Moving to Alaska can be a daunting task, but driving?! Now that's just plain crazy. Of course we explored the possibility of flying or driving to Seattle then taking the ferry up to Alaska, but with the dogs, driving was simply the best option.
We figured we would try our best to turn the insanely long drive from Ft. Benning, Ga to Anchorage, AK into an adventure! I turned to the internet and searched high and low for evidence of people having made the drive in the past...you know, like normal people. Slim pickins' folks! Kyle knew a couple of guys who were already living in Alaska and spoke with them about their trip... lets just say I wasn't looking for the drive 900 miles a day, eat MREs and sleep in your car kind of adventure.
In the name of good internet karma, I want to share some tips for driving to Alaska as well as some of the things we will probably do differently on our trip back to the lower 48.
one || Look at the map! Is there anywhere you would like to stop on your way? Just make a list of places that sound interesting or that you know you want to visit. Kyle and I made sure to swing by his parent's house in Cincinnati, pit stop in Milwaukee to visit my friends, the Mall of American (duh!), and a handful of larger Canadian cities.
two || Timeline. How many days do you have to get there? I think Kyle had 13 leave days to use for our trip. We wanted to try and get there in 8 days...gotta factor in "shit happens" days, right?
three || AAA! This is key. By far the best choice we made was taking advantage of our AAA membership. We walked our happy asses in our local AAA office with our list of desired stops and timeline and they made it happen! We told them our hotel rooms needed to be within a certain budget and be pet friendly. Two days later we sat back down in the AAA office to review our itinerary. Complete with directions and confirmation numbers we were set! So easy!
four || "Survival gear." This portion of the trip prep got Kyle all hot and bothered. He loved creating these crazy survival situation in his head. Ha! Anyway, we were traveling in the winter so we legitimately had to be cautious. [Yes, the drive can be done in the winter.] Make sure you have your vehicle serviced before you leave, and winterized if needed. We packed dog and human food, water, a first aid kit and cold weather gear in case we got stuck somewhere. We had a few extra gallons of gasoline, a tow rope and tire chains so we wouldn't get stuck. ;) For real, some stretches of highway in Canada won't have gas stations but every 300ish miles, so whenever you see a gas station stop and fill up! Make sure you have cash since many of the more remote places won't take your debit/credit cards. Also give a friend or family member a copy of your itinerary and check in with them each night as an added safety precaution. Kyle and I were able to do this without using international data on our phones! We hooked up to free wifi in the hotels or random stops along the way.
five || Activities. Plan a dinner or some kind of outing in each place you stop. Towards the end of the Alaska-Canadian Highway there are fewer and fewer "developed" towns, so make the most of your "bigger" stops. Keep a camera with you and take tons of photos! It is truly a stunning drive. Kyle and I purchased a couple of audio books and that ended up being really nice. Your iTunes play list gets old quick...
six || Food. Like I said, the developed towns aren't as plentiful towards the end of your trip, so make sure to pack food or pick extra food up along the way. Kyle and I didn't do this. One night we rolled into a smaller town around 9pm and everything was already closed. We ended up eating soup from our emergency kit. Cold. Out of the can. Not cool!
Well, that's about it! If you are heading this way and have any questions or want to bounce ideas around feel free to shoot me an email! MarryMintAmanda@gmail.com