Have you ever had one of those I-blinked-and-I-missed-it vacations? You so looked forward to it, but it's over and you only have a few photos to show for it! Even if they're not bad or regrettable experiences, boring and unrewarding vacations are a total letdown.
The best vacations stay with you long after you've returned to your daily routine, and they're actually integral to your personal growth and development because they change you. You're not going to get a complete personality transplant by taking a trip, but don't underestimate the importance of traveling when it comes to shaping (and reshaping) your perspective, inspiring your sense of adventure, and rejuvenating your mind and body.
A respected expert on the effects of tourism on our well-being, Sebastian Filep co-wrote a guide to travel happiness, Vacation Rules (2013), with online travel expert Rod Cuthbert. Since then, Filep has continued his research and lecturing on the development of what he calls “positive tourism.” In short, his is the study of how vacations benefit our well-being and essentially make life worth living.
Pretty awesome, right?
Filep and Cuthbert's “vacation rules” consist of 36 guidelines to assist travelers in planning better and more rewarding vacations. Here, we'd like to count down our top 5 vacation rules specifically geared toward travelers who are interested in or are about to embark on a polar expedition.
Keep these handy to help you plan your best vacation yet!
5. Know Your Travel Goals
What are you really hoping to get out of your polar expedition? Sometimes when we take the time to critically evaluate our wants and expectations, we find that what we thought we wanted isn't quite what we're really looking for, after all.
Are you looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure that'll make your friends green with envy?
Is it important to you that your vacation includes specific personal growth and development opportunities?
Are you hoping to learn about, see or experience certain things on your trip?
Understanding what you want to get out of your expedition experience is a critical first step that will guide you forward in narrowing down your options.
4. Get Excited
If you're anything like the average traveler, you're going to spend many, many hours over a period of several months planning your polar vacation. Make sure you're having fun doing it! The Polar Regions are truly fascinating, and those who have been there are often passionate and generous advocates of these fragile ecosystems.
While you're planning, take it all in. Join the Quark Expeditions® community for a steady stream of blog posts, videos, social updates and more on the Arctic and Antarctica. Read real accounts of polar travels from experts visiting and working in these areas. Explore life on board various expeditions to see which elements, amenities and activities seem like the best fit for you.
This is your adventure, and the fun starts in the planning. Enjoy it!
3. Pick a Region, Just One … for Now
We've been conditioned to see polar vacations as once-in-a-lifetime trips – bucket list items that we can only hope to do once before we die!
Even 20 years ago, that was way more true than it is today. But now, with advances in transportation and communications technology, the Polar Regions are more accessible than ever before. The Arctic and Antarctica are still spectacularly pristine and largely untouched regions, but you don't need to be sponsored by royalty or take a year out of your life to explore them.
You also don't need to stress over making a choice as though it's your only chance to go. You just never know what the future may hold, and many travelers fall in love with the Polar Regions and visit over and over again.
2. Prioritize the Importance of Traveling in Your Life
Budget is a huge deterrent for would-be travelers, and yet others make it happen, no matter what. There are always deals to be had and sacrifices to be made in order to reach your travel goals!
Explore different ways to save: travel early in the season, take advantage of early booking bonuses or scoop up a last-minute deal to score your ideal polar trip at a rate you can live with.
Then commit to making it happen. You'd be amazed at how quickly eliminating a meal out per week or picking up a few extra shifts on the weekend adds up. And by planning an expedition aligned with your goals, you know you aren't going to have that post-trip guilt, either. (You know the guilt!)
1. Don't Sweat the Details
Sure, there's plenty to think about and consider. But remember that you're traveling to the wildest and most remote, untouched areas of the planet!
The most important thing to pack is your sense of adventure.
Some days, the weather won't cooperate, and on those days you might play games on board, hear lectures from incredibly talented and knowledgeable on-board experts, or enjoy other activities or quiet time on the ship. Each polar cruise ship's captain and crew are constantly scouting the water, ice and landing sites for ideal conditions; in fact, expedition staff are already checking out landing sites before breakfast.
The landing sites and activities themselves may change throughout the trip, but one thing is certain: staying open to the adventure means you're going to have the time of your life.