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Antarctica, South Georgia, Falkland Islands: Part 5 – Packing

March 28, 2012

I spent a lot of time thinking (and worrying) about what to pack for this trip. Our tour company gave us a list, but I found more helpful lists online. Most of the lists I found online had similar items on them, so instead of a detailed list, I’ll mention some specific things.

My Top Tips

This packing and tips list is great. We didn’t travel with that company, and I don’t know anything about them, but I got some good information from their list. My favorite tip from that list was to bring handkerchiefs. My nose runs a lot in cold weather, and I tissues can get away from me when I’m wearing mittens. I brought a bunch of men’s handkerchiefs and found that they were easy to handle with mittens, nice and large, and soft on my nose. They were also handy for drying off my glasses and camera. I washed them out in the sink at night and dried them on the clothesline in our bathroom.

One tip I saw on a lot of sites is that it’s not as cold as you think, but it’s windier. This proved to be true, and I’ll add that it was also wetter than I expected. I was prepared for wind, but not prepared for being pelted by cold rain in the Falklands and South Georgia. Not exactly pleasant, but I knew this wasn’t a tropical vacation! Waterproof everything (coat, boots, pants, mittens) is a must, and the waterproof gear helped a lot with the wind.

Along with waterproof mittens, I bought some stretchy gloves that I could wear under the mittens or on their own. They kept my hands covered and allowed me to operate my camera.

Sunblock for your face and lips is essential. We forgot to reapply sunblock one afternoon and quickly burned. Someone on our trip had a miserable-looking case of sunburned lips. In Antarctica, the ice and snow and water reflect the sun and can toast your skin quickly.

This isn’t exactly a glamour trip, but some beauty products are in order, such as moisturizer! It’s dry outside and on the ship. I brought a big tube of some really nice body lotion (Bliss Body Butter) and my super-duper winter face moisturizer. Hydrate from the inside too – I brought a water bottle. They did provide moisturizer and water bottles on the ship, but I like to have my own stuff.

Space Bags. As Seen on TV! These were an impulse buy, but I liked them because they compacted my clothes and they helped me to organize my items. I will definitely use them again on future trips.

You can’t go on a trip this long without dealing with laundry. I washed some clothes by hand, both in the (tiny) sink and by putting clothes, detergent, and water in a gigantic zipper bag and swishing it around to wash it. That’s my least-favorite thing to do, but it’s worth it because laundry costs can add up quickly. We did send pants and pullover tops to the ship’s laundry.

I think it goes without saying that you should be prepared for motion sickness. I brought prescription scopolamine patches, meclizine (aka Bonine), anti-nausea tablets, and ginger candy. Everyone is different, and of course, you should talk to your doctor. I am very sensitive to motion and spent a lot of time hoping I’d be OK and wouldn’t regret the trip.  I also tried out the scopolamine patch ahead of time and knew that it had some side effects and that I didn’t want to wear the patch constantly if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

Some days, the patch was necessary! Other days, I was fine with meclizine. On the rough days, we saw a lot of trays of tea and broth being delivered to cabins. I’m happy to report that I did not miss a meal! When there was a lot of motion, I spent most of my time sitting in our cabin reading, but I was fine with that and happy not to be ill.

You’ll need some entertainment for the airplane and for days at sea. I stocked up my iPad with a lot of books and a few movies, and we brought more movies on a laptop. On the days with rough seas, I was really happy to have a variety of books to read to pass the time. And there was some time to pass – a couple of days, we were woken up at 4am, feeling like we were going to roll out of bed. There was no way I was getting back to sleep, so out came the iPad. They did offer a lot of lectures on our ship, and we attended many of them, but there weren’t live shows or gambling or limbo contests like you would find on a large cruise ship. You do need to be able to entertain yourself.

What I Wish I’d Brought

I didn’t bring a face mask, but that would have been nice to have to protect my face from the wind.

You will need waterproof boots. Some ships provide them, but ours didn’t, so we needed to buy them ahead of time and bring them along. We got some basic knee-high waterproof boots at a local farm supply store. They worked great and were comfortable to walk in, but if I did this again, I’d get insulated “arctic” boots. My feet were cold, even with foot warmers.

What I Brought But Didn’t Need (or didn’t need so much of)

I brought workout clothes to use in the ship’s fitness room. We had about 6 days at sea, and I planned to exercise on those days. Well, those days at sea ranged from sort of rough to really rough, and after stopping in to visit the fitness room, I realized that I was doing good if I could just walk around the ship – there was no way I was going to be able to walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike without falling off and/or getting sick from the motion.

I brought too many instant hand and foot warmers, and too much long underwear, but since there’s no way to know how cold it will be or how cold you’ll feel, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I always overpack snacks when I travel. I had quite a stash of granola bars, salted nuts, cocoa almonds, hard candy, and gum. Again, better safe than sorry!

That wraps up my posts on this trip. You can find all of them in my Antarctica category.

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7 comments

  1. I always, always overpack, even for just a week trip. I’m not sure I could make it work for such a long vacation 🙂

    If you don’t mind me asking, which line did you cruise with?


    • Hi Tracey, we traveled with Lindblad Expeditions. We hadn’t traveled with them before, but we felt confident that they’d provide a safe and comfortable trip. They exceeded our expectations by far! The staff included naturalists, and undersea specialist, a bird expert, and professional photographers – it was like a university at sea. It was a pricey trip, and a big decision to go and who to travel with, and we were so happy with how it turned out.


  2. Thanks for this great packing list! And it’s funny, but I was just going to ask who you traveled with. I’ve read about Lindblad before and they look like a fabulous company. We do most of our traveling independently, but if we were planning an exotic trip like that, I’d definitely consider Lindblad.


  3. Thanks for the travel tips – they are very interesting.


  4. I tend to be obsessive when packing for big trips, and I love your tips. Antarctica is on my list to visit someday, and I’ll definitely be back to refresh myself on all your tips when the time comes. I really enjoyed all your posts about your trip!


  5. You are such a thorough packer! I try to limit myself to one backpack no matter how long the trip and I always seem to run out of things or not have something I need.


  6. I think it is wonderful that you passed along your packing tips (as well as other sites that recommend how to pack for such a trip). Just think of how many people you may help in years to come! WONDERFUL advice!



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