Is Antarctica on your bucket list? Everyone wants to see the penguins, but what does it take to get there and how much does it cost? These are just some of the questions we asked Shellie from KidTripster, who just returned from her trip to Antarctica with her teen son. Plus, get the scoop on Seattle Museum Month!
If you are thinking about visiting Seattle and like to explore museums you should definitely go in February. February is museum month! This is a partnership between museums and hotels were if you stay at a hotel even for a night you get a pass which will get you half-price admission to about twenty different area museums. Read more about Seattle Museum Month on Stuffed Suitcase.
ON THE PODCAST
00:32 – Thank you from the Vacation Mavens and reminder to subscribe
00:55 – Kim’s recent staycation in Seattle
13:47 – Taking with Shellie Bailey-Shah
16:29 – What put Antarctica on Shellie’s bucket list
17:24 – Choosing a company to go with
18:58 – The plane ride over Drake Passage
20:16 – How to decide if your child is ready for this kind of trip
23:00 – When to go
24:25 – How long to visit for
25:25 – Cruise life
33:50 – Wildlife encounters
37:57 – Weather
39:30 – Packing tips
41:32 – Food on the cruise
43:45 – Budget
46:14 – Travel insurance yes or no?
49:30 – Shellie’s Favorite Travel Gear
51:08 – What’s next for Shellie
53:20 – Travel with teens Facebook group
ABOUT SHELLIE BAILEY-SHAH
Shellie Bailey-Shah is the founder and editor of KidTripster, an online family travel resource that provides information and inspiration to families traveling anywhere in the world. The site was just awarded the Lowell Thomas Silver Award from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) for “Best Travel Journalism Website.” Shellie, of course, does a fair amount of traveling herself. She’s visited 46 states, 44 U.S. national parks, 34 countries and as of last month, 7 continents. She lives in Portland, Oregon and is mother to two boys, ages 16 and 18. Follow Shellie on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO ANTARCTICA
- When you are planning your trip to Antarctica, there are going to be two major options you should decide on before moving on to the little details of your trip. These are whether you want to fly across or cruise through the Drake Passage.
- Be aware that the majority of your trip will be dependant on the weather. Once you get to a certain point you have to wait for a good window of weather in order to get to Antarctica. For instance, when traveling with Antarctica 21, if you can’t get down there in four days due to the weather conditions, the company will refund you the money of your trip.
- When flying to Antarctica, the chartered flight you will be taking is through a commercial airline, one that you may say is better than a commercial flight you’ve taken in the States.
- If you are traveling with kids here are a few questions you should ask yourself for any trip you plan but for this trip especially.
- Will they remember the trip?
- Are they comfortable with a look of air travel?
- Are they good with structured activities?
- Will they be okay with alone time or entertaining themselves? (There are no kids clubs on a trip like this.)
- Are they good with following directions? (Being on a ship there are plenty of safety concerns as well as with wildlife.)
- Who do they do in cold weather?
- Does your child(ren) love nature?
- Some of the cruise lines have a minimum age for kids. Keep that in mind when booking. For example Antarctica 21 has a minimum age of 8 years old. But even though there is a minimum age you still might think about waiting a few more years depending on your answers to the questions above. The teen age years may be best for your family to get the most out of your trip.
- Antarctica has a very short tourist season from early December through early March. If your main interest is to see penguin chicks, you should plan on going in late January since they tend to hatch around Christmas time.
- The seven-day, six-night cruise seems to give you a good chunk of time for your trip, but there are longer cruises available depending on how much you would like to spend. But keep in mind that travel time to get there could take you two or three days both there and back, which will make your trip about 12 days long from start to finish.
- On board the ship, there will be about two excursions a day; one in the morning and one in the evening. There will also be chances to pay extra and do some outdoor activities like snowshoeing.
- On-ship, there are informational talks you can go to and learn more about the area and if you are adventurous enough you can be a part of a polar plunge off the side of the boat.
- When you are going out on the land you are right out in the wild. You could possibly get within a foot of a penguin as they are waddling by to go to the sea or on their way back to their nest. You should not go too close but there will be occasions when they will waddle close to you.
- Depending on the time you go, you could get great weather and it may be only in the 30s (before windchill). If you go out on excursions and are moving around you could actually end up taking off you coat!
- Don’t overpack! With the amount of travel it takes to get the Antarctica packing just a carry on and a backpack maybe the best option. Plus since the company provides boots for you you only have to worry about wearing a pair of shoes for your travels. Be sure to also leave the hand warmers at home. You will probably not use them, they will take up room you could use for something else and they trip the scanners at the airports so you could possibly get stopped every time you try to go through security, which will make your travel time a bit more tedious.
- With Antarctica 21 your food is served part buffet style and part table service. The soup and salad is buffet while the appetizers are already set on the table. They will then offer a few options for your main dish and dessert to choose from. Meals are open seating.
- A trip to Antarctica is not cheap! So you should try to budget at least $13,000 per person. This will include the flight to and from Antartica, two nights stay in Punta Arenas (night before flight and night after), food, excursions except for the snowshoeing and kayaking. You will still need to pay for the flights to get to Punta Arenas. If you chose to take a ship through the Drake Passage rather than fly you could save up to 25% of the price. So if you are okay with sea sickness this might be a better option for you.
- If you are going to travel with Antarctica 21, travel insurance is required. This may also be the case with other companies for Antarctica as well.
FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR
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Shellie and her son loved their Columbia Outdry jackets in Antarctica, it felt like their own personal furnace surrounding them.
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