For first-time explorers and veteran travelers alike, Antarctica is a final frontier. It’s a land of extremes—a bucket list destination that comes with a guarantee of adventure and an escape from the usual tourist circuit and its crowds.
When packing for a trip to Antarctica, most people have no idea what to bring. But believe it or not, you don’t have to stuff your bags with bulky winter gear.
If you’re travelling to Antarctica and what to bring is stressing you out, we’ve got you covered. Make sure the following ten items are on your list:
1. Water-resistant outer layers and thermal inner layers.
Like anyone who deals with extreme weather conditions, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way—whether it’s a blast of winter or a balmy breeze. Outer layers made from water-resistant, windproof materials such as Gore-Tex are ideal for trips to and from shore, when you’re likely to come up against wind and a few rogue waves. For thermal inner layers, we like merino wool. It’s breathable and lightweight, but still offers unparalleled insulation.
2. A dry bag.
If you’re going ashore, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to keep your electronics safe from splashes of that ice-cold seawater and in some cases, rain. Pack a dry bag that’s large enough to hold the basics: your camera and a few extra layers.
3. Woolen socks.
Warm, dry feet are the key to happiness on an Antarctic expedition.
4. A hat and a pair of gloves.
Even in summer, temperatures in the Antarctica can dip below zero degrees Celsius. If you’ve lived through a Canadian winter, you should be all right with a light hat and gloves.
5. Sunglasses and sunscreen.
It’s easy to forget about sun protection when you’re headed to the South Pole, but the sun’s glare is incredibly powerful reflected off all of that ice and snow. Sunglasses and sunscreen can help to prevent skin and eye damage.
6. Some heavy-duty moisturizer.
In Antarctica, katabatic winds are gusts of cold, dense air that flow downwards from polar plateaus and glaciers to meet the sea. Travelling at some of the fastest speeds in the world, they can be extremely harsh on your skin—especially when it’s unprotected. Bring moisturizer and you’ll be fine.
7. A swim suit for your polar plunge.
You may be cringing now, but who knows, you might just change your mind. After all, if you’re going all that way, don’t you owe it to yourself to say you’ve swam in the Antarctic Ocean?
8. Enough Gravol to cross the Drake Passage.
There’s a reason why the 800-kilometer Drake Passage is affectionately known as the “Drake Shake” among those who’ve crossed it. As one of the roughest ocean zones in the world, the choppy waters of the Drake can wreak havoc on even the strongest stomachs. Anti-nausea medication is a must when you’re packing for a trip to Antarctica.
9. Medication for the unexpected.
Remember, you won’t have access to a pharmacy for at least ten days of your trip. Along with any medication you take on a regular basis, we recommend packing some over-the-counter drugs to treat basic health issues such as allergies, colds, and headaches.
10. A drone.
With its nearly non-existent human population, there are no laws against drones in Antarctica. Imagine the footage: brilliant white ice floes against a vivid backdrop of sky and water. Or the close-ups of wildlife: leopard seals, penguins, and whales. If that won’t get you bragging rights with the neighbours, what will?
Now that you have a check list, you better start packing and planning your best itinerary yet.