One thing all Alaskans know is with the arrival of summer comes the warmer weather, outdoor activities, and visitors. Rebecca and I are no exception. This summer we are looking forward to multiple groups of friends and relatives visiting. In honor of all the tourists and visitors coming this summer, Rebecca and I came up with this list of thirteen ways to prepare for a trip to Alaska.
1. Get a Sleeping Mask. Rebecca can attest that sleeping can be difficult during the summer without blackout curtains or sleeping masks. Or you can install a dimmer light switch in your bedroom at home and slowly turn it brighter each night to get yourself used to sleeping with the lights on.
2. Bring Bug Spray. I don’t care where you are from, or how bad the bugs are there, you will need bug spray. The mosquito isn’t the state bird for nothing. Bug head-nets may also be necessary if you will be traveling into the interior of Alaska.
3. Learn How to Layer Clothing. Alaskans have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather wait five minutes.” You are likely to see rain, sunshine, clouds, wind, hot and cold temperatures, and even snow during your trip, and often in the same day. So with such a variety of conditions carrying one big coat will not work. You have to be prepared put on or pull off a T-shirt, long sleeve shirt, fleece, sweater, rain coat, hat, etc. as the weather dictates.
4. Bring Sunglasses. This one surprises people who are not familiar with Alaska. You have to remember that it is the Land of the Midnight Sun. It is always fun when your visitors realize they are putting on their sunglasses at 10 PM.
5. Bring Sun Block Too. Sun block is also a must if you are planning to be on the water or snow. A combination sun block and mosquito repellant is also convenient.
6. Bring Good Rain Gear. Not just a rain coat but rain pants are a must too. A lot of people, mainly East Coasters, think you can get by with an umbrella but they are wrong. Rain gear also comes in handy on windy days; make sure it is breathable (see #3).
7. Read a Good Book on Alaska. Whenever I travel I like to read up on the place before I go. I also like to have a travel book that matches the theme of my trip. For Alaska I recommend Velma Wallis’ Two Old Women which is a beautiful Athabaskan legend of survival and self worth. For the more adventurous try Larry Kanuit’s Alaskan Bear Tales which will give anyone a more than healthy respect for bears.
8. Get in Shape. Alaska is an outdoor place. If you can’t get outdoors to enjoy it then you will miss a big part of the experience.
9. Get Reservations in Advance. Alaska is a popular place so make sure you get all your reservations in writing months in advance. Last month I went to reserve a camping spot at Denali National Park for July and there were only four spots left.
10. Develop a Taste for Seafood and Wild Game. Alaskans love their crab, salmon, moose, caribou, and halibut. So everywhere serves fresh seafood and reindeer on the menu. You don’t want to miss out on a taste of Alaska or some of the freshest fish you can ever have.
11. Get American Money. There are people who still don’t know Alaska is part of the United States. So bring lots of those good old green backs and you can leave them here. We won’t even mind.
12. Learn to Dress Casual. In Alaska jeans and flannel are acceptable attire everywhere, ties and sport coats are not. There isn’t a restaurant in Alaska that requires a tie or sports coat. And thank goodness. Here North Face, Carharts, and Patagonia are the fancy name brands.
13. Get a Huge Memory Card for Your Camera. There is so much to see and so much beauty that you will want to photograph it all. I can easily take 200 pictures a day. So unless you bring a laptop spend the extra money and get the mega-gigabyte card for your camera.