Step One: Identify your goal.
People often forget just how big Alaska is. Planning on seeing both Denali and the historic town of Seward is like trying to see Boston and DC in the same trip. You can do it of course, but you’re going to spend a lot of time in the car. I strongly recommend choosing an area to focus on or a specific objective. Really want to try sea kayaking? Choose additional adventures around the Kenai with an upper limit of Girdwood. Always wanted to try ice climbing? The Matanuska Glacier is the most accessible glacier in the world! Try planning adventures in the Anchorage and Mat-Su valley.
Step Two: Self Guided, or with a Company?
Decide whether you want to guide yourself, or hire professionals. These will be two very different experiences. If you go with a self guided trip you can be far more flexible and spontaneous, but all of the pressure to figure out where to go, how to get there and then make any reservation times, is on you. Having someone else plan your trip can limit how much planning you need to do, but also retracts from the amount of side trips you can make. Guide companies often have very complicated transportation schedules and logistics considerations, of which you and your trip are only a small part. Deadlines are often hard and fast, making detours to the cool spot you heard that local talking about highly unlikely.
Step Three: Make a Packing List
If you are the type of person who makes lists for everything, you probably have already done this. If you aren’t the make-a-list type, this is one time where you should strongly consider breaking from tradition. Having a packing list ensures that you have your essential items and helps you whittle away those items which are superfluous. If you are going to guide yourself, you’ll have to come up with your own list but fear not, there are many resources to guide you depending on the goal you picked in step number one. If you have chosen a guide company, then they ought to have provided you with a list well in advance of your trip.
Step Four: Enjoy!
Remember, you are on vacation. Take a moment to appreciate the serenity of Alaska’s nature. The wilderness can provide a unique opportunity for perspective, relaxation and growth. Whatever your goal, however you choose to enjoy our wonderful state, we are sure it will leave you changed for the better!