It goes without saying that Alaska is a very big state, which makes it advisable to carefully select the places to visit depending on the amount of time available to spend in the state, and to select places to visit that provide a focus on individual interests. Alaska has much to offer everyone of any age. Alaska should be at the top of a list of places one should see at least once. It is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.
The natural scenery is spectacular, so it is a photographer's paradise. The wildlife is equally awesome. The history is inspiring considering the challenging climate. No matter which locations a person chooses to visit, there's never a dull moment. The people are warm and welcoming to tourists. Many people seem to have migrated from other states and understand why you want to visit Alaska. Some folks in the local population arrive to work during the tourist season, and return to the "lower forty-eight" during the winter. Often residents will say, "I came to visit and never left."
This is a focus on a first time visit "survey course" approach to experience selected parts of Alaska. For a complete listing of places to see, things to do, lodging, or transportation, visit the Alaska Travel and Vacation Information. Most people visit Alaska in the summer months and this travelogue only discusses summer tours. Touring groups are an economical and efficient way to see the state if your time is limited and funds are a consideration. It is also safer to have experienced guides to unfamiliar terrain. The guides escort you to the important places, explain the interesting features and there's no waiting in lines, buying your own tickets or getting lost on back roads and wondering how far away the bears and moose might be.
Packing and Preparation.
Alaska is a very casual place to visit which makes packing much easier. For a two week visit, pack a bag for each week and there is no need to open the bag for the second week until that time arrives. Both bags should be smaller bags, so they are easier to move around and keep it simple. Less is better. Laundry can be arranged if really necessary mid-trip. Consider packing disposable travel clothes to save space and laundry. If you are backpacking for the whole trip, packing for that experience is a different process. Again, less is better.
Also pack an ordinary backpack that can be used while running around during each day and still operate hands-free. Use it to carry an umbrella, rain gear, extra layer of clothing like sweat shirts, hat, camera, binoculars, water, snack, souvenirs, or anything needed before you could get back to your main suitcase. Souvenirs can be shipped home, so saving space in luggage isn't necessary. Alaska is ready for tourists; they take credit cards and ship souvenirs. Your own pictures make the best souvenirs.
The weather during the summer has a wide range of temperatures so packing with layers to wear will create a more comfortable trip. Wear short sleeve tops, under lightweight jackets, sweatshirts, and Gore-Tex rain gear jackets--great for rain, wind and warmth. Plan to live in jeans and comfortable shoes like sneakers or hiking boots. It is important to be comfortable to benefit most from a high energy trip.
Those sunglasses are very important especially so close to the Arctic Circle. The daylight hours are long in the summer. Night is more like twilight without complete darkness. At least the hotel rooms have darkening shades to fool us into thinking it is night when we decide it is time to sleep. Plan to live according to your clocks, not according to light--otherwise, you would never sleep. The excess hours of sunlight account for the incredible plant life. The flowers are huge and gorgeous. Remember to drink lots of water--Alaska is a desert!
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