Preparing For Your Antarctica Adventure: Antarctica Packing Tips
Packing for adventures is a personal game. Everyone has their own thing of what works for them, and it constantly evolves as you learn on each trip. Packing to travel for my recent trip to Antarctica this past November 2016 was the biggest packing feat I’ve taken on yet! Oceanwide Expeditions provides a detailed packing list which was really helpful and I highly recommend using it as you start your packing process. Below is the gear and also the toiletries, equipment, and other miscellaneous items I packed for my Basecamp Antarctica adventure cruise that made it the best trip possible.
Staying warm is all about the layers! I brought two top and bottom sets with me for basecamp activities.
Warm Trousers & Waterproof Trousers
Ski pants will be your second layer, then waterproof trousers to top it all off. We spent a lot of time in the snow, so these layers were critical.
Fleece Vest or Jacket
My winter jacket has a fleece layer inside of it, and I brought an extra fleece zip up which was great for wearing around the ship.
Waterproof & Windproof jacket
You need one solid weatherproof jacket for this trip.
Note: If you’re backpacking long term, you also have the option of renting gear once you get to Ushuaia.
I brought one hat, and ended up buying an extra one in Ushuaia which was helpful when one got wet. I ended up wearing the hat that helped to cover my ears the most.
The Antarctic wind can be wicked ― protect your neck and your face from the elements.
Thermal Under Gloves and Warm Gloves or Mittens
Hiking and playing in the snow will freeze your fingers ― layer up and bring an extra set.
Thick Hiking Socks and Thin Under Socks
At least two sock layers are needed for keeping your toes and feet warm during basecamp activities when you’ll be outside on Antarctic land for hours.
Rubber Boots for Zodiac Landings and Walks
Oceanwide Expeditions provided the rubber boots needed on our basecamp activity cruise, but this is definitely an essential item to make sure you get right!
Really great to wear around the ship with socks, and sturdy enough to wear outside on the decks even during the Drake Passage.
Don’t miss out on the Antarctic polar plunge!
Critical ― especially for camera equipment that you’re going to take in the zodiac and on land. I got an Arcteryx backpack, and it did incredible protecting my gear against the Antarctic elements.
Antarctica Toiletries, Accessoiries, Equipment, Etc Packing
It’s fairly easy to get a sunburn at the bottom of the world, so bring your favorite high SPF facial sunscreen, and use it every day during activities!
SPF Chapstick & Vaseline
Don’t forget to pack this... or forget to put it in your coat pocket before leaving for basecamp activities! Once my lips had gotten sunburnt, I used Vaseline to avoid cracking lips and it made a world of a difference.
I didn’t have anything to do with makeup on the expedition, but having a solid moisturizer is key for keeping your skin healthy in all the crazy weather elements.
It was impossible to see on land without sunglasses ― the bright glare from the snow and the sea is harsh.
Favorite Candy From Home
Bring some of your favorite snacks with you! The meals and tea time desserts provided on the cruise were delicious ― but it was nice having a taste of home with me, and I enjoyed having some favorites to settle my stomach on the Drake Passage.
Extra Camera Batteries and Converter
Obviously you’re going to bring your camera ― so don’t forget extra batteries, chargers and converters! Bring a travel charger for your phone too while you’re at it as phone batteries die more quickly in the cold.
Our basecamp cruise to Antarctica was adventure casual, and I loved being free to wear whatever was comfortable on board. Pack warm and comfortable jeans, leggings, t-shirts, sweaters, and don’t forget extra socks to lounge in as well ― you won’t want to wear the socks you did activities in!
If you take daily medicine, bring extra supply with you as you never know what can happen on a trip, and you want to make sure you have all that you need.
I also always travel with allergy medicine, dayquil, vitamins, advil, tissues, etc... just in case.
Ginger Pills / Dramamine / The Patch
Our ship doctor was incredible, and a lot of people put the Patch on for motion sickness once we hit the waves and they began to feel sick. I got the Patch from my doctor here in NYC and put it on the morning we left to proactively combat any seasickness and it totally worked for me! I also took dramamine pills at night and sucked on ginger candy during the day to keep me feeling top notch while at sea.
Binoculars ― I did buy a pair of waterproof binoculars specifically for this trip, but my camera has an amazing zoom, so I ended up using that most of the time because I wanted to take photos of whatever we were trying to see anyway. A lot of people on board had binoculars to share as well, so it just depends on your preference.
Thermos Bottle ― I bought one last minute in Ushuaia because it was on the packing list, but I didn’t use it as often as I thought I would since I drank heaps of the free tea and hot chocolate on board!
Know what you’ll personally need to be comfortable
Do your research about what’s needed for your specific trip, and know what you’ll personally need to be comfortable. Don’t be afraid to contact Oceanwide Expeditions directly if you have any questions or concerns to address ― their staff was always friendly and helpful whenever I emailed with questions. Remember that there is not much available for you to buy once you board the ship ― so think hard about what you’re going need for weeks at sea! I encourage you to prepare the best that you can for your Antarctica trip, and keep an open and excited mind as you travel.