a VirtualTourist member
My husband and I want to take a trip to Alaska for our 30th wedding anniv., joining us will be my sister and her husband celebrating their 40th..We all love nature, fishing etc. Very confused as how to choose and then book a vacation. Is it more economical to book thru a travel agent or go ala cart? Going probably in late Aug or early Sept of 2013. Any suggestions as to how to go about this? What is the best to see?
Are you looking for short experiences, such as a cruise would provide, or one type of experience, like renting a fishing or hunting cabin. I would imagine a full time guide taking you through the back country could be expensive. You might consider a cruise that offers many different types of off ship tours. You then could make another trip by guide to specialize in what you want to do.
If you are considering renting a cabin you need to be well versed in the environment and coping with unpredictable circumstances.
probably short experiences, not real keen on the cruise ship thing
I would suggest contacting a local travel agent in the area you would like to see. I would imagine a travel agent out of the area, would not have the appropriate information. A good travel agent could also evaluate your level of competency in dealing with Nature. Alaska is a frontier, and can be very challenging, even to the experienced. If you do go "ala cart" you need to be capable in handling yourself in unpredictable circumstances.
For example, you could be fishing in a stream next to a Grizzle or worse, next to a Grizzle and family. This is not a unusual event. You will need to arrange for a fishing or hunting lic. and a agent could prove be valuable. If you do go it alone, be sure and invest in a good, large can of bear spray (Montana company) and maybe an air horn. I would also know when the Moose rut time is as they can be quite dangerous.
In fact, most wildlife rangers like to see people with bear spray as bears are becoming to used to people and need to be exposed to the fear of them again without the death of animal.
One last bit of information, remember even the best bear spray is only 80% effective !!
well we don't plan on going out in the wilderness "unattended" my problem is deciding what to see and do in our time, and how to book it....travel agent or book each individual thing independantly? Example: airlines, glacier tour at Prince Wm Sound etc
If you're not doing a cruise, you will need to either drive or rent a car. You don't list where you live on your Virtual Tourist home page so I'm assuming you have a distance to go. Since you only have 7 to 10 days, flying and renting a car makes sense. We drove up from California but we had six weeks. Given your time frame, I'd find a good travel agent to give practical guidance. The roads are paved, but Alaska style, i.e. some are paved in gravel and some in chunks of rock. There's a magazine called "The Alaska Highway" that gives a mile by mile description of the road and much valuable advice. The Alaska Tourist Bureau will also send you a large packet of helpful material if you ask. Both are worth the effort.
It's a great trip but different from the lower 48 so get as much information as you can. Enjoy, and Happy Anniversary.
Personally, if I wanted to go to Alaska for the first time, I'd book a cruise-tour package. The cruise lines have a way that you do perhaps a week on the ship and then do a part of the trip on land away from the ship. Because I would not want to try to book such a vacation myself. We did an Alaskan cruise and some of the people went salmon fishing at almost every port, with enough success that they had fish to ship home. Also you do not have to book a ship's tour at any port - you can hire a private guide. If you do book a cruise, I'd use a cruise travel agent. If you decide not to do a cruise a definitely second the idea of using an Alaskan travel agent. I think most of the time now and except for cruises the travel agents don't get commission so you pay directly for their services.
Cruising Alaska is a good first time way to get a feel for Alaska. One way up or down and then a pre or post cruise land tour. It is so big that trying to pin down an itinerary can be daunting. Living in Alaska, it seems that the cruise industry has a lock on so many of the activities that can be done - from rail roads, glacier boat tours, hotels, etc. Vertical integration.
Other options include renting an RV. Or hotel / car combo