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Traveling to Alaska on a Budget

Alaska

Does Alaska keep climbing higher and higher on your bucket list?

We all know that a trip to Alaska is an unobtainable dream for many. After all, Alaska is expensive! But, here is the good news…We have the secret to traveling to Alaska for cheap.

Through our guide, you will be able to indulge in a whale-watching excursion while grasping every opportunity to stretch your budget and save a little cash.

Plan Around Your Activities

Deciding on the best time to visit Alaska depends heavily on the activities you will want to consider and what kind of temperatures you prefer.

Average costs for a 5-day trip by different budget types

In contrast to the popular opinion, you can visit Alaska at any time of the year. That said, your trip will be cheaper during the darker and colder winter months.

Winter in Alaska is considered the offseason and usually lasts from mid-October until mid-March. Snow and cold temperatures are to be expected. This time of year is best for winter sports enthusiasts.

It’s also the ultimate time to watch the Northern Lights. And choosing to visit Alaska in winter will guarantee you lower costs and fewer crowds. 

As an alternative, the shoulder season, spring and fall, also offers great opportunities to enjoy Alaska on a budget.

Spring starts in mid-March until mid-May. The days get longer and the ski season hits its start.

Fall, between the end of August to mid-October, is a good time of year to go hiking or camping.

Summer is hands down the most popular season, or peak season, and also the most expensive time to visit Alaska.

Getting to Alaska

Of course, now that you have decided when to go, you have to figure out the best way to get there.

By air 

Some USA cities have direct flight services to Anchorage. Also, some European carriers get to Alaska’s international airports like Anchorage and Juneau through connections.

Normally, a round trip ticket from any large USA airport hub will be the most affordable option—think Chicago O’Hare or Denver International Airport.

Another way is to fly low-cost to Seattle then fly a smaller Alaska airline the rest of the way. Read more on a great local airline here from Bloomberg.

By water

This option can be more expensive. You can take a cruise up on one of the Inside Passage cruises leaving from Seattle or Vancouver to Alaska.

A more budget-friendly option would be to take the Alaska Marine Highway. This ferry system starts in Washington and can get you to Dutch Harbor. You can camp on the ferry and they have cabins.

Moving Around

You might consider the Alaska Railroad to Seward. While it can be inexpensive, the amazing sights you will see along the journey are absolutely worth it and there are only sights you can see by train. For example, four glaciers, moose, bald eagles and highway-less natural wonders.

Try Renting an SUV. Alaska is vast and renting a car might come in handy. It could help you get north to Denali and Talkeetna. It will provide easier handling along mountain roads and the right height for viewing scenery and wildlife. 

The cost of gas could be challenging to your budget especially if you don’t find a good rental deal. 

However, with some tweaks you could make it work for you:

  • Look for a smaller SUV
  • Avoid airport rental companies
  • Plan ahead and watch prices 

Sleeping and Eating in Alaska

Ok, you made it to Alaska, now what are you going to do for lodging and food?

Accommodations

Hotels in Alaska are generally expensive. But there are a few ways to make lodging more affordable:

  • Check for deals on Booking.com or Expedia.com
  • If you have mileage points, look for hotels with redemption options
  • If you visit Alaska during summer, camping will help you save big on accommodation expenses
  • Hostels can offer good options when it comes to sticking to your budget

Food

Food in Alaska is also expensive.

  • A great way to stretch your budget is to cook your own meals
  • Microbreweries and pubs have reasonably priced items
  • Budget restaurants and cafes are good options as well

Sightseeing on a Budget

Most of Alaska state and national parks are free to enter.

Some museums and cultural centers feature Free Entrance days. Review the deals available in the Alaska Toursaver coupon book and Alaska Northern Lights coupon book online to decide which one will be better for you. 

Image by Vincent Guth

Post Author: Lillia Hall

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