Photographer:James Barkman
Camera:Minolta XE-7
Film:Expired Kodak Portra160NC

Living the #Vanlife in Iceland

Two dirtbags, a handful of film, and the island nation's iconic Ring Road

The best adventures are unexpected. When William, a fellow vanlifer, friend, and all around badass invited me to dirtbag it around Iceland in a van, I couldn’t say no. So, I bought myself a ticket, packed a couple bags, stocked up on film, and watched the Secret Life of Walter Mitty one more time.

The plan was to have no plan, other than circle the island via the infamous Ring Road, huck a few flips off waterfalls, soak in hot springs, and bomb some hills. Our faithful steed was a VW syncro high top complete with a bed and top bunk, sink, stove, and all the camping and cooking supplies we needed. Prior to our arrival we had been warned of the outrageously expensive cost of living, but weren’t sure what to expect. After ordering a mediocre meal at a restaurant and nearly choking upon seeing the bill, we swiftly decided a steady diet of rice cakes, peanut butter, and the occasional ration of caviar would be better than filing for bankruptcy.

Summers in Iceland are a sight for sore eyes indeed. The melting snow and spring rains kick the cycle of life into high gear, and the sun never falls completely below the horizon, resulting in one long sunset/sunrise that lasts for hours. Talk about eye candy.

Few places in the world offer such easy access to the type of glacial and volcanic landscapes Iceland has in abundance. It’s one of the things that makes Iceland so unique—many iconic, natural landmarks are often just a few steps off the road or parking lot. This though, has inadvertently led to its growing popularity and tourist traffic. Being the type to avoid crowds and heavily touristed places, I admit I was weary of the situation, but after my time on the island I have to admit that all the attention is truly well deserved.

Photographer, surfer, thrill seeker, and life enthusiast, James has called the road—and his faithful but not necessarily trusty 1976 VW Type 2 van—home for the past few years with no plans to stop anytime soon. Currently boondockin’ around the Pacific Northwest with his DR350 dual sport in tow.
Related Reading:
On Forest Fires and the Importance of Being Flexible When Things Don’t Go According To Plan
Pushing Peddles and Personal Limits for a Cause
An Experiment in Film Photography Among California's Fabled Alabama Hills
A Week Alone With Hayduke and His Desert