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Polar Travel Tips from Expedition Leader Ali Liddle

by Oceanwide Expeditions Blog

Ali Liddle - one of our expedition leaders - adds her own pearls of polar wisdom to our growing blogs of expedition travel tips.

Regions: Antarctica, Arctic

An expedition leader gives her top polar cruise tips

It takes many different roles to make Oceanwide function, but the one that gets the most in-field experience is undoubtedly the expedition guide. They pilot the Zodiacs, lead the walks, and perform numerous behind-the-scenes duties that make the whole program run safely and smoothly.

One such guide is Ali Liddle, an expedition leader in the Arctic and Antarctica. Here she adds her own pearls of polar wisdom to our growing blogs of expedition travel tips.

Ali Liddle’s expert advice on polar adventure

When it comes to expedition cruising, the main advice I would give is to travel with an open mind and take each day as it comes.

Our lives today are dominated by technology, and through the internet and social media we are inundated with information, images, and the experiences of others. We all want to have the best possible experience, of course, and see everything there is to see just as it is in the brochures.

But though the reality of your polar experience may be different, it will still be your experience, unique to you, and from it you will have memories that last a lifetime.

Picture by Ali Liddle

Keep your expectations realistic and treasure every mountain, glacier, wildlife encounter, ocean view (rough or calm), and iceberg, because they are all spectacular and special.

The images you come home with may be different than the ones you’ve seen online or read about in a magazine, but this doesn’t mean your trip was not successful. It was just different than your imagined voyage but still very special and very much yours.

After 10 years of guiding and leading expeditions with maybe upwards of 60 – 70 trips to Antarctica and over 30 to the Arctic, there are still things I haven’t seen or experienced. This is why I keep going back, another victim of the Polar Bug!

Picture by Ali Liddle

It pays to be flexible on a polar expedition cruise. The expedition leader and guides are all there with you to make this the trip of a lifetime and, with their knowledge and experience, they will plan the best possible itinerary based on weather, ice, and wildlife.

Guides always have a Plan A and will do everything they can to make that plan a reality. But if the wind, ice, weather, and wildlife doesn’t allow for the landing or Zodiac cruise they have planned, guides have the regional knowledge and experience to find a Plan B.

And sometimes Plan B ends up being better than Plan A!

As an expedition leader, I’ve been known to get to Plan E and F during the course of a day, which makes for truly adventurous expedition cruising. That is exactly what makes the polar regions special.

Picture by Ali Liddle

I always advise people to take time to stop, properly look, feel, and absorb the details of everything they’re seeing, from the big mountain scenery to the small alpine plants at their feet.

It is natural to want to rush around photograph everything, but if that is all you do, you will find that all the images and memories of your voyage are only the size of your viewfinder or computer screen.

The polar regions are so much bigger than that.

Stop and really look at the scenery around you, watch the wildlife, absorb it so that when you get home, you can look at your images and fully relive the experience – the feelings you had whilst there, the smells, the noise, the cold, that sense of awe of being in such an incredible place.

Picture by Ali Liddle

I never forget how privileged I am to work in the polar regions.

Visiting the Arctic or Antarctica is always a privilege. It is an experience you will never, ever forget. I love the opportunity to share these remote and beautiful places with people and to give them the trip of a lifetime, and I hope to be able to do so for many years to come.

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