Camper Van Living in Iceland in August

Camper Van Living in Iceland in August

A lot of the logistics of our trip were learned along the way and shared by our adventurous friends who visited Iceland before us. I like documenting and sharing because I want need to grasp my surroundings and accommodations before I arrive. Pretty much everyone we talked to enjoyed their trip in very different ways than we did! No one used the same route or vehicle, no one experienced the same weather or conditions. It just varies so much! Hopefully you’ll feel calmer reading this if you’re thinking about embarking on a van trip.

Picking Our Route

When we first booked and began planning for Iceland. Cale scoured camper van sites, comparing and contacting the companies. I basically looked up every single landmark, scenic site, and campground and plotted everything on an Iceland Google List, which I share with Cale. If you go this route, that’s great – but this did little to actually chart a route. We wanted to see lots of good stuff and “go with the flow” but we also like to be efficient with our time, especially driving and camping for the whole week. I married a brilliant, meticulous person who reached out to a company on Trip Advisor that provides “custom” day-by-day plan for your trip. They created a route that made sense for our timeline, route, and camper. We ended up hitting almost everything on the list, but not necessarily in the order they provided. It was well worth the $100 to have them make sense of things. They recommended companies and locations for the excursions we wanted, too.

Route Note:

There was a weather/wind advisory the first two days we arrived. That means they do not advise travel, especially in campers and large vehicles. It was crazy windy, cold, and pouring rain. That means we missed our first day of sites and activities and some of the second day, which we hit on the way back. With 5ish days, we only made it around the southern half of the island. We both thought we’d be able to push it and crank out the whole island, but there just wasn’t time. We felt busy enough with the given itinerary. We probably could have or should have gotten up at 5:00am to power through any and every site, but that’s not really how we roll on vaca. It’s not like we slept in until noon or anything, but I think you’d need at least 10 days, maybe even 12-14 days, to comfortably enjoy the whole island by van.

camper van parked in Iceland

Renting a Camper Van

We rented a camper van for the week. This is a super common way to experience the island. Our particular vehicle had a double bed, kitchenette, small bathroom, and table. As an introvert/human turtle I absolutely loved having all my things with me wherever we went! Change of clothes? Got ’em! Downpour? Grab a book and chill. Sleepy? Bathroom break? Need a snack? Got ’em! Two embarrassing fun facts: I do not have experience driving a manual transmission and I’ve never been camping before. All vehicles in Iceland are manual so I would recommend a) learning that life skill real quick or b) travel with someone who is comfortable doing so. Our camper came with two pillows, two comforters, a french press, kettle, mini fridge and some basic kitchen supplies. We also rented a wifi stick with our van so we had awesome internet access the whole time.

Things We Bought in Iceland

We were pretty much willing to make whatever work for our week in the camper, but a very small $40 investment made our week even better.

  • 2 Pillows: We stopped by IKEA and bought two additional pillows. We like sleep and the ones provided left a lot to be desired.
  • USB Charger: There’s only one outlet so we bought USB charger with 3 slots to charge devices overnight.
  • Groceries: Coffee, bread, peanut butter, ham, cheese, bananas, chips, chocolate, mini milk carton for coffee, beer, wine, etc.

Finding Camping Grounds in Iceland

There are many campground options in Iceland. How did we find them? The Google Machine! Not all campgrounds have the same amenities so it probably depends on your camping ambitions which site will work for you. We always looked for power hook-ups for our camper. Sometimes we would swing by a campground and find that it didn’t have what we were looking for. Then what? Google another option and navigate there. Trial and error is how it works. You do need to pay to park at a campground–you’re renting their space and amenities so that makes sense, right? There’s usually a little hut where the office is located. You walk in, tell them how many people, what vehicle you have, how many nights, if you need power, etc. If you Most campgrounds will, at the very least, have community bathrooms, sinks, and stove. Many will have outlets for power, ample grounds for tents, showering facilities, large bathrooms, community kitchen areas, and outdoor sinks.

katie sitting on basalt rocks in Iceland

What Clothes to Pack for Iceland in August

This is easily the aspect I stress about THE MOST when preparing for ANY adventure. Rain pants, rain jacket, and hiking boots will be invaluable. Honestly, if you have those things you can figure the rest out. Wear whatever you want underneath for the rest of the week, but we wore our rain gear and hiking boots every single day. Even if or when you decide to stop at a restaurant, everyone will still be very casually dressed. I packed one pair of jeans and one, like, “normal” sweater. Iceland is full of people from around the world. You will see people wearing everything–mostly hiking outdoor wear, a lot of jeans and puffers, even some bloggers in flowy gowns getting the shot!

Packing note:

Your lodging/accommodations, length of visit, and activity level will probably affect what and how much you pack. Staying in hotels for the week? You probably can leave out some toiletries. Going the tent route? Pack some heavier layers, especially for sleeping.

Katie and Cale, closeup in Iceland layers

Iceland Packing List

Here’s a more detailed list of what I/we actually wore for our trip. In total, we brought two backpacks, two carry-ons, and a single checked bag for two adults for 6 days.

  • Rain coat/jacket (bonus points if you have one with removable layers)
  • Rain paints (it was reallllllly convenient to have the kind that snap or zip up the sides so you don’t have to unlace your boots)
  • Base top layers (workout tanks to layer, short- and long-sleeved athletic tops, thermals)
  • Base bottom layers (workout tights, leggings, thermals)
  • Underwear and sports bras
  • Socks (wool)
  • Hiking boots (break these babies in around your house with your socks before you go)
  • A backup pair of shoes (could be tennies, boots, or whatever you want–bonus points if they are easy to slip on or off for bathrooms, plugging in camper, errands, etc)
  • Swimsuit or two for lagoons
  • Quick-drying towel
  • Flip flops for showers
  • Face/body wipes
  • Head lamp
  • Day pack/backpack
  • Ball cap (the bill is nice for sunny or rainy days)
  • Stocking cap for windy or chilly moments
  • Lightweight gloves (we brought our running gloves and were super happy about how quickly they dried)

An Iceland trip was on my bucket list. While I didn’t fully know what to expect, I knew I wanted to go. I wrote all about what we actually did and saw. Have you visited Iceland? What was the most helpful, practical knowledge or item from your trip?

Is this thing on? I’m back, baby.

Is this thing on? I’m back, baby.

How does one merely start posting to their blog again after all that has happened?

When I say “all that has happened,” I’m specifically referring to having a baby a few months into a pandemic in the midst of a racial justice reckoning during a critical election year. PHEW! Life throws curveballs to be sure. But wow, the heartbreak and fear and chaos compounded last year. I don’t think I’m alone in my feelings of disconnection and frustration. I was and had to be solely focused on delivering the work I promised and keeping my kid healthy and happy, but I didn’t have margin for anything beyond that.

I guess what I came here to say is…I’m back.

Or I’m at least sitting at my desk working hard. I’m trying to figure out what I want my life and my schedule to look like. I’m privileged to have access to childcare. I’m starting to make plans and book projects into the future again. I’m raising my rates to where they should be so that I can devote the time and attention I should be. I’m starting to think abstract, creative thoughts beyond basic survival and health again. I’m starting to look forward with hope and excitement and wonder again.

It’s getting better. Hope you’re feeling the same way. We are creating. We are replying with kind but firm emails. We are making plans. We are moving forward. But slowly.

My First Group Workout Class

My First Group Workout Class

I told myself for a long, LONG time that exercising in a group sounds like my nightmare! First of all, I don’t know what I’m doing so I’m not going to be perfect at it. Second, struggling in a room full of people is very embarrassing! Plus there are just so many mirrors that they can watch watch me squirm from every angle. Next up? Morning classes. Like early. Like class starts at 5:30. In the morning. So here we have a small potpourri of Things I Dread: trying something new, not being perfect, people watching me not be perfect, and getting up early.

I have a touch of social anxiety. What does this look like for me? Welp, lots of fun symptoms include but are not limited to crying meltdowns before group outings, getting sick at large events (cute), hiding in bathrooms at large venues, and overcompensating with too much excitement (interrupting others and grilling people like they’re at a job interview). It took me a while to identify these as patterns but once I read about and looked for them…It’s been a lot better! Needless to say, I knew just putting myself in this situation was going to make me nervous. I have really been trying to challenge myself so I set my alarm for 5:00am. Want to know how my first class went? K!

Where my introverts and socially anxious people at?! If you’re an introvert, you are going to be both mortified and delighted by my experience. If you’re an extrovert then enjoy the pictures ’cause this is going to sound absolutely ridiculous to you. Either way, you’re here and I’m happy to have you!

What to Do at Your First Workout Class

Arrive 10 minutes early.

I arrived only 4-5 minutes early and it was not nearly enough for reasons you’ll soon discover. Arriving mere seconds before the start time of anything is traditionally considered “early” in Katie Time. So let us take a quick moment to acknowledge that.

Triple-check aka Procrastinate.

I parked, the gal at the front desk scanned my keychain, and I asked questions I already knew the answer to. BUT WHAT IF I DIDN’T, YOU KNOW?
Me: “Hi, I’ve never taken a class before, what do I do?”
Her: “Ok, great! Go on in and find a spot. Class starts in about 5 minutes. Lift as much or as little as you want, go at your own pace.”
Me: “Cool, thanks.”
Also Me: *go-in-find-spot-panic-5-minutes-lift-more-than-you-should-freak-out-go-fast-be-perfect-panic*

Go On In and Find a Spot.

I am ruler-follower so I did as I was told. I was also feeling terrified so I zeroed in on an open spot the second I opened the door. Class started in 4 minutes so I piled my pink fluffy sweatshirt and Ugg boots by the back wall and slid on my tennies. I walked to The Spot and psyched myself up.
"Go in and find a spot in the gym" illustration by Katie Kassel, Graphic Designer

Lift Those Weights.

The instructor started class. The tunes were playing. I lifted the various weights lying before me. They were really freaking heavy. We were nearly 10 minutes in and everything was mostly fine. A woman arrived about 10 minutes late, looked around, and walked across the room kinda towards me. She said, “Excuse me, are you…? Did you…?” and walked away. I was oblivious, I smiled and focused on how heavy these darn weights were. She emerged from a closet with equipment. Weights, bar, a mat, the whole shebang.

Which I never did…

…I waltzed in the door, found a spot, and started lifting.

"Hand lifting dumb bell weight" illustration by Katie Kassel, Graphic Designer

Get Your Own Sh*t

There was a slight break where people shifted their equipment and sipped water. The woman walked by me to grab her water bottle and gently mentioned, “Make sure you come a little early next time. You need to set up your own equipment before each class.”

And it finally dawned on me.

I was in her spot. Using her weights. I was MORTIFIED.

Stick With It

At this point, I was in Fight or Flight mode. I was telling myself, “Don’t you dare. Don’t you DARE cry. Suck in those little tears” while simultaneously glancing at the door thinking, “Humiliation is FUEL, you could be gone in seconds.” Instead I did not cry and I did not run out. I stayed. I survived the whole class and was only a little humiliated when two gals from my church were in there the whole time! I was blinded by sheer embarrassment and hadn’t noticed them earlier. SUPER.

The kind soul whose spot I borrowed, introduced herself as Melinda after class. Come to find out, she has been coming to this class for more than 12 years and sets up her equipment extra early so she can run on the treadmill before each session. I apologized profusely, and then apologized a little more for good measure.

For those of you keeping track at home, my worst introvert nightmare became reality. Not only did I steal the spot of a beloved attendee, I did so in a mirrored room where everyone watched the whole scene unfold. To top it off I didn’t know what any of the moves were called and I lifted weights that were way too heavy for me. That pretty much checked all the Things I Dread boxes.

Be Decent.

I went back the next Monday morning. Got there 15 minutes early (yes, ME!). Found a spot in the back. Set up all my equipment. Put on my shoes and stretched. Melinda greeted me on her way in, “Oh my gosh! I’m so glad you came back! This is my favorite class and I was worried we’d never see you again after last week. By the way, how are you feeling? I couldn’t believe you used my weight the whole time!”

Girl, SAME. I also cannot believe I used your weights the whole time. She lifts heavy. I explained that I hadn’t come back on Friday because I couldn’t move or lift my arms for a solid 4 days after class. My hair was an absolute mess because I could not raise my arms to put a ponytail holder in. I’m also very glad headbands are back in.

I am not kidding when I tell you the only reason I even thought about going back and trying that class again is because Melissa was so kind, and decent, and gentle. She didn’t yell, shout, or demand that I move. She didn’t offer a snarky or sarcastic remark. She didn’t shoot dirty looks my way during class. It would have been so easy and probably a more natural reaction to totally shame and embarrass someone who steals your equipment and spot! But she didn’t. I’m still kind of surprised and totally impressed by how she handled it. There are so many easy, short words and phrases to offer encouragement and kindness between reps.

"Be decent high five encouragement" illustration by Katie Kassel, Graphic Designer

This post started as a funny, self-deprecating story about being an introvert and surviving my worst first-world fears. But it kind of morphed into a life lesson. January is a big goal-setting, resolution-making time of year. Health and fitness is a big one for a lot of people! This is good! So whether it’s January or May or December, don’t make anyone feel like dirt for trying to improve themselves. Show them where the equipment is. And be decent while you do so. You don’t have to be cheery even. Just decent. Someone might come back to class because of your not-cheery-but-not-terrible interaction. Realize that an activity that’s super easy for you to do, like showing up for a one-hour workout class, might be a real fear for someone else (hi!). There are some real risks in the world and I would never encourage someone to put themselves in the harm’s way. But if you can survive your brain’s version of the worst case scenario then I think you’ll be stronger for having tried whatever it is.

Go on in and find a spot.

Step Away From the Desk

Step Away From the Desk

It’s taken me nearly 30 years of sitting at desks to realize that I’ve been sitting at desks for THAT LONG. You’ve heard the sad, morbid warnings of sitting for hours on end. Most are based on research, and I am big fan of science and facts. Scary statistics to do little to motivate me. I need motivation that’s a little more…friendly? Happy, even! I am really truly honestly trying to let my brain work while my body moves by going for regular walks. Outdoors, when possible. Admittedly, this is much easier to accomplish during spring, summer, and fall months with a Midwest address.

Step Away From the Desk

Cup of coffee, bathroom break, refill the water bottle, have a snack, empty the dishwasher, pull out the ole laptop in another room. When I start talking or whisper-shouting to myself, it is absolutely time to STEP AWAY. Slowly. Release the mouse. Set a timer and get outta there.

"Please step away from the desk" print by Katie Kassel

Get Some Sun in Your Eyes

I feel better mentally and sleep better after even a small amount of time spent outdoors. I would advise some fabulous shades and/or a hat for this step, but you get the idea. I feel more alert just being outside for a few.

"Get some sun in your eyes" print by Katie Kassel

Time to Go For a Walk

Very few tasks cannot wait 15 minutes. I am terrible guilty of thinking and doing the whole “I’m in the middle of this so I’ll just slog through until I’m done.” Some situations call for this. But usually a walk breaks loose whatever obstacle I was mentally running into.

"Take time to go for a walk" print by Katie Kassel

What are some things you do during the workday to refresh your mind and body?

Day of the Week Sunglasses

Day of the Week Sunglasses

It’s late April in the Midwest which could mean ANYTHING weather-wise. But on this particular day, it’s sunny and 60 degrees and I’m happy. Been in a mental rut all week and decided to do a short series to design for fun. This particular series was inspired by my trusty plastic yellow sunglasses from last summer. And they just feel more appropriate and festive on a sunny Friday. I gave myself the following “rule”: each graphic had be sunglasses with green shades. A guideline or two keeps the challenge realistic (the real-world is rarely a free-for-all) and it helps the series feel consistent even with a variety of styles, colors, and shapes. I tried to capture the right style and emotion for each day. Do you agree with each day’s vibe?

A Shade for Every Day

Shade of the Day: Monday

Monday needs a little pep. If you don’t feel like tackling whatever Monday holds for you, this pair of sunglasses will help you power through. This is the eyewear your attitude and your eyes need for Monday.

Sunglasses for Every Day of the Week | Katie Kassel, Graphic & Web Designer

Shade of the Day: Tuesday

Tuesday’s sunglasses are a no-fuss, classic aviator style with a star at the hinge because they needed a little something. Look, the honest truth is that Tuesdays are often crazier and weirder than Mondays. Don’t add another thing to your plate or look. These shades are streamlined for a smooth Tuesday.

Sunglasses for Every Day of the Week | Katie Kassel, Graphic & Web Designer

Shade of the Day: Wednesday

On Wednesdays we wear pink, obviously. And what better staple to pair with your pink than a bold, black pair of sunglasses. The tiniest pearl was needed to enhance your pink palette. Sleek and guaranteed to help you glide through Hump Day.

Sunglasses for Every Day of the Week | Katie Kassel, Graphic & Web Designer

Shade of the Day: Thursday

Thursday, you beautiful symbol of optimism. Also fondly referred to as Pre-Friday, Thursday’s oversized square tortoise-shell style tells the world that maybe you’re a little tired but you’ve handled your week and poised for solid finish to the week. A little trendy, a little classic, a lot perfect for Thursdays.

Sunglasses for Every Day of the Week | Katie Kassel, Graphic & Web Designer

Shade of the Day: Friday

The entire inspiration for this series; a happy and SUNNY Friday. The world is your oyster for 48 hours. The Monday version of you can handle whatever you don’t get to today. You will feel as festive as these sunglasses look. I would suggest wearing these through the weekend for maximum happiness.

Sunglasses for Every Day of the Week | Katie Kassel, Graphic & Web Designer

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