At last count, our collective quest for self-improvement had exploded into an industry that rakes in over US$11 billion each year in the United States alone. In our quest to learn more, do more, see more – to be more – many of us are left feeling more exhausted than ever before, all in the name of becoming a better person.
Travel offers a very real and tangible escape from the everyday grind. Amongst the benefits of traveling, you may get a much-needed chance to rest, catch up on a book and experience a new destination.
Beyond relaxation, travel has the potential to change us in meaningful ways, and for the better. Few places offer the inherent self-improvement benefits that the Polar Regions present. You don't have to be a lost soul or in a serious search for happiness to reap the rewards of a week or 2 spent on an expedition to the Arctic or Antarctic.
Here's how polar travel can propel you forward in your journey to becoming a better person.
Learn to Live in the Present
Although the Polar Regions have become more accessible, they're as surprising and as awe inspiring as they were during the Heroic Age of Exploration. We sail and land where the conditions guide us, making each day a new adventure and each polar expedition unlike any other before it.
Minke and humpback whales breach at will. Glaciers calve unexpectedly with a resounding crack. You might catch an intrepid polar bear crossing your path in the distance as you hike the tundra and encounter a migratory route. Going on an expedition to the Arctic or Antarctica will help you live only in the present and experience each moment to its fullest, since you never know what the next one may bring!
Experience Another Culture
Tiny communities dot the vast arctic landscape, many of which are populated with Inuit whose descendants have inhabited the region for thousands of years. Visiting their shops and homes, enjoying their foods and crafts, and even playing games with the locals offers expedition passengers a unique window into the everyday lives of one of the oldest cultures in the world.
Cape Dorset, located on the south west coast of Baffin Island, is well known the world over for its famous artists.
Even expeditions to Antarctica, which doesn't have any permanent residents, offer rich cultural experiences. Every year, passengers from over 150 countries join us on polar cruises, and each brings their own values, traditions and knowledge. We exclusively sail small ships and allow plenty of time for passengers to interact with one another and our Scientists in Residence on board.
One of the benefits of traveling is that it can be a great catalyst for creativity and innovation. The Polar Regions may be one of the best places to travel alone, thanks to their sheer scale and vastness.
Turning your back to your group and taking in the spectacle of a sandy beach teeming with southern elephant seals as they drown out any chatter with a cacophony of bellows is a soul-awakening experience. You'll find it hard to believe that only a week earlier you might have been taking that same elevator to sit in the same office with the same people you spend every weekday with. After your polar expedition, you'll return to that desk, but you won't be the same as when you left.
Enhance Your Focus
Connecting with nature isn't some flaky ideal. University of Melbourne scientists recently found that people exposed to nature scenes were subsequently able to sustain their attention for longer periods of time. Nature, they said, boosts subcortical arousal and cortical attention control.
And what better place to connect with nature than in the Polar Regions, each with an entirely different ecosystem, yet both amongst the last pristine areas on earth?
Conquer Your Fears
Polar expeditions can be as relaxing or as challenging as you wish. Myriad Adventure Options – including kayaking, hiking (for various skill levels), stand-up paddleboarding, cross-country skiing, ATVing the arctic tundra, camping on Antarctica and more – tempt travelers out of their comfort zones and into incredible new experiences.
Standing high atop an icy peak while surveying the iceberg-filled bay below, alongside your guide and other intrepid climbers, you'll wonder whatever stopped you from doing this before.
The benefits of traveling to the Polar Regions are plentiful. The Arctic and Antarctica are amongst the best places on the planet to truly unplug, unwind and push yourself outside your comfort zone and into a better you.