1. Choose Your Season. People often grab deals they find on Alaskan cruises but don’t realize the cheap fares are due to the trip taking place during “shoulder season,” which is early May and late-September. The weather can unpredicatable, such as mild and pleasant or quite cold and rainy. Peak season is late May to early September. Low season is November to April. Travel is not advisable during that time unless you’re interested in winter activities (skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice art championships, Yukon Quest and Iditarod Trail dog sled races, and seeing the Northern Lights).
2. Best method for getting to Alaska: Flying is the best way to reach Alaska. Most airlines fly to Alaska: Alaska Airlines, American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, US Airways, Frontier, and Sun Country. Major airports can be found in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan. If you’ve dreamed of chugging up the Alaska Scenic Highway, then you must allow extra time. If driving to Alaska from other cities in the continental U.S., be sure to allow at least five days in each direction, plus travel time once in Alaska. It is a big state and there is alot of distance between popular destinations.
3. Choose Your Type of Vacation. What can of experience are you looking for? Do you want to spend a week in a lodge in Denali? Do you want an Inside Passage Cruise? Do you want to rent an RV or car and explore on your own or do you want an escorted tour? Many tour operators offer Alaskan Vacation Packages so a quick online search will reveal lots of options. Cars and recreational vehicles can be rented in Fairbanks and Anchorage for those interested in flying into Alaska and then exploring on their own. Some folks like an Inside Passage Cruise (offered by almost all cruiselines). Be warned that you only see a small part of Alaska when you choose this option and that once you have seen a little town or two, the rest look pretty much the same. I think that a cruisetour option is better. No matter what option you choose, be sure to include a scenic train ride on the Alaska Railroad. www.alaskarailroad.com. Do some research so that you’ll know all your options. For example, a sternwheeler discovery boat ride is a must for those going to Fairbanks or the Denali Gold Rush dinner show is a popular option for families.
4. Don’t try to do it all. Alaska is huge and there is no way to see and do it all in one visit. Decide what you care about the most and focus on that. For example, if wildlife is your thing, be sure to spend a few days in Denali and take an EARLY morning wildlife safari (not an afternoon safari). Getting up early will never be as rewarding, I promise! Or you may want to arrange a flightseeing excursion or a daytrip to Kodiak Island. For more on wildlife, visit www.wildlifeviewing.alaska.gov. There are fishing charters that are a must for those into fishing. www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us
5. Here are some great resources for saving $$$:
3. Do an Internet search for “Internet only” deals, such as deals found on www.alaskaair.com
4. Ask about discounts for teachers, military, students, seniors, AAA members, AARP members, etc.
5. Tour packages are usually cheaper than putting together an individual trip. Book train tickets, ferry tickets, day trips, etc. online at home before your trip to save money.
Note: For those traveling between the U.S. and Canada, a passport is necessary. For more information, go to www.customs.gov
For more information on Alaska and an official travel planner, see their official website, www.ReachAlaska.com
*Alaska is the 49th State.
*Caribou outnumber humans almost 2 to 1.
*It has more than 100,000 glaciers BUT only five percent of the state is glaciated.
*Anchorage, Alaska is a five-hour flight from Las Vegas and a seven-hour flight from Atlanta or New York City.
*The Alaska Marine Highway System includes thirty ports and the ferry system is very affordable. www.ferryalaska.com
*There are rough 1,500 moose in Anchorage alone!
*Alaska is on its own time zone: Alaska Standard Time (AST). It is one hour earlier than Pacific Standard Time and four hours earlier than Eastern Standard Time.
*Top Tourist Attractions: Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Zoo, Anchorage Museum, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Totem displays in Ketchikan, Glacier tours, Kodiak Island, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Raptor Center, Mount McKinley, and Alaska SeaLife Center.