The allure of Antarctica is undeniable, but such a unique adventure demands thorough planning and research.

This isn’t your average travel destination, and given its remote location and challenging conditions, ensuring you get the most out of your Antarctica trip requires careful consideration and preparation.

Various factors come into play, from packing the right gear, choosing the right cruise to navigating the unpredictable weather.

What makes Antarctica truly extraordinary is not just its vast, frozen landscapes, wildlife, and mesmerising landscapes but the rare opportunity to explore a part of the world that remains largely untouched and unexplored.

So, as you gear up for this incredible adventure, take the time to delve into the details of your journey before you go.

Let’s go! 10 Tips for Travel in Antarctica

1) Pack suitable clothing, but don’t overpack


One of the most important things to consider when preparing for travel in Antarctica is to be ready for the weather. 

Packing for travel in Antarctica is challenging, given its erratic weather and temperatures ranging from freezing to -14 degrees Celsius and reaching up to 5 degrees Celsius on warm days.

It’s easy to go overboard with your packing, but it’s essential to avoid it.

For our Antarctica 10-day cruise with Viva Expeditions, they provided us with this Antarctica packing list, which was very helpful. It includes a detailed summary of essential clothing to bring—and some other tips for items that were super handy on our trip (such as a waterproof dry bag to protect our camera from the wet weather on some days).

Our Antarctica cruise included a warm, waterproof, and windproof jacket that we got to keep when our trip ended, and we used it every day to keep us warm and dry.

Achieving warmth and comfort in Antarctica comes down to effective layering of clothing. Packing lightweight, comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing to regulate your temperature is crucial. 

Your clothing ensemble will include multiple base layers, lightweight breathable tshirts, a good quality fleece, waterproof trousers, (essential), waterproof gloves, and a woolen hat/beanie.

IMPORTANT: When packing for your trip to Antarctica, remember that there are luggage limits with airlines and tour operators, so it’s more about packing smart than packing more.

Once you’ve selected the ship and itinerary to travel to Antarctica, many visitors are likely to fly into Buenos Aires from their country of origin, then take an additional flight from BA to Ushuaia (the southernmost city in Argentina and from where most expeditions to Antarctica depart from). 

We use Skyscanner to book our flights worldwide.

These flights have a strict weight allowance, usually 15kg for checked-in luggage or 20 kilograms (for large and small carry-on bags). 

If you pack correctly for travel in Antarctica, you will be ready for all kinds of weather and enjoy the best trip ever.

2) Take motion sickness medication

The Drake Passage is a gateway to Antarctica, and the journey is a significant part of the overall Antarctic experience. You will spend two days crossing ‘the Drake’ at the beginning of your trip and again at the end.

The Drake Passage is one of the most challenging bodies of water due to its notorious rough seas and potential for high swells (up to 12 metres). 

It’s a gamble as to what kind of crossing you will get, and be ready for either the:

  • Drake Lake: relatively calm seas, and very lucky!
  • Drake Shake: the opposite of calm seas! Prepare for lots of rocking back and forth, and remember to keep one hand on the ship when moving around.

There are no guarantees or time of year to promise a smooth crossing, so to minimise the discomfort of nausea and vomiting, bring some medication with you.

Even if you’ve never experienced motion sickness before and assume you’ll be fine, we recommend taking pills such as Dramamine or the Scopolamine transdermal patches, which help reduce nausea and vomiting.

3) Book an itinerary that works best for you


Selecting the right Antarctica cruise can be a daunting task. With over 75+ cruise itineraries and many tour operators, navigating the options can be overwhelming. 

Factors such as the time of year, preferred ship, standard of cabin, and budget can significantly impact your experience, influencing what you see and do during the expedition.

We each have different preferences when we choose our next destination, and travelling in Antarctica is no different. 

For instance, if you prioritise spending more time on land and as much time outdoors as possible, opting for a smaller cruise ship with fewer than 200 passengers provides the advantage of more frequent dockings compared to larger vessels with restrictions.

Plus, a smaller vessel with fewer passengers means it takes less time to organise everyone on zodiacs to get out there to explore Antarctica.

We recommend searching the range of Antarctica tours available with Viva Expeditions. Experience is everything when making arrangements for travel in Antarctica, and the Viva Team have decades of it.

The dedicated Antarctica Tours page on their website is a great tool to filter what factors are most important to you when booking your dream Antarctica expedition. 

Get a 5% discount off any Viva Expeditions tour when you quote code VIPNOMADS.

4) Spend time in Buenos Aires & Ushuaia before/after your trip

Before our Antarctica trip, we spent a few days in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires.

We based ourselves at Sofitel Buenos Aires Recoleta, enjoyed eating excellent steak and red wine, and loved this Tango Show with an optional dinner option.

We highly recommend joining this Foodie Walking Tour of Palermo neighbourhood – we had a blast!

Then, we made our way to Ushuaia, located in the country’s southernmost region. Ushuaia is the gateway to Antarctica and is often celebrated as the ‘End of the World’ due to its extreme southern location. 

Most Antarctica cruises set sail from the port of Ushuaia, and during the summer months, this charming Argentinian resort city transforms into a bustling tourist hub.

We recommend staying at Hosteria Hostal Malvinas, an excellent value accommodation in the city centre.

To fully capitalise on the breathtaking scenery and the diverse range of activities available in Ushuaia, consider extending your stay by a few extra nights before or after your cruise; this is a destination you will likely only visit once in your lifetime, given its remote location. 

Explore the southernmost national park on the planet, and join a day trip to visit Tierra Del Fuego National Park, marvel at the stunning vistas from the top of Martial Glacier or indulge in a 4 hour roundtrip trek to the pristine green waters of Esmeralda Lagoon

Search for the most popular day tours in Ushuaia here, and make a reservation in advance to avoid missing out, especially during the high season.

5) Book Early

Exploring Antarctica as a visitor is possible only during a narrow window, approximately from late October to early March.

Due to this limited visiting period, the variety of available itineraries, and the high demand, Antarctica cruises tend to sell out rapidly. 

Making reservations well in advance to secure a spot on your preferred cruise is recommended.

Booking early ensures you get your preferred cabin type for your trip!

Many people plan their travels in Antarctica quite early, often reserving their place for 1-2 years before departure. This means you will likely book your preferred ship and cabin type. 

Well-organised individuals may benefit from early booking discounts, and I can tell you from experience that they exist. It’s fantastic if you can score a great deal!

Given the substantial cost of a cruise, which can reach tens of thousands per person, early booking can result in significant savings.


If you’re seeking a specialist recommendation, we recommend subscribing to receive discounts/sales from the Polar specialists at Viva Expeditions. * Get an extra 5% off when you quote code: VIPNOMADS

6) Be Adaptable for Last Minute Changes 

In Antarctica, one of the planet’s most unforgiving environments, unpredictability reigns supreme. 

Conditions in this harsh landscape can shift in minutes, meaning the destination you eagerly anticipated may become unattainable, or an activity may not be possible due to weather. 

For example, there is an option to go overnight camping on our 10-day South Shetland Islands and Antarctica Peninsula tour, an activity that many of us were very excited about. 

Polar landscapes

On the excursion day, our group was all prepared for our overnight adventure on the ice, surrounded by towering glaciers, and the weather looked promising. But, as we were enjoying dinner on the ship before heading out, our expedition leader announced that conditions had drastically changed outside, and it simply wasn’t safe enough for us to camp due to visibility and other elements.

That was our only window for taking this activity, and it just wasn’t to be. 

One thing you can count on is that your experienced expedition crew come equipped with contingency plans for every condition. 

Although your itinerary might deviate from the original schedule, and certain stops may need to be switched for another, it still retains the beauty of your adventure.

The key to any travel in Antarctica is to be adaptable and embrace each moment of the trip as it unfolds.

7) Sign up for optional activities


For many visitors who travel to Antarctica, it’s a destination you will likely only get to visit once – so make the most of it!

Once you have booked your Antarctica trip, consider signing up for the multiple optional activities according to your preferences. Often, this is available to do before your trip departs – and, commonly, each activity can only accommodate a certain number of guests. 

If you have a chance to confirm your spot on a particular activity before your trip departs, we recommend you do so. Your agent can usually assist you with this.

Imagine venturing into the uniquely stunning landscape on a snowshoeing trip, trying overnight camping, or encountering wildlife up close while gliding around massive glaciers on a kayak.

8) Bring spare batteries and memory cards for your camera

Antarctica presents a photographer’s paradise with panoramic icebergs, abundant wildlife, and unique landscapes, offering photo opportunities at every turn. 

However, experiencing such cold temperatures will significantly shorten camera battery life on both iPhones and cameras, making it essential to carry fully charged spares and a good power bank in your day pack. 

Once on land via the zodiac, returning to the ship for batteries may not be possible; if it is, doing so will significantly reduce your time at each landing to fully enjoy the landscapes and wildlife.  

If photography is one of the reasons why you would like to travel to Antarctica, we’d recommend bringing extra memory cards; the more storage, the better, and to always back up your photos in your free time back on the ship.

9) Don’t Forget Travel Insurance


For travel to Antarctica, always remember to expect the unexpected. 

Purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance policy is a must; it’s one of our most important travel tips in Antarctica. You must show your policy details to your Antarctica booking agent when reserving a place for your trip. 

The tour operator will not accept you as a passenger on board if you do not have sufficient coverage. 

Travel insurance in Antarctica is essential for emergency evacuation, repatriation, and medical fees, ideally exceeding USD 200,000. 

Evacuation alone costs a minimum of USD 100,000. 

Given Antarctica’s unpredictable weather, coverage for delays, interruptions, and cancellations is crucial. 

Check the fine print to ensure continued coverage beyond the ship and for all planned activities. We have a long-term worldwide plan with my preferred Travel Insurance provider, Heymondo.

As a bonus, get an extra 5% discount on insurance with this link.

Heymondo’s comprehensive worldwide policy covers all of the above, and we recommend them for travellers up to 69 years of age (they do not cover travellers aged 70+ years old).

For travellers older than 70 years old, I recommend the following:

Be sure to carefully review all insurance options with your chosen provider to avoid surprises.

10) Respect the Wildlife & Environment

Antarctica is a delicate ecosystem featuring multiple protected zones, diverse species, and ongoing scientific research.

It’s a place praised as the last wilderness on Earth, so we all need to ‘do our bit’ to keep it this way.

When embarking on a cruise, visiting with minimal impact and upholding respect for the environment is vital.

Once you have settled onto your ship and before disembarking, all tour operators will provide a briefing outlining what actions are permitted and what behaviours or actions are not. 

It is imperative to adhere diligently to the guidelines set by your tour operators.

Contributing to sustainable tourism efforts is pivotal in safeguarding Antarctica and its inhabitants, ensuring their prosperity for generations to come!