Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How To Pack For a Trip to Antarctica

I know this is a bit off the current topic of our trip to China, but I've been contacted by people heading to Antarctica in January and February 2009 and they all want to know what to pack.

The big question is, essentially, how to pack for the hot temperatures of Buenos Aires and the cold of Antarctica. The answer is layer.

My husband and I travel, if we at all can, with only carryons. This included our trip to Antartica. We both have backpacks that we use for essentials, like medicines. We both also have carryon size rolling suitcases.

Over the years we have developed a wardrobe of travel clothes that include supplex nylon pants that, typically, dry overnight. And most of our shirts are coolmax and will also dry quickly. So our usual wardrobe, on a casual trip, is two pairs of pants and 3-4 shirts, each.

Taking advantage of coming from the cold Northeast, we wore to the airport one pair of long pants, one of our quick dry T shirts, a fleece long sleeve jacket, then a fleece vest over the jacket, topped off with our gortex jackets. Of course we peeled off most of that when we boarded the plane.

Packed in the suitcase was a folding bag I had purchased on sale at LL Bean. When we deplaned in Argentina, I pulled out the folding bag and all of our winter stuff went in there. In short sleeved coolmax and our supplex pants, we were ready for hot Buenos Aires.

In our suitcase were additional pairs of wool socks, two pairs for each of us of sock liners, ditto on silk long underwear, a scarf, a hat, gloves/mittens and glove liners, windproof/waterproof pants (to slip on over our regular pants), and thin waterproof mittens (to slip on over our gloves/liners). We did not need to pack boots as the ship provided them. We also received waterproof/windproof shells on board ship.

With the ship typically on the cool side, our daily wear was usually the long underwear top under a T-shirt. (My red long underwear top under a blue or beige short sleeved shirt made a great fashion statement. BG) When we went ashore, or on deck, we simply layered everything on.

For a trip to Antarctica where there will be landings, what we took worked out perfectly for us. For a ship that just cruises Antarctica, if the plan is to spend a lot of time on deck, I would definitely recommend packing similar clothing as the fierce cold winds need to be considered.

For a trip not going any further south than Ushuaia, I would recommend checking current temperatures before departing. We found the temperature in Ushuaia much higher than normal and short sleeves were fine.

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