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Simple tips for your Alaskan road trip…

June 4, 2014

P1120021After driving for more than 14 straight hours it was time for a real break longer than just to fill up the tank and my coffee cup. This time of year the roads driving down through Canada had plenty of wildlife but were uncrowded, unlike the summer months when hundreds of tourists and vacationers clog the one main road down from Alaska through Canada..the Alaskan highway or Alcan.

An 8,400 mile road trip is not something decided on at the spur of the moment. And for someone who has for 48 years never ventured far from a big city on the East coast the drive to Alaska would be a daunting adventure by itself. However when you add in the fact that I was going to live and work there for four months it indeed was becoming a monumental undertaking. That was 1995 now nineteen years later, and understanding what is involved in that adventure, is it any wonder that I relish reading the blogs posted by others driving to Alaska from all across our country.

Between 1995 and 2001 I ended up making 5 trips between Philadelphia, PA and Fairbanks, Alaska covering more than 40,000 miles, so for you who are planning your first road trip welcome to my world. Of course the first trip is always the most intimidating one because of the many unknowns facing you. However with a little common sense and planning you can remove the anxiety from your drive and focus on enjoying the adventure awaiting you.

I in no way want to minimize the complexity of such an undertaking but the drive itself requires no more than the use of common sense to all its aspects. Of course you will have a vehicle in good shape with tires and breaks in excellent condition. You will have ensured that your health is such that an occasional flat tire will not also require medical assistance. Also you will have spent a good number of hours going over maps selecting the most efficient path to your destination. Then lastly you have repeatedly gone over your check list on what you are packing and what needs to be done at home before you depart.


Having accomplished these basic ‘common sense’ necessities you can put your mind at rest and enjoy the road trip. I am serious if you take these basic steps to heart and insure they are done, baring weather problems, road construction, traffic and maybe an occasional flat tire you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime. That said I have only two additional suggestions for those driving to Alaska. Remember you can always purchase along the way any ‘forgotten’ items you need and forgot so don’t over pack and lastly purchase a copy of the ‘Milepost‘. It is the one book that has every mile of every road in Western Canada and Alaska in it. You will find that besides every gas station and small store it literally writes about every thing there is to see and do on every mile of each road.

That first trip to Alaska may have been 19 years in the past
and though the pictures may have faded you will
remember that adventure for the rest of your life.

AK range

*This posting is intended as a simple overview of travel to Alaska. For those wanting more specific information should feel free to email me with any questions. A search of posting in the Alaska catagory will list a two part travel around the state from July 1st and 3rd 2010.

*For those planning a drive up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay there is a detailed two part posting listed under the category ‘Alaska’ . The name of the postings are The Dalton Pt #1 and Pt #2 from July 4th, 2011

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2014 9:49 pm

    If you don’t want to read the Dalton information, Pete also edited a good video of the Dalton Highway experience he and his son had. There is a link for that video somewhere along the side of this post. Very good video and you get to see the country without the flat tires, bugs and no conveniences along the way. Of course you will miss the best burgers ever at the Hot Spot north of the Yukon River a few miles.


  2. June 5, 2014 1:52 am

    I love your common sense tips for traveling to Alaska! And you are so right that the you will remember the adventure for the rest of your life. Just a year ago today we were in Banff on our way to Alaska from Georgia. Not a day has gone by since we returned home that I haven’t thought about some amazing thing from our journey. My only regret is that we waited until we were in our sixties to go! My advise to anyone thinking about going to Alaska is go as soon as you can!


  3. June 5, 2014 6:13 am

    You’re doing it!! This post was really amazing Pete. Your pioneering spirit is shining through and I love those pics. Keep ’em coming pls. :)


  4. Del permalink
    June 6, 2014 8:49 am

    Yea Pete I was 5 when Dad and Mom (She was born in AK) loaded us 5 kids in a station wagon and hit the road. I really don’t remember much from that trip but have pictures….. But they drove us to Ak every 2 years after that until we were out of high school…. We drove a different way every-time went as well so we drove through every state and Canadian provinces too….. You talk about remembering your first drive boy I sure remember ALL those too… You always have a way of tingling the ole gray matter back to the good ole days…….. Thx, Pete


  5. June 6, 2014 12:40 pm

    Hey Buddy – Wish I’d seen this before I made the trip last August! Although I did fairly well I still could’ve used the wisdom of someone who had done it before…make that many times before! I cannot imagine making that drive five times!! It was quite an adventure just doing it once; I might drive it again just so I can take my time and really immerse myself in the scenery. Last year we were on a schedule and hence had to keep pushing. You are so correct about ‘The Mile Post’; its indispensable for driving the Alaska Highway and darn handy in state as well!



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