What to Pack for Antarctica

Finding out exactly what to pack for Antarctica is essentially the most important thing that you can do when preparing for your visit. This is a pretty inhospitable land on the whole, which is why tours are limited to the warmer months. When you combine the usually cold weather with the often high windchill factors, it's easy to see why getting cold or frostbite can be easy, especially if you're mountain climbing or trekking inland. The summer temperatures in Antarctica can be friendly at times, especially when you stick close to the shore and the warmer Antarctic Peninsula, but it can get down to five degrees or colder in parts even during the summertime. In addition to being cold, this southernmost continent is also dry, so skin lotion and chapstick are good things to toss into the suitcase when packing for Antarctica.

Most people who go to Antarctica arrive on a cruise ship, and the relatively rough seas in the Drake Passage often have to be crossed. Even if you aren't crossing the Drake Passage, you are bound to encounter choppy seas at some point while en route. You're also likely to encounter them once you enter the Antarctic region itself. As such, anti-motion sickness medication is something that you definitely won't want to forget when packing for Antarctica. Other things that should make your list of what to bring to Antarctica include a good hat, a quality pair of sunglasses, and powerful sunscreen. Summer, which is the peak season here, can see anywhere from 18 to 24 hours of daylight depending on where you are, and the fact that the ozone layer is thin overhead means that the UV rays are extra strong. These rays not only shine down from above, but they also reflect off of all the snow, ice, and water.

While you're more likely to feel cold than you are to feel hot during your trip to Antarctica, there are times when perspiration can occur. When you perspire in a place that is this cold and dry on average, it can prohibit your body from keeping warm. Even if you don't have a lot of rigorous activities in mind, such as hiking or mountain climbing, high quality outdoor clothing is something that you will want to include on your list of what to pack for Antarctica. Interestingly enough, some visitors don't do the proper research when it comes to finding out what to bring to Antarctica, so they often show up under prepared. Not having the right clothing can decrease your levels of comfort and overall satisfaction.

Should you be wondering if there is anything else worth keeping in mind when it comes to what to pack for Antarctica, a passport and a photocopy of your passport are not to be overlooked. You won't need to worry about a visa when packing for Antarctica, but you will need a passport for stops in foreign lands along the way. Most people use Chile or Argentina as jump off points for Antarctica visits, and these country's require visitors to furnish passports. Another thing that you might look into when planning your trip is medical safety and evacuation insurance. Should medical issues arise on your journey or should you need to be evacuated for any reason, the costs can add up quickly, in which case insurance can be a very good thing. If you have insurance lined up, you can add the insurance I.D. cards to your list of what to bring to Antarctica. 

There aren't too many other things that you will absolutely need to bring when packing for Antarctica, though anyone who has land-based activities in mind will often have to use their own equipment. If you want to go mountain climbing, for example, you will most likely need to supply your own harnesses, crampons, and ice axes. You will also most likely have to supply your own equipment for things like hiking, skiing, and scuba diving.  

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