Top 10 items to pack before you cross the Drake’s Passage
ANTARCTICA ~ also known as the white continent, and for many, it’s known as the 7th Continent ~ to me, is the most magical place on our planet I have traveled.
If you’ve just booked your excursion to Antarctica, then you likely have a million questions swimming around in your head about things like ~ how cold it will be, what do I wear, what do I need for on the ship ~ I was feeling the same, mass confusion. I came up with this Antarctica – Top 10 items needed for your trip list to make is a bit easier.
I live in Texas, so we rarely see temperatures below freezing, and I’m not ashamed to say I had no idea what all the terms like base layer and mid-layer meant. My first resource was the “what to pack” section of the Oceanwide website, but that left me with even more questions I previously didn’t even know to ask. This is why I decided to create a list of the items I found most essential and useful on my trip to Antarctica.
Let’s start with while you’re on the ship. I put so much energy into researching what to take for the land excursions I didn’t put too much thought into what I would do with all the time spent on the ship, and believe me, it’s a lot.
Spending a lot of time on the ship means lots of time you’ll be lounging around in your cabin, in an area designated for hanging out on comfy furniture, in a lecture room learning about all types of Antarctic wildlife, so you will want to be COMFORTABLE.
1 – What to wear on the ship to Antarctica
Most of us wore pajama pants/yoga pants/athletic pants with a comfortable tee shirt or hoodie. Most of the time, I could be found in my penguin pajama pants and a super soft tee, and many of the passengers went all out getting into the penguin spirit of Antarctica by wearing a penguin onesie. Click here for a penguin onesie; they are adorable for pics too!
A day on the ship in Antarctica wearing an Arc’teryx Hooded jacket, yoga pants from Target, C.C. beanie hat, a borrowed pair of cool Ray-Ban sunglasses, Ugg house slippers.
2 – Staying cool on the ship to Antarctica
Trust me, you’ll want a FAN! Depending on your cabin’s location, you may be shocked to find the ship very warm. It was a complaint I heard from many passengers over and over ~ they were so hot in their cabins that many would leave their doors propped open or go on the decks to get a quick cool down. I purchased this fan from Amazon, and it was a lifesaver! I am serious when I say I could have sold it for $100!
3 – Don’t forget snacks for your cabin
As I previously mentioned, you will likely spend a lot of time in your cabin, and snacks shouldn’t be underrated. Before boarding, my cabin mates and I made a grocery run in Ushuaia to buy lots of candy, chips, and alcohol (our ship allowed you to bring your own, although there was a bar). I never said I ate healthy and one of my favorite snacks we didn’t buy enough of was these chocolate covered round wafers filled with peanut butter called Bon O Bon. Click here to grab a bag on Amazon!
4 – Make sure to have a cozy bunk on the ship
If you’re like my husband and me, you prefer more than one pillow. I know some Europeans don’t use any pads, but it just feels so much cozier when I have 2 or 3 pillows to bury myself in while I sleep. Don’t worry about bringing them from home if you don’t want to keep up with your good ones. We each grabbed an extra pillow or two and pillowcases while purchasing groceries at Yefacel Mega Store. They were inexpensive and well worth it! When we disembarked, we left them behind since the staff said they would reuse them for themselves.
5 – What shoes to wear on the ship to Antarctica
Trust me on this… most everyone will be at the nice dinners or the bar in their pj’s or loungewear with house slippers. I made the mistake of taking my favorite ones that are slip-on, although I read not to. Ugh, it’s tough when it’s 45’ swells, and the ship is rocking to walk up and down the stairs in slip-on shoes! If and when I go again, these are the shoes I will wear the whole time I am on the ship or something very similar.
6 – Don’t forget to check with your ship before departing about what connectors you’ll need.
Check with your ship to see if they have the connectors to connect your television to your laptop or tablet. It seems silly to think that you would care about movies while on the ship, considering you are going to ANTARCTICA but again, trust me. If your ship is like ours, they will have 3 channels with the same movies on repeat. Would you be shocked if I said one of the movies would be “Perfect Storm”? Don’t be! We said 1,000 times we wished we brought a Lightning Digital AV adapter. I am not going to link one here because technology is always changing. Honestly, I don’t want to steer you to the wrong product but google how to connect your specific mobile phone, laptop, or tablet to a television so you will have one if you find your ship offers limited cabin entertainment. Also, I would contact the company you’re going to Antarctica with and see what types of hookups their televisions offer.
Now let’s hop off the ship onto the whitest continent… ANTARCTICA!
7 – What to wear while on land in Antarctica
As I mentioned, I am from Texas, so layers to me meant a hoodie and my heavier coat. I thought the thicker, the better, and I was WRONG. I watched so many YouTube videos on how to layer and read multiple blog posts to figure out what to pack and how to dress. I worried I would topple over, walking onto land looking like the Michelin Man. Thankfully, I was warm as toast!
I could do an entire blog post on how to dress while in Antarctica, and maybe that will be next. Still, the condensed version is this: for me personally, what worked was ~ I started with a silky top and bottom that was thin, breathable, and protected my skin from the itchy wool as a base layer. I took something similar to this click here. Then the mid-layers. I wore two layers for this, and one was my secret weapon! First, mid-layer was my thin Merino Smartwool 250 top and bottoms. Click here for a link to the bottoms I took and here for the top. The next mid-layer on the bottom is what I refer to as my secret weapon to staying warm! While browsing at TJ Maxx, I found a pair of athletic pants by Under Armour that is thin, tapered, and have a cargo type pocket on the thighs. These fit nicely over my Smartwool layer, and I placed one HotHands hand warmer in each pocket, and it kept my legs nice and toasty, which seems to have radiated throughout my body because the only time I didn’t wear them, I was freezing. I didn’t use the HotHands in my shoes, but many people did.
8 – Camera equipment that’s a must while traveling to Antarctica
I was shocked at how many people made the trek to Antarctica with only a smartphone for photos. With the advancements of smartphones, we often see some incredible images taken on them. I have tons of priceless video from the trip I took on my smartphone (click here to see my Instagram highlights for lots of videos). However, phones still can’t replace the more professional-looking photos of the penguins taken with a DSLR camera and a long lens. I didn’t take anything real expensive; I took a Canon Rebel with an 18-55mm lens and a 75-300 lens. The longer lens was fantastic for capturing the close up, detailed shots of the penguins. Click here for the Amazon link to the same camera and lenses I took.
9 – Custom made flag/banner for your photo ops
This is something else I was so happy I took, and I saw many others with something similar. Making the trek across the Drakes Passage and first stepping onto the white continent, Antarctica, is a once in a lifetime kind of adventure and something you’ll never forget… For many of us on the ship, this was our 7th continent! We wanted something special to use in photos to celebrate this amazing achievement. I had a flag custom made (pictured above) at a local graphics shop. It was not necessarily cheap, but honestly, $150 was worth it! Plus, a trip to Antarctica isn’t affordable, so I planned for this cost as well.
10 – Taking the polar plunge in Antarctica
Plan to do the POLAR PLUNGE, so don’t forget your SWIMSUIT!! I’ll do a separate blog post on taking the polar plunge at the bottom of the earth but trust me; you don’t want to skip it!! Just envision yourself surrounded by adorable penguins swimming and waddling amongst the ice floats and glaciers as you strip off your layers and plunge into the Antarctic Ocean.
I hope these ten items to pack for Antarctica help you feel a little more prepared for your great adventure! Enjoy your journey!
For more photos, tidbits, and videos, check out my Instagram and stories highlights at the top of my page.