Shameless plug: Our YouTube Channel

http://www.youtube.com/sohflo

We’ve been doing a bad job of filming videos during our trip, and when we do, we’ve been doing an equally worse job of uploading them! On top of that, we’ve been adding repetitive YouTube-approved background music to each video! 😀

Anyways, if you haven’t noticed the links in our sidebar, we DO have a YouTube channel, and we try to update it whenever we can obtain a fast wi-fi connection. Please visit and enjoy! 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/sohflo

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Quick notes about Iceland

Random thoughts about Iceland over the past week, hopefully they’ll be useful for anyone thinking of travelling here!

– Everybody speaks English very well. And the locals seem pretty friendly. It’s pretty safe to walk around at night.

– Downtown Reykjavik is very walkable. You can probably walk anywhere within 30 mins of where ever you live. Our hostel isn’t near the main street, but we can walk there in 20 mins.

– The international airport is 40 mins away from Reykjavik. There is no public transportation, just shuttle or taxi or rental car. You can book a shuttle when you get to the airport lobby, they leave 40 mins after your flight lands, so you want to get out and get your luggage ASAP.

– We’ve never had to use cash at stores or eateries, we’ve used credit cards the entire time. The only time we’ve had to use cash was to tip our tour guides.

– It’s really cold and rainy in September. Bring waterproof shoes, jacket, and pants. And wear layers. People here like wearing woolen knits.

– It can be really intimidating when you go into a store and you see price tags like 1980 ISK (Icelandic Krona) for a roast chicken (totally making that up). I don’t know what the conversion rate is, but (BAD MATH ALERT!) I generally just truncate the last 2 digits and guess how much it costs in US dollars. For example, think of 1980 ISK as $19.80, and currently the krona is weaker than the dollar. So your roast chicken can’t cost more than $19.80.

– Also, if you see a price like 5.000 ISK, it doesn’t mean 5 krona, that decimal is just a separator for hundreds. Just think of it as a comma, like 5,000. So it’s really around $50.00.

– Tours are really expensive, but might be the best way to see more of the country and get out of Reykjavik. Renting a car is ok, just remember you need insurance (especially weather-related ones), and gas is at least $8/gal.

Do NOT book your Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights tours in advance. Book them on the day you want to go, after 6pm. Because these tours are so popular (one company has a fleet of 10 buses each carrying 50 people), you will not have difficulty finding a spot. Also, the companies may decide to cancel the tour for that night if the weather forecast is bad, and 6pm is usually when they make their decisions. So it is best to call companies at 6pm and ask if there is a tour that night, before you pay for a ticket! Almost all companies also have a policy where if you don’t see it, you can rebook it again for free, as long as they don’t cancel it that night. We booked ours months in advance, didn’t see anything the night we went, and had the tour cancelled for the rest of the week due to bad weather. Waste of money, blahhh.

– You can pretty much book any tour 1 or 2 days in advance. There are really so many companies to choose from, and no shortage of seats. We’ve booked our tours after 9pm the night before, and haven’t had any major problems getting stuff done. The Golden Circle is the most popular one. The Blue Lagoon “tour” is also very popular, but is really a shuttle bus to a (fancy and luxurious but awesome-sounding) spa.

– Museums, stores, and attractions can close early during the winter (like 5-6 pm) but have longer hours in summer.

– Food in Iceland can be very expensive (1500 ISK for a drive-thru burger & fries). But if you wanna eat like how they did in the old days, you can go to the supermarket and get flatbread, cheese, and some type of preserved fishmeat (lox, sild, etc). There’s something about Icelandic flatbread where a single slice has a mega-crap-ton of protein. We’re actually pretty full after a single serving of flatbread (looks like a pita pocket) with jelly and some cheese spread. Also, skyr is a type of yogurt that has high protein too that is made in Iceland. We’ve been eating from the same stash over the past few days.

– “Takk” means “thank you”.

Electronics Packing List for Overseas Travel (2013 Edition)

Since Karen and I are only bringing our backpacks to Europe we had to pack light. A full packing list will be forthcoming, but I wanted to share a mini-list focused on electronics first.

Hopefully it helps other tech light travelers on what to bring overseas. 🙂

CONTENTS

+iPad and Case*
+iPhone
+Samsung A157 – unlockable cheap GSM phone w/ SIM card
+Nintendo 3DS with circle pad**

+Vivitar, 2 USB port charger (euro and iPad friendly)***
+International travel power adapters (3 regions)

+USB iPad cable
+USB to Micro USB cable for SIM phone
+Daiso USB iPhone retractable cable****
+Daiso USB Nintendo 3DS cable
+Daiso Cable organizers (3)

+Earbuds w/ mic
+Audio Mini-jack splitter

+Daiso Plastic Storage Bag

NOTES

* iPad and Case – This is a Trident Kraken case (AMS-NEW-iPad-BK). I had a fancy OEM Apple foldable case and it did not protect the glass display from shattering from a 2 foot drop while in a backpack! I got a free new iPad from Apple (long story) and threw this case on it. It feels way more secure and I have more confidence leaving it in a backpack when traveling.

** Nintendo 3DS – Still haven’t decided on bringing the 3DS overseas. I’ve kept it while traveling in the States, but it’s kinda heavy and I’ve rarely had time to play. I may have to give up the idea of having a 100 level rank Monster Hunter and a massive international StreetPass village, at least for this trip ;P

*** Vivitar 2-Port USB Charger – This is actually my second charger, the first was a Skiva 4-Port QuadFire which totally fell apart after a month of regular use. Skiva is not recommended. So far it’s been a month and this Vivitar charger (VIV-AC-3A) has held up and it’s good for what we need.

Quick specs: 100-240V + 3.0 amp + plug adapters = great for traveling Europe w/ iPad.

**** Daiso Travel Products – We should probably give Daiso Japan’s travel products it’s own post for how cheap and useful it’s been. For people unfamiliar, it’s a Japanese dollar store. Everything is just $1.50USD, designed in Japan, but likely made in China. For this list specifically we’ve bought retractable USB cables, cable organizers, screen protectors, audio splitter, and storage bags.

Another thing worth mentioning is the lack of laptop or sophisticated camera on this list. While our iDevices may not be the most robust computers or have the highest megapixels, they cover the basics of what we want. We explored ideas of combining ultralight net books, wi-fi enabled cameras, and mini tablets, but pound for pound an iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (for Karen) has worked for the two of us and is lighter on our backs. I don’t consider myself an Apple fanboy, but it’s nice to have the frictionless versatility that they offer. Also since these devices have limited storage capacity, we’ve been heavily reliant on the cloud, both Google Drive and iCloud, but perhaps that’s another post. 🙂

If you found this useful, please like or follow!

Foldable Water Bottles

Mark & I were walking around a sports store the other day, and came across a clearance sale. One of the items we saw was a plastic bag being marketed as a water bottle. At first I thought, “what a ripoff”. Then I thought, “That’s actually a good idea! But still a ripoff for the price.” It actually inspired us to look into Capri Sun-style drink containers.

Instead of carrying hard plastic water bottles that take up space in our bags, Mark & I opted to pack foldable/collapsible water bottles instead. Lightweight, and you can roll them up and tuck them away. I am tempted to use one foldable bottle to store my shampoo & soap (I currently have 4  small bottles), but I’m not sure how I’d get through security with that. The smallest bottle I’ve seen is 18oz, the largest being 32oz. They are freezable as well, so if you needed to go hiking through a desert and wanted cold water or an ice pack, these would definitely be the way to go.

The huge plus is that they are cheap! You can easily find them on Amazon or at Walmart for less than the cost of a Frappucino at Starbucks.

Water2go Foldable Water Bottle Assorted Colors

REI also has a small selection of Platypus and Vapur bottles (two popular foldable water bottle brands), but those were at least $10 each.

Vapur Element Water Bottle, 1-Liter, Water
Platypus PlusBottle, 1 Liter with Closure Cap

 

Daiso Japan

If you’ve ever needed cheap USB cables or cords to charge your phones & devices, Daiso is your best bet! ($1.50 for everything!)

Not sure how prevalent they are outside of California though…

One less set of keys

We finally packed up and moved out. It’s a strange feeling, being homeless. We don’t have anywhere to go to, and we’re essentially bumming around other people’s homes.

It also feels weird to not have any house keys. We’re pretty much living out of my car for now, which seems like the only consistent roof over our heads.

From a 735 square foot apt, to a 55 liter backpack.

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