It certainly takes some planning to reach the Antarctic continent, even more to be correctly prepared to explore. Life is totally different from anywhere else you have ever visited, with totally different safety concerns, unfamiliar equipment and culminates in being a completely dissimilar type of trip that you have had before this one.
Researching every single aspect of your Antarctica trip will most likely be long and strange. There will be conflicting opinions from amateur travellers and expeditioners alike determining which gear is best to include for which situation. It is easy to over-pack in situations like this.
So on that note, I asked fellow travel bloggers, Agness and Cez of eTramping.com, to make it really simple and concise for you.
They are dedicated to the art and concept of travel and for years they have explored the world, lived and worked in some awesome places, and always shared their experiences along the way. They are planning to visit Antarctica in 2018 and here is a list of the essentials they and you need for a trip to Antarctica:
Yep! For the purpose of establishing responsibility for our readers, we are listing this as number one. You will need a high SPF lotion because the sun reflects on the snow very strongly and will burn you if you fail to wear it every day that you’re outside.
The Ozone layer is much thinner in this part of the world.
Scarf, Hat and Gloves
You will feel that cold wind! It is very easy to get burned or lose heat from your neck, so of course, you need a decent, thick scarf or neck warmer. A hat that covers the ears is ideal and two pairs of gloves is best (one pair will, if possible, be waterproof).
Thick Winter Socks
Whenever we are in a colder climate, we always love to wear my thick, warm lounge socks to wear outside a normal pair of socks.
This certainly applies in the Antarctic. As long as you can fit into your snow boots, wear these socks always, and bring a few pairs so you can circulate them when they get wet!
If you can, bring knee-high snow boots, preferably built with insulation and certainly waterproof. The former isn’t a necessity as you can offset the cold with two pairs of socks, but at the very least, the boots need to be reaching halfway up your calf. If you plan on leaving your cruise ship or plane, you will need them when on the boats to shore, and whilst on land. Wet feet will ruin your time on land as they will quickly get cold and uncomfortable.
Long-Johns are old-school but awesome! They can be thin and made from polypropylene or silk, therefore hug around your legs, torso and arms perfectly. Whilst on the move, you may sweat a little, which is normal when it is sunny and you have a ton of layers on, so make sure you get quality under-garments that won’t make you itch when going from a hot to cold environment.
Of course, these are important but make sure you research whether your cruise provide these to fit your size.
Most Antarctica cruises provide parkas to their guests almost certainly of the same colour, so that they show up easily in snow. They will be good quality parkas with decent insulation.
However, if they don’t provide them, make sure you ask your local outdoor clothes shop sales clerk for advice on which parka to buy. There are many different types for all scenarios and they will likely be able to speak from experience.
You will no doubt be exposed to ocean spray and snow on your trip to Antarctica. Whilst you will have high-raised snow boots, you will still want to protect yourself from getting cold via wet clothing. Therefore, make sure you acquire a decent pair of waterproof pants/trousers.
They will keep you warm, especially with a pair of thermal long-johns underneath. If you decide to sit and kneel on land for any reason, then these will maintain that warmth and dryness. In addition, they’re easy to clean, especially if you get messy penguin faeces on you whilst kneeling!
Smart Casual Clothing
You will likely want to explore your cruise surroundings and have dinner once in a while! Of course, don’t pack too many shirts and jeans, as they will take up valuable space in your luggage. If you need to circulate clothing, you can always hand-wash them on-board.
A couple of nice jumpers and chinos are fine, and one pair of smart casual shoes are always handy (or foot-y, get it?). You may have a gym on-board your cruise, so pack a couple pairs of shorts and exercise T’s for that. Just be smart and strategic; it is easy to over-pack this part of your clothing allowance.
Try not to forget that it will be summer whilst visiting Antarctica. A good pair of polarized lenses for those intensely bright days will be needed so that you can see your unique surroundings.
Plus, it completes the winter look, having a trendy pair of shades to pose with for those stunning icy photos!
Tip: If you want to pack lighter, or you are worried you won’t fit all your gear into your luggage, check to see if your tour company or cruise have renting options. It might ultimately be cheaper if you don’t already have the gear in your wardrobe at home.
Other things that are less essential but will make your trip feel more complete:
Camera and memory storage
All DSLR’s will produce some amazing shots in that environment. Make sure you have enough memory cards and/or a laptop to store those priceless moments during your trip!
They can be annoying to piece of backpacking gear, but if you can bring one, a tripod provides you with the opportunity to get some amazing long-exposure night shots on land or on-board.
If you suffer with motion sickness, consult your doctor for the best drugs to bring. Travelling through Drake’s Passage on the way to and from Antarctica can be horrendous at times, so these will help with that dreaded feeling.
A Good Book or Two
If you have the space, fit in a couple of books for the ride, or a kindle. There will be long hours with nothing but sea views, so keep yourself engaged in any way you can.