My travel accoutrements

February 26, 2022 • 3:45 pm

Somebody asked what I’m bringing to Antarctica, so I thought i’d show you my gear, all packed up and ready to go. Last year I took a rolling duffel bag, which I checked in because it was big, and discovered on the trip that I took about three times as many clothes as I needed. (Laundry is easy to do in your room, and there are special rubber-lined closets to dry Antarctic-sodden clothes which are perfect places to hang laundry.)

This year I’m taking only carry-on luggage: a small Osprey soft carry-on bag and my classic High Sierra backpack, which I buy by the threes in case they stop making them (each daypack lasts about 1.5-1 years). WIth these two bags I don’t have to check in any luggage, which prevents loss and saves a lot of time. (Last year armed Chilean robbers stole the checked in luggage from about half the passengers on one cruise by hijacking the luggage trains.)

So, below is my kit: Osprey bag to the rear, daypack in front, and my Hurtigruten waterproof and water-resistant pants I was issued two years ago.  If I didn’t have a computer, a fat wad of paperwork, and a 1400-page paperback of A Suitable Boy, I’d be traveling even lighter.

I would highly recommend using packing cubes (I favor Dot&Dot nylon ones), both large and small, which are light but let you roll your clothes up into a tiny apace. Those and using Rohan light travel clothes, which dry almost instantly, have changed my travel life.

My Covid-19 PCR test that I took yesterday afternoon came back negative late last night, and I’ve submitted it to both United Airlines and the Chilean government, and am good to go with both. Tomorrow at this time I’ll be going to Houston, lay over there for a few hours, and then fly the nine hours to Santiago. There we’re in quarantine in a hotel and can’t leave our rooms till 4 am the next morning to catch a 7 am flight to Punta Arenas at the tip of Chile. There, soon after arrival, we board the ship, which leaves Tuesday afternoon. (They turn the ship around in half a day).

During our half-day quarantine in Santiago, we just undergo yet another RCR Covid test, and then another (probably a “rapid” test) before we board the ship.  And of course I’ll need one to go back to the USA; the ship provides those, I’m told.

With any luck I’ll be here on Tuesday at about 10 a.m. Wish me luck.

33 thoughts on “My travel accoutrements

  1. We LOVED Punta Arenas. If you have an evening when you return there is an incredible French restaurant there. One star Michelin quality food. French Chef fell in love with a Chilean woman and moved there. Also even if you just have a couple hours, hire a local guide to take you to “the end of the road”. The literal end of the trans america highway. Beautiful forest and stone beach just beyond. Darwin wrote about the area in Voyage of the Beagle.

    1. A few years ago when considering the ‘big’ nordic ski race near Ushaia (Wasn’t Jerry’s last trip based there?), getting there on land by 4 wheels plus ferries, you had to pass through from Argentina to Chile, then back. I thought the reverse applied to Punta Arenas: Chile–>Argentina–>Chile.
      Does the Trans American Highway ‘desert’ the Pacific and do that?

  2. This year I’m taking only carry-on luggage …

    Attaboy, boss! Pack light, move fast, and live off the land as you go — the motto of any savvy traveler (or guerilla fighter).

    Have a swell trip.

    1. “ off the land..” : eating entirely penguins here I expect–might get boring. But different species may each have their own distinctive je ne sais quoi.

      1. But as a biologist, I’m sure Jerry would come back with detailed notes on what the particular “ne sais quoi”s are, and how they relate to taste.
        Has someone written a penguin cookbook? That damned publishing house gets in the way of a quick search?

    1. Yes, indeed, a wonderful experience for the other passengers. However once Jerry starts his ” a suitable boy”, they may see very little of him! Have a great trip.

  3. Watch out for the backlash! 😉

    A continent of and for whiteness?: “White” colonialism and the 1959 Antarctic Treaty
    Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 November 2019


    There are at least four ways in which Antarctic colonialism was white: it was paradigmatically performed by white men; it consisted in the taking of vast, white expanses of land; it was carried out with a carte blanche (literally, “blank card”) attitude; and it was presented to the world as a white, innocent adventure. While the first, racial whiteness has been amply problematised, I suggest that the last three illuminate yet other moral wrongs of the Antarctic colonial project. Moreover, they might be constitutive of a larger class of “white” colonialisms beyond the White Continent.

    1. “…Antarctic colonial project…”

      I know you didn’t write that bloody stupid abstract, but:

      › home › first nations and the colonial project

      October 25, 2018 – The colonial project has embodied a centuries-long, ongoing campaign to annihilate, define, subordinate and exclude the ‘native’….”

      I assume the natives here were almost entirely penguins, in this instance. The upshot of this boggles the mind, the latter of whose existence between his ears may be an unwarranted assumption about that author.

  4. “..armed Chilean robbers..”
    Surprised a bit there—IIRC, a few years ago, the murder rate at least was midway between Canada’s and US’s, so quite a bit lower than both US and almost everywhere else in South or Central America, Uruguay the only possible exception, I’d guess).

    Once again, bon voyage, I can hardly wait to hear about the trip.

    1. This was robbery, not murder though. The USA is a bit of an outlier in respect of the homicide rate (for obvious reasons) but it probably matches up quite well with other developed nations in respect of other types of crime.

    2. “armed” robbery doesn’t necessarily involve a gun – at least, here outside America. Carrying a knife would constitute an armed robbery. Carrying a cosh or club would constitute armed robbery. Carrying pretty much anything apart from your clothes and fists would carry the potential to be armed robbery, if you used (whatever) as a weapon.

  5. There is a great restaurant in Punta Arenas (possibly the one mentioned above), which has an indoor grape vine alleged to be the most southerly in the world. We visited there en route to the Falklands which are home to some 5 species of penguins, of which we saw four!

    1. “..grape vine..” : Its antipodal analogue presumably being that palm tree in the far north of Scotland–sketched in the AA Book of the Road about 55 years ago. I hope both are still in situ and thriving.

  6. “…Hurtigruten waterproof and water-resistant pants..”

    From the same line, Bergen to Svalbard, I got a similar terrific coat; actually two, because hers is too loud for my dear wife to wear once the trip was done, day-glo orange, with day-glo yellow hood!

    We had to return the rubber boots, which, up at the top only about 1100 km from the North Pole, were sprayed with antiseptic stuff each time before being allowed onshore.

    Those colours were hopefully enough to frighten the polar bears, though we did have armed guards.

    I’m counting on my illegal >10% being obliterated by morning!

    1. hers is too loud for my dear wife to wear once the trip was done,

      Only wear it on days when there’s a reasonable chance of falling into ice-filled water, or getting lost in a white-out.

      Those colours were hopefully enough to frighten the polar bears,

      Do bears in general have good enough colour vision for that to be relevant. And have polar ears retained significant colour vision into their largely monochrome world over the last 100kyr or so in which they evolved? Cave fish can completely lose their vision over shorter timescales.

    1. For unmentionables, I absolutely recommend Ex Officio. They are lightweight, easy to wash, and from what I understand, resistant to microbes. Hardcore campers only bring two pairs with them – one to wear while they’re washing the other pair. The company also makes my favorite travel vest, with eleven (!) pockets.

    2. Laundry services on rigs (and drill ships, and supply boats) just gear up for one laundry bag per bunk per shift. It doesn’t matter much if there’s 5kg of mud-soaked gear in there, or 1kg of lightly sweaty unmentionables, it still takes number of washing machine hours. I’ve never met a vessel laundry that separated individual clothing into “delicates”, “colours” etc – all into one drum, one load of the same detergent. I have seen land rigs where we used steward staff from the local hotel service, and they did separate clothes into washes, writing cabin number onto the fabric, or linking them with huge stainless steel safety pins. And there were interminable problems with stuff going to the wrong cabin, or the wrong person. Absolute disaster.
      You certainly can get seawater detergents, but why? You know the number of bunk-washes per day you need, how much the toilets and galley uses, how much fresh (i.e. potable) water you are going to need each day, and you design your “water maker” reverse osmosis) plant to produce that much water per day, plus a bit of slack for tankage against servicing down-time. If you put an extra deck of accommodation (or portakabins, whatever) on board onto the deck, you need to account for that in your water budget, which may mean “speccing up” the “water maker”, or putting the public toilets onto a seawater flush or some other conservation measures to bring them into line.
      This isn’t a new industry.

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