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  1. Default Winter Trip to Alaska Advice

    A friend of mine and I will be driving to Alaska, leaving California early February and arriving in time for her new job in Fairbanks in early April. We were hoping to spend as little money as possible and are considering sleeping in the car along the way (either a truck with a shell or a Volvo). Does anyone have any advice 1. how to spend as little money as possible. 2. how to not freeze. or 3. any places that would be particularly excellent during these months.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I'm sorry, but you are really asking us to answer a contradiction. If you want to sleep in your car on the Alaska Highway in Winter, then you pretty much by definition want to freeze.

    A car provides practically no insulation from the elements (and it will be even less in the back of a pickup), there really is no safe way to heat it, so there really is no way to do both things. Planning a trip where 2 people sleep in a car is rarely a good idea anyway, as there just isn't enough room for anyone to have any personal space, which means no matter how close you are now, you will quickly tire of each other, not to mention the very little physical space to actually lay down and sleep.

    For any drive to Alaska, a copy of the milepost is a must, but you will have to build a budget that is reasonable for this trip, and that means making plans to pay for a room at night.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    The first thing I'd do is to get a copy of The Milepost. Unfortunately, the 2012 edition won't be ready until March, but things don't change THAT much, so get the 2011 edition. It's a book with a mile-by-mile listing of roadside services, attractions, and much more.

    Having a little bit of experience living in the Alaskan Bush in the winter months, I seriously hope you'll find some money and stay in motels rather than trying to sleep in a truck or car along the way. Trying to keep yourself warm, you could easily endanger your lives. You might want to save the money someplace else, such as taking a cooler and a small stove along to do some cooking. Buy your food in the larger cities (such as Dawson Creek or Whitehorse) rather than in other places.

    Along the way, we found that the Sign Post Forest was especially fun, as was the collection of hats at the Toad River Lodge. Both were FREE. Walk along the Yukon River in Whitehorse.

    Be sure that your auto insurance is up to date with good coverage for windshields and other body damage to your vehicle. During the winter months, you'll be sharing the Alaska Highway with commercial trucks, but not too many tourists. Unfortunately, those truckers are always in a big hurry, and they spit gravel at you. The result is often a cracked windshields. (We suffered a half-dollar sized "ding" that is STILL in the windshield of one of our trucks. We've chosen not to replace the windshield yet. )

    Take a look around our forums. One is called Saving Money on the Road, and will help you in that respect.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Not a trip to do on the cheap.

    As already mentioned, The Milepost is not only essential, but is going to be your greatest assett. You may be able to pick up a secondhand copy, but if you do, make sure the map is with it. It really is essential to have that map.

    And of course, as mentioned above, sleeping in a car would expose you to hypothermia. Not something with which to toy.

    Furthermore, take on board that nothing is cheap along the way. You will be driving through spectacular but remote territory. You simply will not find anything at city prices. So make sure you budget realistically for the basics.

    But more importantly, why is this a two month trip? If you are short of funds would it not make sense to cut this trip back to under two weeks? and make it safely! It can be driven comfortably in ten days. Maybe a little longer in winter. If you leave six weeks later you might find that conditions are more tollerable.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    My husband had a couple of things to add to this:

    * The road, in winter, can be easier to travel on in one way: The frost heaves aren't so bad in the winter.

    * That said, the road can be worse, because of snow and ice on top of gravel or pavement. Since you are starting from California, have either of you ever driven on snow before?

    * Services may not all be open. You may not have a large choice of places to stay, especially the smaller lodges. You'll find certain things open, but in the larger towns like Dawson Creek and Whitehorse, but you won't have a large choice.

    * As far as "city prices" are concerned: we found groceries to be less expensive (but not particularly cheap) in Dawson Creek and Whitehorse. Fort Nelson and Watson Lake, where we had to pick up some things we forgot, were MUCH higher priced. We didn't try Haines Junction, Tok or Delta Junction. Fairbanks was less expensive. But do NOT expect California grocery prices: milk was around $5 gallon a few years back, bread was $4 loaf. What was cheap in Canada? Wine! (Good thing. You can't bring much across the border from the US into Canada.)

    If the weather is holding for you, and you can swing it financially, make a day trip down to Skagway. It's quite a little town, full of Gold Rush history.

    Let us know if we can help any further.


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default That info is in The Milepost.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    * Services may not all be open. You may not have a large choice of places to stay, especially the smaller lodges. You'll find certain things open, but in the larger towns like Dawson Creek and Whitehorse, but you won't have a large choice.
    That is why you need The Milepost. All that information is in there. You will never be stranded anywhere, nor will you be surprised by the lack of choice when you have that publication. You can call all the places along the way, even before you leave home, so you know exactly what to expect, what costs you will be up for.

    Lifey

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