Tips for your first polar expedition

By admin / 05 July 2017

Tips for your first polar expedition

As the owner and founder of Expeditions Online – the independent expedition cruise travel agency – I’ve spent the majority of my working life in polar tourism, and a large proportion in the Polar Regions. I’ve learned many things along the way on how to prepare well for a polar expedition and what to expect. So, if you are planning to travel to one of the ends of the earth, I’m sure you know that you will need to do some thorough planning! To help you get started, here are my tips for your first polar expedition.

1. Travel via a polar expedition cruise

You probably would expect me to say this. However, I honestly believe that, given the challenges these areas pose, a polar expedition cruise is your best option if you are not an experienced explorer. You’ll still have freedom, drama and adventure, but you’ll have the safety and security of the boat and the experts on board.

Polar cruise passengers exploring beautiful Antarctica

Polar cruise passengers exploring beautiful Antarctica

2. Plan and prepare your kit

You might receive a packing list from your expedition organiser, so do be sure to make use of it. Focus on what you will need to help you deal with the conditions, but here are a few ideas of what you should expect to include in your kit:

  • Polarized sunglasses

  • Sunscreen and moisturiser

  • Lots of layers

  • Waterproof and windproof clothing

  • Good waterproof boots that you can use for walking

  • Day sack

  • Dry bags for your electronic kit

  • Good binoculars

  • Camera  


3. Pack a camera and know how to use it in the conditions

You’ll undoubtedly want to capture the beautiful surroundings of the Polar Regions, so do make sure you remember to pack a camera. Learn to use it in the bright white conditions you’ll find yourself in. There is a knack to this—if you master the skill beforehand, you’ll return home with some beautiful photography. Take more memory cards than you think you need and a way to back up your pictures, and try to bring a camera with a long-range focus lens.

Capture iconic images on your Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.

Capture iconic images on your Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.

4. Get adequate travel insurance

A polar expedition is not your average holiday, so spend some time checking the small print on various insurance policies (or speak to your travel insurance provider for advice) to ensure the location and actives you will be doing are covered.


5. Think about how to combat seasickness

If you are planning to travel via polar cruise, then you might experience seasickness at the beginning of the trip. It happens to the best of us, and it will pass! However, bring some remedies with you, like seasickness bands for your wrists, natural remedies such as ginger, or indeed prescribed medication if you know you are prone to seasickness.


6. Do a little reading before you go

You will enjoy your destination so much more if you do a little research before you travel. If you are going by polar cruise, there will usually be experts on board, sharing their extensive knowledge. However, you get out what you put in, so do a little reading before you travel and educate yourself a little more on what you will see and experience. Always read the literature from the tour company if you are traveling via polar cruise.


7. Have a decent level of fitness

Having a decent level of fitness and mobility means that you will be able to enjoy all aspects of your first polar expedition, such as excursions from the boat, zodiac landings, and kayaking. Do some preparation before you go to ensure that you are in good health, and be sure to break in your shoes to avoid sore feet and blisters!

Kayaking through the Antarctic Peninsula is an unforgettable experience.

Kayaking through the Antarctic Peninsula is an unforgettable experience.  

8. Be flexible—things change for good reason

Keep a flexible mind-set throughout your trip. The weather and conditions might change, which means that those operating the polar cruise might need to alter the itinerary. It can be frustrating, but these changes will be made to ensure your safety, so keep an open mind and flexible attitude to get the most out of your trip.


9. Embrace it

You’ll be in a land of extremes. However, the reward is the quiet solitude and the breath-taking beautify of your surroundings. With each day, your surroundings will continue to reward you, offering new and unique experiences for you to embrace.  


10. Never leave any trace of you being there

I consider myself very lucky to be able to visit the Polar Regions. They are our last great wilderness, so it is incredibly important to protect them as best we can. One of the best ways you can repay the opportunity of traveling there is to leave no trace—don’t leave anything behind, and treat these unspoiled areas with great respect.

Antarctica – one of the world’s most unspoiled locations.

Antarctica – one of the world’s most unspoiled locations.

For more information on our trips to the Arctic and Antarctic, please to get in touch with us at  Our travel advice on both Arctic and Antarctic expeditions is independent and expert. Get in touch with us today for help and advice on travel to the polar regions—the world’s last wildernesses.  

Stewart Campbell

Expeditions Online.

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