As a resident of a vacation destination, I find myself planning what feels like a mini-vacay almost every weekend. There’s always someplace new to explore, or perhaps the season is changing and a familiar locale is about to undergo a transformation that makes it feel new again. Because this land is so vast, it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin! That’s where these resources come in handy for me:
- alaska.org — This comprehensive site contains local advice from “Bob” and a variety of park guides, biologists, and other experts on all things Alaska. From trails to lodging to transportation methods, this is probably the number one option online for fact-based advice and suggestions. There’s even an app for download on your smartphone (iOS only at the time of this writing).
- The Milepost 2018: Alaska Travel Planner — This 700+ page book is known by anyone and everyone who has made the drive up from the lower 48 and is often referred to as the “bible” of all Alaskan road map guides. This book contains detailed information ranging from the availability of gas stations in remote areas to information on traveling with pets. A must for anyone driving up through Canada and still super helpful even if you’ll be using it in Alaska only.
- Paper maps — Alaska is big and remote. There are plenty of places that you can drive to that you will not have cell service. Paper maps are key to maintaining your course during these times, plus they give me that warm nostalgic feeling of times past when we used to mark out our route on paper and have to actually figure out where on the map we were to begin with. My favorites are the ones provided at most state and national parks; these contain a mixture of standard map data as well as touristy advice and information.
- Instagram and Facebook groups — These social media platforms can be very useful in planning where you want to go on your next trip or exploration. By following hashtags or groups that match my interests, I often find out about a new place or an event that I want to check out. For example, I found out when the swans had returned from their winter migration via an Alaskan photography group I joined on Facebook, so I was able to show up at the exact spot where this lovely pair had settled in for spring before a lot of other people in the area even knew they were back:
- Word of mouth/talking to strangers — Getting outside and partaking in nature activities is a great way to meet people and learn from them. I think outdoorsy people in general are pretty friendly and open–it’s funny how something like the camera you’re holding or the backpack you’re carrying can end up being a door to common interests. A lot of our favorite wildlife viewing areas or trails we learned as a result of making conversation with fellow hikers and photographers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make new friends along the way!
What kind of tips/tricks do you look for or use when planning a trip? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time, happy wandering!