Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Was van camping to Alaska worth it: Your questions answered

People are asking why Hubby and I went van camping across the continent instead of flying like the rest of the mission team. Email seems to be divided into two camps. One group thinks van camping to Alaska sounds pretty cool. The other group thinks we are nuts. Or, as my daughter like to say, that we are a "special kind of crazy".

Driving to Alaska is the road trip of a lifetime for most people. They are the ones who will meander through the drive, tour sites and take time to see all they can. Not so with Hubby and I. Our Chevy Express was filled with VBS supplies, mission team items, and our things as well. There are always items that you don't want to take on the plane and that's where our drive to Alaska came in.
Welcome to Alaska

We ran the numbers and van camping to Alaska put us on the winning end. Our lodging costs were about $100 for the entire trip. Lodging was in short supply at the mission site so we slept in the van camper in the church parking lot. No need for a $150 per night Anchorage hotel (plus tax).

Without the van we would have another extra rental car at just over $600 per week, plus extra gas for the daily run from Anchorage to the mission site. Instead, we parked the van at the mission site for most of the week and stayed in it for free. (Don't worry. The church has a shower ministry.)
Somewhere in Alaska
The van also eliminated the of cost two airline tickets at $750 each plus bags, transportation costs to Atlanta and parking charges for our vehicle. The supplies that might have needed shipping were carried in the van. Sorry UPS.

Because of the campervan we spent less on food and meals than at home. Cooking in the campervan meant avoiding restaurants and avoiding prepared food. Now that we've compared the numbers, you can bet that we'll be eating at home a lot more.

Having a firm deadline to meet the team was a little stressful. The purpose of the trip was to have a great VBS, not to dawdle.e saw some great things but there was no time taken for sight seeing. That's okay.
Van at the shop

Van camping made it possible to revisit a mission site where Hubby and I worked previously and catch up with some really neat church members there. We then drove to the Arctic Circle, North Pole and followed the Alaska Highway home from Fairbanks. I made sure to send things to the church kids along the way. Hopefully they will be interested in missions when they are older.

Warm fuzziness aside, we did have to deal with mechanical issues. A leaky oil seal, suspension issue, bad water pump and tires would have happened regardless of where we were. It was incredibly bad timing that they happened on the mission trip and added to the stress. Tracking down a reliable car repair shop while on the road is (insert expletives here), but we did it.

All considered, the road trip was a success. Van camping made the trip even less expensive than planned (other than the car repairs), allowed team mates to have needed supplies for VBS and personal needs, and other adults were inspired to get involved in missions and travel.

Special kind of crazy or not, taking the van camper is something that I would do again and probably will someday.

Do you have other questions about van camping, road trips or mission work? Be sure to leave them in the comments section or email me at I'll do my best to work them into a future article.

As always, may the road you follow bring you happiness. Happy travels.


  1. Man that's nuts! How/why did you decide to take a van to AK? How long did it take to drive? You say some on what it was but not how much. Yeah. That's a special crazy. I.want to do it.

  2. Thanks for the comment. If you have a dream, whether to drive to Alaska or around the block, I would encourage you to follow it. We were gone a month and that includes a couple of days for the mechanical issues. As for cost, I'm planning a future blog article that will lay everything out. Hopefully this answers most of your questions. If not, just email or comment and I will be glad to answer. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. What kind of camera do you use?