Saturday, February 23, 2013

Alaska Highway driving tips

These Alaska Highway driving trips are from a mother - daughter road trip of a lifetime. The two of us drove from East Tennessee to Willow, Alaska for a mission trip. If the two of us can do it, then anyone can do it. Driving the Alaska Highway was one of the most fun things that we have ever done.
Welcome to Alaska sign
Along the way, we learned a few Alaska Highway driving tips.
  • Pack what you need but leave enough room in the car so that you will be comfortable. This is a long trip so you will need wiggle room.
  • Pace yourself. You can become more tired than you realize. When driving the Alaska Highway it's easy to misjudge the time. The photo of this was taken around 3:00 am. Surprised?
  • One Alaska Highway driving tip you must follow is to watch your speed. Frost heaves causes the road to buckle. The was often smooth but the heaves can feel like a series of speed bumps. Going to fast might damage your car.
  • Bench Cushions can become uncomfortable at hostels and in your car. Packing an extra blanket or pillows can help make you comfortable.

  • Gas stations are spaced farther away than you may be used to. Fill up every time you see one. Be prepared for sticker shock. Prices everywhere change often. Searching the internet can give you a good idea of how much gas costs. Be sure to check prices in Alaska and in Canada along the Alaska Highway.

  • Gas stations can close earlier than at home. We pulled up to one gas station to find that it closed at 8:00 p.m. Only a couple of places had an after hours pay at the pump option. Again, fill up as often as you can.
  • Pick food up at grocery stores along the Alaska Highway and double your food budget. Be prepared for new food choices.  We tried this tasty caribou sausage at a roadside restaurant. Choices of moose and buffalo are also common.

  • Try camping. It's cheaper than hotels and more plentiful. We spent over $133 one night on an average brand US hotel chain. This was the first thing that we didn't do again. Our average cost for dry tent camping was only $12.

  • Driving the Alaska Highway caused us to adjust our comfort level. Vault toilets must outnumber bathrooms by 50 to 1. Bring hand sanitizer with you. An extra roll of toilet paper doesn't hurt (just in case).

  • Take the Alaska Highway driving tales that you've heard in stride. The road isn't horrible or even close to it. I've been driving on many country roads that are much worse.
  • As with any road trip, driving the Alaska Highway can be tedious at times. Music CDs and audiobooks help. I liked Alaska: A Novel by James A. Michener.

The last of the Alaska Highway driving tips that I have is to see as much as you can. Once the mission work was completed, we drove with the team into Denali and went on to Fairbanks before heading south to Seward, Alaska and then homeward. What's my one response when asked if I'd drive the Alaska Highway again? Let me pack the car.