Contrary to popular belief, Alaska is not always cold and dark. Alaska boasts various seasons with warm summers, vibrant fall colors and a beautiful winter with powdery snow-peaked mountains. Traveling to Alaska is great for anyone with a sense of adventure, and a desire to bask in the great outdoors to experience pure untainted wilderness. There is much to see and do year round. Yet, traveling to Alaska in winter is not for the faint of heart. With temperatures diving into the negative degrees, consistent snow fall, and few daylight hours, if you are traveling to Alaska in winter it’s best to be prepared. If you do it right, traveling to Alaska can be the trip of a lifetime!
- Plan your flight ahead of time
Just like any destination, traveling to Alaska in the Holiday season can make prices skyrocket. If you book out 3-6 weeks in advance, you better your chances of snagging a killer deal. I recommend flying Alaska Airlines to get the best experience, and the most versatile rate options and flight times. Most people fly into Anchorage, rent a car and travel from there. Anchorage is one of the most popular places in Alaska, with a dense population and a lot to explore.
- Pack Properly
It’s been wisely said that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing!”. Winter in Alaska is a beautiful thing, but it is literally freezing outside, and often below freezing. A good jacket is a MUST to brave these conditions! I prefer a down puffy or snow jacket. REI is a great place to find one. Northface, Mammut and Marmot are some great brand options. Make sure you scour the internet for deals before you go, a good jacket like this can be pricey. Yet, it’s totally worth it. If you come prepared with the right tools and clothes to stay warm, you are sure to be comfortable and free to brave the cold.
Packing thick socks, heavy layers and boots for the snow can add up your weight quickly. I like to pack some basics for my under layers, only the warmest things I need, and try to bring clothes that I can use multiple times and in versatile ways. Extra baggage costs can become pricey, adding stress and unnecessary expense to your trip. Leave any excess accessories, or unneeded fancy apparel at home. Pack a cute pair of boots, and a staple jacket, and you will be cute and cozy the whole time!
- Get in with the Locals
Alaska is a top tourist destination. There is a lot of information online about restaurants, activities to try and places to see. Ask the locals for the best options, avoid the crowds and remember that people live here year round. The best places to eat, play and sight see are known by those who call Alaska their home. Many of the best spots to explore Alaska are off the beaten path, so venturing out to explore can lead you to some incredible views. If you opt to explore, make sure you talk to those native to the weather conditions, and the wilderness. Bears, moose, and icy roads are all real dangers to be aware of. If you venture out beyond your knowledge, make sure you seek some advice before you explore.
5. Get Active!
The appeal of Alaska is in the many activities available. Go out on a snow machine (snow mobile), ski, ice-skate or simply make an angel in the snow. There are many competitive winter sports to try, places to rent gear and spend a full day at play. Try to look up the weather ahead of time to pick the sunniest days to go outside, and the colder days to enjoy some cabin time. Whatever you decide to do, get out and enjoy the cold and snow, and get moving. Staying active will keep you warm, and will be sure to provide you the best memories on your trip.