Travel - What to bring

What to Bring to Antarctica

Baggage Allowance
To avoid excess baggage charges on international and domestic flights, check with your ticketing agent about luggage restrictions. In general, you are allowed two normal-sized pieces of luggage per person and one carry-on bag..

The Climate
The polar regions are cold even in the summer - but probably not as cold as you may think. In very general terms, expect temperatures to be as low as 5 to 15F (-15 to -9C) and temperatures as high as 40F (4C). Summer temperatures in the Antarctic average around 32F (0C). It can also be colder, windy and wet. Be prepared for it.

 

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Clothing & Equipment:

Although summer temperatures can be surprisingly mild, you should expect wind, clouds and precipitation. For your comfort and safety, avoid getting wet (whether from perspiration, precipitation, unsuitable boots or sea spray). Bring wind and waterproof outer layers.

Beware of tight clothing that leaves no room for trapped air, which is an excellent insulator. Wool, silk and some of the new synthetic fibers like polar fleece retain heat better than cotton.

Those who complain, "its not the cold, its the wind," are right. Wind removes the layer of air your body has heated around you to keep itself warm. A mere four m.p.h. wind can carry away eight times more body heat than still air. The so-called wind chill factor measures the increase in cooling power of moving air, whether its wind that is blowing or you who are moving rapidly and, in effect, creating a wind against yourself.


 



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Baggage Allowance and Recommendations

To avoid excess baggage charges on international and domestic flights, check with your ticketing agent about luggage restrictions. In general, you are allowed two normal-sized pieces of luggage per person and one carry-on bag.

In addition, we recommend:
- That your luggage is sturdy, secured and clearly labeled.
- That you carry your passport and other important documents, prescriptions and other vital supplies in your carry-on luggage.
- That you check that the airport code on your claim ticket is correct.
- That you claim your luggage and check it onto ongoing flights yourself whenever possible. This may not always be convenient - but it will decrease the risk that your luggage will go astray.

Climate
The polar regions are cold even in the summer - but probably not as cold as you may think. In very general terms, expect temperatures to be as low as 5 to 15F (-15 to -9C) and temperatures as high as 40F (4C). Summer temperatures in the Antarctic average around 32F (0C). It can also be colder, windy and wet. Be prepared for it.


Clothing and Equipment
Although summer temperatures can be surprisingly mild, you should expect wind, clouds and precipitation. For your comfort and safety, avoid getting wet (whether from perspiration, precipitation, unsuitable boots or sea spray). Bring wind and waterproof outer layers.

Beware of tight clothing that leaves no room for trapped air, which is an excellent insulator. Wool, silk and some of the new synthetic fibers like polar fleece retain heat better than cotton.

Those who complain, "its not the cold, its the wind," are right. Wind removes the layer of air your body has heated around you to keep itself warm. A mere four m.p.h. wind can carry away eight times more body heat than still air. The so-called wind chill factor measures the increase in cooling power of moving air, whether its wind that is blowing or you who are moving rapidly and, in effect, creating a wind against yourself.

Wetness also increases the loss of body heat. Air is a very poor conductor of heat, but water is an excellent one. If your skin or clothing gets wet, your body will lose heat much more rapidly. Even at 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), you can suffer ill effects of cold if you are wet.

The following tips should help you be comfortable and healthfully warm in cold weather.

  • Avoid overdressing to reduce perspiration.
  • Wear water repellent outer garments that will keep you dry on the outside and still "breathe" enough so that moisture from your body can escape.
  • Body heat is most likely to be lost from parts that have a lot of surface area in comparison to total mass namely, the hands and feet. Keep them warm and dry. For hands, mittens are better than gloves.
  • If the rest of your body is covered, as much as 90% of the heat you lose can come from your head, so be sure to wear a cap.
  • Dress in comfortable, loose layers. For anyone out in the cold, it is far better to wear layers of relatively light, loose clothing than one thick, heavy item. Between each layer there is a film of trapped air which, when heated by your body, acts as an excellent insulator. Keep from overheating.
  • Wool and silk are superior to cotton because they can trap warm air. Synthetic fabrics that spring back into shape after compression are also good. When damp or wet, polyester down is a better insulator than goose or duck down. Polar fleece is popular and recommended.


What to Pack

When packing, don't weigh yourself down with too many clothes or too much gear. select informal, practical attire for your trip that can be worn in layers, including:

  • Parka: You should look for a lightweight, roomy, wind and weather-resistant shell with some insulation. Bright colors are more visible - and thus safer - in polar environments. That is why polar travelers traditionally wear red.
  • Warm Trousers: Ski pants are suitable if you have them; otherwise, bring any sturdy trousers that can be layered between your long underwear and rainpants.
  • Waterproof Pants (Trousers): Water resistant "rainpants" of coated nylon are essential for your comfort. Wear them over your regular clothes to keep you warm and dry. Even better is gear made of Gore-Tex and similar fabrics that are waterproof and "breathable". These materials keep out wind and water without trapping excess heat. Although excellent, these fabrics are expensive and can be damaged by prolonged exposure to salt water. Rinse Gore-Tex in freshwater after exposure to salt.
  • Long Underwear: Silk or polypropylene underwear is highly recommended since it keeps you warm without adding bulk. Most people prefer a lightweight version - but this depends on your personal thermostat.
  • Sweaters: Wool sweaters or a polar fleece jacket of medium weight are recommended.
  • Turtlenecks: Bring several practical turtlenecks for layering and use around the ship.
  • Mittens and Gloves: Keeping your hands warm and dry is a challenge - and important. Thin polypropylene gloves can be worn underneath warm mittens. Thus, you can take off the mittens to operate your camera and still have some protection from the cold. Its a good idea to bring an extra pair of wool mittens to wear if your other pair gets wet (or lost).
  • Woolen Cap: A warm cap to protect your ears - and a scarf.
  • Warm Socks: Sturdy, tall wool socks worn over a thin pair of silk, polypropylene or cotton/wool socks should provide enough insulation for your feet. Bring several pair, since you will inevitably get your feet wet.
  • Rubber Boots: A pair of pull-on rubber, unlined and completely waterproof boots that are mid calf or higher (12-16" high) with a strong, ridged non-skid sole is essential for landings. You may have to step from the Zodiac into icy water up to 10" high on some landings. Also, expect poor footing on the ice and ashore. Do not bring heavy, cumbersome boots that make it difficult to walk. Boots with waffle soles like those on a hiking boot or running shoe tend to give the best footing. For maximum warmth, wear loose-fitting boots and two pairs of socks. Try out your boots before the voyage.


Other Useful Items

  • A sturdy, lightweight and waterproof daypack to bring your gear a shore.
  • Sunglasses with U.V. filter.
  • Protective lotion for lips, hands and face. Reflected glare from water, snow and ice can be intense.
  • Bathing suit for hotels, aboard some ships and (maybe) for a polar plunge.
  • Camera and twice the film you think you may need.
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses. Those who wear contact lenses should also bring glasses since salt and wind can irritate the eyes.
  • Prescription medicines and other remedies such as seasickness medication and lomotil. Be prepared for rough water. Bring along a signed and dated letter from your physician stating any health problems and dosage of medications, to provide information to medical authorities in case of an emergency.
  • Binoculars for spotting whales and seabirds from deck.
  • Zip lock plastic bags as an added protection for carrying camera, film, etc.
  • T-shirts or other casual warm weather clothes, for layering and aboard ship.
  • Dressing for Gateway Cities. (Don't forget this important aspect of your trip)


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