Bucket List RV Trip to Alaska

Bucket List RV Trip to Alaska

by Alan (Columbus, OH)

Question: My wife and I are within 5 years of retirement. No motor home experience at all but, want to obtain a motor home, get experienced in driving and setting up, and drive to Alaska from Ohio. How to pick a motor home (just 2 adults)?

How to anticipate number of miles per day on such a trip? Will a used motor home be adequate for such a long journey?

Answer: A trip to alaska is no small trek, so we suggest you do a lot of preparation. Start by reading about RVing to Alaska to learn from others who have experienced this adventure.
A few good books are:

Some of the things to consider on what there is to see, where you want to go, the types of things you want to do, how long might you stay in an area and how much of Alaska you want to see. The reading should help you develop some sort of picture in your mind about how you will be spending your days and nights.

Depending on the experience you are seeking, you might want to consider an organized tour with an RV Caravan company. And of course there are cruises as another option.
Here are a few Alaska RV Tour resources:

The question about how far you can drive in a day is really something you need to decide based on how you envision your trip. It is a long distance, so do you just want to get there? Or do you want to make some stops along the way? On days when there is not much you care about seeing, then you will probably want to drive a full day, but you need to take breaks, be alert and safe and most important, enjoy your journey. Definitely leave some leeway to account for unexpected mishaps as well as surprise experiences that come your way that you may not have known about ahead of time.

Even though we have been fulltiming for almost 10 years, we have yet to make the trip to Alaska outselves. We certainly want to! The timing just hasn’t been right yet based on other things going on in our lives. We do know that we would go for a long season – leaving as early in the spring and returning as late in the fall as the weather permits.

And certainly before we go, we will read everything we can on the subject, and will rough out a tentative itinerary. Anywhere we travel we like to have a general idea of drive times, sights and activities, potential campgrounds, opinions and experiences of other travelers, etc.

Something we have pondered when thinking about our future Alaska trip is whether we will take our own 40 foot motorhome and tow car, or if we will rent, or perhaps buy a smaller, used RV of some type.
On one hand, we are concerned about protecting our own RV from damage since it is our one and only home. We have heard a wide range of opinions on whether damage to the vehicle is still a concern. We know there have been improvements to some of the main Alaska roads. We also think we might prefer something smaller to make it easier for us to get off the beaten path, boondock, avoid tourist areas and get closer to nature.

On the other hand, we truly do hate to pack. We know that all our “stuff” (tools, clothes for changing weather, etc. fits in our RV and we like the idea of having it all with us. And we also “know our RV” – how everything works, the little glitches that might occur and so on. Not to say that that some new problem might develop, but there is some comfort in familiarity. If we decided to rent, we would look for a supplier with a good record for customer service in the event something goes wrong. If we bought a used vehicle, we would do our homework on what to look for and ensure it was checked by a qualified service technician. In all cases, we would make sure we either had or knew how to obtain spare parts and supplies to do preventative maintenance and small repairs.

Anyway, long story short – read and research before you take off.

And we strongly suggest that you get some expereince with RVing before you get too far along. If you don’t want to buy an RV until closer to your trip and/or retirement, then try out a rental for a couple vacations between now and then. This will give you a chance to try out the experience of RV travel firsthand – which we we think is critical before you commit to an RV or to such a long and ambitious trip.

We hope others who have made this trip will chime in with opinions and advice.

Comments for Bucket List RV Trip to Alaska

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Jul 06, 2015

21 year Ak Resident

by: Charlotte

I moved to Wyoming in 91 and going back permanently to Trapper Creek area by July 2016. I raised my children in Kenai, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Wasilla. And before you think of it, no I don’t know Sara Pallin…
I am in process of start-up plans for an RV Guide service. My experience is unless you have 2 weeks to travel round trip thru Canada, your best idea is fly up and rent a motor home. The smallest size you can live in and still be comfortable in will allow you to get off road and see the real Alaska. You are going there to see Alaska and be out in it. It shouldn’t be to spend your time in luxury and use all the games and tv watching you can cram in.
I rent from a family owned company, not all are the newest units, but in good shape and are the ones I will be using for my clients. They don’t charge mileage, have generators and give a discount for 7+ day rental. They carry Good Sam Road coverage. You can pay for their insurance or send your insurance and add that coverage to your insurance very reasonable, check with your agent.
Basic supplies are in the Motor Homes and you can cut down expenses if you pack the special items you cook with such as spices and additives. The extra charge of $30 for the 50# of baggage is well worth it. Also you want to plan for layering clothes with really light weight water proof or water resistant light jackets. Might want TO ADD MUD BOOTS IF YOU HAVE THEM THEY WILL PACK LOTS OF UNDERWEAR. Enough, as you can see I am ready to go back, and real excited about showing people the Alaska I enjoyed with lots of un-tourist things.

Mar 10, 2012

Response to 1st Post!

by: Alan C.

Thank you so much for responding! I’ve actually made the trip (with my brother), starting in Seattle – but, only in a pickup, with camping gear. Now, years later, I want to repeat it with my wife – in a more comfortable motor home. I’ve looked into renting but, it seems the severe limitations on daily mileage is prohibitive. I’ve got at least 3 editions of the MilePost so, feel pretty confident – except for ZERO motorhome experience.
Thank you for the number of resources – I’ll definitely add them to the MilePost for research data – now, to just find an adequate motor home!!

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