Saturday, February 28, 2009

Packing List

I am somewhat proud of the fact that I managed Antarctica with only carry-on luggage. Here's a list of the very bare essentials you'd want to pack and what you could leave at home.


Clothes/personal items
Here's the thing: it is not that cold. I travelled between Jan 5-Jan 15 and it was often just about 0°C, never unbearable. The key is to wear lots of layers, not to bring one gigantic duvet of a jacket. Aside from a beanie, I didn't need to buy anything new for this trip.
  • Water-proof down jacket
  • Water-proof trousers
  • Double-layered beanie/knit hat--Reebok makes a really good one
  • Several turtleneck jumpers or a neckgator-- protecting the neck is essential
  • Very thick socks
If you don't have a water-proof down jacket, a quick solution would be to go to a drugstore/department store to buy a small bottle of water-resistant spray. Spray a coating of that on your jacket and it is now water-proof! These sprays are usually found in the camping section of the store.

Also, a caveat that while I found these items sufficient for Antarctica in January. If you're visiting in March, I am not sure how much the weather would have changed by then so it's best to call your cruise operator and ask for their advice as well.

Toiletries/miscellaneous items
  • Sunblock (ideally SPF 45+)
  • Sunglasses
  • Seasick pills/ear patches (to this day, I have not met a traveller who did not need this for the Drake Passage. If you actually survived that sea without any help, please come forward.)
  • Pair of ordinary gloves, preferably of the waterproof/leather variety
  • Pair of glove liners or something thin enough for you to use your SLR camera
  • Swimsuit-- for the polar plunge that you may not intend to do but will end up doing anyway
Because going to such a remote location is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, we tend to overpack. Having concluded my own trip, this is what I've found to be surprisingly unnecessary for an Antarctic journey.

  • Tripod-- unless you happen to own the massive Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L or a similar lens. We only had around 3 people bring a tripod on our ship
  • Wellingtons/rubber boots -- at least, Quark provided them. Check with your operator before you go
  • Hair dryer
  • Antarctica books -- the library onboard the Orlova has extremely well-stocked with Lonely Planet guides and books on the adventures of the great Antarctic explorers.

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