Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Why We Travel Podcast.Today it will take us far, so the furthest so you can go. We actually will go to Antarctica. So therefore I have someone with me, obviously who has been there and can tell us a little bit more on how it is to be in Antarctica. Caitlyn Lubas became a published author at the age of 23 after writing about her experience, visiting over 70 countries, all seven continents during college, ca aims to inspire a community of international, intentional, substantially minded travelers seeking authentic experience in making the world a better place through increased cultural exchange.
So let’s say hello to ca. How are you today?
Caitlyn Lubas: I’m good. Thank you for having me on the podcast. Super excited to share my unique experience with having been to Antarctica.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, I’m glad to have you on the show. Now, Antarctica obviously is not a place where many people go, but before we go into this, I want to know from you, I learn from you, what was your very first memory in being on a journey?
On a trip , being a traveler.
Caitlyn Lubas: Like my first experience with traveling ever, ever . Um, I honestly can’t remember the first trip that I went on. Like I was really lucky that when I was little, my parents took me on a lot of trips with them. Grew up definitely in a family that appreciated [00:02:00] travel, like my great or not my great, but my dad’s dad.
Had been a travel agent, so they had been on a lot of trips growing up, and I think it’s ingrained in my blood to be a traveler. So I think the actual first trip that I remember with my family was probably something domestic within the us. But I think the first formative trip that I took as an adult was definitely going to Ghana with my school.
We actually were working with a village in Ghana. We. Doing some volunteer work as well as helping them start a nonprofit and teaching women how to run their own business. And I think that was definitely the most culturally different experience that I’ve had that really made me feel connected to people on a different side of the planet and made me really have this itch to always wanna be in different environments, meeting new people, experiencing wildly different things that I would never experience at.
Claus Lauter: Okay, Sounds great. Now talking about far places, you can’t go further than Antarctica, so its really far away. I almost made it there only almost. You were there. So tell me a little bit how came Antarctica [00:03:00] on your travel list? What was the drive there?
Caitlyn Lubas: Yeah, so actually this same Ghana trip that I just mentioned, it was my first trip, , during college and I
just had a self set goal to finish seeing all seven continents. After that trip, I was sitting in this mud hut in Africa, like listening to the crickets outside of my tent and just thinking like I had never imagined that I would be, out here sleeping in a small little village in the middle of Ghana.
I want to have more experiences like this. I just set a goal for myself that I wanted to be able to visit all seven continents by the end of my three and a half years in college. So I just worked on that goal, saved up the money, did all the logistics planning, like even when you plan a trip to Antarctica, there’s very few spots because it’s not a very popular tourist destination yet.
There actually are a decent amount of people who want to do it as like a bucket list type of experience. , so we had to book it like over a year in advance. Definitely saved up over a bunch of years cuz it is quite an expensive trip. But gotten my radar around. Three years [00:04:00] in advance and worked up to actually planning it, saving for it, booking the whole thing.
and then once I had graduated college, this was basically my first trip post-college, kind of like graduation present to myself of like, I’m gonna start my adult life basically by visiting Antarctica, having this experience and just being able to hopefully learn a lot from.
Claus Lauter: Okay. That’s not a bad start.
Now you said a little bit of traveling or quite a bit of, , planning was involved in there. So tell me a little bit on how you got started with this and the different steps that you needed to go through to make it work.
Caitlyn Lubas: Definitely just start with the Google search, like how do you get to Antarctica?
I think most people are not even aware of the fact that one, people do visit Antarctica. It’s not only like researchers down there, , so did the research figured out, there’s a couple different ways you can get there. Most common way is by boat. , there’s a lot of companies that have cruise ships, but nothing like the thousand people cruise ships that people generally think of when you think of a cruise.
They’re boats that fit like anywhere from a hundred to 200 people. So very small [00:05:00] crowd, relatively. , you take the boats either from the tip of Argentina, which is a southernmost city in the world called usia. Or the tip of Chile, and you can take those boats across the Drake passage to get to the Antarctic Peninsula and the Drake passage as I did more research, is this very tumultuous, most dangerous, most prone to seasickness, , type of part of the ocean.
So it’s definitely not for the faint of heart or for those who get seasick really easily. Like, I don’t generally get seasick. I’ve been on a lot of like typical cruises before in my life with my family and even on this cruise like. I got very nauseous just being in that water. It was super, rocky all over the place.
Sometimes the waves can be up to 40 feet tall and the boat will be completely tipping sideways and like plates and glasses will be flying off the table. So I think doing the research and mentally preparing yourself for that part of the journey is a huge part of it. Like I [00:06:00] thoroughly would not recommend the trip to anyone who.
Does get seasick, even just on like a normal boat. , there is a different option. You can fly to Antarctica, , if you really desire to. It’s definitely way more expensive. There is a little like landing strip, for small planes to actually land on the continent and those flights take off from, again, like the southern tip of South America.
, I ended up just deciding to go with the boat route because it’s definitely the more typical and more affordable route and. Head and had a history of seasickness, so I figured it’d be the better option for me. , but yeah, just doing the research of like whether you want to leave from like the Chilean side or the Argentinian side, figuring out whether you want to do the boat route, the flight route, and then looking through the different tour operators or companies that run these small cruise ships from South America to Antarctica.
Kind of worked through all of that. , I ended up going with a cruise. Employed a lot of people who are actual marine biologists or glaciologists or people who have a really [00:07:00] thorough background to be leading these antic expeditions. Cuz I really wanted to be learning as much as possible, not just there to check something off a bucket list, but really to.
Feel like I experienced and learned a lot. So I ended up going with Oceanwide Expeditions for that reason. Cause I did a lot of research and found that their staff was checking all those boxes for me of this would be a learning focus type of trip. , and it was really cool because we ended up having little lectures on the boat, like when we were in transit to get across the Drake passage, which takes around two days to actually get from South America to the tip of Antarctica.
, we had all these little lectures about. Why are glaciers blue and like how to differentiate between different types of penguins And we learned about citizen science projects, like how you can contribute to helping scientists count different penguins or like how to submit pictures of whales that you find to help scientists be able to recognize different whales that you see around the world.
So I definitely learned a lot. Those are all the kind of reasons I ended up picking this [00:08:00] particular company in this particular route to get to Antarctica.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Sounds great. Yeah, definitely more of an expedition or adventure style journey than just your holiday maker’s destination. When it comes to the pricing, and I have been tohu, and I will tell you on a second kind of mistake I made, but when it comes to pricing, as you said, it’s not very affordable.
It’s more of a luxurious thing to get there. Give me a bit of an idea. How was that structured?
Caitlyn Lubas: the general pricing, it depends. Of course, like how many people you’re trying to go with. Like, I end up going with my dad, which was nice. , we were able to share like a room for two people. If you’re going with three people, you can split the cost a little bit more.
If you’re going as a solo person, obviously you can either book a room just for yourself or I think a lot of the cruises let you sign up as a solo traveler and you’ll be put in a room with random people to split the cost again. for like sharing a room of two, it ended up being I think around $9,000 per person, which.
Obviously a lot of money for a 10 day cruise, but when you really think about it, like some people spend hundreds if not a [00:09:00] thousand dollars a night on like a very luxurious hotel. So for me to do an experience like this that I knew was gonna be something I remember for the rest of my life and there’s just no other way to fully have an experience of seeing Antarctica, seeing the penguins, the oils, the seals, like it definitely felt worth it for me.
, and I do think two other big expenses that. Might not initially factor in, or you need travel insurance because you are super far away from hospitals or doctors. And if anything goes wrong while you’re in the middle of the ocean or like in Antarctica, they’re gonna have to charter a helicopter to pick you up and take you back.
, so the health insurance and just travel insurance alone was like another thousand dollars. And then for me, being based at the time in the New York City area, The flight itself to Ushiva was like another thousand dollars or so. So definitely a very pricey trip for around two weeks. , but I could not recommend it more, not one part of me felt like it wasn’t worth it.
Claus Lauter: No good tip there. And again, it’s very far away. People might underestimate [00:10:00] how far is. , if you look on the map, it does not really, , show you really how long it takes to get there. Now the mistake I just throw in, , which we did when we were there, we didn’t book in advance.
We were looking for last minute tickets. Now what actually came out is there’s tons of people doing exactly that, and there’s only limited cancellations. So what happens there interesting is that usually would think that a last minute, , ticket is cheaper. No, it was double the price than the normal price because the demand was just so high that the price went through the roof.
What you did is the right way. , plan. , well in advance and secure your, place on one of these vessels, one of these ships, and then go from there.
Caitlyn Lubas: Some people were successful with last minute bookings. I think it depends on the time of the year, like Antarctica cruising season, like the only time where it’s actually.
Able to get the boats through the water and there’s not too much ice. It is around I think like late November through, early March. I went around Christmas, New Year’s time just cuz it was the easiest for my dad to be able to get time off of work and come with me. [00:11:00] And there was definitely not gonna be any available spots on a boat at that time of year, cause it’s peak season.
But I think if you tried to go in that really early part of the season or the very end, you probably could get lucky. Like I had definitely read a blog post from someone who said she did just fly down to uaa. At one of those kind of shoulder season times of year and she was able to get on the cruise for around like $5,000, which is about half the cost.
So it really just depends. And I’m sorry that you had that experience. It didn’t work out for you. .
Claus Lauter: No worries. We were there end of February and it was still very busy there, so didn’t really work out. Again, if you wanna make sure you get there, , then you should plan in advance and not trying to it as we did.
What I like that you said that you basically become very well educated about the place. , and I thought obviously that helps in promoting, , the diversity and how, , sensitive this place is in a global perspective and you become an ambassador of that now being on the continent itself. How did that work?
Caitlyn Lubas: Yeah, so I think one big misconception is that like you visit Antarctica and staying on the continent, [00:12:00] you’re not allowed to, like, there’s no hotels or anything like you’re sleeping on the boat. That is your place that you stay and you more make like daily expeditions to go ashore in different locations.
So beyond the two days it took to sail from Usah to Antarctica, we had around like six, seven days of full exploration. So we’d have like a place we. Near in the morning and you have the boat docked offshore. You’d have little, zodiac boats they were called that you get on to get from the large boat to the shore.
And you’d have one group of people around like half the ship on shore at one time. And then you would switch. And the other group would be like just going around in the zodiac boats, looking at the icebergs, trying to spot whales and seals so that there’s never really more than 50 people on the actual continent at one time.
Reduced the overall human impact. Like they were really, really thorough about telling us like, you have to rinse your boots before you go in and out of the ship. Like we don’t want any human germs or bacteria or just like any [00:13:00] traces to be left. And I think they did a really good job of promoting that.
So we would have like these morning expeditions, then the boat would move around to a different location, have an afternoon expedition, and we got to see. A bunch of different places all around the different sides of the injected peninsula over that course of six to seven days. , but you do sleep on the boat.
You go to the bathroom on the boat, like you keep all of your, daily functions on the boat and you make little trips to the land to keep it preserved and you just being like a very conscious visitor, like even if we. A path with a lot of footprints. They would put all the snow back to make it look more natural before we left, which is something I’ve never really thought about doing before.
But they do a really good job of keeping it extremely untouched. Like leave, not even footprints, I think was, , a really good motto that they had. And I actually had the experience of going camping in Antarctica. Oceanwide exhibitions offered this. Opportunity to have an actual stay on the continent overnight in a sleeping bag.
And we [00:14:00] don’t even use tents. You dig a little burrow in the snow and you put a goretex, like very waterproof sleeping bag into that little burrow. You’re blocked off from the wind and the snow insulates the heat from your body. So you’d think it’d be cold. But I was actually like super hot and ended up taking off layers when I slept outside in the snow, like under the midnight sun in Antarctica.
And that was my experience actually like staying on the continent of Antarctica. So that’s like pretty much the only way you can do it. There’s not. A resort or a hotel or anything of that sort physically established on the land? I think for tourists, if you’re not like a scientist of some sort, the only sort .
Building that you would ever be visiting is there is one port that has actually like a post office that you can send letters from and it takes something like three to six months to ever arrive at its destination, but it will get there eventually.
Claus Lauter: Okay. No, that sounds amazing. Now when it comes to equipment, , what do you need to bring with yourself or do they provide equipment for you?
Because [00:15:00] obviously it’s very cool there. You need to be dressed up
Caitlyn Lubas: in the right way. Yeah, definitely cold. You do need a good park, a good set of like waterproof boots. , I was able to rent all of that through the company that I went with cuz I actually was traveling all around Dr. Naina before and after they Antarctica trip.
So I was not about to bring like a giant winter jacket when I was gonna be in like Buenos IRAs and up by Brazil and , definitely would have no need for a huge jacket like that. , I think it was only like a hundred or $200 to rent the gear and. That ended up being a much easier option to just like rent snow pants, rent the jacket, get the waterproof boots that are necessary to be walking around in the snow.
, so I think that’s usually what people did. But I did see other people on my trip who just brought their winter gear and that was fine for them. , but it actually is not as cold as you would possibly expect, like at the time of year that I went around, like late December, early January. Even with the wind shell, it would only be in like the low single digits, degrees Fahrenheit, which honestly like New York City can be [00:16:00] colder than that at times.
And I would walk around in New York just to get from place to place. So being outside in Antarctica at that time can honestly be warmer than New York City just because it’s like summer at that time in the Southern Hemisphere, even though it’s winter up north. So that was. Misconception, I guess I thought it was gonna be absolutely freezing, like miserable to be outside, but it actually was pretty nice.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Now, we talked about all the on how to get there and what you need now. How was your impression once you were there? So more from the emotional side, what was the impression that you got there?
Caitlyn Lubas: I think it’s hard to prepare yourself for even what to expect when you arrive at a place that is so distant.
Like for context, we also had pretty much no cell service for the entirety of those 10 days. And I think even that experience alone is something that most people haven’t. Gone through like when is the last time anyone hasn’t received a text message or checked their email or checked the news for that length of time?
I think that was on experience in itself. But even then, just realizing like I [00:17:00] am as far from home and anyone that I know that I possibly ever will be like I could not be in a more remote place is just a humbling experience to realize that you can deeply connect with nature and just really. I don’t know, be self-sufficient in a place that humans don’t even normally like venture to or are able to survive.
I enjoyed that feeling and I think along with the talks that we had about like the nature and people telling us more about the glaciers and the local kind of populations of penguins and seals and whales, like I just felt like I. Emerged from that trip really having a strong desire to protect nature and really just valuing it more in my life because you get to see these untouched parts of the world.
You realize this is what it used to be like before anything was ever developed. And there’s so few places that are still so pristine like that. So getting to. Experience that does transform you into this Antarctica ambassador. And they even gave us a full talk about why you should care about Antarctica, why you should tell people to care about it.
[00:18:00] And even there’s a lot of countries that are trying to drill for oil in Antarctica and there’s a lot of petitions and treaties trying to protect it and just, I had never known any of this before and I think now that I am aware of one, how beautiful it is, two, how untouched it is and how rare that is in.
World today. I think I emerged from all of that, just like caring so deeply about the environment and even just the emotional aspect of seeing glaciers all around you. I had been to Alaska before, I’d been to Iceland before, and I did find that I had this inclination for loving kind of glacial landscapes and just the deep blues of icebergs and getting to hear like ice fall into the water and like calving and everything.
Has always been a really special experience for me, but being in a place like Antarctica where that is the only thing you can see, like there’s no other landscape, it really is the closest I’ve ever felt to feeling like I was on another planet, like completely immersed in [00:19:00] landscapes and scenery that you just do not come across in normal life ever.
It was definitely, , an experience that makes you feel very small, makes you feel very appreciative. The emotional experience was very humbling and fulfilling.
Claus Lauter: Okay, great. So now you were obviously in a lot of countries in a young age, 70 countries, all seven continents, and you want to inspire and, , give a bit of this experience to other people.
So you have written a book. Tell me a little bit about this.
Caitlyn Lubas: Yeah, I decided to write a book about my travel experiences cuz I found that I had a lot of these stories from my trips that people would always ask about or I would always end up telling kind of the same things about. And I just wanted to write them down to be able to share them in a more scalable way, like being able to just share my story and give people an insight into what is it like to live in Southeast Asia for a few months, or spend some time in Abu Dhabi as a woman or venture around Antarctica, East Africa.
, I ended up putting all these stories into a book, and my main goal with each of the [00:20:00] short stories within my book is to share how a specific place can really have a profound impact on you as a person. I think there’s a lot of books out there around travel that talk about. The culture and how to visit a place and kind of more like travel guides or like informative about a place.
But I really wanted to focus on sharing examples of how a place can really affect you, which is why I called the book title. You Are Where You Go. It’s like a traveler’s version of you are where you eat, and I really think it’s true that every place you go tends to shape you and become part of you and just forms a kind of puzzle piece within you and your personal journey.
Growing and developing and learning not only about the worlds around you, but also about yourself through the lens of different places and realizing what’s normal in one place might be very different than what you consider normal back home learning different perspectives, appreciating different cultures and values, and.
, that’s basically what the book is about, and it’s been a really great opportunity to share those [00:21:00] stories, hear from people all around the world, how they either strongly relate to the fact that a certain place has really shaped them, or it’s inspiring them to go take a trip and kind of have one of those transformative travel experiences.
Claus Lauter: No very wise word. Every journey, every trip and I have been to a ton of countries as well, you always come back slightly different than when you left before. Everything, every trip leaves a sort of imprint on you and hopefully makes you a better person. So where can people find out more about you and where can they get the book?
Caitlyn Lubas: Yeah, the book is available worldwide on Amazon. It’s also on Brians and Noble. Or if you ever wanna order directly signed copy, you can hit me up on Instagram. My Instagram is just Caitlin Lus, that’s spelled C a i t l Y N L U B a S. , and yeah, I tend to do. Little speaking engagements here and there about my book, like I’m trying to really spread it through different schools and on podcasts like this.
Like I love sharing my story, especially from a perspective of a young person who’s traveled a lot. I think that’s quite unique and , I’m always happy to talk more about travel .
Claus Lauter: Okay. Very final last [00:22:00] question. What’s the next travel journey? Where’s the next goal?
Caitlyn Lubas: I am actually heading to Mexico next Friday to fly into Mexico City and then eventually get to Oaxaca to Celebrate Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Metos.
I’m very excited for that cultural experience to experience a holiday in different country and especially all of the local food in Oaxaca. I am super excited.
Claus Lauter: That sounds absolutely great. I wish you a very good trip there and thanks for your time on the podcast today and talk soon. Thank you as
Caitlyn Lubas: well.
Hey, Laia, before you leave, I have a question. Are you a traveler? Do you have a favorite travel destination or a favorite travel experiences that you would like to share with the world and become a guest on the Why Weed Travel podcast. Simply message me and I will get you all the details for becoming interview guest, and then we take it from there.
That’s it for now. I see you in the next episode, and have a great day.
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