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Vacation Plan Changes & Travel Dreams

January 19, 2012

We decided to skip planning a trip to Northern Italy this year.  Skip Cinque Terre, skip the dolomites, skip the lakes in Switzerland, skip the Matterhorn.  (Not that we could have done ALL of that anyway.)  The idea was only half-formed, so it wasn’t so hard to abandon it.  Not that Northern Italy and Switzerland aren’t worth going to.  I’m sure they very much are.  But my initial cost and time estimates for the trip were making it look possible, but expensive.

We went to Europe last year AND the year before.  The only reason it was even on the table for 2012 is because  T is going to Switzerland for work this fall and I thought I could turn it into a trip.  I really want to go to Patagonia (or South America in general) or Nepal (Annapurna) for our next big trip, but these trips are too long and expensive to be possible this year.

Still, I was daydreaming about Patagonia, looking at flights and itineraries and drooling over the stunning pictures of the mountains.  I am in love with mountains.  But then it dawned on me… If what I really want this year is a stunning mountain/wilderness vacation, how about Alaska?

I did some quick checking and yes, it will be MUCH cheaper to go to Alaska, and probably would be equally amazing to me.  T enthusiastically agreed.  So, Alaska it is!  That’s all the further I’ve gotten in my planning, but I’m definitely going to Denali, we are definitely camping at least a couple nights, and I definitely want to do some mountain biking.  And probably do some glacier walking again.

So, who has been to Alaska?  Was lodging/food expensive?  What did you do?

(But Patagonia and Annapurna, and while we are at it, Kilimanjaro, are still on my life list.)

12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2012 9:18 am

    Alaska is a good choice! I went with my dad about ten years ago, but we were only there for about 4 days. I didn’t pay for anything, so I can’t tell you anything about the financials. We stayed in Seward and took a day trip to Homer. We never made it up to Denali, but I’d like to someday. We did some glacier walking and we also went on a whale watching tour which I thought was pretty awesome. On the tour, we saw all kinds of wildlife and we pulled into this bay to watch the glaciers calving. Yeah, now I want to go back to Alaska. I think you’re going to love it.

  2. cait permalink
    January 19, 2012 9:33 am

    Denali was amazing. We did it on the cheap because my sister was living in Anchorage–it looks like there is some inexpensive stuff on airbnb in the Anchorage area.
    We went in early May and the road in Denali had just opened up but the bus wasn’t traveling the whole way in. For the first day we were actually able to drive in (during their high season they don’t let you do that) and we camped in the back country over night. I wish we’d been able to go all the way to the lake, I hear its amazing. Definitely go for some back country. You need to take a training with a ranger to get the permit for overnight hikes, but their ranger training is really excellent and it amazed me how many people just ride the bus and never get off and hike. We got this book: and did the Polychrome ridge and basin (I think. it was a combo of two of the hikes in the book) walks as an extended day hike. Watched a mom Griz with two cubs, picnicked with Dahl sheep, met a rock ptarmigen and saw some kickass geology all in one hike. it was awesome.

    • January 19, 2012 12:43 pm

      Hmmm, that books is going for $60+ on amazon. perhaps I can find it elsewhere!

      We’ll have to do late august or late September I think. I’m definitely going to the backcountry stuff – it is my favorite. I’ll definitely look at the polychorome ridge! Thanks!

  3. January 19, 2012 9:50 am

    That sounds awesome! Never been to Alaska, but I it’s on my list. So is Patagonia 🙂

  4. January 19, 2012 9:55 am

    My ex-BF climbed Denali a couple of years ago. Are you planning on summitting, or just hiking within the region? He drove there from Vancouver to save money, and I know he had to hire a small plane to take him to Denali. He said that everything was expensive, especially food. I can’t remember exactly how much the trip cost him, but I think it was around $1500. And that was without the cost of flights or accommodation (they camped the entire time).

    • SP permalink*
      January 19, 2012 10:36 am

      Just hiking in the area. You can definitely get to Denali (the park) in general by car/shuttle and take buses to a lot of hiking regions (or so it seems).

      I imagine actually doing the summit is 1) even more expensive, esp. since it needs a plane! and 2) more hardcore than I actually am. Like, you probably need actual mountaineering skills. I’m not super interested in that.

      I know food and such may be expensive, and I’m not expecting a total budget vacation… But compared to Europe, I still think it will be cheaper. I mean, we paid $40+ for two convenience store quality sandwiches & water in Oslo last year. I almost died. And we spent roughly $5k last year, & T’s flight was paid for. I’m quite sure we can beat that by a lot.

      BUT, I haven’t really got far enough to figure out a budget and/or how many days we are going for. So, we’ll see.

  5. January 19, 2012 9:55 am

    Yay! I’m from Alaska and can probably answer some questions! I’m from SE, but have spent a bit of time in the Interior. What sort of stuff do you want to know?

    (I’m currently saving for an Antarctica trip that also involves going to Patagonia, Argentina, and Chile. :o)

    • January 20, 2012 8:47 am

      I haven’t hardly done any research yet, but if you have any recommendations of things I should look into, that would be great. I definitely want to spend a lot of time in nature and at least some of the time in the backcountry. We are thinking early July.

      Wow – antartica trip sounds amazing!

  6. January 19, 2012 12:31 pm

    I spent a week in Alaska two summers ago. The main highlight was kayaking at the Columbia glacier at Valdez. Valdez was stunningly beautiful. The drive between Anchorage and Valdez has glaciers at every curve, whic I thought was pretty awesome.

    My next trip to Alaska will include spending some time on the Kenai peninsula to visit Homer, Seward, etc. Talkeetna is a popular camping destination between Denali and Anchorage.

    While food in Alaska is more expensive than the mainland, I didn’t think it was shockingly so. Expect a 10-20% increase over California probably. That said, eat lots of halibut and other local fish.

    Have an amazing time in Alaska.

    • January 19, 2012 12:36 pm

      Thanks for all the notes on places you went & wished to go! So excited to start researching!

  7. January 26, 2012 11:44 am

    Alaska is amazing, but it is expensive! Beers were like 6 bucks (Im used to them being like 2, but maybe since you’re in socal 6 bucks isnt that bad for you).
    As for what to see, I didnt make it to denali, but I did go to seward and the kenai peninsula. You can take the train to denali from anchorage, and I’ve heard that its a nice ride (it was closed when I was there).
    Anchorage is a fun city to be in, and if you stay for a day or 2 stop at the moose’s tooth for great pizza and beer.
    IN seward there was lots of fishing tours and you can do cruises of Resurrection bay and see kenai fjords national park – which was really cool. If you want more info, send me an email.


  1. Travel Question: Should we go to Europe this year after all? « Stacking Pennies

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