Alaska - 2007

    Preparation
 


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Planning for Alaska

This trip has been in the works for quite a few years, we just never got around to doing it. Then about 2 years ago I asked Arnie if they would be interested in a trip to Alaska Ė by automobile. Knowing how they like to travel I thought there was a slim chance of getting a "No".

We had already planned a trip to Australia with a cruise back to the US with Arnie & Rose in April/May 2006, so we had to wait until this year to do it.

The basic itinerary was agreed to in the middle of 2006, and once the hotel chains took reservations (about 11 months before) I started to reserve hotels. Initially we planned a short ride on the Alaska Ferry, but when the schedules came out at the beginning of the year, it didnít quite work out. After that was settled I made the rest of the reservation and by February they were done. See Hotels for more on this.

I sent for lots of brochures from the various towns, provinces, states, etc. As an AAA member, I also used their travel guides and maps (free). The most important resource for a trip to Alaska is The Milepost Ė a new one is published every year.

It took until May to find the Great Alaska Tour Saver Coupon Book. It doesnít seem to be widely advertised and I found it quite by accident. Itís a $100, but there are lots of 2-4-1 coupons for expensive tours like cruises on the fjords, fishing, even some hotels. We determined that we could easily save $100 so we sent for it. Reservations for most tours have to be made in advance Ė and there were no problems getting the reservations. I didnít have to pay for any of them in advance, just gave them my credit card, and they could be cancelled on short notice.

The Van

We have a 2004 Explorer Conversion Van (Chevrolet Express) - a nice way to travel, especially with four of us: TV/DVD/VCR/XM Radio, 4 Captains Chairs, Raised Roof. XM is now available in Canada - but I suspect we won't get a signal everywhere, and it's not available in Alaska.

The van got a good check-up at the dealer Ė itís not quite 3 years old with 23,000 miles Ė so we donít expect any problems, but you never know.

What we Packed

In addition to the normal stuff you take on vacation, we also packed the following:

  • Comfortable chairs to use in hotel rooms which donít have a couch or decent chairs
  • Extra tire repair kits, oil, windshield washer refill
  • 120 Volt converter for the van in case we want to recharge cameras, computers, etc.
     
  • Insect repellant for the state bird of Alaska - the mosquito
  • Two digital cameras (one as a spare); a camcorder
     
  • Canadian Travelers Checks (got them at AAA)
  • Passports - you don't need them in 2007, but we have them

Organizing for the Trip

To keep track of everything, I got some binders with lots of compartments. This way I could put each stop in a different compartments, with the hotel reservations, a map to the hotel and I cut up maps so the map for each day would fit onto a sheet of paper to make it easier to read. We took back-up maps for all the states, etc. and a US Atlas.

We also bought a second copy of The Milepost so that I could remove pages for each day of the trip, which also went into the compartments.

We ended up with three binders:

  • One for the daily information (reservations, maps for the day, etc.)
  • The second one had all the AAA maps (not cut-up)
  • The third had all the brochures for the states etc.

The Log

The basic outline of this log with the maps, etc. was prepared before we left. This way I just had to add the commentary and the pictures as we went along.

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