• Post category:Alaska

Alaska Travel Tips - and Final Reflections

Sadly, today is our last day in Alaska.  All good things must come to an end, eventually.

Disembarkation was, as I expected, a bit tedious. We had pre-booked a shuttle bus transfer to Vancouver airport which, with the benefit of hindsight was a mistake. We could have taken a taxi to the airport for less or a sky train for even less than that!

Instead, we spent an unnecessary couple of hours being herded into lines for an overloaded shuttle bus bay.

Still, having got rid of our bags at the airport left luggage check-in, we spent the afternoon exploring Vancouver. We walked along the waterfront and refreshed our memory of this lovely city.

Vancouver airport is very passenger friendly and the city is clean and lively too – a great place for a stopover. We are not stopping over, however, as real life is recalling us.  Our check- in is at 17.40 for a 20.40 departure, arriving 9 hours later at London Heathrow.

At this point, we lose 7 and a half hours of life. Still, I suppose we gained them on the way out, so we shouldn’t feel too short changed.

Tips for Future Travellers

  1. If you do take a cruise with Princess Cruises as part of your Alaska trip, Dining at the Chef’s Table is a great experience.  You need to sign up right at the start of your cruise though – before you unpack even – because the numbers are very strictly limited.
  2. Leaving the car at home was a great idea – doing the whole trip on public transport and finishing with the cruise made it a very relaxing holiday and there was nothing we missed as a result of not having a car with us.
  3. We booked each element of our trip independently on line rather than booking via a travel agent.  We saved a LOT of cash doing this some of which we used to upgrade our accommodation to a suite on the Sapphire Princess.  Apart from the welcome luxury of a very spacious cabin and balcony, the perks that the suite granted us (e.g. free laundry service, breakfast at Sabatinis and probably securing a place at the Chef’s Table) greatly added to our overall enjoyment of this leg of the trip.
  4. The luggage restrictions on Alaskan Airlines flights need to be checked carefully before you travel.  Their planes are small which cuts down what you can pack – quite a challenge if you are incorporating a cruise into your trip as we did.  Given that we did the trip on public transport though, packing light was a good move.
  5. There really is a very small window for visiting Alaska. The tail end of August/early September is a great time to travel to avoid the cold and dark of Autumn/Winter and the horrendous mosquitos of Summer.  If you do travel in Summer, take a mosquito net and all the repellent you can pack – you will need it!

Final Reflections

Now that our trip has come to an end, it is time for some final reflections. This is the first travel blog I have ever written and my purpose is really threeefold:

  1. To help you plan your own travel adventure.  I have included as many useful links and tips as I can to help you book directly as we did because this proved a very economical alternative to booking via a travel agent.  You do need to do your research very carefully in advance though, of course, but I hope my experience helps you take some shortcuts with that process.
  2. To inspire others to travel.  Travel takes time and effort and it is a very expensive luxury.  I hope my photos and travel stories encourage you to go for it and plan your own trip to places I have enjoyed.
  3. Travel doesn’t come without its pitfalls either and there is rarely a trip where, with the benefit of hindsight, you would have done thongs a bit differently.  I aim to pass on the lowlights as well as the highlights so you can avoid any pitfalls I found when you plan your own trip – or at least – know exactly what you are letting yourself in for.  Forewarned is forearmed!

It has been fun to write – I really hope it has been fun for you to read.  I love to get comments/feedback, so feel free to contact me via the “Get in Touch” link at the top of the blog.

My final reflection from the trip is that the best photos are those that really capture the excitement you felt when you wanted to capture the image. I have learned a lot on this trip about shutter speed, aperture size etc. etc. and I have taken some good photos and some not so good photos, but my favourites are those that capture the excitement of the moment, whatever their technical attributes.  I hope I can gradually improve my photography skills as I continue to explore the world.

There have been so many moments I have wanted to capture on this trip – as the Alaskans might say, “it has been a blast.

“Over and out … for now”

Alaska Travel Tips
Small iceberg reflecting blue light