1 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-07 18:39
I'm thinking about taking a four or five day trip to Iceland in a month or two. Never been overseas but I'm finding extremely affordable round trip packages and I've got no issue getting a passport at my post office.
Does anyone have any advice for me or experiences traveling to Iceland?
Also travel thread.
2 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-07 19:31
I've never been to Iceland, but I have studied abroad in another country. 4-5 days isn't really long enough for you to have to learn all the ins and outs of the country, but here are some important things to consider:
1. You'll need to learn how to use public transportation. Buses, taxis, trains, or even apps.
2. Plan your days out in advance -- way before you get there. Make reservations, think of things to do, and so on. You don't get to travel often, so make the most of it!
3. Learn basic phrases in the language of the country you're going to. Learn basic signs as well, at least for things like bathrooms. Know which words mean men's bathroom and women's bathroom, and how to ask if need be. But then again, maybe people in Iceland know English. But I went to a place where people didn't speak English much at all. You don't want to be in a situation where you need to go and you don't know how to ask.
4. Get international data for your phone. It will be expensive, but worth it. Then, if you are in a situation where you need to get the message across to someone who doesn't speak the language, you can use Google Image Search to show them what you're trying to say.
5. Know the exchange rate and get some currency beforehand.
6. Take a USB power bank a.k.a. portable phone charger (or whatever you want to call it) with you since you'll be taking lots of photos and videos, and might also need to use it for directions and such.
7. Be aware that jet lag can take a while to adjust to.
8. Depending on what kind of country you're going to, you might be charged tourist prices instead of local ones. This is especially true in third world countries, but it might not be as much of an issue in Iceland.
9. Look up social norms, customs, gestures, and more importantly -- what NOT to do in the country you're going to. Example: in some cultures, thumbs up is like the middle finger. There might be small but important cultural differences that you need to be aware of. Again, Iceland is sort of Western, so that's probably not that different (I went to poorer parts of Asia), but just look that stuff up anyway.
10. It's fun to talk to people in bars. You can meet people from all over the world.
11. Take your passport with you and don't lose it!!!
12. Check and see what kinds of outlets they have. You might need an adapter. Countries use different plugs. They're not only different shapes, but they have different amperage and voltage too.
13. If you use public wifi, it's safer to do so with a VPN. Again, probably more important for countries that aren't quite as nice. Iceland is probably safer and nicer than the places I've been to.
14. Some people will try to scam you. If someone is extremely friendly and invites you to go to some private place for coffee or tea or an art gallery or something, don't do it. Stay in public places. Again, probably not a thing in Iceland, but it is common for tourists to get scammed or robbed in certain countries. People will use social engineering to get you to let your guard down.
15. Don't stay in the hotel except to sleep. You're paying for a trip, make good use of your time!
16. The different kinds of food might make you sick, or might make you have to go to the bathroom more. I still encourage you to try local foods, but take some over-the-counter stuff with you just in case something you eat or drink doesn't agree with you.
17. Don't spend all your time during the trip telling people about it on social media. That can wait until you're back.
18. Don't travel with anything you're not willing to lose. It could get stolen or lost.
19. If you want to buy souvenirs, then make sure you have some spare room in your suitcase.
20. Make sure nothing you bring will cause problems with TSA/other airport security or customs in the country you're going to.
21. Countries have different laws for over-the-counter and prescription medications, so if you take anything, you need to check into that to make sure it's okay. Some drugs that are legal in one country might be highly illegal in another.
22. Dealing with customs, don't buy any fresh fruit or produce, or other things that customs might seize on your way back. Maybe just knick knacks or keychains or something. But you should really pay more for experiences (food, events, etc) rather than stuff.
23. If you do take pictures, be sure to have proper photo etiquette. Just because someone is in a cool place doesn't mean they necessarily want to be in a photo.
24. Make sure you tell your bank that you're going to a foreign country so that you won't end up in a situation where your account gets frozen because they think it's identity theft or something. Tell your bank BEFORE you go, and tell them the exact days you'll be there. You can probably do that online.
25. Look up info about the country's payment stuff -- do people use mobile payment apps, cash, credit cards, etc? What are the fees like for international ATM withdrawals? Clear that up before going there.
26. Have some emergency money saved up, just in case something bad happens while you're there -- or in case you want to spend more. If you can only barely afford to get the tickets and lodging, don't go.
27. Airfare and hotels aren't the only cost. Be sure to have enough of a budget to account for public transportation, food, events, and occasionally even getting ripped off or buying something you didn't think you would buy.
28. Toilets may or may not be different. Some places have American-style toilets, others have bidets, some have fancy electronic ones with lots of buttons in a language you're unfamiliar with, and some are squat toilets. I have been to some third world-ish places and the different toilets can be the hardest thing to get used to. But again, Iceland probably isn't like that. But in some countries, the bathrooms don't even have toilet paper or soap, so you'd have to bring your own.
29. Know the exchange rate so you don't get ripped off. Also look up average cost of living too.
3 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-07 19:31
30. Look up the weather ahead of time and bring clothes and shoes that will be comfy (for doing lots and lots of walking) and warm or cool enough for the weather.
31. A short trip isn't enough to really understand the people, culture, etc. You might think you have Icelandic people figured out based on meeting 3 cool people in a bar, but that's just anecdotal evidence and you might not get an accurate representation of what it's actually like.
32. You might think cultural differences are just language, food, scenery, etc. but culture shock can be lots of tiny things rather than just one or two big things. Light switches are different. People shake hands differently. People are less or more friendly than in your home country. People care about hierarchy and who sits in what chair when you eat a meal. Different standards for cleanliness. Drinks are a different temperature or have more or less ice than you're used to. Lots of little things that you won't necessarily understand just by looking up basic information about a country.
33. If you post stuff on social media, don't expect great responses. Only post a couple highlight photos, not the hundreds you'll take. Even if people don't say anything (on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc) it can actually upset your friends to see that you're doing something expensive and fun and they're not. They might actually secretly resent you a little due to being jealous. You will care way more about your vacation and your vacation photos than anyone else will. That's not a bad thing, but just be aware of it.
34. Be on your best behavior! You don't want to get in any trouble with the police in a foreign country.
35. Economy airplane seats are extremely cramped and uncomfortable. Middle seats are terrible. And don't expect to be able to fall asleep on the plane, even on a really long flight. The longest flight I've ever taken was 14 hours long, and it was pretty stressful.
36. Have fun!
I know that was really long, but travel has been a big part of my life.
4 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-07 23:13
Just want to add to two of the points said in the posts above me, they're very good posts so read them well.
2. This really is important, I've done a couple of solo trips this year and the first one I just winged it, ended up missing out on a lot of cool stuff and having to spend time working out what I'm doing. Second trip was amazing, though. But this being said, allow the spontaneous to happen, I have ended up in some situations I never would have dreamed of by saying yes to an offer when I had different plans in mind.
4. This can be somewhat negated by using apps and downloading relevant data beforehand. i.e. download the local area on google maps (won't be able to find routes that well, but you can use it like any paper map without using data), and certain translation apps allow you to download a 'language dictionary' to allow for offline translations (google translate has helped me out a bunch).
Havn't been Iceland myself, but I've seen a lot of Europe with a variety of different people. Some learn the language and culture, others put in zero effort and get by just fine. Don't worry about anything, just know that you'll enjoy it more if you immerse yourself.
I'm planning a trip to Switzerland, but I really just want to ride around on trains for 5 days. Getting an Interrail ticket but havn't really looking into how it works yet (re: booking ahead). Anyone got any experience with this? Anyone recommend some places in Switz? I have a brief outline but nothing solid yet (Was looking at: Zurich, St Moritz, Zermatt & Lausanne, stopping in some random places between St M and Zermatt).
Going on the off season so might even risk not booking accommodation and just seeing where I end up.
5 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-08 13:53
I don't think I've ever talked to foreigners in a bar. Do people actually do that?
6 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-08 16:26
I did it when I was studying abroad. I never spoke to them again after I left, but we still drank and talked while we were there.
7 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-12 05:14
This is (at best) tangential to the thread, but I love talking to strangers in bars. You may never see each other again, but for ten or twenty minutes, you're buddies.
8 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-12 09:57
We went there when I was very young, but Iceland is absolutely one of my favorite places in the world. We went in the winter (my first time seeing snow!), which I felt was just as enjoyable as the summer would be. I'd say to definitely visit one of the municipal swimming pools in Reykjavik, almost all of them are outdoors & geothermally heated, nothing like lying back and watching the snow melt as it falls.
The "Golden Circle" route is a good day trip. Gullfoss, Geysir, and the continental divide (Thingvellir). There are also 4x4 tours out of the city which are good fun, they've got some excellent drivers.
Have a hot dog whilst you're there too, they're a national delicacy: https://www.icelandairhotels.com/magazine/blog/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-icelandic-hot-dog-mag
9 Name: Anonymous : 2018-07-12 19:03
As a member of a house band for a local bar, this sums it up nicely. I have loads of friends and they're all out there somewhere.
10 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-02 07:43
I went carry on only for a few weeks around Western China and Central Asia recently and it was fantastic.
11 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-03 06:55
I’m on a road trip up the California coast. It’s nice. Perhaps I’ll have a bigger writeup when I arrive home.
12 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-06 00:58
Flying out to Kazakhstan later this week to start my almost 7 week long misadventure around the Central Asian countries.
It's a weird feeling to actually be doing it after I've been planning for so long.
13 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-11 02:29
you can't mention a 7 week misadventure and then not give details man. what's your itinerary?
14 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-11 10:15
Was it you who posted the Kazakhstan video?
It was very interesting!
15 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-11 23:22
I saw that video too. It was neat!
16 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-12 13:21
In Almaty right now. Heading to Taraz tomorrow and Shymkent later this week (and hopefully making to Turkistan as well) before crossing over into Uzbekistan. There I'm mostly planning the standard Tashkent -> Samarkand -> Bukhara route.
Then crossing into Tajikistan via Khujand before heading to Dushanbe. Trying to do the Pamir highway, but depends on if I can find enough people to ride share with.
Then in Kyrgyzstan it'll be from Osh to Bishkek, with a few days by Lake Issyk-Kul, before catching my return flight from Almaty again.
17 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-13 07:02
wow that is a serious trip! I am green with envy right now. I ran out of time before I could travel into Uzbekistan but Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan were so beautiful. Issyk-Kul at this time of the year would be fantastic. enjoy the rest of your travels dude.
18 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-16 20:15
tfw have three days of annual leave to take, but staying anywhere for five instead of four days (over a weekend) adds ~£100 to plane tickets
19 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-17 06:56
Departing on the Saturday might help, though you'll lose a night at your destination. Sat -> Weds would possibly be the cheapest. Is it around the bank holiday?https://www.confused.com/travel-insurance/guides/why-tuesday-is-the-best-day-to-book-your-holiday
20 Name: Anonymous : 2018-08-18 10:31
Unfortunately not on the bank holiday (we're busy around that time, would be a dick move for my colleagues).
Thanks for the advice (and the link), but I can't find a decent price on a Wednesday (or any other way to fit it). I'm happy to reduce it down to a 4-day stay, will just spend the extra day exploring a local village or something more relaxed.