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The great ice-cape: Psychologists explain why Aussies are clamouring for cooler climates

Have you been craving some kind of arctic or antarctic adventure to look forward to? Well, there might just be some positive psychology behind why...

Have you been craving some kind of arctic or antarctic adventure to look forward to? Well, there might just be some positive psychology behind why…

With the constant news of virus outbreaks, delayed vaccinations, and postponed travel bubbles, you’d be forgiven for wanting to scream into the void – ideally from the top of a remote, COVID-free mountain with nobody in earshot.

Thankfully, you’re not alone.

Research from travel companies, including VacaayHometoGo and TripAdvisor, have found a significant demand for remote or nature-based destinations among travellers.

It also turns out visiting isolated places in nature can be good for our health, according to coaching psychologist, Patrea O’Donoghue, who specialises in positive psychology.

“While being outdoors for any period of time will have benefits, there are particular benefits that come from being immersed in nature and removed from technology,” explains Ms O’Donoghue. “In fact, there are therapies devoted to this: eco-therapy and wilderness therapy.”

“One of the benefits from being in nature is the sheer remoteness of these adventures into wilderness, often with no access to digital connectivity. Digital devices take us away from where and with whom we are in this moment. Being in nature helps us reconnect with just being where we are, step by step – literally.

Nature + cold = good health and happiness?

Studies have shown cold weather is good for us. Our bodies need to burn more energy to stay warm.

Cold air reduces joint inflammation, gives our hearts a healthy workout to keep blood pumping, and heightens our immune systems.

Mentally, cold weather helps us sleep better too. After all, who doesn’t like to be rugged up in bed when it’s raining outside? Ms O’Donoghue adds cold weather adventures can help us feel more grateful for the more moderate climes in which we typically live.

Take me to the poles!


The positive health gains of cold weather could also explain why travel companies are seeing an increased demand for tours in the Arctic and Antarctica.

Not only is it suitably cold, its remoteness also means we can properly disconnect from our devices too.

Damian Perry, Hurtigruten’s Managing Director of Asia Pacific, says Antarctic cruises are currently proving most popular among Australian travellers.

“Antarctica is by far the clear favourite with Australians. Our Antarctic expeditions provide visitors with the opportunity to experience, learn, be awed and inspired. Our sustainability credentials, including two hybrid-powered ships, means our guests can travel with extra peace of mind.”

James O’Dwyer, a Victorian who travelled to Antarctica with Hurtigruten Expeditions in 2019, says the experience of kayaking Antarctica’s waters opened his eyes to his relationship with the environment.

“Paddling around and listening to the pops of compressed air bubbles from immense melting icebergs gave me a perspective on the timelessness of my surroundings, which I found quite profound,” recalls James, who previously worked in high-pressure jobs in the Supreme Court and as a Chief Chemist for a multinational company.

“The physical effort of paddling, for a not-overly-fit 76-year-old male, also emphasised the challenges that faced early Antarctic explorers and gave me a heightened level of respect for their efforts. This was an experience that I would not have missed for the world and I would do it again in a flash.”

If you’re craving a trip to the cold, Hurtigruten Expeditions operates a range of cruises to the Polar Regions and is offering ‘Antarctica All-Inclusive with Flights’ packages, on sale from 1 June to 31 July 2021, for cruise departures until 10 March 2023.

Click here or visit your local travel agent for more information.