By Emma Kent // Photos courtesy of Christy McGreger
When she first told people she was planning a trip to Antarctica, Christy McGreger of Tupelo got a few raised eyebrows. But what sounded like a crazy trip to most people was a trip that would complete McGreger’s goal of visiting all seven continents.
People thought she was crazy to go to such a cold, remote place but for her it was an adventure, and she was able to convince her mother, Judy Morgan, to make the trip with her.
The two went to Antarctica in January by way of a 14-day cruise. The cruise left from Buenos Aires, Argentina, so before making the trek to the South Pole, McGreger and Morgan first had to fly to Argentina. They made the long trek from Tupelo to Miami and then to Argentina with a layover in Peru. It was a long string of flights, which made for tiring travel days for the mother-daughter duo.
“Probably the hardest part of the trip was traveling down there and back,” McGreger said.
The trip was especially long for Morgan, who had traveled out of the country only once before, and never to another continent. Morgan said she was a little nervous at first about taking the trip. In addition to its stops in Antarctica, the cruise made stops in Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands and Uruguay.
“I was worried about it because I had never been to another continent, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would,” she said. She especially enjoyed their time at the Falkland Islands and Uruguay. “It was definitely worth doing.”
At almost every stop, McGreger and Morgan went on excursions to see the geography and wildlife.
“We saw a lot of penguins and a lot of whales, but you might as well if you’re there,” McGreger said.
She would get up at sunrise and watch the whales from their cruise ship balcony each morning. McGreger expected Antarctica to look more like a flat, frozen expanse, so she was pleasantly surprised to see beautiful mountain ranges on the continent’s mainland. Sometimes it’s too foggy in Antarctica to see anything. In fact, McGreger and Morgan said they met several people on their cruise who had taken multiple trips because of poor visibility the first or even second time they visited. When they arrived in Antarctica, McGreger said they got lucky with beautiful, clear weather. It was summer and the temperature was a balmy 36 degrees.
“We just soaked it up,” she said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.”
Always a traveler
McGreger has always had the travel bug.
She really started her international travels at the age of 22 when she visited Bolivia. After that, she served in the Peace Corps from 2001 until 2003 in Kazakhstan. While she was living there she took several trips as it was easier to reach a lot of destinations, including European spots like France and Ireland. In 2015, she visited Israel, which had long been on her list of places to see.
In Africa she visited Egypt; in Asia, Kazakhstan; and in Australia, Sydney. She’s been all over North America and to South America and now, Antarctica completes the list. McGreger has officially set foot on every continent across the globe.
She’s also visited all 50 states, but she can’t choose a favorite. Michigan was the last one she checked off of her list.
“They all have something good about them,” McGreger said.
McGreger’s favorite country she’s visited is Australia.
“My favorite big city is Sydney because you have the mountains nearby and the ocean is right there,” she said. “And the people are just so friendly.”
McGreger and Morgan have traveled plenty of other places together. They’ve done New York City, Las Vegas, Canada, Alaska, Maine and Michigan, to name just a few.
“There are a lot of places I wouldn’t have gotten to go if it wasn’t for Christy,” Morgan said.
The family went on a lot of road trips growing up and took a family vacation every year.
“That’s how I got a lot of my states in,” McGreger said.
Of all of the places they’ve visited together, Alaska had long been their favorite, but Antarctica might just top it.
“At that time that was my best trip I had gone on,” Morgan said of their trip to Alaska. “But I don’t think we can go on one better than Antarctica.”
The one thing McGreger does in every city that she visits is take an open-air bus tour. She knows it’s a little touristy, but it helps her familiarize herself with whichever city she’s visiting.
“Every time I get a chance I do one of those. You can get your bearings and know which things you want to go back to,” she said. “It’s so much more relaxing to let them drive you around.”
Both McGreger and Morgan also love planning trips and activities to do while they travel. For them, it’s half the fun. They like to balance their laid-back days with activities when planning their travels. Before booking their trip to Antarctica, McGreger did lots of research and planning to make sure the trip went smoothly and they were prepared.
“I started researching about three years before we went,” she said.
Now that their Antarctica adventure is behind them, McGreger is already looking forward to future trips she hopes to take. Right now, she’s planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver with her husband for their fifth anniversary. She would also love to visit Scotland for a second time and New Zealand. However, McGreger’s next trip will be much more low-key: A camping trip in Tennessee.
Regardless of the destination, McGreger loves collecting souvenirs from all of the places she’s visited, especially Christmas ornaments.
“We love it,” she said. “The cheesier the better.”