One couple’s unforgettable trip to a cold, unlikely place

Published February 1, 2016   Posted in Lifestyles Middle Feature

A lot of us might choose a warm and tropic destination to enjoy a vacation or trip, but I had the opportunity to talk with an incredible woman named Chelsea who had a very different vacation spot in mind. Think south. Very south. Like, Antarctica.

One couple's trip to cold and beautiful AntarcticaShe is a free spirit. Then again, she also loves to plan (just like my wife!). Apparently, that combination creates an environment that is ripe for a unique way to spend a Thanksgiving.

Okay, unforgettable might be a better word.

Instead of a cruise to the Bahamas, Chelsea and her husband Ryan hopped aboard an 88-passenger ship from Argentina and headed south toward Antartica for Thanksgiving last year. As the rest of us enjoyed our oversized gluttonous meals, this couple was in the midst of a trip of a lifetime.

After all, her husband’s goal of visiting every continent needs to include Antarctica.

Their Thanksgiving meal on-board the ship? A few rolls from the ship’s dining room, turkey jerky, corn nuts, dried cranberries, potato chips and a delicious dessert of pecan and apple pie Lara bars. Gotta do what you gotta do when sailing the high seas.

Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving Dinner!

“I do my best to not take myself or life too seriously, there is way too much to be grateful for and way too many things to laugh about,” she told me.

“My social worker heart felt as though this would be fun but wouldn’t really help anyone. From there it morphed into us putting together a program called The Map to Dreaming BIG and we ended up teaching a webinar to our members from each continent, with Antarctica being our last stop!”

Yeah, it was cold. But, the moment Chelsea and Ryan set foot on the continent of Antarctica was when chills could truly be felt.

Setting foot on Antarctica

Setting foot on Antarctica

“Not only did I feel an incredible sense of personal accomplish – mentally and financially,” she said, “but also that I got to experience this with my husband.” Though Antarctica is 98% covered by ice, “the beauty and the intensity was something I was unprepared for.”

“Of course, hanging out with penguins and falling in love with icebergs was pretty spectacular too!”

What was the toughest part of the expedition?

Let’s talk about Drake’s passage, which is a notoriously rough stretch of water that extends south from Cape Horn, South America down to Antarctica. Imagine monster-sized waves slamming against the ship and rocking it so violently that lunch and dinner were canceled on their first “Drake Day”. Now, imagine enduring it for 38 straight hours.

Penguins in Antarctica

Penguins in Antarctica

Chelsea’s advice? “Take the drowsy Dramamine before you set sail, only take small sips of water and hope that you can sleep through most of it,” she wrote on her blog. “The waves got up to over 21 feet, which was “thankfully normal.” They can get up to 45 – woof.”

She told me that while sailing through Drake’s passage the first time was bad enough, the anticipation of having to do it again on the way back was a daunting thought. “I can tell you it was absolutely worth it”.

What is your advice for others who dream of seeing Antarctica?

“Start saving!” This trip, while amazing, isn’t generally cheap. “There were moments through the process of saving up and then paying for the trip when I thought OMG, we are spending so much money to do this! I sure hope it’s worth it…” She said that if people want this bad enough, they will make it a priority. “Start planning and take action!”

Just how much money did Chelsea and her husband spend to see Antarctica? Over $10,000, but she would do it again in a heartbeat. “There are so many places to see in our world, so I don’t often like to travel to the same place again”. But this time, she would. Yes, Drake’s passage and all.

Chelsea and Ryan in front of their ship

Chelsea and Ryan in front of their ship

Like me, Chelsea and Ryan want to retire by 35 and travel the world but prioritized the expense of this trip over adding to their retirement stash.

She described three primary reasons why they chose to spend money on this trip:

1) what we currently value (for 2015, this included making memories, traveling, and making a difference)
2) timing (we currently don’t have any kids and had time in our calendars)
3) we can make more money

She added that number two and three haven’t always been the case, especially when working their former 9 to 5 jobs. They both now work for themselves, and “we have the opportunity to work harder and smarter to make more money.”

Chelsea blogs over at

Enjoy a few photos that Chelsea and Ryan were kind enough to let me borrow!

Chelsea and Ryan holding an Italian "Peace" flag on Antarctica

Chelsea and Ryan holding an Italian “Peace” flag on Antarctica

Chelsea and Ryan's ship (taken from a small boat on the way to shore)

Chelsea and Ryan’s ship (taken from a small boat on the way to shore)

Beautiful ice-covered Antarctic landscape

Beautiful ice-covered Antarctic landscape

Deep snow over the Antarctic landscape

Deep snow over the Antarctic “countryside”

Romantic fun on Antarctica? Why not?!?

Romantic fun on Antarctica? Why not?!?

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37 responses to “One couple’s unforgettable trip to a cold, unlikely place”

  1. Wow what a trip! Drake’s passage sounds tough, but seeing the photos well worth it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jim Wang says:

    Those are some amazing pictures, there’s something to be said about visiting a place of the world very few people go. It’s so tranquil. And the penguins!

  3. How amazing! It sounds like quite an adventure. Honestly, I’d be worried I’d spend all that time and money to get there and then be like “hmmm, it’s just like Alaska… with penguins!”

  4. Wow I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska, but Antarctica takes it to another level. Cool trip!

  5. What an adventure! I really despite cold weather, but I’m sure it would be awesome to do something so unusual, challenging, and beautiful. I’m sure they will never forget the memories made in Antarctica! And the pictures are amazing.

  6. Tawcan says:

    This is absolutely amazing. Visiting all 7 continents is one of our goals as well and Mrs. T has looked into Antarctica cruises. It’s expensive but after reading your story it is definitely once-in-a-life-time experience. We’ll have to save lots for this trip. 🙂

  7. I can’t even tell you how happy this post makes me. It’s so great to see what people can achieve with someone (spouse, partner, friend, etc.) likeminded by their side. What a fantastic story!

  8. amber tree says:

    What an amazing story. It sounds like great trip to take. I agree with others here: expensive but well worth the travel.
    I need to find a creative solution to get my wife on board of that ship: she does not like boat travel at all. After a whale watching trip gone bad for here, anything with waves is a no go…

  9. Jaime says:

    I think this is so much fun. This is what happens when you work toward your goals. =)

  10. Wow! I hadn’t really considered Antarctica as a destination before, but I’m putting it on the list. Thanks for sharing their story. 🙂

  11. Mr. SSC says:

    A friend of ours got to take that trip in 2014 due to a last minute cancellations and her being a solo passenger. I remember she was debating it due to work concerns, and we were both like, OMG, when will you get this chance again?! Do it, work will still be here.” She met someone on that cruise and they’re still in a relationship even though he is in Belgium and she’s here, for now. She also thought it was amazing and well worth it, and echoed the sentiment of the rough crossing of Drake’s Passage.

    The photos though were amazing!

    • Steve says:

      Wow, awesome story! I agree, if you get a chance like that, you gotta figure it probably won’t happen again. Gotta take it, cause you never know what will happen! 🙂

  12. I’d love to do it but not sure I could handle Drake’s passage. It sounds absolutely miserable. We just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas and crossing the gulf stream was enough of a ride for me (with probably nothing more than 8-10′ swells). My wife definitely wouldn’t be joining us since she is extremely prone to motion sickness and struggles on cruises at times (in spite of plenty of dremamine).

    But I’d love to see Antarctica if I could avoid the rough seas. It’s not quite on the bucket list but something that would be cool to do for sure!

  13. What an amazing experience! For some reason, I’ve been secretly wanting to visit Antarctica. Really cool to see people who have actually gone there!

  14. […] i was also interviewed by steve of “think, save, retire” blog about our adventures to antarctica! you can read more about why we chose to spend a chunk of “could-be-retirement-money” to travel the world HERE! […]

  15. This is a really awesome story – thanks for sharing! Makes me want to check out Antarctica, even though I live in the Minnesota cold half the year!

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate the comment! I’d love to go, but I certainly wouldn’t want to take the ferry down. I don’t think I could handle Drake’s passage. 🙂

  16. Andrew says:

    Wow sounds like an awesome adventure!

    Antarctica looks very beautiful, but I think it might be too cold for someone like me haha 🙂

  17. Untemplater says:

    I’ve thought about visiting Antarctica for many of the reasons mentioned above but don’t have any plans to get there in the near future. Gosh I didn’t realize the ocean swells are that big. Yikes. I’ve been in rough seas before but no where near swells that big. I feel queasy just thinking about it!

    • Steve says:

      I’m with you, Untemplater! I’d be okay flying there, but I’m not sure that I could boat there, especially through Drake’s Passage. I’d be so sea sick, I think. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight!

  18. That looks amazing!!! I bet being there gives you a certain feeling, like humans aren’t really meant to be there. While $10k is a lot of money, I’m sure it’s an incredible experience that is worth way more than the money it costs. I’m now a little tempted to do it myself… if I can get over the thought of Drake’s passage!

    Thanks for sharing!

    PS. That thanksgiving meal actually looks pretty tasty! I may be saying this because I’ve not had lunch yet and I feel pretty hungry 😉

  19. Ken Ashe says:

    This sounds like a great experience. I would love to visit all 7 continents.

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