I’ve visited 15 countries, and every time I leave a new place, I leave hungry to see more. Meeting people different from myself, who have had different life experiences and who see the world differently, has broadened my own thinking—whether making me question things I held to be true, or solidifying what I already believed. In this way, travel has made me more whole.
I was introduced to travel at a relatively young age. When I was 15, my parents sent me on a trip to Paris, and the south of France. I think I fell in love with the world as a whole then and there. Beautiful architecture, the artwork of the masters, new foods…none of which I had ever experienced in my little pocket of Connecticut.
Suddenly, there was more than my little neighborhood, my little school, my small circle of friends. There was a whole other way of life. I soaked every moment of it in, and bided my time until another opportunity would come to see a new country.
I’m in this really great season of life. I just bought my first home, my business is very successful, and with the exception of a little kitty at home, I don’t have anything tying me down or keeping me from adventuring.
My first solo trip was to Ireland, and that trip taught me so many things. Until then, I had hated doing anything alone. I would rather stick a fork in my eye than eat at a restaurant alone. Solo anything was out of the question - I needed a buddy! A security blanket! Not an easy thing to find when you work for yourself.
My first 48 hours in Ireland were lonely. I was still hesitant to do anything on my own. I actually let myself get REALLY hungry, because I would have literally rather been hungry than to venture out alone. I sat in bed at my AirBNB, pep talking myself about going out. “It’s Dublin! It’s fine! Everyone’s super friendly!” I literally was talking myself off the ledge.
That night, instead of going out, I watched The Darjeeling Limited. Anjelica Huston’s character something to her sons along the lines of, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself because it’s very unattractive.” That sunk in. I got out of bed, made plans for a tour the next morning, and plotted out where I would get breakfast (alone!) before heading out.
That trip changed me and it changed how I travel. When I decided to go to Iceland, I planned with full enthusiasm. I turned to Instagram to find little hidden gems in the landscape that I knew I would want to photograph and used travel apps to find the best local spots to eat. I was over my fear of being alone in a new place, and put that confidence to practice.
Seeing the Northern Lights has been a “bucket list” item for me, so I found tour guides who would bring me out into the vast empty landscapes to hunt for them. This fascination, which I’ve had since I was little, propelled Iceland to the top of my travel checklist. I even decided to spend extra time in the country to maximize my chances of seeing them. Of course, during the eleven days I was there, the fog was thicker than stew, so another trip is in order!
Iceland was unlike any of the other countries I had visited previously: I wanted to experience it all without putting any pressure on myself to enjoy it a certain way. I left lots of time for wandering and spur of the moment decisions. Upon arriving in each of the villages that I visited, I would give myself a few hours to “settle in,” which mostly consisted of sampling local delicacies (turns out puffin is delicious!), and scouring the landscape for great images I could create.
I’m partial to architecture; I love old buildings and homes with history. When traveling, I’m always looking for buildings that speak to the charm of that country. In Iceland, I was drawn most to the small churches on the hillside, and the farmhouses seemingly plopped down in the middle of nothingness. Red roofs, old shepherd’s huts in the sides of the cliffs, and churches on hilltops are my favorite images from the trip.
A willingness to try new things is key to pursuing curiosity. Soaking in a new place with a landscape that is so vastly different from our own in the United States - that’s what I live for! Trying Icelandic delicacies isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; but, I make it a point to try the local fare wherever I go. In Iceland, that just happened to be puffin and shark.
In addition to the reward of challenging myself and leaving my comfort zone, every trip I’ve taken has taught me a little bit more about myself and where I fit in in the world. As vastly different as we all are within our own little pockets, we are also the same. The most meaningful insight I’ve gleaned from each experience abroad is that we’re all human. This is something I needed to discover on my own.
click here to see more photos from joanna's trip to iceland in our series 7/fun issue.
Photos + Text by Joanna Fisher
Connecticut native Joanna Fisher began her photography journey over ten years ago, and since then has been nationally and internationally published for her contributions in the wedding industry. Since being given the opportunity to travel to France at the age of 14, she has visited fifteen countries, thirty five U.S. states, and intends on seeing 50 countries by the age of 50. Joanna gives back by volunteering her time to teach photography to villages in coastal Mexico.
To book Joanna's photography services, visit her website here. View more photos on Instagram @joanna_fisher.