Beating the Heat: ‘Coolcations’ are the Hot New Trend

Hot enough for ya?

These days it seems everyone is looking to "snowbird" in reverse, and flee the sweltering summer temperatures for the refreshing cool of the Arctic, Antarctic and regions nearby.

Many travelers are flocking to destinations like Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard, Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and cruising through the northern passage.

Check the hot travel Instagrams and you’ll see people applying sunscreen at midnight, snuggling up in cozy parkas and hiking on ancient glaciers. This infatuation with the chill zones is more than just an internet trend; it reflects a cultural shift driven by climate change concerns.

Almost three-quarters of travelers say sustainability is a key factor in their choice of destinations, according to a recent Visa survey.

With heat waves scorching many regions, Arctic and Antarctic locales come off as relatively pristine yet explorable frontiers that are rapidly being transformed by a warming planet.

Whether it’s the permafrost in the North American arctic suddenly being less than permanent, glaciers melting, or the polar icecap splintering, climate changes are spurring travelers to explore northern destinations’ unique features before they can’t be seen any longer.

In response, polar travel is going mainstream. Arctic cruises exploring Greenland’s fjords, Iceland’s glaciers, and remote Canadian territories are booming. The combination of a limited season and unprecedented demand have made them the hottest ticket in town.

Arctic tour companies are expanding the number of summer departures, but there’s only so much they can do with a relatively short season. And what applies to the arctic applies equally to Antarctica. Demand has never been greater for the least-explored continent on earth.

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Here are some top cool destinations fueling the icy summer wanderlust:


The land of fire and ice is compact, safe, and easily accessible, making it good first choice for your cool-weather explorations.

Grab an off-road-ready vehicle and head north out of Reykjavik and you’ll discover otherworldly lava fields (some still being formed), slick glaciers, hot springs, and fields of lupines.

Here’s the reason you need an off-road-ready vehicle: Once you get off the main road in Iceland there’s a dearth of what we might call roads. It’s custom-made for explorers – but only if you have four-wheel drive and adequate ground clearance.

Find more: The Best Countries to Visit for Breathtaking Ecotourism


Greenland is ideally situated for summer cruises and land-based adventures.

East Greenland communities like Ittoqqortoormiit offer insights into the unique culture of Greenland’s natives, while ocean-going travelers can watch Ilulissat’s UNESCO-listed ice fjord shed massive icebergs into Disko Bay.

Kayaking, glacier hiking, and whale-watching in the midnight sun make Greenland an off-the-beaten-path destination well worth beating a path to.

See more: The World's Coolest Winter Snow and Ice Festivals

Svalbard, Norway

This Norwegian archipelago 600 miles from the North Pole is one of the world's northernmost inhabited areas – and a launchpad for some serious arctic exploration.

Summer in Svalbard is sunny nearly all the time and relatively mild (even milder these days), making it an ideal basecamp for spotting polar bears, walrus, seals and numerous species of whales.

Many arctic cruises include Svalbard on their itinerary, making it accessible without sacrificing its wild heart. 

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If you’ve never been to Alaska, words and pictures fail to do it justice. America's 49th state has all the cool-weather wilderness experiences your heart desires, from tundra treks to whale-watching to hiking expeditions across epic volcanic landscapes.

And did we mention glaciers, Denali, the Alaska Railroad, the Midnight Sun baseball game, native culture, and the incredible fishing on the Kenai Peninsula?

In many ways Alaska is the ultimate coolcation destination. No other place makes such variety so accessible.

And all you need to do is bring the strongest mosquito repellent money can buy.

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Northwest Territories, Canada

In this context “Northwest Territories” is just a placeholder for “most of Canada.”

The majority of Canadians live in a relatively small strip bordering the United States. The rest of Canada – and by that we mean 90 percent of Canada – is a cool-weather wilderness occasionally punctuated by fishing camps, native communities, and the occasional outpost like Whitehorse, Moosonee or Inuvik.

There’s so much wilderness to explore in Canada that you hardly know where to start. To simplify: If you’re looking to fish, consider Lake of the Woods. If you want to see polar bears, Churchill is your place. If you’re looking to retrace the steps of the gold rush, go to Dawson City. And if you want to get lost in the best way, trek the actual Northwest Territories.

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Antarctic Peninsula

The Antarctic Peninsula extends into the Antarctic Circle and brings travelers closest to the South Pole. Expect penguins, whales and other marine life, ungodly winds, lots of ice, and the coldest Zodiac rides imaginable.

The Antarctic is best approached through an Antarctic cruise. Cruises have the gear you need to safely explore the explorable areas, and warm places to come back to when you’re done exploring for the day.

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It was fast and easy to purchase the insurance to cover my planned cruise to Alaska.

No matter where you go to indulge your cool side, you’re likely going to be traveling far. For that reason, take along travel insurance with assistance services from Generali Global Assistance on your next coolcation. Our plans cover you to the ends of the earth against trip interruption and cancellation, lost luggage, medical emergencies, and more.*

Getting a quote is easy.

*There are certain destinations that we cannot provide travel protection for, and coverage is dependent on meeting the terms and conditions of our plans.


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