10 Essential Antarctica Travel Tips
If you’re like me, Antarctica is probably at the top of your bucketlist…well, for me it was since I finally got to go last December! But pre-Antarctica me is probably like you in a sense that I wasn’t fully sure what to expect or really how to prepare for this epic journey!
But ten days, four of which were spent on the dreaded Drake Passage, a paddleboarding session, and the polar plunge has me feeling like an Antarctica expert, with some essential Antarctica Travel Tips that will definitely help you out!
1. When to Go to Antarctica
You can only go to Antarctica during its summer months, which start as early as November and typically end in March. The ideal months though are December and January because that’s when you see the most wildlife…and it’s not as freezing.
2. How Freezing is Freezing?
As a Florida native who currently claims residency in Los Angeles, I’m not a big fan of cold, but there were definitely some days when I was hot on the ice. As in…I was able to wear a tank top and skirt (for photos) and continued walking around in the tank top because I was so warm on one of the islands. I also went in the middle of summer and had really good weather luck!
Any slight breeze will make you really cold (including when the ship is moving) so you’ll definitely be bundled up for the majority of the time! Don’t worry – most expeditions include your parka and boots!
3. How to Find a Great Discount
Everyone wants to go to Antarctica, but the biggest problem is usually how expensive it is to go. Most trips average $10,000, but the good news is that most of the time you can find some pretty good discounts. The expedition I went on was with Quark Expeditions, and they offered a 40% off discount plus charter flights to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires, so the trip ended up being around $7,000.
If your daring enough, you can also make your way down to Ushuaia and look for last minute deals! However, the lowest I saw them go was $6,000 and it was for a way less-nice cabin than what I got with the discount!
4. What is the Itinerary Like?
My budget allowed for the 10 day “Discovering the 7th Continent” expedition and I’d say it was a pretty good amount of time to satisfy my Antarctica dream. It did take two days there and back to cross the Drake Passage, so we only had three days total on the islands and mainland of Antarctica, but we went on two excursions per day which I felt was pretty good!
5. Pay Extra for Excursions!
I don’t mean to brag but, going paddleboarding in Antarctica was probably one of the most epic things I’ve ever done in my life. Don’t worry about being cold or falling in – they provide dry suits that you’ll sweat in and they only go out when the water is super calm. It’s a surreal experience that I’d recommend to anyone!
If you’re into kayaking, that’s an option but you’ll have less zodiac cruises and land landings. There’s also an option to camp which sounds pretty cool!
6. Bring Seasick Meds from Home!
Even if you don’t normally get seasick, bring medicine for it from home just in case. Most ships have a doctor/infirmary on board that gives you meds anyway, but they made me way drowsier than what I’m used to finding in the U.S. I found that Dramamine worked best for me, and two other girls got by the whole trip just using pressure point wrist bands!
7. Bring Layers, Socks, and Waterproof Items!
A lot of people are probably wondering what in the world you’re supposed to pack for Antarctica other than the obvious answer of “warm clothes”. In all honesty, I only brought a few layers but tended to wear all of them every day in different variates.
You should definitely bring a thermal fleece base layer (leggings and longsleeves), and/or wool long underwear if you can. Then bring a few extra cotton leggings and longsleeves for layering that’s not too warm. For an outer layer you’ll be required to have waterproof pants (ski/snowboard pants work), and will likely be provided the waterproof parka by the expedition. Bring several pairs of wool socks, comfy close-toed shoes for on the ship, and waterproof gloves for on the ice/zodiac. OH, and your bathing suit for the polar plunge!
You should also bring sunglasses to protect your eyes from the blinding whiteness of the ice!
8. Don’t Worry About Food
I was fed like a royal Queen on my expedition, with 5 or more course meals three times a day! The staff literally made me feel like a celebrity by remembering my name and that I was a vegetarian (and that I really like Chardonnay), and making sure all of my meals were exactly suited for me. The meals were actually one of the highlights of my trip!
9. Bring Some Goodies for the Staff and Crew
Not only are the staff and crew going to be taking the most extraordinary care of you on your bucketlist expedition, but they also are doing that back to back for a full season! Imagine going back and forth to Antarctica for several months! They deserve presents…namely in the form of candies or bottles of wine. Just saying!
10. Recommended Photography Gear
Depending on your level of interest in photography, this tip will vary. As someone who takes photos for a living (that have to have me in them) I got by with the new GoPro Hero 6, and the image and video quality were really good. It was however difficult to get close-up photos of animals since it doesn’t zoom in very much.
If I had the money for a decent DSLR I definitely would have taken it just for close-up shots of penguins and whales. BUT! Luckily! 75% of the people on board did have one, and many of them uploaded their photos to the ship’s photo journal where everyone can share photos!
I also used my iPhone quite a bit (and knew of several people on board who only had an iPhone as their camera!) for the zoom and close-up videos and was happy with it!
Alyssa Ramos, MyLifesAMovie | March 28, 2018
Alyssa is a self-made, full-time travel blogger who accidentally started specializing in solo female adventure travel and GoPro “proper selfie” photography two years ago when the travel bug hit and she had no one to travel with! Now, Alyssa has traveled to a total of 44 countries, more than half solo, and has successfully turned her passion for travel, writing, and sharing positive vibes into a successful career as a travel blogger, social media influencer, and professional waterfall chaser. She enjoys sharing tips that are actually useful on her blog, photographs that inspire others on her Instagram, and real time feeds of her travels on Snapchat, so that others can see the world and get inspired to go travel, at any time of the day!
Follow Alyssa on Instagram: @MyLifesATravelMovie | Snapchat: MyLifesAMovie.C