Why I Chose Not to go on my Expedition

Travel and life are funny sometimes. They coincide more often than not with sacrifices in life in order to travel. It usually doesn’t work the other way around unless you decide it will. This will probably come as a surprise to many of you, especially those that don’t really know me personally. I have decided not to go on the Atlantic Odyssey expedition that I was scheduled to go on. The reasons aren’t really that complicated although it was a very, very tough decision. Here is why I chose not to go on my expedition.
why I chose not to go on my expedition, MV Plancius
The bottom line of why I chose not to go on my expedition is that I didn’t want to go. I never really did. As I mentioned in my last post, I have been mulling over this exact trip for 7 years or so. Each year I came up with an excuse because I didn’t really want to go. The reasons why are pretty simple.

First and foremost, I didn’t want to spend 4 weeks on a research ship-period. I have done a few extreme travel trips on boats before and I hated every second of the boat time. I loved my trip to Pitcairn Island but hated getting to and from the island. I hated every second of my Tokelau expedition both the boat and the destination. Of course each of those trips were 2-3 days sailing each way. That’s tolerable albeit still miserable.

Yes the MV Plancius is a significantly bigger ship and more stable than a small yacht. That said, it also has no real Wi-Fi connection so I’d basically be completely offline for a month. That’s fine for some people but for me I’d lose my mind in boredom, plus I would worry about my businesses, friends and family even though I had taken all steps to cover myself while I was away. That still can’t help your frame of mind.

For the trip, I downloaded a ton of TV show seasons to pass the time; none of which I really want to watch or I already would have-they’d just be to pass the time. That sucks. I bought a bunch of books; none of which I really want to read or I already would have read them-again just a time filler.

The final conclusion for me as to just not wanting to go was simple. If I really wanted to go on this trip I would’ve already done it or certainly would’ve been on the ship right now. I’m the type of person who doesn’t waste time if I want something-I just do it. Clearly I didn’t want this.

There are a few other reasons why I chose not to go on my expedition like I don’t enjoy being seasick. Obviously there’s no guarantee I would’ve gotten sick (I only have once in my life) and I have literally every seasickness prevention medicine known to man on me currently.

However, with all those sea days in what could be the most violent ocean in the world out of season, I wasn’t thrilled about trying. 2, maybe 3 weeks is my threshold; 4 weeks was just too much for me. Also, a friend of mine just did a massive trip across the Ross Sea from New Zealand to South America and was sick for weeks because of rough seas. That didn’t help my mindset!

Plus I don’t really care. What I mean by that is I don’t care about going to most of the islands on the itinerary. I’d like to go but it won’t make or break anything for me. As I mentioned in my last post, I would’ve visited 3 Travelers Century Club (TCC) destinations on this trip which would leave me 3 short of finishing the list.

I pretty much stopped caring about finishing after I reached the South Pole. For me that was the pinnacle of my travels and honestly it still is. So to torture myself for a month to visit Tristan de Cunha for maybe a few hours, St. Helena and Ascension Island just didn’t rank high on a pro/con list for me.

The other thing is there is no guarantee to land at Tristan de Cunha. It is notoriously tough to land or to certainly to land well. In a recent year, passengers had to land at some uninhabited piece of rock in the archipelago when some of them simply reached out of the zodiac to touch it I was told. That sucks and to me is totally not worth that amount of time.

Sure you can say you were there theoretically but who really cares? That example makes the airport counting argument people go nuts about look iron clad! So basically, that’s not enough for me. I have nothing to prove to anyone-I’ve done so much in my life travel and otherwise. Plus, if I weren’t able to land then it would basically be 13 straight sea days and one bored, angry, miserable dude!

A travel buddy of mine was unable to land at Tristan de Cunha on a similar expedition just a few days ago. He’s been on a ship for over 3 weeks and didn’t get to land because of bad weather. Again, that really sucks and I feel badly for him and others who were doing the same thing.

I know you cannot control the weather and it’s part of expedition travel. Some masochists actually think that kind of thing is fun. However, I’d much rather save it for last on the TCC list and try on the mail boat after I’ve visited the other 5-if that happens. For 12 days or whatever it is of torture, I would live with the consequences of trying and not making it. For 28 days, I’d be so miserable.

To touch on the TCC list again, I have traveled to many places on the list that most people have never even heard of. It has helped take me to every country in the world and brought me to places I never would have gone to otherwise with mixed results. But I’ve never regretted anywhere I went-even the places I didn’t like.

However, I am not beholden to a list. My time and life are more important to me that going somewhere I don’t want to go, being disconnected, bored and likely sick for that long at this point in my life.

As I said, I have nothing to prove to anyone and I travel for myself even if it’s for work-I only do trips I want to do, paid or not. I’m very fortunate to be in that position because when travel stops being fun it’s time to re-evaluate. I still love traveling but this trip wouldn’t have been fun for me, in fact I was actually dreading it. So that’s the biggest reason why I chose not to go on my expedition.

Honestly, aside from knocking the three islands off the TCC list; which was a secondary pro for me. The only part of the trip I really wish I could’ve done was South Georgia. But like the other islands, I know I can go whenever I want really. It will just take some more time and money. So one day, I will go there but right now is not that time.

Also, to be fair, had I been able to convince a friend to come I probably would’ve still gone even not wanting to. Usually I can convince at least one friend to come on my crazy trips but not this time-and who could blame them? Of course there’s many other people but it’s guaranteed they’re mostly older retired couples or weirdo birders. In fact, I met several of them in Ushuaia before I headed out!

So that’s pretty much why I chose not to go on my expedition. I know a lot of people think it’s crazy that I spent all that money, was all the way down in Ushuaia and didn’t go but I disagree. Now I will take a fun trip around South America and do some amazing things I haven’t yet done. I call that filling in the blanks. I’m really excited about this and that’s a nice feeling!

That’s what travel is right? It’s fun and exciting. It’s not a competition. Some people may think I’m full of it saying that but I don’t compete with anyone in travel-I really don’t. In fact, I couldn’t care less what others think of my travel and what others do with theirs. It’s a personal choice how and why you travel and everyone does it differently because we’re all different. Again, travel is meant to be fun, exciting and educational. Go where you want for your own reasons for you.

I write this on a plane from Ushuaia to El Calafate after watching the MV Plancius set sail. I literally felt nothing but relief that I wasn’t on the ship. I wish them all the best and hope they make all their landings. Except for losing between $5000-$10,000 depending what I can get refunded, I literally couldn’t be happier with my decision. Always be honest with yourself and trust your gut-you know what’s best for you. For that reason and all others stated is why I chose not to go on my expedition.

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  1. Be honest and true to you! Well said thanks for sharing.

  2. That must\\\’ve been a tough decision for you considering all you\\\’ve done and seen but good for you for being honest and true to yourself. You can always go another time. Enjoy Patagonia mate!

  3. I’m a big proponent of listening to your gut feeling. And since you listened to yours, you made a wise decision. Like you said, you are in a fortunate situation where you can basically travel to wherever and whenever you want now at this point in your life. You only have one shot at life, so set your priorities and go after them!

  4. Good for you Lee! Nobody should be a slave to a list! I know you wanted to go but chose life over torture, I admire that!

  5. I was on this expedition last year and we landed on Tristan da Cunha and explored the island for a full day and also landed on Nightingale Island for half day. I think the group that only stepped on rock was a different year.

    The cruise was not full of retired couples and weirdo birders. It was actually a mix of mostly solo, middle aged country counters and weirdo birders. There weren’t many couples at all.

    • Hi Matt, maybe I have my years wrong as the person who told me definitely didn’t land on TDC proper but last year also would have been a skewed demographic because of he attempt at Bouvet. Glad you made it!

      • We didn’t get to Bouvet last year. I think the failed Bouvet attempt and missing Tristan due to an epidemic both happened in 2015. I actually met a guy on the 2016 trip who had been on it in 2015 and was re-doing the trip because he wanted to visit Tristan da Cunha.

        • Yes I believe it was the epidemic year I heard about exactly. That is completely insane someone would do that twice but I know a few guys who would do such a thing! I think I know who you’re talking about!

  6. Wow good honest read man. Thanks for sharing and best of luck in South America, I love following your trips.

  7. Henrik Jeppesen says

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. I am that travel buddy that didn’t land at Tristan da Cunha. I feel the same way as you. I have done many uncomfortable things to reach my goals, but 28 days on a boat and offline? Not for me. Very important messages in the article that we must not forget. Like you have said before you travel for yourself. Not for others. Do what makes you happy and keeps travel fun. I’m sure South America will be even more enjoyable now. Thanks, Lee.

  8. Thanks for sharing it. Glad to find your post. I like your traveler trip. So stunning pics you shared.

  9. Good words. That sense of relief in your gut is always your sign. I’ve been on that USH- El Calfate flight. Patagonia trumps open/choppy sea any day! Hiking is way better than twiddling your thumbs in a boat!

  10. Enjoy reading your posts Lee. This was a good one. Some arbitrary list made up by the Travellers Club shouldn’t be anyone’s reason for travelling in my book. You gotta do it because you wanna do it. Plus you will probably just find that the TCC list will suddenly expand to include every Russia oblast and Brazilian state and Japanese prefecture and you’ll never win. And as you say, travel shouldn’t be a competition. But I really enjoy reading your posts about random places – Equatorial Guinea, Marshall Islands, Wallis and Fatuna – all very interesting. I will probably never go to half of these places (because I don’t want do, frankly) but I do so enjoy reading other people’s experiences of them. Keep on travelling and writing man!

  11. Couldn’t agree more.

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