Iceland Van Adventures - The pros and cons

This time last year my friend Kelsey and I decided to go on a spontaneous van adventure in Iceland. We booked a ticket on WOW airlines, rented a van for a week, packed our bags and headed to freezing cold Iceland. There are pros to visiting during the off season, but I have to say...a seven-night camping trip, in freezing temps wasn’t exactly what we expected.



I’ve gotten pretty good at packing with camera gear taking up over half of my luggage. This trip was unique though because I knew I would need to fit a few camping items as well. Which meant even less room for clothes. Make sure to ask your van rental what is included. We used their jetboil and kitchen utensils.






Van life, is a simple life but mixed with bad weather you start feeling cooped up! We spent plenty of time exploring, but you spend the rest of your time: driving in the van, cooking in the van, parking the van, changing in the van, and sleeping in the van. 

The cons: The daily temps would reach about 40 degrees f. and at night we were nearing zero. We often woke up with ice on the rooftop of our van from the was COLD! I have experienced some cold weather camping and although it was easier to keep things dry and organized, there were nights I felt like we were in an icebox! We didn’t have the ground to hold in heat and the wind would rock our van all night. And there aren't too many tree covered areas to block the wind. There are no showers in your van...and it's freezing out...


The pros: We felt so flexible! We didn’t have hotel check-ins to worry about or any other logistics. Camping isn't as freely allowed the way it used to be, but because it was off season we parked right next to different attractions. One of my favorite nights we stayed right next to JÖKULSÁRLÓN (below). We woke up with a blanket of snow on us, but that was the view from our van door! 

We were one night asked politely to pay for staying in a National Park. I’m not kidding when I say, it was the most polite police encounter I could ever imagine! We also paid for a few campsites, (listed below) but other than that, we parked wherever. 


When we arrived to Reykevik's airport, we had literally nothing planned besides picking up our van. We crossed paths with a friend of mine when we arrived and he passed along their itinerary, which saved us so much time. I suggest doing what they did, which was create pins on a google map of the destinations you'd like to go. 

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DAY 1: 

We arrived to Keflavik Airport early in the morning and quickly took advantage of espresso and Icelandic breakfast sandwiches. We then exchanged money at the atm there and headed on our way via taxi to downtown Reykjavik to pick up our camper van from GO Rentals.

  • Loaded up on groceries at the Bonus grocery store - yes that’s the name.

  • Took a nap in the parking lot of Bonus, which in my mind justifies as a bonus!

  • Bought flowers at a flower shop and Kelsey whipped out flower crowns in 10 mins and we met up with two Icelandic models for a photoshoot.

  • After the photoshoot we drove to Selfoss Campground for our first night in the van.


DAY 2: 

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall - it was crowded even earlier in the morning and it was the beginning of me getting annoyed with Instagrammers.


Seljavallalaug Hot Springs - it has been a dream of mine to explore this place and you take the good with the bad. Is it still epic - yes! Has it sadly become over visited and disgusting - yes!


Social media has created this illusion of escape and romance.

The waters were cold and creepy. Not to mention the human poop in the iconic pool house and around the area. It’s sad, but reason number 10,000 why I have mixed feelings about sharing these places with the world.

One of our favorite things about the area wasn't so much the pool though, but exploring around it! We followed the river into the hills above the pool. 

We ate lunch and waited a while for the pool to be less crowded, but it always had waves of crowds. 


Skogar Waterfall/campsite - one of the most epic waterfalls!


We did not end up staying at the Skogar campsite; instead, we drove around at sunset and parked in an empty lot down the road.

DAY 3: 

Fjaðrárgljúfur - I was so excited to stop here and it wasn’t the same with how sunny it was. For some reason our weather was freezing cold with no clouds most days! Also watched several people climb past the “stay on the path” sign to capture those epic “from where I stand” photos.


The Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon - I’ve never wanted to stay in a hotel so bad in my life. We stopped here multiple times for coffee, dinner one night and to just dream of staying there. Keep in mind we looked homeless and smelled since we never showered.

Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon - This was one of my favorite stops! I just love watching the sun and clouds move across the glaciers. I sat there and did a time lapse and while watching a group of guys jump on the glaciers to apparently take more “epic” instagram photos with their phone. I still cannot understand this idea. I have to give it to the one guy, though, he did a backflip on an ice glacier...but why? Just why?

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon - This is easily in my top ten travel sunsets. When we pulled up the sunset was shining pink on all the blue glaciers and leopard seals were swimming everywhere in the water. It was something magical! At one point I got down really close to the water and this seal kept popping his head up and staring at me.

We ended up parking our van in the glacier boat tour parking lot, not sure if it was allowed...but we did. It was one of my favorite nights hearing the water make noise and we woke up to a blanket of snow.

DAY 4: 

We woke up next to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and continued to explore around that morning. It was nothing like the night before, plus the crowds of people were already starting.

We then walked to the other side of the water where the icebergs were washing up on the black sand beach.

Hvannadalshnúkur - We started our drive back west on the faithful highway 1 and stopped here to explore more glaciers. I have to admit the driving was one of my favorite parts as we watched the landscape change so dramatically. 

Hoft - We only stopped to use a restroom here, but it's a cute little "town" (if you can call it that!)

Skaftafell - A really nice visitor center, picnic areas and hikes. We went on a several hour hike that took us to past the Svartifoss waterfall and to a 360 view point. 


That night we continued West and found a random road to park the van for the night. It was freezing cold and that night we attempted cooking inside the van, which was terrifying with a jetboil. 

DAY 5:

I remember this morning being sooo cold! We woke up again trying to cook inside our van.

Reynisfjara Beach - The famous black sand beach right by the town of Vik. We recharged and fueled up at the gas station in Vik. Freshened up as much as possible considering we STILL had not showered and headed back out to freeze. 

Geysir - We were now on the famous Golden Circle. It's more crowded since it's close to Reykivik and even people on long layovers will go explore the Golden Circle. The Geysir was actually one of my least favorite things, but hey. 


We thought we would end our night finding some "secret lagoon" and we ended up stumbling across four Dutch guys in a shack making dinner. I can't even sum up how epic that night was, but you can read the full story here: Why I Travel  

We also saw the NORTHERN LIGHTS! 

DAY 6: 

And then came the second best day in Iceland: Laugarvatn Fontana - Blue Lagoon is probably the coolest, but this was a small piece of heaven. Keep in mind Kelsey and I STILL had not showered! I can't even give this story justice...but let's just say we were asked if, "something was burning" when we walked in. The man then continued to tell us we must shower before entering the hot springs...

There are different temperature pools and you basically run between them and the hot saunas. 


DAY 7: 

We felt like NEW travelers after a day of relaxing and traveling at the hot springs. We kept saying we felt like the trip was over after getting to see the Northern Lights and showering! 

Thingvellir National Park - This is where we encountered the nicest police officer because we were camping in the National Park without a pass. I think the rules become more strict the closer you get to the city. We went on a hike in the National Park and saw some waterfalls, but I took nearly zero photos from that day. 

Our last night in Iceland was spent eating a fish dinner in Reykjavik before sleeping in the parking lot of Go Campers. 

DAY 8:

Returned the van and took a shuttle vs. a taxi to the airport. Ate one more Icelandic sandwich before boarding our trusty WOW airlines. 


Our trip was coming to a close and I couldn’t believe all the beautiful things we saw. The experience of the Northern Lights and freezing in a van with a good friend was something I’ll never forget.

So, why did it take me so long to want to share?


I couldn’t fully look past the surface level Instagram nonsense. I have been to some of the most touristy destinations, but this was next level. I saw more human poop than necessary and even saw a man while he was pooping. I realize when you gotta go, you gotta go - but c'mon!

We are so obsessed with sharing “perfection” to the world, but along the way we are leaving shit for the rest of us. I just hope that when you see a place you are so very inspired to visit, you travel with respect, you take your Instagrams from inside the, "do not cross" line, and I hope you respect the environment, the culture and others. 


If you're interested in ordering a print, feel free to contact me. Also, please leave some love below and feel free to ask any questions!

xo - Tara

A Ghana Getaway - Zaina Lodge

Welcome to Zaina Lodge, a unique little getaway you never would have expected! Located only 2.5 hours West of Tamale, you are soon in the heart of Mole National Park. 


This was going to be a jam packed work trip, but when I learned we’d be in Northern Ghana, I started looking at the possibility of Mole National Park. At the time I wasn't sure if I'd be traveling solo, but either way I was hoping to make it happen. 


  1. Book a shuttle from the Tamale or Accra airport
  2. Book a driver - you can contact Zaina for assistance 

We were lucky to be traveling with a local missionary, (Sherri) who has been living in Ghana for 12 years and had a car. It was the perfect getaway for all of us and allowed for each of us to refuel. For Sherri, she finally got wifi good enough to download more Netflix! (Think about that for a second!) 

After the short drive from Tamale, we arrived to the Zaina front gates. We really had no idea what to expect and were greeted with a lime drink and a scented cold towel. We were then escorted to our "glamping" style room which overlooked Mole Park. 

We laid by the pool all afternoon and literally soaked up the African sun. For each meal we were given two meal options. I have to admit, I was skeptical since we'd been eating local dishes all week, but the meals were phenomenal! 


The next morning we loaded in an open top vehicle and went on a driving safari around Mole Park National Park. It wasn't long before we saw monkeys, wart hogs, and varying deer. We were even served a cute little coffee picnic on an overlook. Follow my Instagram travel story to see more behind the scenes. 

The whole time, the safari guides are trying to find us elephants...and boy did we find them! 

I had actually forgotten a piece of my drone, so we changed our route making us run into a small herd of elephants. One of the smaller elephants seemed to pose in the middle of the road. 

We watched from the road as they threw dirt, crunched trees and walked side by side. It was the best ending to our morning safari! 

After our safari we came back to a wonderful spread of breakfast overlooking the park. The staff had heard of our elephant sighting and were so excited for us. 

A few hours later, the elephants came to the watering hole below the infinity pool. I couldn't believe it! I was able to fly my drone from the pool deck and capture footage of them drinking. (Stay tuned for the video.) 

If you check out the Zaina Lodge Instagram, you'll see the animals at times even come up to the pool area. 

Zaina truly felt like a secret Getaway in Ghana. If you are already planning a trip to Ghana, you should consider visiting this little slice of heaven. 

Please leave some love below and feel free to ask any questions. 

xo - Tara

The Pink City - Jaipur India

Facebook's awkward Time-hop has been reminding me of some of my favorite travels, and this time it’s Jaipur India! I can’t believe I didn’t share more from my solo travels in this city, but here are some of the highlights + a few travel tips. 


Jaipur is the largest city and capital of the Indian State of Rajasthan and is also part of the West Golden Triangle. Like most places I visit, I did zero research beforehand, but fell in love no matter what. 

I started out downtown at the City Palace and quickly started fell in love. The colors, textures, wall paintings...just all of it. The weather was also a dream compared to Hyderabad, where I had been the previous weeks. 


The City Palace felt like a great place to start exploring the "Pink City".

PROS: It was in the center of town, there were plenty of tourists around to make you feel comfortable, (if that’s your thing) and it even had an adorable gift shop.

Entrance Fee: 300 RS
Photo Fee: 200 RS (India loves this) 
Hours: 10:30am - 5:00pm


  • Existing your taxi or walking into the Palace entrance can be a little stressful. That’s where all the taxi drivers, vendors and potential pocket grabbers are hanging out. Nothing to worry about, I only say that so you’re aware and keep your belongings in check. (Hence, enjoy being INSIDE the walls)

  • Take it slow. Take a seat along the edge of the wall or on the benches.

  • Bring a book or notebook and relax inside the walls.

  • Seriously check out the gift shop, it was my favorite. It was slightly overpriced, but I purchased a block printed cotton scarf I cherish. 


After my first few hours exploring the City Palace, I walked or should I say, played real life Frogger as I dodged through the entrance. (above) 


Before I knew it, I was in the middle of downtown Jaipur surrounded by endless pink and street vendors. I was also looking up at the most famous palace of Jaipur, the Hawa Mahal. Also, called the Palace of Winds. 

Entrance Fee: 50 RS  
Hours: 9:00am - 4:30pm
**free entrance on Mondays & closed on Fridays. 

Hawa Mahal - Palace of Winds

Hawa Mahal - Palace of Winds

Fun Fact: Why is it pink? In 1876 they painted the city pink to welcome the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII and decided to keep it that way. The entire city is covered in it! 


The Market

If you're not used to a market, maybe take this in small doses. I only found myself wishing I didn't have my camera to draw more attention, (life of a photographer) but that's only because I looooved everything in the market. I wanted to buy EVERYTHING and the vendors were too busy asking where my husband was, if I voted for Donald Trump, and how much my camera cost. 

So I didn't buy anything, just wandered around taking portraits and kept eyeing the traditional block printing and textures of the Rajasthan state. 


  • Travel Light, you will enjoy it more and be less worried. 
  • Have fun and be nice!
  • Know you can walk away at any point, even with a smile on your face.
  • It's okay to barter, but again, I like to do this with kindness and a good laugh. 
  • Be wary of people asking you to follow them, it doesn't always end up well...I was lucky. Read more here. 


The Chand Baori, (below) a stepwell build over a thousand years ago. The stepwell has 3,500 narrow steps arranged in perfect symmetry that take you to the bottom of the well, but you are no longer allowed to walk down it.

I made this stop on my way to The Taj Mahal. (Read about my sunrise/sunset trip to the Taj Mahal

Entrance Fee: Free
Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm


Albert Hall Museum (below) was a stop I made after I got a full sleeve of henna and I was making a total mess as I tried to snap a few photos. 

Entrance Fee: 150 IRS
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm



With too many forts and palaces to choose from, I struggled with my driver and no gps, but we finally ended up at Nahargarh Fort. I think the whole time I thought I was headed to Amber Fort, but I ended staying at Nahargarh Fort, also called "Tiger Fort" for almost four hours! 

The drive to Nahargarh Fort was entertaining enough as we drove past elephants and camels, and dodged crazy driving. We then started the drive up the hills surrounding Jaipur and my driver was the best letting me stop to take a few photos of the view. Again, the humor of how I communicated these ideas should had been documented. 

At the Fort entrance I paid to have my taxi driver stay. It doesn't cost that much more and I wanted to stay still sunset, but if you went during the day you could just do a drop-off. There are plenty of Rickshaws or cabs waiting.  

HOURS: 9:30am - 5:30pm

Once inside the fort walls, I was in heaven. I explored and explored. I walked up tiny staircases, looked through little windows, and sat on marble floors. All wondering why everything was so...tiny? 

I did get chased by a monkey and a security guard had to lift me over a wall to save me from monkey rabies. No joke. 

So DO NOT stare at the monkey's, I think they take it personally. 

I stayed here till sunset and loved every second of it. I wasn't allowed to use a tripod, (most historical places in India do not allow them) so I headed to the exterior walls. 

I found a safe spot away from monkeys and started my time-lapse of the sunset. 

The lighting hitting the hills of Jaipur was everything and my travel heart was full. The only thing that could pull me from that view was knowing I was going to find an epic Indian dinner as soon as I got back into town. 

On the drive back my driver stopped to let me get a photo of the Jal Mahal and although it was madness, it was beautiful! It was hard to stop the car and street vendors were set up like a block-aid against the water view. So I set up for one long exposure and that was it! 


I left the Pink Jaipur City only wishing I could have seen more. There was just so much magic hiding beneath the unique city's chaos and I felt like I only got a glimpse of it! 

If you enjoyed reading this, please leave some love below!

Also, let me know if you're ever interested in traveling to Jaipur. As a woman that travels a lot solo, I am a strong advocate for women feeling empowered to travel the world - with or without a companion. So if you're worried about planning your first solo trip, or traveling to India, please email me! I would love to chat! 

xo - Tara