This past September, my roommate and I embarked on #RoadTripAlaska. We flew into Anchorage, rented a car and hit the road with only a vague idea of what we wanted to accomplish. I must say, that given the minimal planning, my roommate and I did a phenomenal job going with the flow and making it up as we went along. But after the journey, I had a dose of retrospect. Looking back there are things that I learned on the journey that I wish I had thought of beforehand — but I guess there’s always next time!
1. Bring toiletpaper
Living in one of the most populous areas of the “Lower 48”, I took for granted that pit stops aren’t ever 20 miles. There are stretches of road in Alaska that can go on for as long as 100 miles before any town or roadside facilities. So when you’re out in nature and nature calls, having a roll of toilet paper would have been a wise idea.
2. Bring water and snacks
Again, there are not that many roadside pit stops along the Alaskan Highway. So it’s best to stock up, preferably in larger cities where there are more readily available resources. My roommate and I stopped at the only gas station/ “Food Mart” within 60 miles and stocked up on over expensive Ramen Noodles, cans of beans and beef jerky.
3. Know how to change a tire
There are long stretches of roads that are not paved. Flat tires, chipped windshields and other car issues are very likely to happen. Luckily, when we got a flat it was in the center of Anchorage, just around the corner from our hostel on the last day of our journey. And a big thank you to the locals who helped us change the tire! I’ve never been happier to have purchased the extra insurance… because we drove that car like we stole it. Sorry, Enterprise — we still love you.
4. Fill up in larger cities
Gas in Anchorage was 20 to 40 cents cheaper than everywhere else! Granted, there are some situations where you will need to fill up and there are no larger towns for hundreds of miles. On that note…
Gas stations in the middle of no where are still using those old gas crisis pumps from the 70’s. They’re not using it because it’s the cool, hipster thing to do (look at my vintage gas pump). They’re using it because when you get out into the wilderness, people’s mentality is if it isn’t completely broken, be resourceful and keep using it.
5. Bring cash
Because it’s like 1984 forever up there. Merchant services is not a thing in the wilderness. Cash is King.
6. Do not drive at night
I did once and it was scary (sorry Mom). But the rule of thumb is try not to drive at night especially if you’re not familiar with the area. You could very easily hit an animal and, due to the size of some of them, the accident might do more damage to you than to it.