Photo courtesy of the Skaggs family

From the Field: Back from Iceland with the Skaggs Family

From the Field: Back from Iceland with the Skaggs Family

Nov 19, 2021|Holbrook in the FieldWhere we travel| by Holbrook Travel

We sat down with Janet Skaggs not long after her family returned from an adventure to Iceland. The timing was right, and with an eye toward travel as educational experience, off they went on an eight-day trip. Janet currently works as an occupational therapist at a collaborative school in Massachusetts.

Photo courtesy of the Skaggs family

Q: Tell us a little bit about your own travel experience and for your family. What kinds of destinations do you enjoy?

Janet: I personally have a lot of travel experience as I was a flight attendant for 20 years, so I was able to take advantage of my flight passes. Once married and with a family, we've been able to make travel a priority. We greatly value the experiences you acquire when you travel. Our family has traveled to Hawaii, Costa Rica, England, France, Canada, throughout New England, and other parts of the United States.

Q: What would your kids say about how travel has impacted their lives?

Janet: I think the exposure to different cultures and seeing different parts of the world is important. For our kids to see different cultures gives them a new outlook and perspective on life. We've seen some pretty poor areas of the world, which really opened up their eyes on how fortunate we are. I'm hopeful that those experiences stay with them.

Photo courtesy of the Skaggs family

Q: What made you choose to travel to Iceland with your family?

Janet: Iceland had been on my bucket list of places to visit for a long time. Friends who have been there shared with us how awesome it is — all the different things you can do and see such as hiking, whale-watching, the hot springs, the volcanoes and all the outdoor activities that are available. I thought Iceland would be a good fit for us and the timing was right. We all had the COVID vaccine. Iceland was open, so we decided to do it.

Photo courtesy of the Skaggs family

Q: Let's talk a little bit about traveling during the pandemic. What were some of the precautions you had to take before and when you arrived in Iceland?

[Note: This blog post was originally published in November 2021. As of February 2022, Iceland has lifted all COVID-related travel restrictions. Additionally, the United States no longer requires testing for entry back into the country after international travel.]

Janet: Iceland required vaccinations and a negative COVID test in order to enter the country. We also had to register with Iceland beforehand in case we were exposed at some point. There were mask requirements at the airports both here and there, and on the airplane.  Masks were necessary anytime you were with a large group of people; for instance, on a van ride, in a shop, or in a restaurant until you sat down. The rules are pretty similar to here and we felt very safe. We didn't feel that there was an issue at all. We also had to show a negative test in order to fly back to the United States. This was easy to get done while in Iceland.

Photo courtesy of the Skaggs family

Q: How about your itinerary in Iceland? What activities did you do?

Janet: Our base was Reykjavik, but we ventured every day to a different place. We went to the Golden Circle and saw Thingvellir National Park, also the Gullfoss Waterfall, the Great Geyser. We went to one of the glaciers and we did snowmobiling, which was fabulous. Another great day was visiting a dormant volcano. We were able to take a cable trolley down inside the volcano. That was pretty spectacular. We also did whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, riding ATVs, and the Blue Lagoon.  We did the Silfra Fissure snorkeling between the two tectonic plates. They had a special suit for you to wear, which kept you nice and warm. We went to the active volcano and got to see the lava and steam in action.

Photo by Lisa Palmese-Graubard

Q: What was the landscape like in Iceland?

Janet: Parts of the landscape reminded me of the moon.  These areas were barren with moss-covered lava fields. Off in the distance, you see mountain peaks and slopes, along with beautiful waterfalls. We saw so many of them. The glaciers have black volcanic dust all over them due to the volcanic eruptions. We saw Icelandic horses, sheep and puffins in the various landscapes. It was all quite spectacular.

Photo courtesy of the Skaggs family

Q: Were there any special moments that your family will never forget?

Janet: The whole trip was one big special moment, as we had so many different and interesting experiences. They were all so unique to the area that none of us will ever forget. My son said one of his favorites was a hike up to remote hot springs. We put on our swimsuits and jumped in. There were so many incredible things to see, all the geysers and the glaciers. My personal favorite was climbing a glacier.

Photo courtesy of the Skaggs family

Q: What would be your advice to people who are considering international travel now?

Janet: I’d say if you're contemplating international travel, you don’t need to worry if you follow the protocols. It's really up to the individual person as to how much risk they can tolerate. We were not overly concerned. So, to us it was not a big deal. We were just so happy to travel again. You know, as soon as the borders were open, we said, "Let's go. There's no reason to wait." I would recommend a backup plan just in case you test COVID positive. We also believe that travel insurance is necessary when traveling these days.

Photo by Lisa Palmese-Graubard

Q: Any advice for people going to Iceland?

Janet: It is very easy to get around in Iceland. Everything was well marked, and the people are extremely nice. Everybody was so accommodating and friendly. We would like to go back during a different season. We would love to see the northern lights and anything else we missed on this trip.

Photo by Lisa Palmese-Graubard

Q: What’s next on the family bucket list?

Janet: Probably Alaska, since it's similarly active, outside, with incredible scenery, and plenty of adventurous activities that we like to do. With Thanksgiving coming up, it will definitely be a topic of conversation.

Originally published November 2021; last updated November 2022

Trips you may like

Join Waitlist
From $6,045

Natural History

Iceland | Expedition with Texas Association of Biology Teachers

June 12, 2023 - June 20, 2023