Ten days in Vietnam is not enough time. That's just a fact. But I had three weeks free, and I couldn't let go of the idea of seeing either the Philippines or Vietnam. So I made the decision that made every other backpacker think I was a weirdo, but made me really happy: I visited both.
Do I wish I'd spent more time in each? Of course I do. But do I wish I'd skipped either for the sake of seeing more of the other? Not a bit.
But there's still the issue of how to spend those precious 10 days in Vietnam. The stunning natural beauty of the Phong Nha Caves? The peacefulness of Dalat? The picturesque rice fields of Sapa? The hustle and bustle of Hanoi or Saigon? Some combination of the above? In the end, I decided to aim right for the center. There's no one right answer, of course, but it did teach me a lot of lessons about what's right for me.
I flew into Da Nang, then headed directly to Hoi An. I strolled around the busy streets, then happened upon the t…
If a friend asks me about my trip to Iceland, I tell them about the people. My multi-continental travel buddy who agreed to meet me in Iceland for Christmas. Our new bestie from Couchsurfing. The board games and matchmaking and bracing ourselves against the wind, and the board games again. The long winter's nights give you plenty of time indoors.
But if a friend who's going to Iceland asks me about my trip to Iceland, I tell them so much more about what I loved of the country itself.
The Northern Lights
Now that I've seen them, I can be honest. The Northern Lights were the reason I wanted to go to Iceland in the winter. And they were totally totally worth it. But between solar activity and cloud cover, it is highly likely to miss them. So it was important to me to focus on the other reasons to go, and to make sure I wasn't setting myself up for a very expensive disappointment.
Once your travel dates are set, there are three remaining guidelines that optimize …