Iceland + Europe | Vacation Announcement

A couple weeks ago, I spilled the beans on our vacation via my Instagram story. If you didn't catch it in the 24 hour window, you wouldn't have heard the news... sooo here's the official announcement:

We're going to Iceland and Europe this fall!

As a little background:
For the last year, Tom and I have been discussing the need for an honest-to-goodness vacation. Of course, it kept getting put on the back-burner over and over (as these things often do) while we dealt with other life circumstances, prioritized family visits, hosted lots of visitors, worked on our renovation, and then moved forward with adding our dog. We kept saying "we'll talk about it in a couple more months" until that couple more months turned into a year or so. Now, it's been over FOUR years since our last vacation... which was our honeymoon. So to say we're excited about fulfilling our dream to visit Europe, would be an understatement.

We've taken a few trips in the last four years, mostly to visit family, or with me as a tag along to Tom on a business trip, or for a super fast overnight to celebrate a birthday or something, and they've been so wonderful... but we've not had what I would call a vacation in all these years.

About two months ago, I started putting my foot down and being really adamant about prioritizing a vacation for this fall. We've had a rough year and I think life's curves have put enough weight on us to merit an actual need more than a desire for a vacation. We need the respite, the escape, and the adventure without work or reality tapping us on the brain to remind us to pay attention to them. We'll take plenty of photos, but it'll be mostly a time that we can be disconnected from pressures, and just enjoy the time together - uninterrupted.

Here's how it happened

After a few months of daydreaming together about potential places, we decided to just start casually looking. We followed a few places around the world for low flight prices, and every now and then something would come up and we'd consider it for the day, only to see the price spike the next. Italy was of particular interest, but when prices went from $400 to $700 in a matter of 12 hours, we thought it was off the table. So we hunted around the Caribbean, and Cabo, and various other locations.

About a week after the realization that we needed to be prepared for spontaneity in purchasing flights, Tom saw something we couldn't pass up...

For less than $900 (total - this price includes BOTH our roundtrip tickets), we could fly into Reykjavik, Iceland - stay for up to a week - and then continue on to Paris.

Tom read me the deal and we stared at each other.
For a long time.
We started to smirk.
Then I asked a few more questions and we decided we'd keep our stay in Iceland brief so we could explore the surrounding areas and countries by France for longer.
"Joy, are we doing this?" he asked.
".... what's our reason not to? The flight price certainly isn't a reason. Tom. Let's do it. I don't see how we could possibly regret doing this. We've dreamed of going to Europe... and ICELAND?! Who goes to Iceland?! Actually, I think we'd kick ourselves for NOT going and passing up such a great deal and experience. Seriously. I'm ALL in. Let's do it!"

Two minutes later, we confirmed our tickets.

For three full days, we'll bop around Iceland. For another twelve days, we'll land in Paris, and then perhaps mosey into Switzerland and Italy - but we're open to suggestions! We are so insanely excited for this trip! We're really hoping to get to the small Italian winery that makes our favorite wine in the Barolo region.

We've been scouring Airbnb for places to stay, but it's so hard to know where we'll want to spend the most time! Now that we have the flights booked, we'll have a lot of planning to do, but I love planning and organizing, so I'm enjoying it. Plus, it feels SO good just to have something amazing to look forward to, and it's started to motivate us to get in better shape so we can enjoy walking and hiking around as much as possible and not feel like we need to rest a lot. 

Here's where you come in

Have you ever been to Iceland?
How about France, Italy, or other surrounding areas?
LET'S HEAR YOUR TIPS! This will be our first time overseas and if you've got anything that might help some European or Iceland first-timers, leave me a comment or contact me.
What should we pack for Iceland AND Europe? Do you have some favorite luggage or backpacks? Would it be easier to take trains or rent a car? We're not too interested in the tourist attractions - what would you suggest to the back-country travelers? How do you leave room for souvenirs? Do you know some amazing places to stay? Any certain kinds of clothes or shoes you know are great for lengthy travel? What kind of adapters would we need for phone and camera charging? Anything you can think of please share it - I'd love to hear about your experiences! 

Now, if you need me for the next five months, I'll just be listening to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack a million times.