Author Topic: Antarctica travels  (Read 6939 times)

skarn

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Antarctica travels
« on: November 17, 2012, 05:48:07 AM »
Hello MMM community,

I am asking for advice on a possibly non-Mustachian pursuit: travelling to Antarctica.

I've always loved travelling and hiking and have been to several corners of the world. But one place I really want to see is the desert continent where few have been to. I've been dreaming of it since college days. Having worked several years at a middle-class job and lived frugally I've accumulated enough resources to go there without making a significant dent in my net worth.

But I am wondering whether I can reduce the dent it will make, and whether this dent is worth making.

Travelling to Antarctica requires one to fly to Ushuaia in Argentina. This flight, from my part of the world, will cost at least $3000 for a roundtrip ticket. The cheapest Antarctica trip I could find from an operator of some repute costs $5000 for a 10-day journey. Add in other mountaineering and skiing extras, as well as side trips to other places in Argentina, and the trip should cost about $10000. Flying there and back takes some time and this holiday will consume most of my annual leave.

Firstly, anybody been there and would like to give their take on whether it is worth going at this time? Could trips possibly be cheaper in the future? Any operator recommendations?

Secondly, the cost of the trip is easily twice my annual expenditure on food, transport and other personal needs. It costs five months of savings from work. I can come up with other comparisons as well on how I can use the money. Suffice to say it is a decidedly non-Mustachian pursuit for a person who lives by Mustachian principles. So, I am getting cold feet even without stepping into the Antarctic summer. I've always gone for experiences over consumer goods. But with the cost of this trip I can go for four or five satisfying travelling experiences as well.

So I am wondering how to think about this issue. It is a dream, one of many dreams, perhaps, but a dream that is within reach. I'm in my late 20s with no pressing family commitments yet, so should I go?

Thank you for your thoughts.

Russ

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2012, 07:51:55 AM »
I don't know the specifics of how this would work for traveling to Antarctica, but when I'm FI I plan on turning my expensive hobbies into something someone else pays me to do. I like expensive bicycle parts, so I'll work in a bike shop to get employee purchase deals. I like concerts and music festivals, so I'll do some promotion work (or ideally, play music myself) to get in for free. Maybe you could find a way for someone to pay you to go to Antarctica in exchange for doing some work. If you're into science, I know there are grant programs to study in Antarctica. Or maybe if you're a people-person and are good at adventuring, you could lead a trip of your own. It might not pay for the whole trip, but maybe it would pay for the travel which sounds like a pretty big expense.

Whether all that works out or not though, I think you should go. It doesn't have to be right now - you have plenty of time left in your life to travel - but it sounds like something you'll regret not doing if you skip it. Some people will tell you otherwise, but the only real rule of Mustachianism is that you should make all your decisions deliberately IMO. It sounds to me like you've already done that, and that this would be worth the expense to you. In light of that, I say do it.

okits

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 09:26:45 AM »
I've looked into Antarctica, and it is an unavoidably expensive trip. Those who have done it have told me that going for the shortest itinerary possible (to save money) can result in regret later, as you do miss seeing or doing worthwhile things to shorten the trip.

I have occasionally seen 20-30% off sales on Antarctic cruises by adventure operators.  It sounds like you feel the cost of the trip is worth the experience to you (I waffle back and forth on this, personally), but if you have the cash and a persistent urge to go, I say find the most economical arrangement possible and go for it. :)

TomTX

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2012, 11:56:14 AM »
You've been wanting to do this for something like a decade. It will set back FI by 5 months - I'd go ahead and do it. It is your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

sol

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2012, 12:18:51 PM »
I spent three months in Antarctica, and they paid me about $6000 to do it. so I went back and did it a second time.

Lots of people get paid to work there, scientists, carpenters, electricians, tons of folks from the national guard, and even unskilled workers like dishwashers and ditch diggers.  You just have to know who to ask.

Ozstache

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2012, 01:32:47 PM »
Any reason you need to do this before you ER? If not, I'd wait until I ERed, slowly work and wander your way to Argentina, then launch over from there. As already suggested, if you can find a work gig over there, no matter how humbling, it could turn the financial tables from you paying to you being paid for the experience!

Sparky

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2012, 10:22:24 PM »
I feel your pain on the cost of going to Antarctica.  It's really hard to fork out that kind of cash to go there for such a short period of time. Honestly, either fork out the cash, don't go or at least take on some extra income to pay for the trip. It's really that simple.

There is work done there though, I've met more than a few people that have made the trip down there and a select few that have found 'work'. It seems its more of a volunteer/minimal wage 'experience' type deal.

Do it.

skarn

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 07:29:38 AM »
Thank you all for the advice, appreciate it much.

Good call about the jobs and finding sponsorships - I'll look harder at those. Working there for a 3-month stint seems like the best way to get a feel of the place, instead of an expensive cruise which will be over all too quickly.

FI is perhaps 10 years away depending on how greedy I am. But if one has family commitments by that time, it might be too late to take off for a month or two for a personal trip. Given the cost of going there, it makes sense to spend a bit more time in the area and perhaps no-pay leave arrangements can be worked out...

Will keep an eye out for the discounts!

kaeldra

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2012, 10:39:14 AM »
I don't know what part of the world you're coming from, but I know a lot of scientists, at least, get to Antarctica via New Zealand.

My artist friend worked as a cook in Antarctica and wrote some one-page comics and blogged about the experience - http://growmeaboat.blogspot.com/

My vote is to go for it, though figure out exactly what you want to get out of the trip.

MrSaturday

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2012, 03:12:32 PM »
It certainly seems more doable for a mustachian  than my dream of getting into space.

Peter

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2012, 07:15:59 AM »
I intend to go, but not until I've explored the rest of the cheap world first. I suppose if you are planning on getting married and having a bunch of kids, that could be justification for bumping up your expensive antarctic trip to now. Otherwise, wait 10 years until you're rich. It will still be there.

Personally I'm 25, intend to be retired by 35, and will be spending my next 10 years of working vacation time traveling locally in North America and visiting the cheap parts of the world such as South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. My adventures in Western Europe, Australia, Japan, Antarctica etc. can all wait until that 1st million is in the bank.

trammatic

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2012, 08:07:57 AM »
Travel hacking could get you a free/cheap air ticket.  AerolineaArgentinas flys to Ushuaia, and they are a Delta partner.  Get a few delta mile offers, and you could score a ticket.  It's usually 50k miles for a RT coach ticket to SA, or 100k for business.  Likewise LAN is a partner of American Airlines.

cdngb

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2012, 02:31:13 PM »
The least expensive way is on a discounted cruise.

This week I noticed that one was discounted 50%.  You will have to find a reasonable flight, but that could be found by getting to South America and then using local airlines to get to the port. 

This is a very expensive trip, but you can find ways of reducing the price.

This is for those who are unable or unwilling to work in Antartica.

happy

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2012, 04:11:03 AM »
Antarctica 's on my bucket list!  As is a trip to the remote north of Canada...I priced a trip to Nunavut and nearly died of shock...... but every time I see  Darrell from Inuvik post I get goosebumps....maybe one day I'll get there.


Australia has an extensive claim in Antarctica: I know of a couple of people who have worked in the Australian Antarctic  Division. Most of the work is scientific work, with support workers eg tradespeople to enable the scientific crew to remain there. Its quite an adventure : you are usually living in close proximity with a small group of people for several months and I understand there is a lot of multi-tasking.

I also know quite a few  people who have visited and its seems uniformly expensive: not a destination for back-packers! $10k is probably getting in the range. I'm not sure I'd  want to skimp too much since your life depends on the safety/quality of the ship and crew: I'd want to go with a reliable well resourced ship. As others have said one way to save would be on the flights to the launching point in the southern hemisphere. 

I don't see it getting much cheaper in the future: its remote, access is difficult, there's no infrastructure etc. Cheap holidays are either high volume or to places where the cost of living is low. With peak oil etc one could hypothesise that long distance travel will get more expensive...

Only you know if its a dream worth 5 months of saving...if you really want to do it, its not like it will set you back years and years. (Non mustachian people waste more on cars in the blink of an eye). Once you have family/dependents, if thats in your life plan, the cost of the trip will be inordinately high unless some part of the family is left behind.



cdngb

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Re: Antarctica travels
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2012, 10:07:07 PM »
I agree with happy.  If it is that important to you, go for it.