Take the Hassle Out of Alaska Trip Planning with These Tips
Alaska, the Last Frontier…and a headache of a trip to plan.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States and it is an amazing place to go on vacation. But as I just mentioned — Alaska is big! This makes planning for an Alaska vacation overwhelming at times.
If you have never been there before it is good to read up on how to plan an amazing trip to Alaska rather than just flying in and figuring it out as you go. There is just too much area to know exactly where to do and proper Alaska trip planning will help you fit much more into your vacation!
To plan the perfect trip to Alaska, you need to know a couple of things. First of all, this is a trip that is often a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people, meaning it’s worth it to give yourself as many days as possible for your vacation.
Second, Alaska is full of national treasures that you really need to visit during your trip. There are many wonderful off-the-beaten track things about Alaska, but an amazing trip to Alaska is just not the same without these visits to these popular icons of Alaska. There are plenty of other questions to come when it comes to planning a great trip to Alaska, which I’ll address below. Are you ready to go? Let’s get planning!
How to Plan an Amazing Trip to Alaska
When planning your trip to Alaska, ask yourself a series of questions to help put together your ideal vacation.
What Do I Want to See in Alaska?
How long have you wanted to go to Alaska? Why do you want to go to Alaska? What places in Alaska do you want to see while you are there? These are all questions you should be asking yourself at the start of your trip planning process.
There are some very famous sites in Alaska such as Denali (North America’s tallest mountain), Kenai Peninsula, the many glaciers and national parks, and wildlife like you have never encountered before.
Before planning your vacation, you need to figure out which of these places are can’t-miss sites for you and then figure out the distance to get between them so you make sure you have enough vacation days and aren’t trying to fit too much in.
If your main goal in your Alaska vacation is to see wildlife and scenery, I highly recommend visits to both Kenai Fjords National Park as well as Denali National Park. These two places will allow you to see everything you can dream of as far as Alaska sites go. You can see glaciers, water, sea life, wildlife, a gorgeous mountain and more.
Alaska Travel Tip: Both Denali and Kenai Fjords National Park are located in the northern half of Alaska, meaning if you’re planning to visit Alaska via cruise (a popular way to do so), you’ll want to choose an itinerary that goes all the way to Seward (or starts there) and has the option of a pre- or post-cruise land tour that leaves from Anchorage and takes you up into inland Alaska where you can see the beauty of Denali National Park. Many of these itineraries also include a visit to Kenai Fjords National Park, though that can also be done during a day in port in Seward via a shore excursion.
When Do I Want to Visit Alaska?
There are times that are better than others to visit Alaska for various reasons. Honestly, the weather is so frigid that you really don’t want to visit between November through February. The prime time to visit Alaska is the summer months. This is when you will see the most wildlife and you will have the nicest weather.
If you want to visit for the Northern Lights, then late summer/early fall is the key time to travel there.
Visiting in the shoulder season (April/May or September/October) will provide you with great views, lower prices, and fewer crowds.
How Am I Going to Get Around Alaska?
Alaska isn’t quite like other vacation destinations when it comes to transportation so planning in advance how you’ll get around Alaska is key to an enjoyable trip. In Alaska, you can’t just land at the airport and expect an Uber to take you to all of the places you want to go!
Other than downtown Anchorage, everything is quite spread out in the state, and it can be hard to get from place to place. Most people who travel here choose a train, a bus, or a rental car as their options. The bus or the train is highly recommended as you don’t have to stress about driving long distances and you can sit back and enjoy the views as they pass you by.
Cruising is also a great way to get around Alaska and you can even take roundtrip cruises from Seattle, Washington, or Vancouver, British Columbia, making it a hassle-free way to get to various cities in Alaska.
How Much Can I Afford to Spend on a Trip to Alaska?
While there are ways to save money on a trip to Alaska, the truth is that it is often quite pricey. Make sure you budget well for this trip! Trust me, it’s worth it!
For example, with cruising, you can do one of the aforementioned roundtrips from the PNW, which may save you money on airfare. There are also one-way cruises from the PNW to Anchorage and vice versa. These one-way trips mean you’ll be needing to get airfare either to or from Anchorage, Alaska, which can be expensive.
But on the flip side, if you have more room in your budget for this trip, then a one-way cruise gives you the opportunity to add on a guided multi-day tour at the start or end of your trip that departs from Anchorage. Doing such a tour will give you the chance to see the inland wonders of Alaska, such as Denali National Park and Talkeetna.
When Should I Book My Trip to Alaska?
Alaska tourist season is very, very busy. Tickets and lodging will sell out quickly. Additionally, trips to Alaska are often quite involved and detailed. For these reasons, it is typically suggested to book your trip to Alaska at least six months in advance.
Yes, you can book a last minute trip to Alaska, but without the 6-month notice, you likely won’t be able to get the tours that you want and you are going to pay a lot more.
For cruising, you also may find that if you wait too long to book the ideal stateroom categories are sold out, such as a balcony stateroom. Though more expensive, balcony staterooms are extremely popular on Alaska cruises since the long daylight hours of Alaska summers mean plenty of opportunities to see the views and wildlife right from your own private veranda.
So with all that in mind — get planning! It’s time to book your dream vacation — that is properly planned — to gorgeous Alaska where you can explore the beauty of America’s Last Frontier.