Lonely Planet’s How to Pack for Any Trip
Where are you going?
The Poles: Antarctic
You’re going outside… you may be some time. But, in fact, as most Antarctic trips are cruises, much of your southern exposure is likely to occur in the comfort of a very well-equipped ship, with short excursions by motorboat and on foot. As such, Antarctic forays don’t require huge amounts of specialist gear, just a few carefully chosen items to keep you warm and dry. It’s worth investing in a decent pair of insulated waterproof boots, though. Ensure they’re at least knee height for wet landings and ideally have soles with a good grip for scrambling over rocks and ice, and picking your way around colonies of chinstrap penguins.
• Parka life: most Antarctic ships provide a take-home parka jacket to each passenger (you’d hope so, given the astronomical fares associated with such voyages), so leave that hulking great down-filled puffer jacket at home.
• Chill out: Antarctic cruising is generally casual, so you don’t need that ball gown. Each operator has different dress codes and supplied kit, however, so read up before you travel. Once you’re south of the departure ports, you’ll find plenty of elephant seals but not many boutiques.
• Best bins: pack the highest-spec pair of binoculars you can afford, and a camera with a good zoom, unless you want to see nothing but the occasional finned blob.
Pack for pong
If you’ve got a sensitive nose or stomach, be aware that penguin colonies are stinky places to visit, especially in February when chicks begin their moult. A judiciously placed scarf can help ease the olfactory offensive, and will be a welcome extra layer when back on board a ship that’s being buffeted around in rough seas.
Case study: Antarctica
Pack a sense of wilderness wonder. This grand icy continent, accessible only from November to March, has no towns, no villages, no nothing, apart from the occasional research station. Embrace the elements, but also protect yourself against them. Contact lenses dry out in harsh wind, so pack glasses. Even without sunshine, reflected glare from the elements can burn, so bring creams. And pack a back-up camera or spare battery; the latter drain in cold weather and shutters become temperamental.
Antarctic cruise departure hub Ushuaia is a good base from which to explore the lakes, valleys and forests of the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. If you choose to do so, pack smart: hiking boots and quick-drying trekking trousers are invaluable.
Reproduced with permission from How to Pack for Any Trip © 2016 Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com)