In the world of adventure, Alaska is the ultimate travel destination. From sea kayaking to river rafting to hiking, photography, bear viewing, fishing... just about anything out doors can be done in Alaska.
In Alaska, tourism is a mainstay of the state's economy so folks here now how to treat travelers to make them feel at home. And many Alaska travel related businesses are family run operations so the scale is intimate and the hospitality is warm.
Alaska Travel: Define objectives
Alaska is a big, big place and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the size and the unlimited possibilities. Don't make the mistake of trying to see the whole state in a single two week Alaskan vacation. A good place to start in travel planning is to define the Alaska travel objectives.
Are you activity driven or more destination oriented? If activity driven then narrow down the range of activities that you want to pursue on your trip. If sea kayaking is a favorite persuit then a choice of destinations is going to be constrained by the requirements of that activity. For example the primary areas for sea kayaking in Alaska are Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula and the Inside Passage. Final selection of an area might be determined by the other features of the area such as fishing or hiking opportunities.
A good place to begin research is on our Outdoor Activities section where Alaska travel providers are arranged by activity.
Already have a particular destination in mind such as Denali or the Kenai peninsula? In that case an Alaska travel plan will center on an exploration of the various activities available in a specific region of Alaska. Begin a search in the Destinations section.
Alaska Travel: Getting Around in Alaska
The scale of the land here will put constraints on an vacation plan in terms of time and money. Trying to see Alaska in a few weeks is like trying to take in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana all in a single vacation. Try to see too much too much will be spent in transit from one point to the next.
Some people enjoy multi-sport vacations, mixing up a variety of activities. But if you go to Kenai for some sea kayaking and then to the Brooks range for a hiking trek you may find a lot of time and money is spent on transportation. This might be fine if time and finances allow. But if either or both are limited then it might make more sense to try to engage in the activities of interest within a smaller geographical area. Or limit the scope of Alaska travel objectives.
There aren't a lot of road in Alaska - which is why there is so much wilderness here. And what roads exist are two lane roads not multi-lane highways. So it takes a bit longer to drive around Alaska than many might expect. Flying is a common mode of transportation in the North. Regional airlines like Era Aviation service many of the larger communities in the state. Flying is the only way to reach many areas in Alaska. For example Lake Clark National Park is accessible only by air with no roads at all into the area. And to get off the beaten path for a wilderness trek an air taxi service might be required for an unforgettable bush flight into the backcountry.
Alaska Travel: Reservations and Timing
The Alaska travel industry is composed of two types of traveler: those who book prepackaged tours with large agencies and independent travelers. The tour groups reserve blocks of hotel rooms and outdoor activities fairly early in the season. The tourism season here is fairly short with July and August being the busiest time. Make hotel and car rental reservations well in advance. Don't get off the plane in Anchorage in the middle of August and expect to have a wide choice of rental cars available. Try to have reservations made sometime in the early to mid spring.
Be sure to inquire about cancellation policies when making reservations. If it becomes necessary to cancel out of a ten day sea kayaking trip two weeks before the start of the paddle, expect that any refund will be a partial one at best. Travel insurance is highly recommended.