. I saw a message on the board from someone saying they had rented a car and were looking for more travelers to go on a road trip and split costs.
I answered the post and within a few hours had a time set up to be picked up the next morning by a new friend who was also traveling by herself. We had breakfast at a nice hotel before hitting the road. We ended up picking up three other travelers as well and squished into the 4 door car for an adventure. In total there were five of us, three girls and one guy all from different countries and all with great stories to share. We did several hikes that day.
One on an ancient volcano and the other hiking up the side of a mountain and discovering an ice cave which was an awesome surprise since it was summer and mostly green at the time. We also stopped along the side of the road to take photos and explore. We found a few hidden hot springs this way as well as a few abandoned buildings to explore.
Although my time in Iceland was short and sweet, the people I met along the way were what made it memorable. As much as I love traveling with friends there’s something about the spontaneity and adventure of solo travel that truly makes it magical.