How to Visit Antarctica and Get the Most Out of Your Trip

I decided to travel to Antarctica based almost solely on the beautiful pictures of icebergs on a friend’s Facebook page- before realizing it was actually Iceland that was photographed.

So you can imagine how much research I put into figuring out how to visit Antarctica before I finally sailed to the ice continent. On a ship of 176 passengers, it's safe to say I was the least prepared person on board; but for once I actually learned from my mishaps.

If I could do it all over again, the following are the things I would do differently.

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You’re Going to See a Ton of Penguins in Antarctica

I was lying in the pitch black of my Antarctica cruise ship cabin when we felt the ship stop.

Finally, it is time to see the penguins in Antarctica.

Cautiously, I turned on the light and looked at my roommate with wide-eyes. We had finally made it to the final continent; though not my final continent because I seem to be going about this world travel thing in a haphazard way.

The loudspeaker came on instructing us to head to the mudroom and suit up. It was comical to see a group of almost a hundred grown adults crammed into a tiny space attempting to jam every inch of exposed skin into sixty layers of clothing while practically vibrating with excitement.

Visiting Antarctica is a strange idea for me. While I had no idea what to really expect, my expectations were high. After all of the headaches and fuss, after the struggle to get there, I did not want to be disappointed.

I struggled into my parka and thick rubber boots and half waddled down to board the zodiac.

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Things to Do in Antarctica – Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

I can now proudly say I'm one of the first people in the world to have SUP’ed in Antarctica. And no, I didn't fall off my board into the frigid waters, despite some dire predictions among my family and friends.

To be honest, I chose my ship almost solely based on the fact they're the only ones who currently offer stand up paddleboarding as one of the Antarctica activities.

I promised myself I'd practice the sport before I got down south and then promptly avoided it for my entire journey throughout South America. Thus, I found myself checking in about a dozen times with the safety zodiac driver that he would be able to fish me out quickly when I fell in.

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How to Book a Trip to Antarctica Without Going Insane

The process to book a trip to Antarctica can be insanely frustrating.

I don't mean physically getting myself to the continent, though getting across the Drake is a challenge in itself. The very act of figuring out how to book it as a backpacker was the most stressful aspect of this trip. I started off researching my options online and was quickly in over my head.

Previous backpackers openly mocked those who spent thousands and thousands to get to Antarctica when they simply showed up in Ushuaia, booked a last minute sailing at drop bottom prices, and set sail the next day.

The problem with these blogs and forums was that they all seemed to have sailed five or more years ago. More up-to-date information was confusing, with some travelers to Argentina’s southernmost city reporting no last minute deals to be found any more or ones that didn't vary greatly in cost in what was offered online.

I went back and forth over which way to go about this for weeks.

It was the most frustrating part of my trip planning and I obsessed over it. In the end, I decided to book my trip more than a year in advance for a number of reasons: I like having a plan, I wanted to SUP (stand-up paddleboard- one of the newest things to do in Antarctica) and only one ship offered it, and I wanted to be on a reliable ship.

So how did it work out?


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