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North to Alaska--Planning the Trip

I’m planning a road trip to Alaska with my truck and travel trailer in the summer of 2016. I thought that I’d share the process I’m going through in setting up and researching the trip and share some resources I found in the process. Planning a trip to Alaska is a bit like planning a trip to a foreign country. It’s a long ways away, the customs are different and although they speak the same language, the culture is different. Roads are limited, a lot of travel is by air or boat. It’s expensive. You’ve got to travel through another country to get there, so you’ll need a passport. And you’ll be on Alaska time, one hour earlier than Pacific time. I’m planning a two-month trip including travel time, but that’s more time than most people can spend. But, for a road trip, a month is pretty much a minimum as it can take 7-8 days just to get there travelling the Alcan Highway through British Columbia from Nevada. So, the first step is to make sure your passport is up-to-date and to check border crossing regulations. You’ll need a current driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance at the border of course. You’re not allowed to bring handguns into Canada and rifles and shotguns require a permit. The regulations are complex and forms should be completed before entering Canada. See http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/fs-fd/visit-visite-eng.htm for forms and details. Other details include getting an international calling plan from your cell carrier. While you’re at it, consider getting a range extender for your cell phone as coverage may be sparse in some locations even on major highways. It’s probably best to check with your carrier regarding compatible equipment and installation unless you’re a real techie. It does require an external antenna to be effective. There are restrictions on bringing food and alcohol into Canada. See this website: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/information-for-consumers/travellers/what-can-i-bring-into-canada-/eng/1389648337546/1389648516990 If you’re travelling with pets, see this website: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/animals/terrestrial-animals/imports/policies/live-animals/pets/eng/1326600389775/1326600500578 And in Canada, you’ll be buying gas or diesel in liters/litre’s and measuring distances in kilometers, not miles and temperatures in Centigrade, not Fahrenheit. If you need a calculator to convert currency and metric measurements, “Unit Converter” on the Play Store or “Convert Units” by the same author in the App Store are easy to use and free. Finally, contact your motor vehicle insurance carrier regarding coverage in Canada for your vehicle and anything you’re towing. Whew, now that we have that stuff out of the way, we can get on to the fun stuff. Where to go? Favorite destinations include the Kenai Peninsula, Denali, Glacier Bay National Park, Skagway and the southeast coast. Unless you’re on an extended trip of a month or more, you should pick two or three of these locations based on your interests and allotted time. If your primary interest is sea life, then you’ll want to go to Glacier Bay National Park or Kenai Fjords National Park. Glacier Bay requires flying into Juneau and Gustavus whereas you can drive to Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park. If you want to photograph brown bears up close and personal, then it probably means flying into Katmai National Park or Lake Clark National Park or driving to Denali National Park. For Alaska history, there’s Skagway and Whitehorse. Before you decide on destinations, look at an Alaska map to judge travel distance and time or use the “Travelmath” app in the Play Store or the App Store—both free. Next time, I’ll cover planning for some of these destinations including Denali National Park in detail. Until then, thanks for looking and commenting. Kirby