Antarctica. The last great wilderness. The Great White South. The southern end of the earth.
No matter how you refer to it, a trip to this icy continent is an incredible experience. While for some holidays you can get away with packing the week before you leave, or just throwing a pile of barely-thought-about clothes into a suitcase, an expedition to Antarctica calls for a fairly unique packing list.
So, to help you get organised for your polar voyage, here are our top packing tips for an Antarctic adventure.
Polar clothing essentials
Pack plenty of layers
It might sound obvious, but a single warm coat won’t be enough to keep you comfortable in Antarctic temperatures. Instead of packing bulky jumpers, it’s better to pack clever layers, including some thermals. Aside from taking up less room in your suitcase, the temperature onboard the ship will be nice and warm, so you’ll want to have a few short sleeve options for when you’re inside.
While your ship will provide boots and waterproof jackets, it’s essential to pack some waterproof snow pants for when you embark on shore excursions, as getting in and out of zodiacs may sometimes mean you’re not entirely dry.
Warm socks, gloves and a beanie
If there’s one item you should overpack, it’s socks. It’s a good idea to have a range of both thin and thick thermal socks, as the thick socks will be a necessity when you’re outdoors (but they take a long time to dry if they get wet), whereas the thinner socks will be sufficient for when you’re inside on the ship. Similarly, a pair of insulated gloves for shore excursions is a great idea. In fact, we recommend two pairs: an inner pair for warmth, and an outer pair that are wind- and water-proof. A regular pair of warm gloves will probably do the trick if you’re standing on deck trying to spot penguins or admiring the scenery. When you are standing up on deck it can get pretty windy, so make sure you have a beanie to keep your head warm, but is also tight enough that it won’t fly off in a gale, along with a neck gaiter to stop the cold air blowing in under your jacket.
As any avid skier will know, just because you’re at the snow not the beach, it doesn’t mean you won’t get burned by the sun. Because of the vast expanses of white landscape and water, the sun actually reflects off these surfaces making the chances of getting burned quite high. So, don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection.
When you’re travelling somewhere as remote as Antarctica, there won’t be any opportunities for stopping at a foreign pharmacy once you embark – so make sure you think ahead and pack any regular medications you require, as well as a few preventative measures such as seasickness tablets, cold and flu tablets, and some paracetamol or basic painkillers – just in case. Your ship may stock some basics, but it’s not a floating pharmacy so you’ll need to be prepared. Always check with a doctor before you travel if you have any specific health concerns.
Moisturiser and lip balm
The cold, dry weather in Antarctica can dehydrate your skin and lips, so a tube of moisturiser and some lip balm (preferably with SPF in it) will be a lifesaver for you.
Obviously, the majority of your time will be spent gazing out at the magnificent landscapes, taking part in a variety of the onboard activities available, or chatting to your fellow travellers, but sometimes you might want to just unwind and have some down time. Here are some suggestions for items you may want to pack to keep yourself entertained on board:
- A couple of good books or an eReader
- A camera and some spare memory cards, so you can pass the time editing or looking at your trip photos
- An iPod or phone with your favourite music or podcasts – and headphones
- A notebook and pen to take notes, write down memories or musings you have about your journey. There will be so much to see and remember, you don’t want to forget the highlights when you go home and show your friends and family all your amazing photos.
Some nice-to-have items
While none of the below items are essential, they may make your journey more comfortable:
- A reusable water bottle. Peregrine are a responsible travel company and as such, we strongly encourage our travellers to avoid taking single-use plastic water bottles on our trips. As the old saying goes – leave nothing but footprints
- Waterproof bags and camera/phone cases. These will be particularly useful for shore excursions when you might have a few items to keep track of
- A tote bag. Again, this will be useful for shore excursions – not only to carry any of your belongings there but also to bring any rubbish back to the ship
- Binoculars. Your ship will likely have some on board, but if you want your own pair at all times, they will come in handy for wildlife spotting
- Money or bank cards. While Antarctica isn’t a big shopping destination, your itinerary might make a stop at Port Lockroy. Here is one of the few places you can buy a toy penguin or send a postcard at the post office – so don’t forget a bit of spending money
- Ear plugs. If you consider yourself a light sleeper, the noise of the ship, wind or even your cabin mate might keep you awake, so ear plugs are a good idea.
Do you want to experience the magic of Antarctica for yourself? Book a voyage with Peregrine today.
All images by Liam Neal.