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about to start 2014 trip planning

Tyler, Texas
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about to start 2014 trip planning

I have pegged this forum to my favorites, I'll do my trip to B&N to buy a guide or two this week and I'll start my googling.

Money is middle of the road, simple is better., Time is not an issue..couple of weeks is fine. Never driven an RV

It will be a grandparents(2) and grandchildren(2) trip...maybe one parent. GP will be damned near 70 and the kids will be 11 and 6.5. We are not high energy people. I'd prefer a minimum of changing locations. The kids love water..did a quiet whitewater this summer, have no fear of heights. Sure we want to see wildlife. Love to do a train,floatplane, boat tours.

Not looking for any particulars at this time ...just any general guidance..thoughts.. Will be the biggest trip ever planned, taken.

Dave

Bristol, Connecticut
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1. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

First narrow down the activities that are important to you then where you can do these activities. Then decide how you will travel. Many people who rent RVs in Alaska do so for the very first time and enjoy it. The kids will be good ages to enjoy the trip. My nieces and nephews visited when they were anywhere from 7-11 years old and had a great time each visit. It might be a good idea to ask each traveler what is important for them to see and/or do and try to include something for everyone. Check out the trip reports from this summer and last and get some ideas of what others have done with kids.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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2. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

I think trip reports are the best resource for planning a trip to Alaska. They're first-hand accounts of sights, activities, excursions, lodging, etc. Plus they give you a sense of how far people travel in a day or week. A link to the 2012 and 2011 reports is under the Top Questions. There are a few reports this year from young families; jennifer and twosue are 2 that quickly come to mind.

I had never been in an RV before but for my last trip I wanted the flexibility that an RV provides. This trip was more about scenic driving so I wanted to drive as little or as much as I wanted, and overnight wherever we decided to stop for the day. For 3 adults (55,60,and 80) the RV was also economical. But if you have a fixed itinerary, it's easy enough to find a cabin, B&B, lodge or hotel.

The Alaska Milepost is another great resource for anyone driving in Alaska. You can usually buy an older edition on amazon for under $10. The highways and towns don't change, but a few vendors may have gone out of business. You can also borrow Alaska travel books from your library.

Most towns have web sites to promote tourism in their area and will send a free visitor guide. ie www.seward.com or www.homeralaska.com or www.kenaipeninsula.org

Drive times between popular destinations.

alaska.org/gettingaround/alaska-transportati…

Scenic drives and recommended stops for each one:

alaska.org/driving/magnificent-drives.htm

Learn as much as you can about the various destinations in Alaska and the sights and activites available, then it will be easier to develop an itinerary to support your interests. Hope this helps. Have fun planning! carol

Edited: 30 September 2012, 23:11
Cadiz, Kentucky
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3. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

Since you're heading out for guidebooks, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Frommers Alaska. Along with this forum, it was my best help on my first trip. May be then you'll realize how very large AK is, and it really is impossible to see much by staying in one spot.

haines, alaska
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4. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

Ah, those kids are at a great age to happily entertain themselves wherever they are.......we had 5 grandkids between 4-11 and they could poke around and beach comb for hours........

First region that comes to mind for me as a great place for kids are Seward or Homer......Denali is a wonderful place to see wildlife, but depending on the kid, they could get a little restless on a long bus ride......get the kids involved in the trip planning as much as possible......this will give them a little input into what types of things will interest them, too.........

While you are at the bookstore, look for identification books on Alaska birds, flowers, etc.......they are usually in small field guide forms and are wonderful to have on hand during any hike.......

I, too, prefer a minimum of changing location on vacations.......a minimum of three days in each spot works for us.......longer if there are more activities to see......

Even if you don't rent an RV, renting a car can give you a lot more flexibility, especially with children........rent the car as early as possible, renting during the winter months for the following summer will get you better rates......

Book all lodging as soon as you have determined where you will be staying.......Alaska is not like what my sister calls "The Real United States".......there are not motels that are handily available at the end of each traveling day.........

Tyler, Texas
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5. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

Thanks for the ideas

One of the recent posters used the train. It,s simplicity of scheduling appeals to me. I also looked at the Alaska Rail vacation tours for ideas. Any thoughts?

fti
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6. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

The main problem with the train is that you are limited to Anchorage to Seward and Anchorage to Talkeetna to Denali to Fairbanks. Seward is OK without a car but you are really limiting yourself at Denali without a car. Plus, if Homer is of interest to you, you can't get there without a car or a bus.

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7. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

You can also do Alaska to Whittier on the train and then take a daycruise out to see glaciers.

With the train at Denali you simply will have to get lodging that has a shuttle to the park entrance where you get on your reserved shuttle bus into the park. Here is a link to info regarding lodging outside the entrance to the park that have shuttles to the park:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143022-i1271-k324…

With young children, I would recommend only getting a shuttle bus as far as Eielson visitor center which has some great hands-on exhibits for kids. Wonder Lake is a bit far for kids to have to sit!

The rail tours can be very expensive for a group of 4 as you can see from the AK railroad webpage.

However, you could simply take a train from Anchorage to Denali, spend a few days there, arranging your own lodging. There is a lot to do at the entrance and we all recommend the free shuttle to the dog sled demo and the dog yard. Kids love that.

Then you could go back to Anchorage for an overnight & take the train down to Seward for a few days. In Seward a daycruise out to see sealife is something we always recommend.

My husband & I have always loved traveling by train so neither of us have to drive, we can relax, walk around.

However, a rental car gives you more flexibility to stop whenever you want & to have more options for lodging at Denali.

Libraries usually have the guidebooks for Alaska too.

haines, alaska
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8. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

I road the train from Denali to Anchorage once and will never do it again.......it was mind numbingly boring and took 12 long hours.......would never suggest that to anyone, especially with children........if you take the train, take the shortest, most scenic route......Anchorage to Seward or Whittier......

Rent a car, let the kids get out and explore often......you also have your luggage handy if you need extra clothes, dry shoes, etc......get a small ice chest and keep snacks handy......bring binoculars for each kid and a small back pack for each......

fti
MN
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9. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

If you do take the train, you might want to consider going to Seward first then to Denali then take the train to Fairbanks to fly out - it is several hours shorter to go from Denali to Fairbanks than to backtrack from Denali to Anchorage. However there are more flights from Anchorage to the lower 48 than from Fairbanks and the prices might be different so keep that in mind too.

A one-way rental car from Anchorage to Fairbanks (or v.v.) is horrendously expensive so if you do end up renting a car pick up and drop off in the same city.

Wake Forest, North...
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10. Re: about to start 2014 trip planning

The kids are at great ages for Alaska. We went in May with a 9 and 10 year old and had a blast. Here is my trip report with alot about the activities we did and some tips for taking kids.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k54746…

With kids be sure to not overschedule with activities and not try to go to many places. Our trip was just under 1000 miles and right at the edge of too much driving with 10 days total. I personally would try to do 2 weeks if you can.

Make sure you have time for them to skip rocks, play in creeks and hang out outside. I highly recommend the Shuttle Bus, the Savage River Loop Trail in Denali and the Kenai Fords Boat Trip in Seward. My kids also loved gold panning at Crow Creek Mine.

Be sure to get the Jr Ranger Backpacks when you get to Denali at the Visitors Center. And be sure to bring 2 pairs of shoes! My kids seemed to get wet every time I turned around.