Fly to Iceland from the US for just $99!

Fly to Iceland from the US for just $99!

Budget carrier WOW Air has just released another round of $99 one-way fares (taxes included) to Reykjavik from select cities in the US. To be fair, you’ll probably pay a lot more coming back, but your overall trip still should not cost too much, around $400-$500:

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Cities featured for now are Washington (DC), San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston. As I mentioned when I reviewed WOW Air, it’s certainly not the most amazing flight you’ll ever be on, but it gets the job done for the price.

If you book after September, you might have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though regardless of when you’ll go, you’ll experience some great hot springs, including my personal favorite.

And of course, you can see (and eat!) beautiful horses.

The really easy way to get free access to some of the best lounges in the world for at least a year

The really easy way to get free access to some of the best lounges in the world for at least a year

At one point in my life, I used to think that airport lounges were only for business travelers who flew every week, and figured it was something I would probably never get to experience.

I finally did get to experience my first airport lounge several years ago, when I was able to use one of the lounge passes that came with my United MileagePlus Explorer card to experience the Singapore Airlines lounge at the Taipei-Taoyuan airport. (I would not actually recommend applying for the card through that link, as there are routinely higher offers of 50,000 miles).

Unfortunately, having two lounge passes a year with limited use wasn’t really going to cut it with my travel schedule.

Thankfully, I discovered the American Express Platinum Card from Ameriprise. Now, some of you may have heard of the AMEX Platinum Card before, given its reputation as a fancy, high-end card. But you may have been turned off by the annual fee of $450. Luckily there are several different types of Platinum cards, and the Ameriprise-branded one does not come with an annual fee the first year (and despite the terms and conditions saying otherwise, you do not need to have an Ameriprise account to be eligible for one).

Now, the Platinum Card is awesome for many reasons, but let’s focus on the lounge access for this post. With the card, you get access to:

All American Express Centurion Lounges, which have kitchens run by high-end chefs that will prepare buffets with amazing gourmet food (like the braised chicken and other items below, from the lounge in Las Vegas), and a bar with incredible mixed drinks.

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All Priority Pass lounges, a global network of over 900 lounges in most major airports in the world, including 13 of the top 15 airports in the US (sorry Denver and Charlotte). Now, to be fair, these generally aren’t as nice as the Centurion lounges, and can vary widely in quality. The Priority Pass lounge at the Seymour Airport in the Galapagos consists of just a couch with free chips, coffee, and juice (though the fact that this airport even had a lounge was shocking to me). On the other hand, the Airport Wellness Oasis Lounge at Singapore’s Changi Airport offers complimentary fish spa massages (definitely try it if you haven’t) in addition to a wide range of food and drink. But for the most part, a Priority Pass Lounge will usually give you complimentary soft drinks, juices and certain alcoholic drinks, hot and cold food that doesn’t require much preparation, and free wi-fi (like the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at LAX pictured below). And even the most limited lounges are still often better than the noise of the airport terminal where nothing is free.

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All Delta Sky Clubsif you’re flying Delta. Out of the three major US carriers (United, American, and Delta), I find that Delta generally has the best lounges. Again, they’re no Centurion Lounge, but they’re generally very modern, clean, and offer a decent selection of food and drink. (I’m quite excited to try the one at JFK next week which has a roof deck).

All Airspace loungesa weird network of four fairly subpar lounges at SAN (San Diego), JFK (New York), BWI (Baltimore-Washington), and CLE (Cleveland). When you enter, they give you a $10 credit that you can use, as nothing is free. The one at the San Diego Airport is nice enough, especially as you can watch planes taking off, but I’d avoid the one at JFK in favor of the much nicer Priority Pass lounges there in other terminals.

 

Now as you may have noticed in the title, I said “at least a year” of free access. Yes, if you hold on to the card for more than a year, you will be billed a $450 annual fee. However, one of the other benefits of the Platinum card is that you get $200 in airline credit per calendar year (i.e. if you get it now, you would get $200 now, then be eligible for $200 again on January 1). So if you spend at least $400 on airfare per year, the annual fee almost pays for itself the next year (though actually getting the credit can be a complicated process with very specific requirements, well-detailed on FlyerTalk). On top of that, you get a $100 one-time Global Entry credit, which is also good for TSA PreCheck. Essentially, you have no annual fee the first year and $500 of benefits, which will more than cancel out the annual fee the next year. Not a bad deal. And once you start regularly flying with TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and frequent lounge, you’ll realize you don’t dread airports as much as you used to, and it might be hard to go back to old ways.

 

One important caveat though is that other than the Centurion and Airspace lounges, you will have to pay for any guests you bring with you to the Priority Pass lounges. If you regularly travel with guests (like a family) and want to make sure they can also get in for free, you might want to consider the Citi Prestige card, which allows you up to two guests for free (or more if family) at all Priority Pass lounges and American Airlines Admirals Clubs if you and the guests are flying American. Of course, it is good for many other reasons too.

 

Have a question about something? Feel free to email me or post in the comments.

 

Pictured above: The Virgin America Loft at LAX, a lounge which looks very nice, but overall lacks substance.

Everything you need to know to go to Tibet

Everything you need to know to go to Tibet

Last summer, I continued my trend of going to off-the-beaten-path places and visited Tibet, an amazing place that feels as far away as you can get from China,from a political, geographical, scenic, and cultural standpoint.

However, since the defeat of the Tibetan army in 1950, Tibet has been considered part of the People’s Republic of China, albeit as an autonomous region, despite continuous pleas for independence. Furthermore, it’s no secret that China has been actively trying to erode Tibetan culture at the expense of human rights and make it more in line with the rest of Chinese culture. And herein comes the difficulties with visiting it.

Note: This is not intended to be a guide to what to see in Tibet or an overview of attractions; this will come at a later point.

Booking a Tour

Unless you’re a Chinese citizen, you will be required to visit Tibet as part of a tour. While there is no official resource (that I know of) that lists all Tibet tour operators, you should of course research any organization before booking with one, and try to find one actually based in Tibet, rather than outside of Tibet (in order to ensure more money goes to the Tibetan people).

I booked with Budget Tibet Tour as their price was affordable and had good reviews. The tour was $780 (not including tips), included a Tibet visa (mandatory to fly into Tibet), lodging, guides, national park entry fees, and transportation. Food was not included. Unlike certain other countries, you will have a fair amount of independence and freedom, as you will be free to roam around and explore at night, and be given a time and place to meet the next morning. Obviously, like any guided tour, the sky is the limit for cost, depending on how luxurious you want it to be.

Getting there

While your tour company will often offer to take care of this for you, it is far cheaper to handle it yourself. You basically have two options: take a train there, or fly there. Though I can’t speak from personal experience, if time is not an issue, the train is supposed to be an incredible experience, and you can say that you’ve been on the highest railway in the world (so much that they will pipe in oxygen during high altitudes). The only downside is that it can take up to 48 hours from many major cities in China.

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For those of you on a tighter schedule, you will want to fly into Lhasa Airport (LXA). As the only major carriers flying here are Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern, your route will most likely be either on Star Alliance or SkyTeam (sorry oneworld!) The good news is that Air China always has a plethora of award seats available, so if you have United miles (or miles with another Star Alliance carrier), it’s actually not too hard to book an award flight here, as I did last year.

Getting a Chinese Visa

As Tibet is legally part of the People’s Republic of China, you will also need a Chinese visa (assuming your country of citizenship requires it). However, if you’ve done this before (but now have an expired visa), it may be a little more difficult this time. Typically when getting a visa for China (or any other country requiring a visa), the process is to fill out an application, attach proof of airfare and lodging, and give or send it to your closest embassy/consulate.

But when it comes to Tibet, China does not want to encourage Tibet tourism, and therefore if you put Tibet on your China visa application, it will most likely be denied. Therefore, I would strongly recommend booking a fully refundable ticket to somewhere (else) in China, printing out the confirmation, and then canceling your reservation (if you don’t want to put that much on your credit card at once, as refundable tickets can be quite expensive, you can also cancel a nonrefundable for free within 24 hours of booking your ticket if you book on a US-based carrier). You can then do the same for hotel lodging.

Money

Tibet is part of China, and therefore uses the RMB. Major banks and ATMs can be found in bigger cities like Lhasa, less so in other parts. Credit cards are not very widely accepted.

Language

As you will be with a guide for most of the tour, you will also have a translator for all your needs. While older residents only speak Tibetan (a fairly difficult language to learn which will not have much use to you otherwise, though the alphabet will help slightly in Bhutan), younger residents also can speak Mandarin, and if you can speak a little Mandarin, you will be able to converse slightly with local residents. Very little English is spoken, and even tour guides’ English can be difficult to understand at times.

Politics/Sensitive Topics

Avoid discussing any of the following topics with your tour guides: Tibetan independence, political status of Tibet, exile of the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government, the relationship between the Chinese government and Tibet, decreased human rights for the Tibetan people, and so on. The police state is even more prevalent in Tibet than in the rest of China, and if you ask about one of these topics, at best you will get nervous laughter from your guide, at worst, a stern lecture. Many guides are constantly operating under the assumption that the Chinese government is monitoring them, and they can be severely punished for speaking out.

Health/Safety

As is often the case with police states, there is practically no risk of any violent crime happening to you. On top of this, Tibetan people are among the friendliest in the world, and are thrilled to have non-Chinese visitors (and may constantly ask to take photographs). Your bigger concern is the air. And I don’t mean air quality, which would normally be a concern in many other parts of China. Rather, Tibetan air is incredibly pure and clean. The issue here is elevation. When you land in Lhasa, you’ll be at an elevation of 11,710 feet, and regularly be at elevations far higher than that throughout your trip. If you have any breathing issues whatsoever (such as asthma), bring all necessary medication and more. On top of that, it may be a good idea to buy some of the canned air sold at most stores in Lhasa in case of an emergency. Be careful of doing anything that exerts too much physical effort at once; I had to catch my breath after 15 seconds of playing soccer with some kids in town.

Food

Most restaurants serve traditional Tibetan cuisine, though there are some restaurants serving Sichuan, Nepalese, and Indian cuisines, all reflecting their proximity to Tibet. Yak meat is especially prominent in Tibetan cuisine, though thanks to the Buddhist influence, it’s not impossible to get by as a vegetarian. What will be hard is if you only like eating “Western” food, as there is very little Western influence or restaurants in Tibet (though there are some knockoff versions of popular Western snacks sold in stores). Make sure to try butter tea at least once! Most meals will cost around $5-$6 USD.

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Fried yak momos (dumplings)

So is Tibet for you? If you don’t mind getting out of your comfort zone, sacrificing some of your autonomy and exploring somewhere that doesn’t have the amenities you may be used to (but has more than enough culture, history, and beauty to make up for it), then yes. And more importantly, you may walk away being able to say you’ve seen a Tibetan mastiff in Tibet!

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How I managed to get top-tier elite status with Hilton without ever paying for a hotel stay at any hotel

How I managed to get top-tier elite status with Hilton without ever paying for a hotel stay at any hotel

Even after I started getting into the points and miles game, earning “status” was never something I cared about too much. Despite it now being very easy for me to fly anywhere I want for free using frequent flyer miles (thanks to years of studying!), I don’t earn any miles on those award flights, nor do they count toward earning status on any airline (if it did, it would be very easy to earn status for free with just one or two award trips). Sadly, airlines want you to actually be paying for your flights with them to get status (which makes sense, as frustrating as it is). Given that my biggest priority has always been flying for free, this never appealed to me.

However, as I’ve recently learned, earning status with hotels is a very different ballgame, and much easier. As I mentioned in my last post, many co-branded hotel credit cards will offer you a lower to midrange level of status as long as you hold that card. But given the fierce competition for loyalty among both airlines and hotels (especially with a particularly beloved brand being recently bought out by a less beloved brand), airlines and hotels will often offer what’s called a “status match”, where, if you present proof of holding a certain level of status with one brand, they will automatically match that status to an equivalent level with their own brand, incentivizing you to switch over. (Alternatively, some will offer what’s called a “status challenge”, where they will match your status after staying a certain amount of nights with their brand).

Note: While I do not encourage forgery or deception, if you’re wondering, yes, you can sometimes be matched by photoshopping proof of status in the hopes that they don’t verify it. However, results have been mixed, and consequences can be severe if caught.

Recently, I got word that Hilton was doing a status match which required proof of elite status with another hotel program, and proof of stay with yet another program in the psat year. While I already was Gold status with Hilton (which comes automatically with the American Express Platinum card, as does Starwood Gold status), I figured it would be fun to see how high I could go.

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As I already held the second-highest level of status with IHG (thanks to the IHG credit card), I figured I would submit that, though in retrospect I could have also used my Platinum Hyatt status (thanks to the Hyatt credit card) or Starwood Gold status (thanks to the American Express Platinum card). For my proof of stay, I submitted the reservation I made last year at a Marriott hotel using my annual free night certificate from the Marriott credit card (which also gave me Silver status).

The next day, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Hilton informing me that I had been matched to their highest status level, Diamond. I felt a little bit like the “One Red Paperclip” guy, having gotten there without paying anything:

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Now, to be fair, the top-level status varies from program to program. In reality, Diamond status with Hilton doesn’t offer much more than the next-highest status, Gold, other than the fact that I earn 50% more points per reservation rather than 25% more points. My first stay as a Diamond member (at a suburban Homewood Suites) yielded only a welcome bag with two bottles of water, two Milano cookie packages, and a letter welcoming me with 250 bonus points, almost worthless:

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Where this kind of elite status can come in handy is at nicer hotels with luxury suite options. For example, in the Penthouse Suite at the Conrad Bali (pictured at top), one night costs $1,377:

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This is more than 10 times what the cheapest room there would cost:

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But if you have top-tier status, you just might be able to swing this upgrade for free (and while obviously nothing is guaranteed, there have been successful reports of this happening).

Of course, I didn’t just stop once I received Diamond status with Hilton. I proceeded to email Best Western, Club Carlson, and Choice Hotels to politely ask them to match my Hilton status, attaching the email from Hilton as proof of my Diamond status. Best Western is known for having one of the most generous status matches, and they emailed me back the next day letting me know I had been upgraded to their top-tier status (which again, isn’t too different from their second-highest tier other than more points). Club Carlson is a little stingier with status matches, only matching me to Gold Elite status, though still good for upgrades. Choice Hotels matched me to Elite Platinum, which, sadly, is not good enough for an upgrade.

Regardless, as a result of smart credit card utilization as well as making other hotels compete for my business, I now have mid- to top-tier status at eight different hotel chains – despite never once paying for a hotel stay! Even though I rarely stay in hotels when traveling for personal reasons, this still is extremely useful as I travel a few weeks a year for work, not to mention often stay in hotels when attending weddings.

In short, if you’ve managed to earn elite status with a hotel or airline (regardless of if you do it the old-fashioned way or with a credit card), don’t just stop there. Make other airlines and hotels compete for you and see just how far they will match you. But no matter what status you get, don’t be this guy:

Why everyone should have and keep at least one hotel credit card (even if you don’t plan on using it)

Why everyone should have and keep at least one hotel credit card (even if you don’t plan on using it)

The picture above is from the InterContinental Hotel in Bora Bora, Tahiti. If you had to take a guess, how much do you think it costs to stay there for one night? $300? $500? $800? Try $1,000 (one dollar equals roughly 105  CFP Francs).

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What if I told you that you could stay there once a year for $49? You might think I was crazy. And I probably would have too before I started getting into the credit card game. After all, that’s cheaper than getting a private room at a hostel in Tahiti:

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But unlike airline credit cards, which are rarely worth keeping after the annual fee hits following the signup bonus, most hotel credit cards are actually worth keeping and paying the annual fee on every year, given that every year often comes with a free hotel night.

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In this particular case, I’m talking about the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which for a $49 annual fee (waived the first year), gives you one free night every year at any IHG property in the world. On top of this, there is a signup bonus that often ranges from 60,000 to 80,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months (though it’s not always publicly available and may require some research to find this offer), which is good enough for two nights at a reasonably nice hotel, or one night at an extremely nice hotel. On top of that, you’re instantly granted Platinum status (the second-highest tier) as long as you have the card, which increases your chances of receiving an upgrade.

Of course, in the interest of not bankrupting IHG, it’s not as if you can get this and then use your free night at any property in the world on whatever date you want. IHG does limit the amount of free nights it allows per night per hotel, so if you want to use it at a place that regularly goes for $1,000/night, you might have to be prepared to book it almost a year in advance. That being said, hotels that don’t quite regularly go for quite as much often can be booked with less advance notice.

While the IHG credit card is the only hotel credit card that offers a free night every year at any property in the hotel chain, several other hotel credit cards offer more restricted free nights that can still come in handy.

Hyatt

While the Hyatt credit card also offers a free night every year (though it has a slightly higher annual fee of $75), this is limited only to Hyatt properties in Categories 1-4. Of course, if you’re familiar with the Hyatt brand, you know that unlike other hotel chains, it exclusively focuses on higher-end offerings. In other words, while you may not be able to stay at the absolutely nicest Hyatts in the world, you’ll still get to stay at a really nice hotel for free. Thankfully if you do want to experience one of the top tier Hyatts (select Category 7), this card usually comes with a signup bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt in the world (I recently got this card and am currently looking at using my free night at the Hyatt Andaz in Tokyo, where rooms can go for $1,000/night). It also offers Platinum status as long as you have the card.

Marriott

Like the Hyatt and IHG cards, the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card also offers a free night every year, in any Marriott property in Categories 1-5. Unlike Hyatt though, Marriott propertiets span a much wider gamut, and most hotels in Categories 1-5 in the US tend to be in suburban areas, or very cheap urban areas (though obviously in countries with a lower cost of living you’re more likely to find something in a major city). The signup bonus often runs as high as 80,000 points (usually after spending $2,000) with a $85 annual fee waived the first year, which is nice enough to redeem at any Marriott property in the world, as well as a free night certificate at any hotel in Categories 1-4. It also offers Silver status as long as you have the card.

Others

 

Unless you spend a lot of money a particular hotel chain every year, I wouldn’t recommend making a hotel card your primary card, but if that is the case for you, there are several more hotel credit cards that offer a free night every year after spending a certain amount of money in the year, like the Best Western, Choice Hotels, Hilton, and La Quinta credit cards. The Wyndham credit card will also give you almost half the amount of points needed for a free night every year with no spending threshold.

 

Have a question? Story to share? Feel free to post in the comments below or email me.

 

While I have yet to set up my site with credit card referral links that will pay me a commission if you sign up for a credit card through my links (as is often common on these sites), if you’re interested in getting on of the cards mentioned here and want me to get something for it, let me know and I’d be happy to refer you.

 

Iceland has the best hot springs in the world

Iceland has the best hot springs in the world

Yesterday I took some time to write about the Grjótagjá hot springs cave in northern Iceland, which I felt was so amazing that it deserved its own post. Of course, there are far more hot springs in Iceland than this one.

Blue Lagoon

The most famous one by far is the Blue Lagoon, which has extensively been used in many marketing campaigns and has been written about thousands of times. Given the surfeit of information available about it, I’m not going to spend much time on it here. Rather, I’ll leave it at this:

If you have time, it’s a fun yet expensive ($40) way to relax. While it is man-made, the striking blue color of the water is natural, and forms a beautiful contrast with the black basalt rock walls. However, if you are looking for an authentic Icelandic experience, this is not it. The only Icelandic people here are the staff. And unlike most other hot springs in Iceland, the atmosphere inside the pool is loud and raucous with free-flowing alcohol, a contrast to the serenity of other hot springs. But given its proximity to Keflavik airport, it can still serve as a fun welcome to Iceland, or one last way to relax before getting on a plane. If you are planning on going, advance tickets are a must regardless of the time of year. You will almost definitely be turned away if not.

Myvatn Nature Baths (pictured above)

If you like the pretty milky blue color of the water at the Blue Lagoon but hated the feeling of being overrun by tourists, this is the place for you. Located an hour or so east of Akureyri (and very close to Grjótagjá), admission is half the price of the blue lagoon, and provides a much quieter atmosphere, with the bathers consisting mostly of Icelanders and German tourists (the Germans really leave no stone unturned when traveling).

 

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The beautiful mountain landscapes provide a great backdrop which one can look at for hours on end. On top of that, the cafeteria inside serves an unspectacular yet filling lunch for a very reasonable price (hard to find in Iceland if you want to eat something besides hot dogs). You also might see them selling something called “geyser bread”, which is bread that has been cooked in a volcano. It is extremely dense and bland. Don’t be tempted.

Secret Lagoon

Despite its proximity to the famous Golden Circle, this is rarely mentioned in conjunction with the various stops on the Golden Circle. Given its name, this is probably somewhat intentional, and I wouldn’t mind keeping it this way either.

It can be a little hard to find (especially in the winter when road conditions are less than ideal), but once you get there, you have a beautiful outdoor geothermally heated hot spring. Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures because there was so much steam everywhere:

IMG_20160306_173927IMG_20160306_173936Nonetheless, this is a great way to relax after a long day of driving around the Golden Circle, as you can dig your feet deep into the squishy mud below you. There is also a small boardwalk that goes around the pool where you can see mini geysers “erupting”, but I wouldn’t recommend dipping your feet in any of these, as the water is around boiling temperature.

Seljavallalaug Hot Springs

I would recommend this only for people looking for a true “off-the-beaten path” adventure. While geographically its not very far from the main Ring Road that encircles the highland, and quite close to the famous Skógafoss waterfall, it does take a little bit of (easy) hiking to get to. Thankfully, unlike Grjótagjá, Google Maps is very accurate for directions to Seljavallalaug:

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Depending on what kind of car you have and what time of year it is, you should be able to follow pretty far up the road (Highway 242) until you can’t go any further. From there, all you have to do is stay on the path above, and you will eventually come to it.

On one hand, it’s not much more than a concrete pool fed by the runoff of volcanically heated water. On the other hand, part of what makes it so special is the feeling of accomplishment you get when you’ve been hiking for a while and come across something like this, not to mention the views of the nearby mountains aren’t too shabby:

 

I was quite at ease, and as you can see, you certainly don’t have to worry about being overrun by tourists.

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While there certainly is more to Iceland than hot springs, it certainly is one of the country’s more unique attributes, and provides a great way to relax as you tour the country. Happy bathing!

The above is in no way meant to be a complete rundown of all the hot springs in Iceland; rather, it’s just my attempt to highlight a few particularly noteworthy yet different ones. There are many many more ones in Iceland that could be explored with enough time, and I’m sure there are even more that have yet to be discovered!

 

If you like hot springs and caves, Iceland’s Grjótagjá is paradise

If you like hot springs and caves, Iceland’s Grjótagjá is paradise

Other than seeing the Northern Lights, one of the things I was most excited to see on my recent trip to Iceland was the Grjótagjá hot springs cave.

While you’ve probably never heard of it before, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan you might recognize it from a particular scene (insert joke here about eight inches of Snow).

The cave itself has been around for centuries and served as a popular bathing spot, but in 1975, a volcanic eruption rendered the cave unswimmable, due to an extreme rise in the temperature of the water. Thankfully, the cave has been cooling slightly every year since then, and is now tolerable for swimming (albeit still very hot).

Getting there

First, I would only recommend going here if you are spending a week or more in Iceland. It is located in the less-traveled northern part of Iceland, which takes quite a while to reach by car. (Though if you only have a few days in Iceland but really want to see it, you can always book a cheap flight from Reykjavik Airport (RKV, not KEF) to Akureyri Airport).

While Grjótagjá is easier to find in the summer, it can be a bit difficult finding it in the winter, especially given that it is not listed correctly on Google Maps. The blue star indicates where it actually is; the red pin indicates where Google thinks it is:

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Highway 860 is clearly marked with a sign for Grjótagjá from both the entrances on Highway 1 (the Ring Road) and Highway 848, but you’ll want to enter from the Ring Road, as the road does not go all the way through certain times of the year.

Once you turn onto the road, be on the lookout on your right for a parking lot. There will usually be a few other cars there but if not, looked for a paved/groomed area where you can pull off. It is not very well-marked.

In addition to a small sign, there are two very nondescript entrances, looking like nothing more than a crack in the ground.IMG_20160310_163523IMG_20160310_172826

Getting down there

While you don’t have to go too far down, it is still somewhat of a scramble (especially in winter conditions), and you should wear appropriate shoes with sufficient traction. Do NOT go down in just your swimsuit, as it is extremely cold. It might also help if you have a flashlight of some sort, as it can be very dark.

The cave

Once you finish getting down, you will be rewarded with a spectacular sight like no other:

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Be very careful! It is very slippery on the rocks down there!

Bathing

While the sign outside instructs people not to swim in the cave, this is generally disregarded. However, as I mentioned before, the water is very hot! While I did not have a thermometer with me, the temperature of the water is estimated to be roughly 113 degrees Fahrenheit, or 45 degrees Celsius. This is getting pretty close to the upper limits of what the human body can tolerate. Though I highly recommend getting in the water, you will not want to move around very much, instead just staying still and relaxing. The more you move, the more the temperature of the water will hurt.

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Also, while nude bathing is generally not very common in Iceland, there is an expectation here for people to not wear any clothes into the water, solely to avoid contaminating the water with anything that might be found on a bathing suit. Obviously there is no one here to enforce this rule and no one will be stopped from entering with clothes, but it’s always a good idea to respect the local customs when traveling in a foreign country.

Getting out

Follow the sunlight!

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There are all sorts of crazy cheap flights on Frontier today…if you can fly mid-week

There are all sorts of crazy cheap flights on Frontier today…if you can fly mid-week

To a lot of people, $40 might be the cost of a nice meal, or an aggressive night at the local bar.

But today only, Frontier is offering $20 one-way flights on a number of their routes (and generally cheap fares on their other routes)…if you leave Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

For example, you can fly $40 roundtrip between San Francisco and Phoenix (though remember that Frontier has a number of fees that they add on, including for checked bags).

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Naturally, given that Frontier is headquartered in Denver, you’ll have the widest variety of cheap flights to choose from if you’re flying to or from Denver:

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And while people in the Western United States will benefit more from this deal, there are a few great East Coast fares, such as the following between New York and Denver for $168:

nyc

This sale goes until midnight tonight, but it’s likely that many of these routes will be sold out well in advance (some already are), so get on it soon, if you have that kind of flexibility!

 

If you found a great fare, feel free to post about it in the comments.