I recently returned from a life affirming, bucket list trip to Antarctica aboard the Ocean Nova as the guest of Adventure Life, the small group adventure travel tour company. Before leaving for my trip the reality of traveling to one of the most remote and inaccessible spots on the map didn’t seem to sink in until a couple of weeks before the journey began. Then, suddenly, the reality of the trip finally dawned on me and that’s when I began to get nervous.
Most of my travel is predictable. I don’t mean that it’s boring, not even close. But I generally know what to expect. I know where I’m going, what I’m doing and what to bring with me. It’s not difficult for example to plan for a trip to France and I don’t need special equipment to visit. Antarctica is different though and preparing for the trip was one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in a while, although it really need not have been.
What really set my mind racing were the copious packets of information sent in advance of the trip. I know and understand why they’re sent and I really did appreciate them, but they sent my brain into overdrive with wild expectations. Did I really need a headlamp? How big is too big for a parka? I’ll write another post about everything I packed and wore, but suffice it to say I was overwhelmed with recommendations for things to pack, most of which I didn’t own.
Normally I visit places where if I forget something, I can just go out and buy it. You can’t do that in Antarctica and even worse, Antarctica is not a place where you want to be wanting and unprepared. Images of March of the Penguins and Shackleton and his crew raced through my mind and I was scared, nervous and worried. I think I had become so accustomed to complete control over a trip that when I lost part of that, I started to fall apart.
In the end I need not have been nervous and yes, I overpacked – massively. But this bout of nervous energy turned out to be a blessing. In a world where we are always connected and expect every modern convenience instantly, it was energizing to feel nervous. It felt good to know that I was still alive and that I could still feel that unbridled excitement that only travel and exploration can bring. It has taught me that I worry too much; the self-imposed stress was completely unnecessary and looking back at it I feel foolish. But more than seeing pretty things, travel truly is about these unique moments to grow personally and Antarctica is the perfect laboratory for this experiment in personal growth.
What trip had you really nervous before leaving and was it warranted?