It’s insane! I know. I never thought I would go to all 7 continents in one year, all while having a full time job and dealing with everything else in life. No, this was not a plan; not even a dream… initially, at least. Usually the first thing people say when I mention this is “what? How did you do it?” Well, everything just sort of fell into place…
It’s mid July, 2016 Olympics are coming up. I think “why not go to South America and check it out?” Not only could I be seeing some Olympic games, South America would also be my fifth continent in 2016. I thought that by itself would be awesome, so it didn’t take long to convince myself to go. I look up flights with my accumulated airline miles and see a good deal, considering it is Olympics time— so, I book a one way flight to Rio de Janeiro. Rest comes later, of course!
[aesop_image imgwidth=”32%” img=”http://184.108.40.206/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/moSydney_IMG_20160225_192009_web.jpg” offset=”-50px” align=”left” lightbox=”on” caption=”Sydney, Australia” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off”]
Taking a look at the last six months or so of 2016, somehow I’ve made it to 4 continents already. My 2015 vacation bled into the new year, while I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Valencia, Spain and spent few more days touring around parts of Europe. In late February, an opportunity presented itself for a Down Under trip to lead the first international workshop events for my company. On the way to Australia, I spent my birthday eating delicious foods and seeing some of the cool sights in Hong Kong. April came around, I was asked to go to Mexico to participate in a panel for startups in Guadalajara. All this and I hadn’t even touched my vacation days for the year yet. I can also work remotely, so staying an extra day or two in these places is not all that difficult.
[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#282828″ text=”#eaeaea” width=”47%” height=”400px” align=”left” size=”1″ img=”http://220.127.116.11/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/moHK_IMG_20160221_195054_web.jpg” quote=”Hong Kong, China, Asia” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]
[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” width=”100%” height=”300px” align=”left” size=”1″ img=”http://18.104.22.168/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/moGDL_IMG_20160421_200754939_web.jpg” quote=”Guadalajara, Mexico, North America” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]
Sitting at a classic, dimly lit New York bar in our neighborhood with my roommates Tyler and Alex in late July 2016, I start telling them about what I’m thinking of doing for my vacation in South America. Normally, I’m very spontaneous and don’t like to book flights or make plans ahead of time for long trips like this. This case is slightly different. Traveling around in South America between countries can get expensive, so at this point my only plan is to buy the intercontinental flights ahead of time. I tell them I will go from Brazil to Argentina to Chi… Alex interrupts me to say “you should go to Antarctica, since you’ll be so close.” What an idea! I didn’t even consider it before.
I immediately get into my research mode for the next couple days and find out a lot of things about Antarctica. However, I run into a wall. You can only go to Antarctica at certain periods of the year, if you’re a visitor. While researchers can go by some specialized planes, tourism is only possible during the summer months, which happen to be late October to around March in that part of the world. Soon, I’m already going to see the Olympics in Rio, so scratch that; not going to Antarctica.
[aesop_image imgwidth=”35%” img=”http://22.214.171.124/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/moRio_olympics_SAM_3921_web.jpg” offset=”-100px” align=”right” lightbox=”on” caption=”Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off”]
I head to South America mid-August to start about a three week trip, starting with 2016 Olympic events and finishing up at Lima. I head back to NYC after a fantastic experience roaming through South America. Couple weeks go by and I’m talking to one of my friends, Ashif, in late September. I fill him in on the experiences I had on my last trip. Making up a plan on the spot, contemplating on my future travels, I tell him: before I turn 30, I’ll go to Antarctica. Later on, being very excited, I start messaging some more friends about this future trip and tell them to get ready if they want to go.
Another week goes by and all I could think about is the potential of reaching all 7 continents in one year. I start doing more research about the trip and see some documentaries— the excitement that comes over me is unbelievable. I start looking at various options that can get me to Antarctica, eventually find some companies and start reaching out to them all. Before I know it, I have a list of dates and prices for various trips going out in November and December. I start thinking of possible options for taking days off from work so that it wouldn’t affect my vacation days much. In the end, my few days off during Thanksgiving break at the end of November would work out fairly well with work and this trip. I start reaching out to more companies, hoping I wouldn’t have to pay a crazy price for this trip.
With a large list of last minute trips that I keep pinging every week from mid October and checking in for updates on a good last minute deal. Two weeks before Thanksgiving break, time is getting tight. Even though I thrive on last minute decisions, this trip is unlike any others and definitely needs *some* planning. Continuously reaching out, I hear back from couple travel agents for trips that may work for me. I start digging into the particular trips and figure out all details.
Morning of November 8, I’ve decided more or less on the trip I want to go on. I speak with the travel agent to confirm all the trip details, prices, etc. I get a payment form online and fill it out. Confirmation says “Congratulations, payment is successful. Enjoy your trip.”
I slowly back my chair out from my desk, stand up and start jumping with joy. This is the moment when I realize going to all 7 continents in 1 year may actually happen for me and get to a state of happiness that makes me almost cry. Short celebration later, comes all the work of booking flights and organizing the many little things that is involved with a trip to the southernmost continent. And not to mention, this is about one week from the start of my trip… Just the way I like it!
Following week comes around and I head down to the “end of the world”, officially known as Ushuaia, Argentina. After a short, relaxing stay, in this quaint little town, we embark on a ten day cruise that is hard to put into words (but I will try!). Day 1 in Antarctica turns out to be beautiful weather, with sun shining down in full force, allowing me to make my sixth continental landing.
[aesop_parallax height=”400px” img=”http://126.96.36.199/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/moAntarctica_IMG_2488_web.jpg” parallaxbg=”fixed” parallaxspeed=”4″ caption=”(-64, -61), Portal Point, Antarctica” captionposition=”bottom-left” lightbox=”on” floater=”on” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”none”]
[aesop_image imgwidth=”15%” img=”http://188.8.131.52/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/marrakech2016_IMG_2108_HDR.jpg” align=”right” lightbox=”on” caption=”Marrakech, Morocco, Africa” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off”]
Getting to the last continent, Africa, at this point is not difficult really. It’s just a matter of timing. With a tight work schedule, I decide to go on a short trip to Morocco over the holiday break in late December. Africa completes a crazy whirlwind year of stepping foot on all continents, so much delicious foods, and best of all, many more experiences to log on the books.
Yet, it doesn’t stop here, there are many mo’ places to go.
007. Seven continents— absolutely unplanned— totally solo— mind-blowing.
006. Longest & shortest flight of my life: 16+ hours to Hong Kong & 11 minutes to Vieques.
005. One mugging.
004. One penguin passport stamp.
003. Over 3000 cheers with amazing people.
002. One full circle around the globe.
001. Countless great moments with family and friends (aaaaaaaand so much more!)
Thanks to Tyler P. & Yuliana S. for editing/reviewing this story.