How Much Does It Cost To Travel To Antarctica?
Whenever anybody finds out for the first time that I’ve traveled to Antarctica (especially after seeing my pictures!), I always get two immediate follow-up questions:
- How much does Antarctica travel cost?
- How can you afford that???
The Trip Of A Lifetime
Before we get started with diving headfirst into the actual numbers involved with traveling to Antarctica, know that even after using every discount trick in the book, it’s an expensive place to visit. Antarctica is one of those “once in a lifetime” bucket list destinations that most people save for years to afford traveling to.
It doesn’t have to drain your life savings, but it’s not the kind of trip that you can do on a complete shoestring budget. You may need to settle for a shoestring budget as far as Antarctica travel goes. You’ll be spending several thousand dollars per person any way you cut it.
How To Reduce Antarctica Travel Costs
There are ways to travel more cheaply than I did. I booked my trip my way because I had several very specific requirements, such as a narrow time frame in which I could travel and that I really, REALLY wanted to go south of the Antarctic Circle. Those limited my options, so be to sure I could go at all I decided to book a full price ticket.
However, if you are a bit more flexible, there are great savings to be had. The most common method for saving money is to book a last minute trip. The week of departure, ships will open up any unsold cabins for deep discounts, sometimes over 50%! You can either contact the tour operator directly, or contact one of the many Antarctica travel agencies based in Ushuaia. I used Freestyle Adventure Travel and they were awesome. You don’t even necessarily have to be in Ushuaia to book it, although it certainly helps.
Before you look at the cheapest cabin prices and budget for half of that cost, know that it’s typically the more expensive cabins that get opened up to the last minute deals. The cheaper shared 3 and 4 person cabins almost always sell out, but you may get a big discount on an upgraded cabin to the point where it may still cost less than a smaller, more crowded cabin. And who knows, maybe you’ll even get lucky on a discounted shared room!
Keep It Simple
Besides booking a last minute trip, you can also reduce your Antarctica Travel Costs by booking a smaller room in a shared cabin. You’ll hardly spend any time in it other than to sleep, so there’s not much need to go crazy with the amenities.
The other obvious factor is the length of your trip. The shorter the trip, the lower the cost, and you’ll still get an incredible experience. I booked a longer trip that went farther south because it was important to me, and even with the longer trip I wasn’t ready for it to end. While a shorter trip may leave you wanting more, you’ll still get to see the same amazing scenery and wildlife as all of the other trips, just slightly less of it.
Other Antarctica Travel Considerations
For a more thorough guide on preparing for your trip to Antarctica, you can check out my post on the subject. Just to reiterate some important factors, though, you should absolutely:
- Book your trip on a ship with 100 passengers aboard or less.
- Book with an IAATO Certified tour operator.
- Arrive at least a day early in Ushuaia to prepare and give yourself a buffer in case something goes wrong with your flight.
My Actual Antarctica Travel Costs
Ok, here we go. Here’s the juicy stuff, the number you came to this post to see. Are you sitting down? I hope so, because you’re in for some sticker shock.
My trip to Antarctica cost a total of $14,554.29
Phew! Boy does it feel good to get that off my chest. Was it what you were expecting? This is the cost for ONE PERSON, and includes just my portion of any shared costs. Let me break it down for you.
Breakdown of my Antarctica Travel Costs
Airfare: $1786.29 from LAX to USH on LAN airlines
Travel Insurance: $438 for VERY comprehensive coverage. If I had it to do again, I would have gone with almost the same amount of coverage for MUCH less money from World Nomads. Be sure to check what insurance limits your operator requires.
Cruise Cost: $11,790(!) for a double cabin with One Ocean Expeditions, whom I highly recommend. They don’t sponsor me, I’m just an enthusiastic fan.
Crew Tips: $10-$15 per day per person. This worked out to $180 for me at $15 per day.
Hotels in Ushuaia: $135 at Alto Andino Hotel and $165 at Del Bosque Apart Hotel. I allowed myself one night in Ushuaia on either end of the trip in case anything went wrong with the flights or ship arrival, and to see Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego as well. Both hotels were fine mid-range properties, although I have to admit I had a bad experience with the bath tub at Alto Andino.
Meals in Ushuaia: 2 meals at $30 each. I’m only counting dinners in Ushuaia, because I only snacked otherwise. My dinner for both nights in Ushuaia was at Kalma Resto, one of my favorite restaurants I’ve ever been to. For the cost of a meal at the Cheesecake Factory in America, you can get a world class, locally-sourced meal.
Other Antarctica Travel Costs: If you decide to hit the bar on your ship, plan on around $8-$10 per drink. Some cruises have optional excursions as well, such as Sea Kayaking on mine (which had to be paid in advance of the trip). You may also want to leave yourself some extra money on hand in case you realize you forgot some gear after you’ve arrived in Ushuaia or if you lose something important.
So there you have it. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to spend as much as I did to get to Antarctica. If you are very flexible and do enough planning, you could probably get your Antarctica Travel Costs down to as little as $5000 per person depending on airfare prices.
Do you have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Drop me a line below and I’m happy to help you try to save some money on your trip to the most beautiful place in the world!
Disclosure: Some (not all) of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I will get a commission if you purchase the products they link to. The accommodations listed are the ones I actually stayed in.