There’s no doubt about it: Traveling to Alaska is expensive. A typical seven-day Alaska vacation averages around $3000 for a solo traveler which accounts for $400 per day. So if you’re on a tight budget, planning a trip to the 49th state may seem impossible, given that Alaska is one of the most expensive states in the entire U.S.
Some of Alaska’s dramatic sights can only be traveled by boat or plane and the most interesting activities require professional guides, such as glacier hiking, river rafting, and saltwater fishing tour. Even its interesting sights may even require traveling hundreds of miles from your current location. But with Alaska’s breathtaking scenery, you’ll want to visit every place and make the most out of your trip.
The lodging, excursions, food, and transportation are the biggest wild cards for an Alaskan vacation. In fact, tourism in Alaska seems to target travelers on big budgets without any public transportation involved. But the thing is, even a budget itinerary seems daunting since you’ll likely end up spending thousands of dollars.
Unlike any city or resort vacation where the hotel defines your experience, the success of your Alaska trip lies on the side adventures, from the wild rivers, mountains, and coastlines. If you’re ready to budget for your big trip to Alaska, here are some cost-cutting strategies to enjoy your Alaska vacation.
Getting around Alaska often takes a large part of any vacation budget, and travel costs vary depending on your preferred transportation. If you’re traveling solo, it’s much better to ride the bus instead of spending $100 per day for a rental car.
If you’re traveling with a large group, renting a budget car is more practical. What’s great about rental cars is you can travel at your own pace and make stops wherever you want. You can also try buying a cheap, used car if you’re planning to stay longer and visit more sights. You’ll also find it helpful if you’re visiting far destinations since public transport is often available within cities, which can be very limited. But during summer, you’ll find tourist buses traveling between popular destination spots.
Another option is to ride by train, which is still expensive but a great choice for sightseeing. You can try the Alaska Railroad to get a magnificent view of the hidden sights which most travelers rarely see on the highway.
In the summer months, hitchhiking and cycling are the best option to tour Alaska on a budget. This is only advisable during warmer months because traveling in the winter may be unbearable for an average traveler because of bitter cold temperatures.
The months of May and September offer budget opportunities for cost-conscious travelers. During these months, it’s easier to search for lodging since it’s less expensive and tours and rental cars are also more affordable as well as public transportation. You can also score for bigger discounts except for food during shoulder seasons.
Accommodations during peak season (June to August) goes over $130, while hotels cost over $200, including lower-end hotels, cabins, and rental homes. Meanwhile, restaurants charge similarly to major U.S. cities. Groceries are also a bit expensive as well, but you can ask the locals for suggestions about cheaper meal options to save money.
Your best bet for lodging is to set up a camping spot or make sleeping arrangements with nearby locals. You’ll find this helpful if you’re planning to go remote since indoor lodging options are almost nonexistent in far cities and towns, while guesthouses and hostels are very few.
Activities and day tours
There are plenty of activities to explore in Alaska which range from zero to thousands of dollars. Day tours and activities range from $80 for a raft trip to $650 for an entire day of bear-viewing safari. If you’re careful about saving cash for lodging and meals, you can take the culture and wildlife tours, such as Kenai Fjords Tour and Resurrection Bay Tour. Prices start at $105 which saves you 10% if you book online.
When it comes to activities, fishing and hiking tours are low-cost local activities that give you a taste of the Alaska wildlife experience. There’s also plenty of opportunities for road trips, especially if you’re traveling by car. These include Dalton Highway, Kenai Peninsula, and Denali Highway.
As daunting as it may seem, traveling to Alaska on a budget is possible! Alaska may have a reputation as the most expensive state to visit, but a little planning here and there can save you thousands of dollars. Planning your trip and consulting a local expert is the best way to budget out your Alaska vacation and score the best deals on transportation, destinations, and lodging.
Meta title: Making Your Alaska Budget Trip a Reality
meta desc: Traveling on a budget to the 49th state may seem impossible since Alaska is the most expensive U.S. state. Turn it into a reality by checking out these Alaska budget trip options.