Visiting Alaska This Summer? 10 Tips on What to Pack

by Janis on June 8, 2010

Marjorie Glacier

Every Tuesday is Travel Tip Day
Today: 10 things to pack when you visit Alaska

Alaska is a special place for Mr. Jones. He was born and raised in Anchorage; his father was in the original military contingent that helped build the Alaska Highway (ALCAN).  Alaska is a favorite summer destination. No matter how many times we visit, we never fail to be awed by the sheer beauty of the state, from our first a glimpse of snow-covered mountains, to the glow of the Northern Lights, or hearing the roar of Marjorie Glacier calving into Glacier Bay.

The number one question we get asked from people visiting Alaska is “What do I wear?”

Here are 10 tips for packing to ensure a comfortable trip to the Great White North.

1. Plan to dress in layers. “Dress like an onion” says our Alaska friend and travel expert Monte Davis, “in thin layers so you can peel back or add on depending on the weather.” Alaska weather is variable, with temperatures ranging from 90 degrees Fahrenheit to drizzly and cold, especially if you are near glaciers on a tour or from the deck of a cruise ship. Generally, we dress in four layers, starting with jeans and a t-shirt, covered with a vest or sweater. Next a layer of fleece. Finally a waterproof rain jacket. A lined jacket can replace the fleece layer, but keeping them separate gives you more “onion layers” to adjust to the ever-changing weather.
 

2. A scarf,  stocking cap or other headgear to keep your head and ears warm. If you take it and never need to use it, then consider it good weather insurance. Cold, damp weather and winds can give you an ear ache in no time.
 

3. A pair of gloves. Light gloves, like Isotoner brand, keep your hands warm when hiking or cruising by glaciers.
 

4. Forget an umbrella. Bring a jacket with a waterproof hood or a waterproof hat or cap. Umbrellas tend to get in your way and in the way of others, and not offer much protection in rain accompanied by wind.

5. Comfortable walking/hiking shoes. The most breathtaking sights in Alaska are best experienced outside, and trails and walking are usually involved. This is not the place to show off your new pair of heels. Of course, if you find you can’t live without another pair of shoes, you can always shop for tax-free shoes at Nordstrom’s in downtown Anchorage.
 

6. A camera. With breathtaking scenery, expert photography skills are not required to take stunning photos in this state.

 

7. Casual clothes.  Generally, Alaskans are informal. Pants, shirts, jeans, comfy shoes and waterproof jackets are standard wear. Of course, if cruising, you should follow the ship’s dress code. In our experience, formal night is a little more relaxed in Alaska than in other destinations.
 

8. Sunglasses and sunscreen. Remember, this is the land of the Midnight sun. And sunlight hitting glaciers makes for a bright, blinding light.
 

9. A backpack or day pack. Even if you are not the hiking type, you will find it easier to get around, and carry your snacks, water and souvenir purchases if you have a backpack for off the ship, the tour buses, or even out of the car. There is an endless supply of trails for walking, hiking, or biking.

10. An Explorers’ Attitude – Alaska is not New York, Dallas or San Diego – it’s the last frontier. And that’s why you want to go. Once you get away from Anchorage and the major cruise ports, Alaska is vast and remote. So while you may not find a Starbuck’s on every corner, you will find amazing natural beauty.

The Traveling Jones in Alaska

Have you visited Alaska before? What’s your favorite packing tip?

The month of June is one of our favorite times to visit and this year is no exception. We leave on Thursday for a long weekend visit and will be sharing more Alaska Discoveries.

Other posts on Alaska that you might enjoy….

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

michael August 4, 2013 at 2:20 am

thanks for the useful tip
mike

Janis August 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Michael, here’s to a fantastic trip to Alaska!

Polishing rims March 17, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Hi to every body, it’s my first visit of this weblog; this blog carries remarkable and actually
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