The benefits of vacations are clear -- time away from the daily grind helps us relax, refocus, and come back more productive and even happier. More and more though, people are finding that simply escaping to lie on a beach, while relaxing at the time, isn't a particularly rewarding vacation. Once the tan lines are gone and the pina coladas a distant memory, any residual happiness brought home fades, as well.
How can you make the benefits of vacation really stick?
An increasing number of travelers are seeking out unique vacations, especially in the adventure travel arena, for more physically and emotionally rewarding experiences. In fact, the adventure travel market grew a whopping 23% last year, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).
And what's more unique or adventurous than a polar expedition? No longer reserved for a handful of heroic explorers or the super wealthy, trips to the far north and extreme south have become a surprisingly accessible and affordable way to escape, relax, and even improve yourself.
Planning Your Polar Expedition: Getting Started
Your first major consideration is going to be a pretty simple one: which end of the earth would you like to visit?
The Arctic and Antarctica each offer a variety of unique vacation options, but entirely different experiences. Some things are obvious; if you love polar bears, you're definitely heading north, while your friend who can't wait to see penguins mischievously stealing pebbles from each others' nests will need to head south. You can learn more about different Antarctic regions, wildlife, activities and voyages here, and explore the same for the Arctic here.
Some other considerations you'll want to keep in mind as you explore and discover polar expedition options:
- Which brag-worthy polar experiences are must-haves for you?
- How much time can you enjoy away from work and everyday life?
- Do you want to take family or friends along, or go it alone?
- Which polar animals do you have your heart set on seeing?
- What do you want to do on your polar expedition?
Good vacations take you out of your usual routine, but truly great ones propel you back into your life a better person. Understanding what you want to get out of your expedition exponentially increases your enjoyment once you get there!
Evaluating These Unique Vacation Options
One of the major draws of the Arctic and Antarctica is the highly unpredictable nature of these regions; no two days are ever the same, and every trip is unique. Even so, like other travelers, you're probably going to spend a great deal of time checking out your options and learning about the places you might visit. In fact, adventure travelers spend an average of 40 hours planning each trip (ATTA)!
Once you know where you want to go and have a few different polar expedition options in mind, make sure these factors are a part of your decision-making process to ensure your final choice is the perfect trip for you:
- Which environmental and ethical issues might influence your decision.
- The size of the ship, number of other passengers and crew-to-passenger ratio.
- Knowledge and experience of expedition staff.
- Cost savings, including any last minute deals available
- The level of risk you're comfortable with, and the type of the rewards you seek.
- Opportunities for personal growth and enrichment.
- The amenities and level of comfort you expect onboard.
- The safety record and standards of the company you'll travel with.
- Rewards and bonus programs (you know, in case you make a habit of this polar travel thing, as travelers tend to do!).
- What equipment is provided for my kayaking, hiking, skiing or other adventures?
Preparing for a Physically & Emotionally Rewarding Vacation
It's not uncommon for even the most experienced polar travelers to experience a bit of last-minute panic as their expedition date approaches.
Am I really ready for this?
What if I forget something important?
Can all of this really fit in that suitcase?
Don't worry -- this is completely normal. As you prepare to journey well outside of your comfort zone, it's important to be prepared. Our How to Pack for the Polar Regions can help you sort out what you need to bring with you. You might also want to read up on What photography gear to take and which polar expedition gear is trending, too.
With all of that preparation though, try not to sweat the small stuff. Relaxing is one of the most important benefits of vacation, and that starts the minute you embark on your polar journey!
Still hungry to learn more about planning the most rewarding polar expedition possible? Check out our new brochure online, or request a copy to be delivered by mail!