Home » Why more young travellers are heading to Antarctica than ever before

Why more young travellers are heading to Antarctica than ever before

written by Lucy Piper January 19, 2015

Antarctica has long been stereotyped as a bucket-list destination for retirees on what is fondly described as a ‘SKIing’ holiday (spending the kids’ inheritance). But a generation of travellers is emerging and exploring more of the world than their parents and grandparents put together, which means that the frontiers that stretch out before young travellers today are broader and more far-reaching than ever.

It’s not unusual for the average 20-25 year old to travel extensively across several continents, or to have lived and worked in a developing country or in another hemisphere. So when you’ve lived in Europe or Australia, driven across the USA, backpacked around Asia, safari-ed through Africa and overlanded down South America, the time is ripe to set foot on your seventh continent: Antarctica.

But wait a minute – isn’t Antarctica the kind of place that only retirees or scientists travel to? Surely there’s nothing there to interest a young, wild wanderer who wants to travel the world to meet new people and be exposed to different cultures? How can there be culture in an uninhabited continent?

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Image c/o Lucy Piper

Well, this is only partly true; Antarctic expeditions are tough operations for tour companies to pull off (this is an extreme, frozen frontier, after all), and this means the price point isn’t an easy purchase for younger, less financially established travellers. This has meant in the past that the average traveller on a Polar cruise was an older demographic, often retired, or perhaps enjoying long service leave from a lifelong career. And in terms of culture – yes, Antarctica is an uninhabited, pristine continent, so the proposition is very different to that of your average adventure backpacking through Asia, where the focus may be more on cultural immersion.

So what’s in it for a younger traveller?

There’s a small movement of young travellers who are racing to set foot on every continent before they turn 30, and Antarctica is usually the last one to get ticked off the list. This ‘bucket-list’ style of exploring the world is often met with a love/hate response (you either love the idea of crossing things off a list, or you hate the concept and would prefer more of a ‘slow-travel’ experience of the world that unravels organically throughout your life), but the fact is that Polar expedition cruises are no longer solely the domain of the older generations. On an average Polar expedition cruise, the mix of passengers will range from those in their mid-twenties all the way through to early eighties. And this makes for a magical mix of storytelling and anecdote sharing unlike anything you will experience elsewhere.

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Image c/o Lucy Piper

The biggest benefit that you get from visiting the frozen continent is this: Antarctica will create a new prism through which you will view the rest of the world, forever. And the majority of travellers who make the journey will attest to one united truth – Antarctica will change you. It’s an intangible shift that happens deep inside, difficult to describe and impossible to replicate.

Antarctica is more than a bucket-list destination to be stepped on and ticked off; it forces you to re-evaluate everything you know and feel about yourself and your place on the planet. It is a powerful tonic that lubricates your soul, giving you a glimpse into the fine balance of nature. It is the closest thing to infinity on earth.

Inspired to discover another world? Explore Intrepid’s range of expert-led itineraries in Antarctica.

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7 comments

Michael Webb November 27, 2015 - 10:26 pm

A great article! I think the price might the most limiting factor for younger people. Shame, as it looks absolutely spectacular! 😀

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RJ August 31, 2015 - 1:50 pm

Good article.
I remember heading to Greenland on a first trip when I was only 20yrs old (I am Swiss and had already been to Iceland many times, to Canada, …). With me were people from around the globe, all of them older than me. Certainly these destinations, and Antartica is the Queen of all, are expensive and need time. Not easy for the young adult who starts a career (no time) or the sound adult who had time (and no money).
But the younger generation has to learn about these places and pay attention to them. To visit such remote areas will open everyone’s mind and make young generation think about our planet.
I want to bring my kids to Antarctica. One day. Before they turn 20 for sure.
RJ

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Lucy Piper January 30, 2015 - 10:54 am

Thanks Allan – so stoked you like them!! There’s plenty more to come, just finishing off the editing… 😀

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Lucy Piper January 30, 2015 - 10:53 am

Thanks Sue, very pleased you liked the article, looking forward to sharing more content over the coming weeks! 🙂

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Ironman and Icebergs: is this real life? | pipe down piper January 28, 2015 - 6:57 am

[…] compiling all of the content at work, outlining the experience in depth, but you can read a short taster that I wrote for Intrepid if you want a snippet. And since I’m still working on the stills for work, they’re not […]

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Allan. January 27, 2015 - 2:29 am

Wow!! Great photos, Lucky you :-)) Look forward to seeing the rest of them.

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Sue Gilbert January 19, 2015 - 8:52 am

I love your writing & photos Lucy….out of this world. 🙂 I will keep reading. xxxx

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