Duchess Digest: Planning A Trip To Alaska
By Jill Brown
The sun is shining, the days are getting long and we Alaskans are experiencing what we call ‘break up season,’ when the ice and snow finally break up. And with the arrival of the sun, comes the arrival of the summer season here in Alaska… and the arrival of you: the tourist, the visitor to my home state.
If a trip to Alaska has always been on your list, make 2013 the year you come and see us up here! It really is as beautiful as you’ve heard: probably even more so. It really is as wild and authentic as you’ve seen: definitely even more so. Don’t expect a lot of high fashion, do expect cool temperatures even in summer. Don’t expect animal sightings on a set schedule, do expect mosquitoes every moment. Don’t expect totally isolation, do expect other like-minded people visiting the destination they too have always dreamed of seeing. Don’t expect to go home the same, you don’t – it really is like nowhere else on earth. Come see for yourself!
There are three ways to get to Alaska and over the next few columns I’ll be covering the pros and cons of each mode of travel to help you plan your voyage north. You can visit by land, by sea and by air. Since the simplest of these three is by air, let’s cover flying to Alaska first.
Cheapest Time to Fly to Alaska
The great thing for you about flying to Alaska in the summer is that it’s the cheapest time to fly to Alaska. All winter long, we Alaskans pay an arm and a leg to travel outside of our beloved state but when summer arrives, airlines compete for your business so there are more direct flights to Anchorage at a greater frequency and for less cost than any other time of year. Example. Last summer when I was still in Los Angeles, I had a non-stop, roundtrip flight from LAX to Anchorage for under $400. This winter when I looked into a weekend reprieve from the arctic temperatures, the same flights weren’t available non-stop and the price went up to over $700. So count your lucky stars and buy your flight for summer.
What Airlines Fly to Alaska
Alaska Airlines is a great option for anyone in the northwest. They’re the airline of Alaska and offer lots of flights and great service. United is another option for more of the lower 48 and in summer, offer many non-stops at reasonable prices. If you’re in Arizona or other US Airways hubs, they too offer non-stops to Anchorage in the summer. Also, ever heard of Condor Air? Well if you’re in Europe, Condor Air flies nonstop from Anchorage to Fairbanks during the summer – how’s that for a long-haul, convenient flight? No matter your carrier of choice, no matter where you are in the world reading this – there are plenty of options for flying to Alaska!
Now for the pitfalls of flying to Alaska. First off, prepare yourself for a LONG flight. No matter where you depart in the U.S. or Europe, Alaska is a long way away. From most places in the U.S. it will be equal to a cross-country flight – we’re a long way north! My direct flight to Los Angeles from Anchorage was just over five hours. So if you’re coming from the east coast, you can plan on having an even longer flight. Many flights into and out of Alaska are also overnight flights. That can be a good and bad. Good, because you can sleep on the plane for much of the long flight. Bad because you miss a lot of the scenery… or do you? During the summer, Alaska gets a lot of daylight. In Anchorage we get close to 20 hours of daylight, so you might not get a lot of sleep unless the shades are lowered, but you’re going to get one hell of a view. Focus on all those mountains, glaciers and water as you soar over Canada into Alaska and all the majesty.
Okay, so you made it to Anchorage? Now what? Anchorage is the biggest city in Alaska, has an international airport and is usually the hub and central arrival place (whether by land, by sea or by air) to visit and explore Alaska. Next week, we’ll cover the next modes of transportation to Alaska, then we’ll cover what to do once you arrive in Anchorage. It’s called the Last Frontier for a reason, it’s the last of its kind and a truly wild place outside (and sometimes even inside) it’s urban centers. Don’t put off a trip to Alaska for another year, visit the 49th state and see what all the talk is about; you won’t regret it.
Jill Brown is an Anchorage, Alaska based writer and blogger. She earned her Bachelors in Humanities and Sociology from USU and is the founder of “The Duchess Guide” a website dedicated to sharing the ups and downs of life in Alaska. For more on The Duchess Guide or Jill visit: http://theduchessguide.com/
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