Here's a quick guide for what you need to pack to make sure you're ready to take on this nearly untouched land.
There's no place on earth like Antarctica. While this makes a voyage to the continent one you'll never forget, it also means it''s unlike anything you've for which you've ever prepared. You need to take all of the elements of your trip into account, from the extreme weather to the types of activities you'll be doing. Here's a quick packing guide that will help you figure out what to take on the ultimate southern voyage:
It's no secret that Antarctica is cold, but "cold" is practically an understatement. Even during your summer cruise, you should expect temperatures around -35 degrees Fahrenheit. That's a level of cold for which most people have no reference. While the bracing and clarifying affect of this extreme chill will likely be one of your favorite things about traveling to Antarctica, you should not take it lightly.
Invest in well-made long underwear you can wear as your bottommost layer. Look for fabrics that keep you dry as well - your warmest layer will lose a lot of its value if it gets damp when you sweat.
Long-sleeved and long-legged second layers are best. These are the layers you'll show when you're indoors. You should have a water and windproof jacket to put on over this layer, and another insulating parka to wear over that. Remember: Antarctic excursions are active vacations, so shoot for coats that are made to stand up to potential wear and tear. Don't neglect your lower half - make sure you have snow pants as well.
In addition to what's covering your body, you need protection for your extremities. Heavy-duty socks are an absolute must, along with insulating snow boots. A warm hat and scarf to keep your head safe and cozy are also essential.
You'll need gloves or mittens. Which style you choose is up to you, but here's a quick overview of the balance between the two: Assuming each are of similar quality, mittens will keep your hands warmer since they trap the heat of all of your hand in one chamber. Gloves, however, will definitely give you more dexterity. Try to balance these pros and cons when deciding which to pack.
Finally, you'll need a good pair of 100 percent ultraviolet protective sunglasses or goggles. Don't mistake low temperatures for limited sunlight - Antarctica sees the sun 24 hours a day for most of summer, and the ice and snow can double the effects of those rays. In addition, the continent is incredibly windy. Eye protection will help you have plenty of visibility and keep your eyes from feeling dry.
It's not just the cold you have to keep in mind - Antarctica is a desert. The area is incredibly dry, since cold air simply can't hold as much moisture as warm air can. Keep this in mind when you're packing, and make sure to bring along plenty of moisturizing lotion and lip balm. You may need to reapply both multiple times throughout the day, so bring along containers small enough to keep in your bag on excursions.
You'll also need to apply sunscreen frequently. Even though most people associate sunburn with hot summer days, the sun's heat isn't actually what causes burns. It's the other rays the sun puts out that damage your skin - and those rays are abundant in Antarctica. Pack sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher to prevent harm.
When you're out on excursions, you'll need to have access to plenty of water. Traditional water bottles might not be able to handle the cold, and your water might be ice by the time you get to it. Look into getting an insulated winter water bottle to prevent this from happening.
Don't forget your passport! You'll need it at every stop along the way.
Bring along a journal so you can take notes about what happened on your vacation. Antarctica is a unique experience - you'll want to remember as many details as possible.
Unless you know you'll want to take high-quality pictures, don't bring along a good camera. As long as your phone as a decent camera built in, you won't need it, and there's a good chance it will get damaged during moments of high activity.
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