Tips for RV travel to Alaska

In my work life after finishing a big project we’d always look for ‘lessons learned’.  With so many people planning on a trip to Alaska, we thought it would be beneficial to recap some of the things we learned along the way.

Even though we have been traveling for over a year now, we still consider our route to Alaska ‘a trip’.  For us it started in Glacier National Park and ended in the state of Washington.   If you are getting ready to travel to the 49th state, this post might help you.

CAMPING.  Our most used resources for planning where to go and where to camp — The Milepost, Alaska Gazetter, and local travel information centers located in most towns.  The Milepost is only $25 and is full of usable information.  It really helped to have rivers, bridges, turnouts listed so we could look for spots for lunch or for pulling off to camp.  If we did stay at a campground, we never made any reservations and had no trouble getting a spot.  We just can’t plan ahead enough to make a commitment:)  Also there are lots of places to get a shower – rec centers, laundromats, campgrounds, and city facilities.  Most campgrounds are ‘pay showers’ – by the minute.

METRIC.  Know your metric conversions.  We compiled a small sheet to have in the front seat showing length, weight, and height of our rig in metric measurement.  This saved us numerous times when approaching a bridge or overpass.

MOOLA.  Check on the exchange rate.  For us this year was a good rate – $1 US to $1.31 CAN which gave us greater savings on fuel and food.  We checked our TDECU app to find a surcharge free ATM in Canada and withdrew enough for our entire trip through Canada.  It is cheaper to do this than to go to a Canadian bank or money exchange.  Call your credit card in advance to see if they charge a foreign transaction fee and let them know you will be traveling out of country. (We didn’t tell them and had trouble on our first transaction.)

DIESEL.  Unless you are heading into the Northwest Territories or north Yukon Territory, diesel is readily available.  We didn’t take extra cans and just filled up at the first station when we were down 1/2 tank — no matter what the cost.

STAYING CONNECTED.  We didn’t have phone coverage or internet coverage.  We bought a phone card and never had trouble finding a pay phone.  So different than in the ‘lower 48’ where you have to search and search for a pay phone. For checking email we used the visitor information centers or libraries in the small towns.  Most have extended hours during the summer and there is no charge.

ROADS AND TIRES.  Top of the World Highway was the worst main road we traveled and we probably wouldn’t do it again.  Other paved roads in northern BC and Yukon did have frost heaves so we learned to go very slow.  Not all heaves are marked (they are marked in several different ways) so you have to be vigilant.  Glenn didn’t get as much scenery watching in as I did.  If you are on the main roads, you probably are good with just one spare tire.  With the gravel roads, you’ll need RV washes and most campgrounds and many gas stations have an RV wash station making it very handy to keep the grime off the camper and truck.






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