How To Travel To Antarctica For Cheap?

How To Travel To Antarctica For Cheap


If you are reading this article, it means you haven’t booked your tour yet, and that’s great because in this article we would be suggesting you some of the tips to visit Antarctica on budget.

Here comes the key question, how much does it cost to visit Antarctica?

Read our full guide on How to travel to Antarctica, all you need to know?

Antarctica is not a bargain, even a budget trip will cost you around 6,000 USD on average and prices are increasing every year exponentially. But following our budget tips, you can expect saving between 30 – 40%!

So, how can we reduce the cost?

1) Last-Minute Deals

For people who have flexibility (and courage) to travel last minute, this option is really great. You can book a tour for as cheap as 3,500 USD. This is the cheapest we saw right before starting our expedition in Feb 2017.

Turn up in Ushuaia, Argentina and book yourself into a reasonable accommodation. You will find dozens of travel agents in the city center.  Last-minute deals will be simply highlighted on doors of tour agencies. If you manage to find a tour which is leaving the next day, you can book it for even 3,500 USD. Deadly Deal!

You might not be lucky on day one, but one-week period gives you a fair chance to catch a bargain tour. And while you’re in Ushuaia, there are lots of beautiful places to explore around. Trust us you won’t get bored! So you are not just waiting for the right tour to appear, but also having fun.

Last Minute deal highlighted outside a local tour agency


2) Book in Advance (8 Months up to 1 year)

This is for people who do not have enough flexibility to choose a last-minute tour.  For those who for example need to get their leave approval well in advance in order to take 3 weeks off work (that’s us).

In every vessel there are triple and quadruple sharing cabin which are the cheapest one. They are booked up to a year in advance. There are not many such cabins, so make sure you book in advance. And in case of Antarctica expedition “in advance” means at least 8 months before planned departure. Since you are booking early, do negotiate the price with an agency.

Compare the rate with as many agencies as you can find. With proper negotiation you can reduce the cost up to 30%.


3) Look for a Flash Deal

To explain this, let us take you through the Antarctica Tour booking process. To get a booking, you first pay 30% deposit. Then 3 months before your tour departure you have to make the full payment. That’s when cancellations start happening (typically, around September/October) and tour agencies start offering discounted rates for these newly opened spots. To be updated on new spot rates, sign up for mailing lists of every Ushuaia agent you can find on Internet. Follow same tour agents on their Facebook page. Book a spot the minute you see a deal. The cheapest flash deal we saw was 4,200 USD. The only disadvantage of this option is that it works well for 1 or 2 travelers. If you are a big group, it’s unlikely that you all will be able to get into the same cabin type or even same vessel.

You can get updated on flash deals by simply following local tour agencies Facebook page or subscribing to their website



4) Avoid the Peak Season

December and January is the peak time for Antarctica expeditions. Prices are at their extreme and tours are booked months in advance.  Early November and March are considered to be “off season”. When we were booking our trip, we were a bit skeptic about booking our trip during the off season.  We simply did not have any first-hand information and we did not want to miss out on the adventure of a lifetime. But after deeper research, we did take the risk. We booked our expedition from Feb 26 to March 8 in 2017 and the weather was PERFECT. There were thousands of penguins and other wildlife. It was amazing. One of my other friends booked a trip for early November and loved every second of it. In conclusion, Antarctica is beautiful in all the season. It might be a couple of degrees colder as compared to the peak season but that’s about it . So go ahead and book it without a doubt. The cheapest price we found for early November expedition was 4,200 USD and it wasn’t even a last-minute deal.

Enjoying a nice sunny day in Antarctica in March


5) Go for a Cheaper Vessel

There are plenty of options to book an Antarctica expedition. You have all kind of cabins and vessels available. But if you are on a budget trip, consider booking a cheaper vessel.

We booked our tour on a boat called M/V Ushuaia. We can assure you that even though the price was relatively cheap, the service was outstanding. Originally built for the US Oceanographic agency, this ice-strengthened vessel is designed for polar travel and Antarctica expeditions. So, it is indeed a boat for scientists and backpackers alike.

In addition to that M/V Ushuaia has a capacity of only 92 passengers. This is actually very important folks, as Antarctica regulations allow not more than 100 people to land at the continent at any given point of time. This means that if you’re on a boat with more than 100 passengers, you can do only one landing a day. While smaller boats generally manage two landings. So, less price and twice the fun!

Our ice-strengthened vessel M/V Ushuaia designed for polar travel and Antarctica expeditions


6) Book with Local Tour Agencies

You will find a number of agencies in your home countries to book a trip to Antarctica. But in most of the cases these agencies will be making the booking with some local tour agency. So you end up paying double margins and double taxes by booking through such intermediaries. Our recommendation is to go ahead with local Argentinian agencies. This way you get a better deal and also support local business. We booked our trip with a tour agency called Antarctica Travel and we are highly satisfied with end-to-end Planning and execution.

Dozens of local tour agencies in Ushuaia City Center


7) Group Booking

If you find (or organize) a group, then you will be able to negotiate better with tour agencies. So try to reach out to as many people as you can before making a booking. In addition to cost, also negotiate with the agency to provide local tours in Ushuaia as a bonus. Also try negotiating to rent gear for Antarctica expedition, as it can save you some money. We managed to negotiate cost, local tours as well as gear with our agency just by having a group of 4.

How long is forever? Sometimes just a second


8) Avoid Extra Cost Activities like Kayaking/Diving

Activities like diving or kayaking offered in Antarctica are an additional cost and it can shoot up your budget. Paying 800 USD for kayaking in Antarctica is not worth, as Zodiac cruises offer the same experience and are already part of your expedition cost. Opt for free activities such as hiking, polar plunge and zodiac cruises to keep your cost balanced.

Enjoying our Zodiac cruise. In search of whales, seals and penguins


9) Work on the Ship

Chef, engineer, doctor, tour guide, sailor, cleaner are some of the staff on board on any of the vessels. You will be able to travel free to Antarctica if you have a skill set for any of the above mentioned professions. The trick is you’ll probably have to commit to a full season of five Months. To be able to get a job on an Antarctica expedition boat.

Lots of options to join the staff of any vessel for Antarctica Expedition

Having said all the above, your Antarctica trip will still be one of the most expensive adventures you’ll take and you should be ready to pay at least 3,500 USD

So is it Worth Going to Antarctica?

The answer is big YESSSS.

It’s a life changing experience and every penny you spend on this trip is worth it. Just looking at our pictures makes us want to visit Antarctica again.

Let us know if you have any more questions or any additional tips to make the trip cheaper.


Author: Offbeat Wanderlust


  1. Great read and fab photos, thanks. Antarctica is very high on my list of destinations to visit and your guide is very helpful. With all the different companies operating visits I would worry a little bit about safety. Are they all much the same standard or are there some best to be avoided?

  2. I’m dying to go to Antarctica. It’s my last continent! Saving is huge for this one. I am excited to hear there are so many ways to find a deal on the trip. 3500 is still a lot but nothing compared to 6000 so time for me to start saving!

    1. Thanks Meghan.
      Yes Antarctica is very expensive but I promise its worth every penny. Hope you get to visit Antarctica soon.

    1. yes it is. It is the most expensive place to visit but I promise its worth every penny you spend. There is no place like Antarctica.

  3. I love this post so much! That’s a really good idea to wait in town while checking tour prices each day! I’m actually hoping to apply to work on the weddell seal tagging program in Antarctica next year since I have arctic wildlife experience already. And if I don’t get that, then I’ll try to apply for a cruise/research boat instead since I also work seasonally on ships right now! Either way, I’m hoping to get not only get to travel to Antarctica for free, but to get paid to go there! hahaha

  4. Antarctica is pretty high on my list of trips I HAVE to do at some point. All the photos I’ve seen look incredible, and there is something about being on Anarctica that seems like such an achievment. Glad to see there are slightly affordable ways to get there.

  5. These are great tips! Definitely looking into doing this in the next few years so I’ll be saving this to refer to. Beautiful photos – looks like an amazing trip.

  6. I would love to be able to visit Antarctica one day, so these are great tips to understand just how much money I would have to save before visiting. Great post!

  7. This is great! Was only talking about the fact that Antarctica is so expensive tonight but it’s the only continent I haven’t been to and REALLY need to go! Will bookmark this one 🙂

  8. This is super helpful, thanks! I didn’t realize you could just show up and get a tour at the last minute. This is something I’d really like to do someday but isn’t a priority for me at the moment–so making a split-second decision when I already happen to be in Argentina seems like the way to go! One question — do you know if solo travelers normally form groups to share cabins with, or do they normally pay single supplements?

    1. Thanks Carrie. I wish you get to visit Antarctica super soon.
      No solo travellers dont have to make group. Irrespective you go as a group or go as solo traveller price will be same.
      I mean of-course with more people there is always better negotiation power but otherwise u don’t have to look for a group. there are shared cabin where you will find other solo travellers. you can read our full guide to Antarctica here

  9. You’re photos are simply stunning! We’re visiting Argentina in February/March so who knows, we may just be able to drop on one of those deals. If we do, I’ll be sure to come back and thank you!

  10. These tips are so practical and handy! It definitely makes sense to book with a local agency, and I didn’t even know that there were flash sales. I’ll have to be on the lookout for deals because it’s one of my dream destinations.

  11. I bet it’s worth going!! I am thinking about a trip to Antarctica for my honeymoon next year but it is a long journey and very expensive. I think we’ll check out some early booking offers, since we don’t have the flexibility. Thanks for the tips!

  12. You have no idea how it made me to read this post – I have always wanted to do an expedition to Antarctica but as a budget traveler thought it was out of reach, and one of those places I’d have to do in the future when I actually have some money behind me. Love that there is a way to do it on the cheap and you have some great tips here especially looking for flash deals.

  13. OMG! These pics look flawless.. Antarctica is my dream destination and can’t wait to head there. Thank you so much for this big saving money keys 🔑 . This will certainly help us .

  14. We did some research on Antartica last year, but it didn’t materialize at the time. Now that I have discovered some money-saving tips in this post of yours, let me give it a shot again. How does early October sound for a trip?

    1. early october is good too and u will get good rates for early october ..just bear in mind u wont see any whales in october.

  15. I’ve heard that Antarctica is invariably expensive but so worth it, but not read about any money saving tips before, so this is priceless! I firmly fall in to the category of having to book in advance, so it’s great that you have outlined all the possible options to match individual circumstances. Thanks 🙂

  16. When I booked to Antarctica I food it a year in advance and got great deal. I also stayed in ushuaia for a couple of weeks and saw lots of last minute opportunities.!

  17. Antartica looks incredible and you give excellent tips here. Planning ahead is important and I think you’re right about going with a local tour company to reduce the cost. Maybe one day!

  18. It’s a dream to visit Antarctica one day! But the cost is somewhat offputting. So it’s great to see this article with all the ways you can save money on a trip. Off-season travel is a really great way to save!

  19. These are some fantastic tips. Antarctica has always seemed so out of reach because of the expenses involved but to know that there are cheaper ways of doing it? That’s amazing. Last minute deals sound extremely attractive although I don’t usually have the sort of flexibility required for that 🙂 Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  20. Gosh 6,000 USD is still so expensive, although this would be a lifetime trip I can’t see myself every having the money to travel there! That said, it’s good to have these tips in case I do suddenly find the money as I would love to go – I definitely didn’t realise you could just rock up and book a tour, so that is priceless info!

  21. These are great tips for making a trip to Antarctica affordable. I would expect to pay a lot to go there but it’s great to see there is a few ways to get a great deal. Working on a ship would be quite the experience but I guess the commitment of four months or so would hold some people back. Good tip on sailing with the smaller boats as I didn’t know about the regulations of Antarctica and landings of under 100 people.

  22. Oh my goodness.. I figured Antartica would be expensive but I didn’t know it was 6000USD expensive! I guess it’s a once in a lifetime experience that’s worth splurging on though. These are great tips for keeping the cost down!

  23. As much as I’d love to visit Antarctica, I still don’t feel the phrase “as cheap as 3,500 USD” is that cheap 🙁 that’s £2624.30, which is about 5 mortgage payments, so I just couldn’t justify a cost like that for one trip. That said, whale watching in Antarctica is on my bucket list, so never say never 😉 x

  24. I agree that last-minute deals are the way to go not just in Antarctica but anywhere! However, I rarely find deals to Antarctica 🙁 And OMG! Polar plunge sounds sooooo exciting!

    1. you will find it when you are in ushuaia and vessel is departing in next couple of days. ofcourse there is a risk there. Polar plunge was crazy. 🙂

  25. I am curious: did negotiating for a cheaper tour actually work for you ? I was a bit suprised by the “up to 30% discount” , since most of not all of the companies I spoke with were not even open to discussing discounts ( never mind 30%)
    Any particular experience you can share (& name of tour comp) ?

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