It’s all about the wishes, especially on vacation. Everybody has a wish for something to see or do or experience, no matter the desination, and Alaska is no exception. I love nothing more than chatting up visitors to our beautiful state, inquiring about everything but their shoe size, and most especially about their current/past/future experiences in Alaska. Almost everyone is cordial and willing to share their two or three (or more) cents about the Far North, and today I have compiled a list of “What I Wish I Knew” items for those of you who may be considering, or indeed planning, a trip to the 49th state next year. Heck, you may be ready to climb aboard the plane or ferry right now for all I know…..
You may have your own “I Wish I Knew” story…if so, do share it in our comment section or on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.
Top 3 “I Wish I Knew Before I Came To Alaska With Kids” List:
1) “I Wish I Had Narrowed My Focus”: Ah yes, the old “I can see it in a week” pledge. It’s almost as disappointing as “I can see Russia from my house.” If I had a dollar for every person who has called, emailed, or messaged me wanting to know if it would be too much for their kids to see Anchorage, Homer, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks in seven days, I would not need to dig between my couch cushions for AK Kid’s lunch money every morning.
Alaska is a place best experienced via immersion, one geographical environment at a time. Did you happen to see the map floating around the Facebook world a week or so ago, showing the actual size of Alaska as compared to the rest of the United States? Oy, I can’t even imagine trying to drive, or even fly, my kids around that much real estate without a month of vacation time.
Discern the family’s interests (fishing, hiking, berry picking, skiing, dog sledding, whatever), and base your itinerary on that. The right margin of our website lists the Convention and Visitor Bureaus of Alaska’s main geographical areas, and, the Alaska Travel Industry Association website offers some super planning advice. With kids, moderation is the key, so keeping days simple but full is a winning combination.
2) “I Wish I Had Brought More (raingear, boots, warm socks, hats, etc. etc.)”: Are you tired of me beating the drum for proper Alaskan clothing? I’m a mother, it’s my job. Listen, even the CVB, cruise line, attraction websites and guidebooks don’t say it, but I will: You need effective gear for your family. Alaska is the land of diversity, both in weather and landscape, and both require stuff that will see your crew through rain, sleet, snow, and gloom of night.
Raingear needs to be waterproof (or at the least, water-resistant) and possess a hood and outer coating to shed both drizzle and downpour. Layers need to be non-cotton, breathable, and wicking, if at all possible. Check out REI’s selection of their brand-name layers for kids. Yes, yes, I know many other brands exist, but I like their stuff and they’ve been clothing my family since the 1960’s. Boots need to be waterproof (we like Bogs, but any rainboot will do for kids). Planning on walking a fair bit? Add some good-quality athletic shoes or hiking boots for kids with soles that have some lugs. Socks should be of wicking fabric and thick enough to withstand long days on a trail or boat or fishing stream (or jumping waves at the beach). I bring many extra pairs of socks, btw.
Add a warm hat and gloves/mittens to the bag; our state can be cold no matter the season, and a warm noggin is a blessing for non-cranky kids. Same for little hands, especially if a boat ride is on the docket, or if your cruise ship will be spending time in Glacier Bay, as those icy walls do put out some chill.
A great resource for dressing kids in outdoor Alaska comes from my friend Jennifer Aist, author of “Babes in the Woods,” a comprehensive guide that provides list after list of things you might consider for not only a trip to Alaska, but a trip anywhere outdoors, with the youngest members of your family.
3) “I Wish We Had Left the Road Most-Traveled”: So many families come to Alaska wanting to demonstrate that vacations are not always about theme-park rides and kids’ clubs. Alaska does has several hot-spot attractions and natural wonders that most certainly have their place as part of an overall view of the state, its people, and industry. That said, however, I hear from many moms and dads and grandparents the wish for allowing just a little bit more time to court the more rural areas of the state and feel some of that “immersion” I referred to earlier.
A few ideas? Take a hike. Even the more urban areas of Alaska, like Anchorage or Fairbanks, possess a wealth of lovely hikes that truly to provide a family with a sense of “being away” from it all. Not ready to hike in the Alaskan woods at this point? No problem, a road trip can be a wonderful way to capture the beautiful sights and sounds of our state via the main highways. Seward Highway south of Anchorage offers both water and mountain views and plenty of opportunities for stepping out of the car or RV and breathing that fresh Alaskan air. North along the Glenn or Parks highway can be especially scenic, taking one past shivering birch trees, towering mountains, or far-off glaciers. Just be sure you are well-aware of the services available along the way. The Alaska Department of Transportation has an informative website that alerts travelers to construction projects and conditions, no matter the season.
Meet interesting people along the way, enjoy the famous “spirit of Alaska” and find yourselves wondering when you might be able to visit, next.
As always, AKontheGO works hard to provide families from all walks of life with a memorable Alaskan adventure. If you’d like to know more, do send us an email at email@example.com. We’d love to meet you!