Planning Your Trip
For many visitors, planning an Alaskan adventure entails going to a travel agent or website and booking an all-inclusive voyage on the HMS Geezer, where everything is packaged neatly for mass-market vacationers. Cruises do provide an introduction to the state, but people who really want to see Alaska need to get off the megaships and get away from the canned bus tours, shops selling made-in-China totems, and “eco-adventures” where you paddle a kayak around the harbor.
Independent travelers have a slightly more difficult time arranging a trip to Alaska, but they will be rewarded a hundredfold with a more authentic experience. With the right planning, an Alaskan adventure can be the trip of a lifetime.
The type of travel you arrange, of course, depends on your interests, budget, and how much time you have. Retirees driving the Alaska Highway have very different needs from families riding the ferry to Juneau or mountaineers heading out on a grand wilderness adventure. Sit down with this travel guide and see what works for you.
Getting around such a vast state forces visitors to put transportation at the core of planning, especially when ferry and train travel are involved. Don’t schedule your trip too tightly since weather delays or mechanical problems may appear at the most inopportune moment. Leave some time in your schedule to relax, even if you have just a week.
Those with specific must-see destinations such as bear-viewing flights, bus tours into Denali National Park, or three-day sea kayaking trips in Glacier Bay National Park should be sure to make reservations well ahead of time. Lodging places in prime spots may fill up a year ahead of the peak summer season.
A good starting point when planning a trip to Alaska is the Alaska State Vacation Planner, distributed by the Alaska Travel Industry Association (907/929-2200 or 800/862-5275, www.travelalaska.com).
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition