PRIVATE & SMALL GROUP TOURS TO THE WORLD'S BEST DESTINATIONS
Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour
Winter Trips To Alaska
See The Northern Lights
Summer Trips To Alaska
Denali Discovery Adventure
Get Ready For An Adventure Of A Lifetime
Now that you’ve decided to visit Alaska, it’s time to begin planning your trip. From cruise and land packages that include all meals, transportation, and accommodations, to backcountry adventures, Alaska offers something for everyone. But putting together a trip when there is so much to do and see in this great state has many people puzzled about how to plan a trip to Alaska. Yes, it’s challenging – but a few simple tips can help you get started.
Five Key Tips To Help You Plan Your Trip
Tip #1 – Pick A Destination
There’s so much to see in Alaska that it can’t possibly fit into one trip! Expert travel planners advise visitors to pick a specific region to visit and build their trip itinerary from there. Narrow your focus and decide which two big attractions you don’t want to miss during your trip, like a bear viewing trip, a flightseeing tour, a trip to a national park, or a visit to a glacier. This will help you narrow your destination choices and allow you to focus on seeing as much of the region as you can during your visit.
Tip #2 – Establish A Home Base
Once you pick your destination, pick a home base! Laying down roots can help you simplify your travel plans. It also means you don’t need to worry about finding lodging at the end of the day or dragging your luggage around from place to place. Many visitors choose to base themselves in Anchorage because of the city’s nearby glaciers, resident wildlife like moose and bears, and easy connections to nearby national parks. Anchorage also has a variety of hotels, cabins, vacation rentals, and resorts for weary travelers. Plus, it’s a hub for road, rail, and air travel inside Alaska! Of course, you can always choose another city as your home base and use nearby attractions to build a personalized travel plan.
Tip #3 – Add A Little Extra Time
If you consult a travel agent they will recommend giving yourself 10 days for a trip to Alaska! That is because the state is so vast and travel between locations can take a long time, which decreases the amount of time you actually have for sightseeing and other adventures. The longer your vacation, the more likely you will be able to add a side trip to more remote places like Valdez on Prince William Sound or Homer on the tip of the Kenai Peninsula. Having time to seek out hidden gems and smaller cities is a great way to see more of Alaska!
Tip #4 – Learn The Shortcuts And Find Hidden Gems
As we mentioned above, getting off the beaten path to find shortcuts and hidden gems is a great way to see often overlooked places. Want to see animals in the wild? The national parks are great, but you can also see moose virtually everywhere – even in the heart of many cities! Instead of heading into the backcountry to scale a mountain, check out Chugach National Park. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Anchorage, the Chugach is home to an array of wildlife, amazing wildlife, and spectacular glaciers. Talk to local guides, too. They can give you tips on places to visit, streams to fish in, or trails to explore that might lead you on an unexpected adventure of a lifetime.
Tip #5 – Get Help From the Professionals
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, consider booking a package and/or tour that explores top destinations as well as off-the-beaten-path places. Whether you’re interested in a multi-day train trip, a private cruise, a hiking trip into the backcountry, or seeing the Northern Lights, packages and tours booked through a travel agent are a great place to start. Book a complete package tour and let your guides take care of everything for you! This is a great way to answer the question of how to plan a trip to Alaska and ensures that your travels will be safe and stress-free.
A Word About Your Travel Budget
As you begin planning your trip to Alaska, you will quickly realize that it’s not a cheap destination. That’s not to say you can’t be budget conscious, but it’s smart to plan accordingly and be prepared for the cost of the trip. According to travel planners, a moderate six-day trip runs between $1,500 and $2,000 a person, excluding flights. Here are a few tips to help you save your pennies and not break the bank:
- Ride the rails – take a ride on the Alaska Railroad! The train will get you where you need to go, and save you the cost of renting a car. Plus, it’s a great way to sightsee while you’re in Alaska because it stops in many cities and even a few national parks.
- Hop on a bus – this budget-friendly option is great if your trip follows the main road between national parks. It can also be combined with rail travel and various cruise lines to help you get around the state.
- Eat local – if you want a truly authentic experience, buy some fresh fish from a local fisherman or order locally sourced meals at smaller restaurants. It’s also possible to stretch an “Alaska-sized” portion in two while eating out and to save a portion for the next day.
- Take a tour – if you’re splurging on wildlife or cultural tours, combine them with other low-cost, local activities for a well-rounded adventure. Many museums offer visitors free admission, and visiting is a great way to learn more about Alaska’s unique native cultures.
- Opt for less expensive activities – many outdoor activities are free! In Seward, for example, you can hike to Exit Glacier to get an amazing, up-close view of a glacier. Or, in Denali, you can visit the Eielson Visitor Center to learn more about the park. Getting off the beaten path can be rewarding, and you’ll still sights that pack a punch!
- Visit in the off-season – known as the “shoulder” season, Alaska’s off-season is a great time for the budget-conscious traveler to visit the state. Visiting during these off-season months, mainly September or May, means smaller crowds, as well as cheaper flights and car rentals. Lodging tends to be cheaper during the off-season, too. Even though it’s not peak tourist season, there’s still plenty to do and see – plus, you’ll have Alaska (almost) to yourself.
Whether you travel to Alaska by plane, train, car, RV, or cruise ship, there’s an adventure waiting around every corner. How to plan a trip to Alaska may feel overwhelming, but there are lots of free planning and travel guides online to get you started, as well as so many professional tour operators to help you plan your bucket list vacation.