Five Ways YOU Can Get to Antarctica. Seriously. For Reals!

Nik and Dusty in Antarctica

Yup. So our epic adventure to Antarctica is history. Over. Gone. But holy cow, what a ride!

One could certainly argue about whether it’s safe to call a journey to Antarctica the “ultimate” adventure (which we’ve still done, many times), especially when there are many other equally awesome “ultimate” adventures out there. Mount Everest comes to mind. And then there’s space travel. That’d be a hell of a trip. But any way you look at it, we think we can all agree that Antarctica belongs right up there in that “ultimate” category. And the fact we’ve actually been there and done that, and we can now cross it off the long list of crazy shit we never, ever thought we’d get to do in our lives? Yeah. How stinkin’ cool. And we’re so, so thankful to Adventure Life and One Ocean Expeditions for the opportunity. It’s an experience that will live vividly in our minds and memories and hearts ’til the day we die.

We learned a lot about Antarctica during the trip, obviously. Especially since we went not knowing much of anything at all about the place except that it was cold, icy and full of penguins. We’ve tried to share a lot of what we’ve learned and experienced with you guys over the course of the series, but there’s so much more that we just can’t possibly fit it all in. So when we get the chance, and if you’re still interested, we’ll tell you more about it over a couple of cold beers sometime. First round’s on us.

But one of the most surprising – and one of the coolest things – we learned about Antarctica is that there are actually several ways you can visit the White Continent. Fact is, Antarctica is more accessible today than it’s ever been in our history (which staunch conservationists say is not such a good thing) and if you’re really committed to setting foot on Antarctica yourself someday, you CAN actually make it happen. For real. And here are five ways you can do it. Check it out:

The stately Akadmik Ioffe, looking very much at home in the polar environment.
The stately Akadmik Ioffe, looking very much at home in the polar environment.

Save your money. And pay for a trip. This is obviously the least complicated way to visit Antarctica. And yes, it absolutely, positively helps if you’ve got lots of money laying around. An expedition cruise to Antarctica is not cheap. But at the same time, there are lots and lots of different options available these days and some are much more affordable than others. For example, check out the Adventure Life section on Antarctic cruises by clicking here and browse through all the amazing Antarctica trips they offer. And you’ll see that prices run the gamut, from $4,295 on the low end to more then $43,000 on the high. Plus you’ll usually need to get yourself to Ushuaia, and airfare will probably run you another couple thousand dollars. But. Yeah. On the low end, you can get yourself to the bottom of the world for less than $6,500 per person generally. Again, it does obviously help to have money, but that’s definitely not out of reach for the rest of us. If really you want to go, you just have to commit to it, save up your money, hold off on buying that new car or new TV, and work toward making it happen. Better yet, contact the very cool folks at Adventure Life and ask them how you can make your dream come true. They’ll work with you on every step of the process, guide you through it, and take care of all the details. Just tell ’em Nik and Dusty sent you. 🙂

Exploring the icebergs with our fellow media types.

Become a blogger/writer. This is (kind of) where we come in. There are a number of different adventure/expedition tourism companies operating in Antarctica, and they all have their own marketing needs and objectives. And some are very open to the idea of working with writers and bloggers, to the extent that they’ll agree to let you on board one of their Antarctic cruises for free in exchange for an article/blog/video about your experience. (Yep, this is definitely one of the killer perks that sometimes goes along with being a writer/blogger.) Having a huge following obviously helps, but (as proven in our case) it’s not absolutely necessary. You’ve just gotta pitch the company on an idea and have some examples of your work handy to show them. And why not? What have you got to lose? The second worst answer you’ll get is a “no.” And you’ll get a lot of those. And the worst answer you’ll get is no answer at all. Much as it sucks, we still get flat-out ignored by lots of folks in this biz. So then? You just pitch somebody else. And keep at it until you find someone who finds value in what you offer. Good advice in travel, and good advice in life, actually. So go out there and get ’em! 🙂

Our One Ocean guides keeping watch.
Our One Ocean guides keeping watch.

Work for an Antarctic tour company. Those same adventure/expedition companies are also always in need of good people to work on the ships and help out with each expedition in a variety of ways. On our ship for example, the Akademik Ioffe, there were bartenders, expedition guides, photographers, a masseur/massuese, a doctor, naturalists and many more. Heck, we’d sign up today to be ship’s videographers for a season, but nobody seems to want to create that position (yet – hint, hint). And again every ship is different. So it’s up to you to do a little research on these companies and find out if you have the skills that match up with a position they need to fill. And there’s no question it can be difficult work once you land a job on board… but we never met anyone working on the ship who didn’t day it was absolutely, positively, 100% worth it. Seriously. Can you imagine working on an Antarctic expedition ship for a few months? What an adventure that would be! And how good would that look on your resume?

Work at an Antarctic research base. As opposed to getting a job on an expedition ship, why not look into working a stint at one of the many research stations around the White Continent? Not only is it absolutely possible, they’re always looking for positions to fill. And in this case the “they” we’re talking about is the United States Antarctic Program, which deploys about 3,000 people to Antarctica each year to, as they describe it,  “conduct scientific research, or provide support to researchers through the operation and maintenance of the research stations and vessels.” The program is managed by the National Science Foundation, but much of the direct hiring is done by the many companies contracted to operate the facilities. And you don’t have to be a scientist at all! The University of Texas Medical Branch for example, is hiring for doctors, pharmacists, nurses and support staff. Other companies are seeking broadcast engineers, network administrators, IT trainers, and the list goes on and on. Who knows? They might very well need you and the skills you already have. So check out the USAP’s website here to find out more about them, and get links to the different support companies and their current job openings. Fascinating just to see the different kinds of people they need down there! And again, how stinkin’ cool would that be?

View of McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Courtesy USAP.

Apply to the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Similar in ways to what we just mentioned above, but the Artists and Writers program is managed directly by the National Science Foundation. And as they put it, the program is designed to provide” opportunities for scholars in the humanities (painting, photography, writing, history, and other liberal arts) to work in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. These visitors will be able to make observations at U.S. Antarctic Program stations and research camps and in wilderness areas. The purpose is to enable serious writings and the arts that increase understanding of the Antarctic and help document America’s antarctic heritage.” So if you’re a creative type and have, say, an idea about an article, book, or a documentary about life in Antarctica. Apply to the program and see what happens! (Click here for the link.) They don’t actually pay you for the time you spend there, but they’ll get you to Antarctica and provide room and board and support for your project (if we understand it correctly).

So there you go! Great news, really, if you’ve always thought (like we did) that the only two ways a person could ever get to Antarctica was to a) be super filthy stupid rich; or b) be a scientist with double doctorate degrees in polar environment and advanced penguin mating studies.

Bottom line, Antarctica is very much within reach for most any of us, provided you’re willing to work hard, do your research, and/or make sacrifices in your life and save up enough scratch. However you get it done, we can tell you one unequivocal fact from our personal experience: it’s absolutely worth it. A trip to Antarctica will not only change your life, it will change the way you look at life, and certainly the way you look at our little world. And we dare anyone who’s also been to try and say different.

The ultimate adventure awaits indeed. So what do you think? Shall we go?

Cheers gang! New adventure starts next week!

Live. Love. Travel.

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