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Updated: Apr 22, 2023

My holiday plans had to change this year due to my tendonitis injury, and I found myself taking a last minute trip to Iceland with my friend Rachel. Absolutely no regrets! Iceland is very tourist friendly and there was plenty to do.

We stayed in Reykjavik and had a great time doing the key tourist spots, such as the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon. We met some very nice people along the way and made good friends with a Canadian man and South African woman, and enjoyed the lagoons and a few walks with them. I especially like meeting others on their travels. I’m now inspired to stay in youth hostels more often to meet other travellers and make friends.

We stayed in a luxury hotel and most of our evenings were spent unwinding in the hotel spa. It felt odd at first because my usual holiday accommodation is a hostel or tent, and I’m normally hiking instead of relaxing! But I certainly enjoyed the spa time and saunas.

On our first day we did ‘FlyOver Iceland’, a simulated flight ride over glaciers and mountains. It’s a must-do experience! The adrenaline, excitement and beautiful views were an amazing introduction to Iceland.

The Blue Lagoon was my favourite landmark. When I got in the water, champagne glass in my hand, I felt one of those ‘this is why I am alive’ moments. It wasn’t my usual endorphin release when summiting a mountain, but I felt real happiness and freedom.

The highlight of the trip was whale watching! Ever since I saw them in Australia in 2008, I have had such a passion for these beautiful, large, graceful and intelligent animals and seeing them brings me so much happiness and joy. We were very lucky to see humpbacks in Iceland. Every time one appeared, the largest smile came to my face. I swear now I will get a humpback tattoo on my shoulder as a positive memory and symbol of happiness.

When travelling with friends, sometimes it’s good to have time apart, especially if you have some different interests. So Rachel and I had one day when we went off on separate ventures. I went on the Golden Circle south coast tour, visiting waterfalls, geysers (hot springs) and the black sand beach. It was all so beautiful! It felt strange being alone at first, but I felt an extra sense of freedom. It made me realise how much I love my independence and I’m determined to do a solo holiday soon. Thankfully, my tendonitis injury coped with the walking and I couldn’t have been happier exploring the coast. We all have something which brings us happiness and aids our mental health, mine is walking.

I usually travel alone, so holidaying with Rachel was different and I was worried we would drive each other insane after a few days! But we didn’t and it was a complete success. Friendship is so important for my mental health and confidence. After my youth of constant criticism and bullying, having someone who wanted to go on holiday with me really helped me feel a sense of self worth.

My eating disorder was mean throughout the trip, as expected. Doing no exercise and eating plenty of carbs made me feel embarrassed and anxious, but I fought my hardest not to purge too much with laxatives. I tried body comparison but in an optimistic way; with tourists everywhere, I was surrounded by different people, reminding me that everyone’s body is unique.

The only negative part of the trip was the flight home. I noticed anxiety bothering me at the airport, but I managed to prevent a seizure using deep breathing. However, on the plane, PTSD from the rape and Finland airport began. I managed to stay calm and enjoyed watching some comedies. But, 30 minutes before we landed, I got up and had a bad FND seizure. Fortunately a doctor was sitting nearby when I fell, and she handled it very well. The British Airways staff were brilliant too. I recovered fine, with only neck pain, a headache and temporary dizziness, and got home safely.

Travelling always comes with its challenges, but I made it! Iceland was so much fun. I will always remember the whales and will definitely re-visit Iceland to hike the mountains - they looked breathtakingly beautiful. I was tired of saunas by the end of the week and desperate to sign up to a hiking trip! But it will have to wait until my injury heals. Although I still struggle with the restrictions it brings, this injury is teaching me to prioritise my body’s wellbeing.

Next destination - Albania!

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