With its huge size and distinctive tourist scene, Alaska offers a unique set of challenges—and potential pitfalls. To avoid wasting time, money, and effort, follow our guidelines on what not to do:.toepsychimelri.gq/38.php
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Alaska is so big that, even if you saw 1 million acres a day, it would still take you more than a year to see it all. Cruise lines and tour operators are often guilty of trying to pack in too much: this increases the value of their package, but it can leave you exhausted.
Read our How Many Days You Need article to figure out how much terrain you should attempt to cover in the time you have. To see the other half—the heartland—you need to add a land tour. Even if you just take a land tour, you can still get the coastal experience by taking half-day glacier and wildlife cruise ; many people see more glaciers and get closer to marine wildlife this way than they do on a one-week large-ship cruise. Experience the glaciers up close with the option to stop and see the whales.
Secondly, wilderness lodges work out quite well on a dollar-per-hour basis.
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Alaska has some fairly economical lodges, too. These are smaller, adventure-oriented eco-lodges run by local families who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and showing you around their gorgeous part of Alaska. A lot of visitors are under the impression that driving in Alaska is unsafe. When you rent a car, you can see more, have more flexibility, and go at your own pace. Read our tips on Alaska Car Rentals. Some folks have a saying: Anchorage is only 20 minutes from Alaska.
Unfortunately, a lot of visitors seem to believe that, and blow out of town as quickly as possible. Granted, plenty of people have come to Alaska to see wilderness, and Anchorage is a city—but it can still do something pretty powerful for your trip. By adding an extra day to your Anchorage itinerary, you can make the town a base camp for a variety of great wilderness experiences that would otherwise require a lot of driving or flight time. Some solid wilderness can even be found minutes away from your Anchorage hotel.
Here you can enjoy a wide variety of half- or full-day tours and excursions like flightseeing , bear viewing , glacier dogsledding , rafting , fishing , guided hiking , and more. The Anchorage-as-home-base approach can also seriously streamline your trip. Spending a few days in Anchorage is also a great way to give yourself a context to understand and appreciate the rest of your trip. But while they give you discounts for certain tours and hotels, they can also end up limiting what you think you can do on your trip. Our advice? But, after I bought the plane tickets, I went into sticker shock, when I discovered the sky-high prices on everything from lodging to car rentals to restaurants to things to do.
After diligent research, I was able to cut the costs way down, though it meant I had to forgo some wonderful experiences as too expensive, such as watching grizzly bears in the wild on Kodiak Island. But we still had an amazing trip, and here are some of my tips on how you, too, can make it affordable:.
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Fly early in the season — late May or June — before the summer rush. Yes, it will be chilly and possibly rainy, but that can happen in the summer, too. And check out JetBlue. Take a cruise. A repositioning cruise can be especially affordable — you could travel up from Los Angeles to Alaska, for example, instead of having to fly to Vancouver and boarding there.
The down side is that the ships only visit the Inside Passage and you miss other world-famous attractions, such as Denali National Park, unless you tack on a very pricey side trip. My friends took the Alaska Marine Highway ferries instead of a cruise, which is worth checking out.
This ferry system offers an alternative to traditional Alaska cruises. You can bring your car and even book a cabin. Order a coupon book before you go and use it to plan your adventures. I used mine throughout our trip, to take the kids on a glacier cruise around Prince William Sound during which we saw eagles, otters and a whale, a spectacular tram ride to the mountaintop at the Alyeska resort, as well as some 2-for-1 restaurant meals. The coupon was the only reason I drove out of our way to visit the Palmer reindeer farm, which became one of their favorite memories of the trip.
There are also 2-for-1 deals on the costly-but-scenic Alaska Railroad. Learn more at Alaska-discounts. The version offers different two-for-one deals on everything from float trips to wildlife tours to railroad trips to sightseeing flights, Learn more at Toursaver. Go online to the official state tourism website at TravelAlaska. Driving is cheaper than taking the Alaska Railroad, but reserve your rental car very early and shop hard for prices.
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The shuttle buses are one-third the price and you can get on and off as you like. We got up early and took the earliest bus, when the visitor centers were still uncrowded. We loved meeting the dogs and seeing what they do at the park. Free buses leave the Denali Visitor Center to the sled dog kennels several times a day. To learn more: Nps.
Most hostels now offer private rooms that may or may not have their own baths. You can use a shared kitchen to cook meals and save money, and also meet other guests around a game of checkers or the breakfast bar. Our favorite was the Denali Mountain Morning Hostel, on a beautiful rushing creek, where we met vacationing scientists from around the world. Considering how bad and expensive restaurants were around there, I was happy to rustle up our own grub in the beautiful kitchen, too.