Our BDM, Sarah Porter, is a wealth of polar knowledge after recently coming back from her expedition to Antarctica... here is her ultimate Antarctica packing list...
This is ideal for an 11 day/10 night expedition (which gives you 5-7 days in Antarctica with about 10 landings on the ice or zodiac cruises)
Expedition clothing – what you wear on the ice! Let’s start from the bottom layers out…
- Underwear (goes without saying!)
- Socks – 2 x thick ski socks; 2 x thinner wool socks
- Thermals – 2 x Long Johns; 2 x thermal t-shirts/tops (base layers)
- Outer layers – 2 x Merino tops / fleeces
- Waterproof pants – ski pants or sailing pants are ideal. Waterproof and thick!
- Puffer jacket and/or puffer vest
- Gloves – thick waterproof ski gloves; think inner merino pair
- Neck buffer / warmer (not a scarf)
- Beanie / woollen hat – one that covers your ears!
- Sun glasses
- Outer jacket *** most operators will provide this (and even let you take it home!)
- Boots *** Most operators provide these (but you leave them on the boat!)
Unless you’re planning on running up mountains, then you’re not going to get hot and sweaty in your expedition clothes, so they can obviously be worn over several days/landings. It’s just good to have at least 2 of each in case you do get anything wet.
Clothing for everyday wear on the boat…
- Underwear and pjs (again… goes without saying!)
- Socks – everyday/sports
- T-shirts / long sleeved tops / sweatshirts
- Track pants / jeans / leggings (elastic waist if you intend to hit the dessert and cheese buffets!)
- Shoes – maybe one dress pair, sports shoes, then casual slip on shoes for everyday on the boat.
- 1 or 2 Formal outfits. Check the pre departure info for your particular cruise. Some ships host gala evenings and/or captain’s dinners. You won’t need your tiara, but something a bit nicer does make it feel a bit more special. Guys won’t necessarily need a tie, but a dinner jacket is a good option.
- Swimwear – check if the boat has a pool / spa / sauna… or you’re up for the Polar Plunge!
- Active wear / gym gear – many boats have gyms, and you might just use it!
Remember, most boats are comfortably air conditioned. Ours was about 24 degrees, with our own thermostat in our cabin so we could control our temperature. You won’t need heavy woollen jumpers, etc. Lighter layers are better, and if you do head out onto the decks for wildlife viewing you just grab your jacket and beanie!
Extra bits and pieces…
- Universal Power Adapter/Plug – check which sockets are on your ship!
- Toiletries / medication / sunscreen
- Seasick medication – it’s much better to be safe than sorry! It’s worth grabbing some anti-nausea tablets and/or patches from your doctor. There is a doctor on board, but you will need to pay for their services. Cheaper at home!
- Extra moisturiser / lip balm / hand cream! It is very dry and there is no humidity in Antarctica, so your skin will dry out much quicker and much more than you’re used to.
- Camera – and extra batteries / charging plug. Your batteries drain quicker in the cooler temps.
- Waterproof bag or case for your camera / lenses and/or phone. Much easier than taking a backpack on each landing, but needed if you get any rain or splash in the zodiacs.
- Waterproof backpack – not essential but could be useful for landings if you have lots of camera gear etc
- USB stick – quite useful if you want to share photos with anyone else on board (or get copies from any of the crew and/or your travel companions.
- Walking poles/sticks – some landings are quite rocky, and some have new (deep!) snow! Many guests found walking poles helped them stay upright and steady. You can easily get collapsible poles from outdoor stores.
- A few blocks of NZ chocolate or small tokens of appreciation. I grabbed a few blocks of Whitakers Chocolate from Auckland Duty Free. These were a great gesture to give our favourite waiters, barman, our maid and some of the expedition team. Nothing like a good kiwi thank you gesture!