DUNKIRK — If he makes it to Antarctica next January, it’ll be continent No. 7 for Justin Stuber, a Dunkirk native.
Stuber caught the travel bug back in 2012 after making a trip to Ireland with a friend. He packed light — just a few change of clothes — and spent his time in hostels on the cheap, but the experience stuck when he ended up among other travelers doing the same thing. If anything, his spontaneity forced him to seek information on what to do and where to go with those he met along the way.
“Ireland was the first time without an itinerary. We went and talked with people to hear about the stuff they thought was overrated and tried to avoid the extra touristy things,” Stuber said. “We just had a lot fun, going out and meeting people. I had been interested in travel before that, but the Ireland trip was when I knew that I wanted to do that.”
In the eight years since, the Columbus-based social worker has taken trips to almost every continent with flexible plans and almost no knowledge of the local language. Some trips are easier to navigate than others.
In South America, for example, Stuber had to do a lot of finger-pointing and guessing to try to figure out what to do in some lesser-traveled areas. In regions that attract tourists, English is usually common up to a point, but Stuber found himself in places where locals didn’t speak a drop of the language.
That didn’t eliminate his ability to relate to those he met along the way, he said. He could still order “dos cervezas” and have a somewhat limited conversation by being around, being friendly and using the few words he did know to get along.
Such experiences, he said, gave him a different way of viewing the wider world.
“People don’t travel because it’s far away and foreign, and it’s scary to step out of their comfort zone. But the world is kinda small. You can relate to so many people in so many different places,” Stuber said.
It also helps clarify some cultural norms. The majority of the world population has different way of doing things, and experiencing them can help travelers widen their views and expectations.
Stuber’s next trip is currently planned for Antarctica. To make the trip, he has to first travel to the southern tip of Argentina, where an updated research vessel will pick him up and take him and 100 other people the rest of the way.
It’ll be something a little different than his other trips around the world. The southernmost continent is largely uninhabited except for a few research facilities, and he’ll be relying on a travel package to show him the wild beauty and wildlife of the snow-covered region. In the process, he’ll visit southern islands, watch for whales and spend a night bivouacked under the stars.
As for future trips, Stuber said he’s hoping to plan a voyage to Germany to spend some time in the country’s coastal cities, travel to Israel and one day, do some island-hopping in Southeast Asia.
“There’s 7.5 billion people and the world is 24,000 miles around, but in just a few hours, in a day of traveling, you can get anywhere in the world,” he said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.