Thinking of traveling to Alaska? In case you have not heard, Alaska is a fabulous U.S. state with epic landscapes and seascapes, with mountains and flowers that will capture your heart!
Traveling to Alaska is very special because Alaska is so diverse that every single day will hold its own special treasures for you to discover.
Planning your trip to Alaska last minute?
Make sure to book ahead! Hotels and tours can sell out the closer you get to your trip. Here are our top pics for Alaska!
Top Experiences and Tours in Alaska:
- Kenai Fjords National Park 6-hour Cruise Bring a waterproof jacket!
- Juneau Whale Watching & Wildlife Cruise With a local guide.
- Portage Glacier & Wildlife Full-Day Tour From Anchorage
- Anchorage Trolley Tour Very popular!
- Arctic Circle Adventure Tour From Fairbanks
Best Alaska Hotels:
I have been traveling to Alaska for several years now. I road-tripped to Alaska from Florida in an RV with my family twice.
Most recently I flew to Alaska, rented a car, and drove around the state. If you are one of the fortunate ones planning a trip to Alaska, here are 9 things to know before traveling to Alaska.
Traveling To Alaska: 9 Important Things To Know
Traveling to Alaska Is Not As Difficult As You Think
As dreamily remote as Alaska is, several major airlines fly their big jets into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Fairbanks International Airport.
There are lots of flights and options available when traveling to Alaska by air.
If you book your flights early and have the luxury of flexible flying dates, you may be able to score a better rate.
Read next: How To Avoid Getting Sick On A Plane.
Most flights make one stop along the way, and on your origin city that could be either in the Pacific Northwest or even Atlanta.
Once you arrive in Alaska there are smaller planes you can charter to take you to remote Alaskan villages and inaccessible locations.
Read next: 7 Tips On How To Survive Long Flights
During the shoulder seasons and all summer long people are traveling to Alaska on cruise ships.
You will travel to popular ports or quieter smaller charming Alaska towns, depending on your preferences.
After your cruise, you may still be interested in seeing more of the wonders that are Alaska.
So consider adding a land package to your cruise. This is an affordable and easy option to assist in your discovery of all Alaska has to offer.
Road-tripping to Alaska does demand some pre-planning. There are many routes to select from, depending on your dream and what you want to see along the way.
Consider giving yourself one week each way when traveling to Alaska. It is over 2,000 miles from Seattle to Anchorage
If you are looking for accommodations in Alaska as you plan your trip, read about the best Airbnbs in Alaska.
Read next: How To Pack Lightly For Your Alaska Trip
Driving Around Alaska Is Not Your Only Option
Not everyone is like my family and me, wanting to road trip around Alaska. There are many other options for getting around and discovering Alaska.
If you will be renting a car or a recreational vehicle (RV) while in Alaska or traveling to Alaska in one as we did, the price of gas is anywhere from 33 cents to 50 cents above the national average.
If you visit Alaska in May the roads are clear from the snow!
That’s not too bad for a place where everything has to be shipped in.
There are no superhighways or rush hour traffic in Alaska. In your vehicle, you have the freedom to travel at your own pace and stop wherever and whenever you want.
Not wanting to drive? Consider a bus tour. Several companies offer escorted tours with guides very familiar with the area. Everything is organized and all you have to do is show up.
The guide will narrate along the way and your job is to sit back and relax!
Train travel is another popular way to see all the beauty Alaska has to offer. There are no high-speed trains in Alaska, they are truly for sightseeing.
This is one time the journey is more important than the destination. Train travel is a very relaxing way to see Alaska.
Whichever way you decide to travel around Alaska, patience is your friend. You do not want to rush.
Read Next: 21 Best Things To Do In Anchorage
Read next: 15 stops to include on your perfect Alaska itinerary as you begin to plan your dream trip of traveling to Alaska.
Alaska Is Not Perpetual Snow And Ice
Most people are traveling to Alaska in the summertime and the shoulder seasons which include May and September.
When I first visited Alaska in the summer I thought there were snowmen and igloos everywhere and that was far from the truth.
For example, in July, the average temperature in Anchorage(South Central Alaska) is a balmy 65*.
Fairbanks (Alaska’s Interior) has been known to get into the 80s and Sitka (Southeast Alaska) is averaging about 60 degrees.
It all depends on which region you decide to visit and what time of the year you will be traveling to Alaska.
Alaska in September is spectacular!
4: You Will Only See The Northern Lights If You Are Traveling To Alaska When The Nights Are Dark
Again, when I first visited Alaska in the summer I was VERY disappointed I did not get to view the Aurora Borealis. Of course not! Summer is Alaska’s Midnight Sun season.
There are summer days when, depending on where you are in Alaska, the sun never sets at all, or for only a mere few hours. That was quite an event to experience!
The peak time to view the Aurora Borealis is in the dead of winter when the weather is the coldest.
There are opportunities to see the northern lights once the nights are dark, beginning in September when the sun sets between 10 PM and 11 PM.
As long as it is dark, there is an opportunity.
If seeing the northern lights is a real goal for you and your family, then plan on traveling to Alaska when the nights are dark- from late September until mid-April.
Depending on the season you are traveling to Alaska, make plans to view the northern lights or the Midnight Sun.
Look here: Northern Lights / Murphy Dome Tour
Look here: Healy: Denali Aurora Quest
Look here: Northern Lights & Chena Hot Springs Tour
Read next: 20 Unique Things To Do In Homer Alaska. Do not miss Homer when in Alaska. It is my favorite Alaskan City with a very eclectic vibe.
5) There Are Lots Of Wild Animals In Alaska But You May Not See Any Or You May See A Lot!
Let us face it, seeing wild animals such as black bears, grizzly bears, moose, and elk is pretty high on just about everyone’s list when traveling to Alaska.
On one of our RV trips to Alaska, my family and I did not see any wild animals at all.
Not one! On another trip, we were driving down a random road in Alaska, and a brown bear and her cubs ran across the road. It all depends. And sometimes you have to go searching.
If you want the odds to be in your favor, booking a tour can be your best bet.
While there are tens of thousands of brown and black bears living in Alaska, you most likely will not casually or randomly encounter them as we did along the road.
When visiting Alaska’s towns and villages, be sure to inquire with the locals or visit the town’s visitor center and ask about where the best locations to view wild animals are where you are.
How about marine wildlife? They can be just as exciting as their counterparts on land. Looking to see killer whales, puffins, and sea otters?
For best viewing, these animals require going out on a boat. Alaska’s southcentral and Inside Passage cities are prime locations to take a wildlife boat tour.
By the way, NEVER APPROACH a wild animal. See a moose or elk or bear, admire it, do not attempt to feed it.
Tickets here: Seward: Kenai Fjords Half Day Wildlife Cruise
Tickets here: Seward: Kenai Fjords National Park 6-Hour Cruise
Tickets here: From Anchorage: Glacier and Wildlife Full-Day Tour
Tickets here: Healy: Denali Backcountry Safari
Read next: Exit Glacier Alaska: Safety, Packing & Hiking Tips Do not miss visiting and seeing Exit Glacier up close and personal. It is located a few miles north of Seward.
You Can Find Almost Every Kind Of Landscape Imaginable In Alaska
Alaska is divided into 5 regions: the Far North, the Interior, the South Central, the Southeast, and the Southwest.
The Far North includes The Arctic Circle and Nome; the Interior includes Fairbanks and Denali National Park & Preserve; the Southcentral Region has Anchorage south to the Kenai Peninsula.
The Southeast includes the Inside Passage and the cruise ports; the Southwest encompasses Kodiak and the Katmai National Park.
Within these 5 regions of Alaska, you will find unimaginable beauty ranging from blooming wildflowers on the tundra, temperate rain forests (yes, in Alaska!),
17 of the highest mountain peaks in the United States!
Desert regions (yes, in Alaska!), and valleys rich in the history of Alaska’s gold rush days.
Glaciers are a big part of Alaska’s landscape. When we were last in Alaska we took a helicopter tour of glaciers with Marathon Helicopters, in Seward.
Look here: Fairbanks City Tour
Look here: Arctic Circle Adventure – Full Day Tour
Read next: My Travel Tips For Solo Travelers for inspiration.
Alaska Is Bigger Than You Think
When traveling to Alaska for the first time, I had no idea how BIG Alaska really is! Alaska dwarfs all other American states with its sheer size. We all think traveling through Texas is big, right?
Texas can fit inside of Alaska TWICE! Matter of fact, Alaska is bigger than Texas, California and Montana combined.
There are unbelievably gorgeous national parks in Alaska to explore!
There is so much to offer and so much to see, you will want to visit over and over, like I do, to try to see everything Alaska has to offer!
Look here: From Fairbanks: Chena Hot Springs Day Tour
Natural Beauty Is Always Close By In Alaska
Despite its huge size, wherever you go in Alaska, nature at its finest surrounds you. Alaska has 367 miles of coastline. Where glaciers spill over from icefields above them.
There are so many glaciers in Alaska to visit and explore!
Where the mountains rise up from the water to touch the sky. Where you can spot killer whales or otters floating by resting on their backs.
Alaska has 17 of America’s 20 highest mountain peaks, the granddaddy of them all being Mt Denali in Denali National Park & Preserve.
There are over 3 million lakes 20 acres in size or larger located in Alaska. You probably will not have difficulty seeing a glacier because Alaska boasts 100,000 of them.
There are about 750,000 people who call Alaska home, and more than half of them live in Anchorage. This leaves a lot of Alaska’s stunning wilderness for you to discover and explore.
Look here: Ketchikan 3-Hour Excursion
The Cost Of Living Is Higher Making It A Bit More Expensive To Visit Alaska
Alaska is a very unique and intriguing place to visit. Called “America’s Last Frontier,” when traveling to Alaska you will know you are in a special place.
That said, the cost of living in Alaska is probably higher than what you are used to or expect.
As I already mentioned, the cost of gas is 33 to 50 cents higher than the average American price. Food is more expensive as is lodging.
To help curb expenses when we were traveling to Alaska, we shopped and restocked at Fred Myers and Costco in Anchorage.
Look here: Anchorage Wildlife Tour
Look here: Anchorage: 1-Hour Trolley Tou
Walmart is another store I would highly recommend for food and any supplies, such as camping supplies or additional warm clothes you may want to purchase.
So you will easily be able to find your way around the store to pick up what you need. Also, here is a secret:
Walmart stocks the coolest and probably cheapest Alaskan souvenirs you will likely find. Walmart is another store to check out for food and supplies in Alaska.
Packing Tips for Traveling To Alaska
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring with you on your Alaska journey. This unisex RFID-blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors.
This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
My daughter gifted me this FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod for my birthday. It has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use.
I was never a fan of packing cubes until I tried them out! Now I am sold. These Bagail packing cubes are the exact ones I use whenever I travel.
I never leave for any trip without bringing my Bobble filtered water bottle. I find it is a great size to fit into a backpack or tuck into my pocket.
The replaceable carbon filter ensures clean water when you want it.
This Columbia Unisex backpack is affordable and comes in several colors to select from.
This packable durable travel backpack is another great option when traveling to Alaska because it folds into a little pouch which would help when packing.
You will be walking more than usual while in Alaska. A sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must-have. These waterproof all-season shoes are extremely affordable and yet fashionable.
Mostly everyone is familiar with the Skechers brand, and these Air Run high fashion sneakers come in a lot of colors to match your outfits and are still affordable.
I highly recommend these Vionics adjustable strap orthotic sandals. I have several pairs of these exact Vionic sandals in several colors that I bring with me *everywhere* I travel.
They are very comfortable. I also sometimes bring along my Vionic Tides flip flops. The toe post is so comfortable which makes wearing these super comfortable.
If you are in need of new luggage, this expandable soft side spinner luggage is affordable and comes in lots of colors. If you like hard-sided better, then you may favor this hard-sided luggage set better.
Both sets come with TSA approved zippers locks and 8 wheels per piece.
A waterproof jacket, like this Columbia women’s waterproof one, would be perfect for any conditions you encounter when traveling to Alaska.
Here is a less expensive option, a lightweight waterproof windbreaker. It comes in several colors too.
These polarized vintage round sunglasses also offer UVA/UVB protection. the polarized lenses will decrease or eliminate any glare.
Mirrored lenses are very trendy and these unisex polarized mirrored sunglasses also protect from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.
These unisex thermal gloves are lightweight and have an elastic cuff that will keep the fingers warm.
A hat is another option to consider when traveling to Alaska. This unisex beanie is soft and stretchy.
If you are looking for sun protection, this unisex foldable quick-dry sun-protective baseball cap is a great choice. It is affordable and comes in many colors.
As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.