I have felt that drive to travel since I was young, wanting to spend a year in France in middle school, needing to see the markets of Morocco in high school. I spent my free time researching far away places, researching plane tickets, reading travel blogs about how to travel cheaply, where to go, what to do. I found programs that took you to Thailand, Spain, Turkey, for vast sums of money that I didn’t have. Everywhere you looked there was organized travel: “pay us and we will give you the experience of a lifetime”.
But I didn’t want an experience of a lifetime. I wanted a lifetime of experiences.
I didn’t want to be trapped into an itinerary, or even a location, I wanted to be free, I wanted to be able to make my own path, I wanted adventure. So I bought a plane ticket to Iceland. I didn’t know anyone in Iceland. I didn’t even have anyone to go with. I didn’t know where I was going to stay, or what I was going to do, but after months of constantly checking prices on Kayak.com, and looking at pictures of hot springs and rocky volcanoes, and green fields, I finally did it, with hardly enough money in my bank account to even afford the ticket. My whole life I have spent needing to travel, always saying, “the time is not right”, or “I don’t have enough money”, countless excuses for why I could never just bite the bullet and buy the ticket. So I did it, leaving the details for the future.
I chose Iceland simply because of the low price ticket, almost half the price of anywhere else I could find. The beauty of the scenery and small population only added to the charm of the small island. I solved the finance issue by finding a position through Workaway, working in a cafe in Akureyri, a small town in the north of Iceland, and by planning on taking advantage of the free camping laws all over the country. I honestly still can’t quite believe that I did it, that I made the decision to put travel over having some extra cash, over buying a new pair of shoes. That I will be getting on a plane, by myself, with everything I need for the next month strapped to my back, ready for this adventure.
I can’t wait for that moment, for the beginning of infinite potential. In the meantime, I spend my days in as many places as possible. Climbing mountains: feeling the wind on my back and the rocks under my body. By the ocean: with sand between my fingers and water on my toes. Exploring forests: camera always in hand, smiles on all of our faces. It’s the least we can do.
Words & Photos: Ilana Newman