Iceland: Finding & Photographing the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (or more scientifically aurora borealis) are one of those natural phenomena that doesn’t even seem possible. After seeing photos and video, they instantly moved near the top of our travel bucketlist. However, after more research it became apparent that they can be a bit elusive. Experiences range from just a glimpse to spectacular light show. We experienced both ends of the spectrum on our trip to Iceland. The bottom line is that they are a natural phenomena and there is no guarantee! For this reason, we picked Iceland as our country of choice. Even if we didn’t see them, we had lots of other activities planned and would have a great trip. Seeing the Northern Lights would just be a cherry on top. However to improve our chances, I put in a lot of research on how to find and photograph them. Hopefully this will help on your own Northern Lights adventures.

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Beyond Antelope Canyon: Best Slot Canyons in Page, AZ

Before our trip, I knew nothing about Antelope Canyon, slot canyons or Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon caught my interest and I knew I had to see it, especially since it is only one state away. I started researching tour companies, reaching out to other bloggers and turning my day dreams of Antelope Canyon into an actual trip (check out our itinerary here!). I quickly learned that while Antelope Canyon is praised for it’s beauty, it is also notable for being crowded. Really, really crowded. Luckily I discovered Page has quite a few slot canyons, and so we decided to visit more than one. Here is my round up of the best slot canyons in Page.

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Road Trip to Page, AZ: Antelope Canyon, Glamping, & Vegan Eats

We just got back from an awesome road trip to Page, Arizona. Page is in the northern portion of Arizona, near the border of Utah and is famous for it’s gorgeous landscapes, particularly Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Trust me, these are some of the most beautiful areas we have ever seen and are so unique. While there are lots of activities, I think three full days is the perfect amount to see all the highlights.                     road trip to page

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Seven Tips for Traveling to Iceland in the Winter

tips for traveling to Iceland in the winter

Iceland is an absolutely amazing country and offers so many unique attractions from raging waterfalls and snorkeling between tectonic plates to relaxing in natural hotsprings and admiring the northern lights. I did a ton of research before our trip and wanted to share advice that I found most useful and that I discovered along the way. Here are my tips for traveling to Iceland in the winter.

Rent a car + wifi and buy ALL of the insurance.

I know it seems like I always recommend this, but it really is true. Renting a car gave us so much freedom in Iceland and really took our trip to the next level. Our car rental company, Lagoon Car Rental, offered a 4g wifi hotspot that was incredible and roughly $13/day. This allowed us to frequently check the weather, route our directions, and surf the web without being at a cafe. Outside of Reyjkavik, Iceland is fairly remote, easy wifi connectivity made us feel safer.

The main roads in Iceland are well maintained and there are several apps/websites to help you with driving. That being said, the weather changes in an instant. We saw people stuck in snowbanks and with blown out windshields/windows due to gale force winds throwing around rocks. While we didn’t need it, having the extra insurance is only to your benefit in case something like this happens.

tips for traveling to iceland in the winter
Random Roadside stop to take some pictures at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

Be flexible with your itinerary.

Like I mentioned, the weather in Iceland is unpredictable. The saying, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” is popular in Iceland. Within an hour period you can experience rain, snow, hail, and sunshine. Recognizing that I can’t enjoy a hike if there are 25 mph winds and a torrential down pour, we left room to change around our itinerary. Did we get to do everything we planned? No, but we did get to do most of it and actually enjoy it.

We had planned on visiting Seljalandsfoss on our second day, but the rain and wind were miserable, so we changed our itinerary and enjoyed it during better weather.

Download Weather and Aurora Apps.

Continuing with the theme of flexibility, the weather and aurora apps were invaluable during our trip. We used Vedur and Aurora Forecast, as well as the website for the cloud coverage aspect during our aurora hunts. We would alter our plans based on where the weather was better or when it would improve. It wasn’t always spot on, but it definitely saved us time and helped us to plan much better.

tips for traveling to iceland in the winter
The incredible aurora show we got. The aurora app was super helpful!

Skip the tours unless required.

I really wanted to see the Norther Lights. Like, realllllllly wanted to see them and get some awesome shots. I went back and forward with booking a $500 dollar super jeep photography tour for me and Martin, but ended up deciding to watch the forecast and try my own luck. Best decision ever! The first night we saw them all the tours were cancelled, yet we saw them anyways. We also got an amazing show another night and were able to drive around as we wanted to get all sorts of cool shots. Use the aurora app and scout out places yourself.

While I am definitely glad I saved $500 on an aurora tour, I am so, so, so glad that I booked a tour for snorkeling the Silfra Fissure and an ice cave and glacier hike at Vatnajökull. Both of these activities require guides and are definitely worth the price. Trying to find an ice cave on your own is dangerous and snorkeling without a guide is flat out impossible plus you would freeze without a dry suit! For these tours we used Viking Adventures and Arctic Adventures.

For other tourist attractions, ie the Golden Circle, I really recommend exploring on your own as it gives you freedom to go where you want and take the time you need to explore.

Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure is a must do activity on the Golden Circle.

Pack extra gloves, socks, and boots.

Iceland can be cold. Like so cold you lose the feeling in your hands only to then have it come back as fiery burning sensation in your bones. Between the snow, rain, and waterfall spray I was continually soaked. Cold, wet gloves only made the problem worse. I continually rotated the three pairs that I had while another pair dried.

Prior to the trip, I thought I bought waterproof boots. During the trip, I realized this was not true. I have never been more thankful for packing an extra pair of boots! We trekked through mud, snow, and rivers and like my gloves, I frequently rotated my boots while blasting the car’s floor heater to dry out my other pair. Wet, cold, and frozen feet will ruin your trip so take care to keep yourself dry and warm!

tips for traveling to iceland in the winter
On the way to this hike I sunk knee deep into snow/mud and while enjoying the river my boots froze and took about 20 minutes to get back on!

Invest in hand warmers, moisturizer, and a great chapstick.

Another life saver! I bought a variety pack of foot, hand, and body warmers before we left and they were one of our best purchases. They last for about 12 hours and are perfect in your gloves or pockets. They also come in handy during emergency situations. Our friends went hiking at night and needed to use their phones as a flashlight. It was so cold that they said the only way their phones would stay on was if a hand warmer was up against it.

The frequent change between ice cold and the blasting the heater, along with the rain and snow left my skin so dry, to the point where the skin on our hands started to crack. Tourists shops offer a ton of moisturizers and balms, but they are pretty pricey. To save money, I recommend packing your own. Extra chapstick is always a plus, especially if you are like me and always misplace yours.

tips for traveling to iceland in the winter
Hand warmers were a life saver when trying to get aurora pictures.

Fill up on breakfast and pack your own snacks.

If you haven’t heard, Iceland is expensive. As in a soup, sandwich, and 2 lattes at a cafe will run you $45. Every hotel/guesthouse we stayed in included breakfast. It was always plentiful and with a decent variety (including lots of vegan options). To make the most out of our money we would eat a HUGE breakfast, split entrees for lunch and dinner, and eat our own snacks in between. We brought in a ton of dried food items like clif bars and just add water soups, as well as shopped at local grocery stores for items like almond milk and additional snacks. This definitely helped ease the foods costs. We aren’t huge drinkers, but if you plan to drink, I highly recommend buying alcohol at the duty free/tax free airport shop on your arrival. A glass of beer in Iceland will run you about $16!

tips for traveling to iceland in the winter
We were pleasantly suprised by the number of vegan options. Even the Blue Lagoon offered a vegan green smoothie!


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Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cake

Vegan Chocolate Mousse CakeVegan Chocolate Mousse Cake

A few months back I celebrated the birthday of one of my close friends and, of course, wanted to make something delicious for her special day. This lady is a major chocolate lover, so I knew I had to make something extra chocolatey, rich, and decadent! I also was making it after working a 12 hour shift, so also knew it needed to be fairly easy and not require too much to decorate it. The answer? Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cake.

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Best Cenotes near Tulum

Best Cenotes Tulum

Cenotes are a truly magical experience and I completely understand why the Mayans valued them. Cave swimming is so unique and has an ethereal quality about it. Each cenote is different from the next with awesome rock formations to flying bats to ancient trees with gnarled roots. They are also a great way to cool off from the heat and re-energize yourself. Here are the five best cenotes near Tulum that we visited during our trip.

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Tips for an Awesome Vacation in Tulum

Travel tips tulum

Tulum, Mexico is a hidden gem. Located about 1.5 hours south of Cancun, Tulum leaves behind the all-inclusive resorts for unique boutique hotels, awesome plant-based food, gorgeous beaches, ancient ruins, and incredible cenotes. I’m a greedy traveler, so when I heard I could climb a ruin, snorkel with sea turtles, and jump into a bat cave all in one day I was sold. It truly is the perfect location to combine snorkeling, laying on the beach, and discovering history. If this sounds like your kind of vacation read on for tips on how to make the most out of Tulum. travel tips tulum.

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Nut and Oats Yogurt Parfait

Nut and Oats Yogurt Parfait
Hearty oats, yogurt and fresh berries make up this nut and oats yogurt parfait.

Hello from Spain! I am a complete yogurt lover and every time I come to Europe I am excited to have Sojade yogurt again. While I love the access to vegan foods in the US, there are a couple of products in Europe (ichoc and Sojade to name two!), that I look forward to having every time we come. I am eating quite a bit of it this trip and figured it was about time to post on the blog and share a recipe for a hearty breakfast nut and oats yogurt parfait of my own.

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Eggplant Caprese Stacks

Eggplant Caprese Stacks
Fresh and simple ingredients make up these yummy eggplant caprese stacks.

Having returned from Italy about two weeks ago, I am already missing the abundance of fresh tomato, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I get caught up in making complex and complicated food, but this recent trip to Europe reminded me that simple, fresh ingredients really are the best. Now that I am back, I had the chance to snag a bag of Miyokos Mozzarella (insert happy dance!!). What better to make than something simple, fresh, and Italian inspired, such as these Eggplant Caprese Stacks.

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