Some of you weighed in on our decision to go to Antarctica. We don’t want to leave you hanging any longer.
So what did we decide? What did the process look like and what did we learn from it?
The upshot: we pulled the trigger. A week from today we’ll be on an eleven-day journey aboard an ice-breaker in and around Antarctica and beyond our second polar circle (the first one was when we got engaged in Norway). Although we had to act quickly in order to not miss the opportunity, we did not take our decision lightly.
It’s difficult to explain all of our conflicting sentiments, but here goes: excitement — Glaciers, whales and penguins, here we come!), disbelief (Can this really be happening?), fear (Ugh, Drake passage!), and calm (This feels right!).
We’d like to thank everyone for their input and thoughts — on our post, the Uncornered Market Facebook Page, and our personal Facebook pages. Thanks to all of this, we’ve been put in touch with new people and we’d like to think we’re just a little bit smarter than we were before.
We really do appreciate our community and its collective wisdom.
We’d also like to thank the Twitter community – our own network and the wider Twitterverse — for playing an integral part in the unfolding of this story. Since the odds of joining a last-minute March departure for Antarctica seemed stacked against us, we didn’t dive deep into an online research project to ferret out last minute offers. Instead, we relied mainly on Twitter. One tweet and one response was all it took to get the ball rolling.
The “Oh Shit” Moment: Online Buyer Beware
Although this may come as a surprise to some, not everything on the internet — Twitter included — is accurate or legitimate. So everything went smoothly with our Antarctica agent in Ushuaia, Argentina until it came time to fork over our credit card number. The problem wasn’t the agent, but us.
We stepped back: Do we really know who this woman is? Can we be guaranteed the tour we were promised? Could this be a scam?
Just call it a healthy dose of skepticism honed from years of experience on and off the road.
We went into investigative mode to confirm the legitimacy of our agent and the offer. We searched for our agent’s name online. We called the tour operator actually running the tour to confirm that our agent had a relationship with them.
Then came the moment when the tour operator indicated that while the agent was legitimate, there were no spaces available on the tour she was attempting to sell us. Either the whole thing was a scam or there was a mix-up (thus the great price).
Our hearts sank. We stepped back again. If a bait-and-switch was at work or an honest mix-up had placed our desired itinerary out of reach or out of our price range, we were prepared to skip Antarctica altogether this time around.
If the stars aligned, great. But if they didn’t, we weren’t going to force the issue.
As it turns out, a group had canceled their reservations, but our agent and tour operator had not fully settled the issue. I expressed my concerns about handing over our credit card number for such a large amount of money without a more solid guarantee. The agent completely understood and suggested we complete the transaction directly with the tour operator. Perfect.
Putting it all together
Within a couple of hours of booking our tour, we booked flights south from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia through El Calafate, sorted accommodation, and organized gear and clothing rental. (We had to laugh at ourselves as we searched for budget hostels after booking a not-so-budget tour.) Add to this the need to pack out of our apartment in Buenos Aires and make our way on a boat to Uruguay the next day.
Time to take a deep breath.
Our flexible style of travel allows us to act on impulse and take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Sometimes, however, we miss out because we haven’t planned far enough in advance. But every now and then (e.g., Galapagos Islands and Antarctica), the stars align and we’re off on a new adventure.
The tour we took with Gap Adventures went south of the Antarctic Circle. We highlight this feature as most tours to Antarctica do not go this far south. You can read more tour details here. If you plan to book this or another tour with Gap Adventures, please consider starting the process by clicking on the ad above. The price stays the same to you and we earn a small commission. Thank you!