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Old 03-09-2020, 06:22 PM   #1
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North...to Alaska

I'm working on plans for driving from Portland, OR to Alaska this summer. This will be our first trip out of state with our new 21' (picking up in a couple weeks). I'd love to get some helpful advice. A few questions:

1. Should I just look for my US credit card with the lowest foreign transaction fee and use that to pay for gas, or is there a better way? I'm estimating about $2000 worth of fuel. I guess you need a chip reader in Canada but otherwise it should just be the same as the US.

2. I'm trying to budget about 250 miles per day, assuming that to be a relatively easy ~5 hours of driving. I think the longest day I have scheduled is Tok to Whitehorse at 386 miles. I'm budgeting 1 month for this entire trip. Seem reasonable?

3. I'm hoping we can take the ferry from Whittier to Valdez but the ferry website doesn't show any way to make a reservation at this point, and it's not clear they will take us with our trailer or not. Any experience?

We are planning the Cassiar northbound and Alaska Hwy/Jasper/Banff on the way back.

Thanks!
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Old 03-09-2020, 06:29 PM   #2
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As far as foreign fees, a lot of cc do not charge any. I'd also open a new account and get the no interest for first xx months and no foreign fees. Use it for the trip and then pay it off over the next 12 months, interest fee. I did this last year when we picked up our new Escape. It will be paid off in 3 more payments, -0- interest for $4300 over 15 months and no foreign fees.
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Old 03-09-2020, 06:46 PM   #3
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Regarding the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry), they just announced their summer schedule last week. You might give 'em a call to see about ferries between Whittier & Valdez.
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Old 03-09-2020, 06:57 PM   #4
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I'm hoping we can take the ferry from Whittier to Valdez but the ferry website doesn't show any way to make a reservation at this point, and it's not clear they will take us with our trailer or not.
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Regarding the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry), they just announced their summer schedule last week. You might give 'em a call to see about ferries between Whittier & Valdez.
Just fooling around on the website it allowed me to input data under “short RV<=25’” and tow vehicle and then book a date in June between Whittier and Valdez....
https://bookamhs.alaska.gov/book/jou...082.1583291944
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Old 03-10-2020, 07:12 AM   #5
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Going the opposite way, Canada to US, I just set up a US bank account with my bank and got a US credit card. I can easily use my Canadian issued CC with no extra charge (never heard of a foreign transaction fee before), but with the setup we have we can add money when the exchange rate is in our favour, and have the CC set up to withdraw funds from the account monthly to receive no interest fees. Nice while travelling, and often purchasing from the US.
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Old 03-10-2020, 07:46 AM   #6
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I don’t know your style of travel but for us that would be a lot of territory to cover in 30 days
We made a 7000 mile journey to the West Coast . We we’re on the road for close to 50 days
and still missed seeing a lot of the sights along the way.
We don’t travel every day so if you stop and spend a couple days at a location, it can be difficult to maintain a 250 mile per day average
We are not destination travelers !!
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Old 03-10-2020, 07:53 AM   #7
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We went in 2015, a 3 month trip, one full month was in AK. We are going again this year because you will never see it all, even if you don't do the ferry system. For us the ferry is out this year due to the unknowns of if it will be available.

If you really enjoy adventuring and exploring do not do reservations. We had no issues in 2015, in the most popular area, Denali, we just called about 3 days before we got there and made a reservation for the time spent there.

Also if possible don't set a firm return date, some days we did not make 20 miles down our route before we saw something that took the rest of the day to explore. Having a reservation ruins that all together due to having to make up time.

We used a 10-2 time frame, usually on the road by 10, and looking for the next stop by 2pm. with unlimited sun it is tempting to just keep going, pace yourself and enjoy every minute.

Pictures in the 2015 album link at Flicker below if interested
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:01 AM   #8
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Great, I was able to get in and see the schedule finally. Unfortunately it doesn't match up very well with our other plans though...the closest day (1 day from what I had planned) has a 10:45pm arrival in Valdez, although most other days is a 7:45pm arrival. I'll have to investigate other options
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:15 AM   #9
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Fortunately and unfortunately I still have a full time job and the kids and wife have their own summer schedules as well, so 30 days is about the max we can dedicate to this. I'll make sure we don't have any fixed commitments right after the return though, just in case. The only fixed reservations right now are Denali.

Now that I can see the ferry schedules I can see that we could ferry from Bellingham to Skagway for $3500 if I did the description right, so that's something we might consider. Cabin not included. But I guess we might spend at least half that amount in fuel and travel costs by driving.
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Old 03-10-2020, 07:23 PM   #10
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As an Alaskan that’s driven the Alcan many times I recommend getting zero deductible on your comprehensive insurance on your truck.chipped/cracked windshields happen on the Alcan. Not as bad if you drive the Cassier. Don’t miss Laird hot springs. I drive from Skagway to Bellingham in three days but I’m not towing a trailer and it’s brutal. Would be nice to take five days Jasper area is beautiful too. A month really isn’t long enough. We live in southeast Alaska (Juneau) and I haven’t made it to Denali yet. Fast Eddies is the place to eat in Tok. Have a great trip. Get a “Milepost “.
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Old 03-10-2020, 08:25 PM   #11
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A friend of mine whose parents traveled to Alaska in a Class B van suggested that I put a full-width mudflap on my Tacoma in order to protect my trailer if/when I drive to Alaska. The Tacoma has rudimentary mud flaps behind its tires, and my Escape has the front toolbox. I told him about the toolbox and said I didn't think I'd need another mudflap. Opinions?
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Old 03-10-2020, 08:41 PM   #12
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I didn't think I'd need another mudflap. Opinions?

Nor do I. I drive a lot of gravel. I don't have the box and have standard RAV4 flaps. In a decade, I have a couple small chips in the front of the trailer. I think cost to repair would be significantly less than a full width mudflap.
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:27 PM   #13
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We did a trip to Alaska some years ago with a Tacoma and small tent trailer. Easy to pull with good gas mileage. It was 2 months and not nearly long enough. Planned to average 200 miles/day to have lots of time to look around. It took us most of the day to go 200 miles, too ambitious. But your travel culture may vary greatly from ours.

Definitely, get a Milepost. We looked ours over before starting the trip. "Look, they're listing foolish stuff like a pull-out." On the trip we were glued to the window looking for that "culvert" that should be "coming up any minute now". The roads are very very long.

You'll have a great trip, and a wonderful adventure. Safe travels.

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Have a great trip. Get a “Milepost “.
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:32 PM   #14
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Actually most of the roads are paved. They are always fixing sections of the roads by chip sealing. Your biggest hazard from rocks come from semis going in the opposite direction in a gravel section. When you see one barreling your way throwing up a dust cloud you can either get as far off the road as possible or do what I do sometimes. Start weaving back and forth in both lanes like your drunk. They immediately slow right down.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:21 AM   #15
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As an Alaskan that’s driven the Alcan many times I recommend getting zero deductible on your comprehensive insurance on your truck.chipped/cracked windshields happen on the Alcan. .
I believe we have zero deductible on glass but I'll verify. The bigger concern for me is that I'm driving a Land Rover and the nearest dealer is in Vancouver, so a serious breakdown could be a major problem. I've just put $5000 worth of service into it (that was all little stuff). The mechanics say it is good to go though.

Is it reasonable to expect to average 50mph or is that unlikely towing a trailer? With late evenings I would think we can still do a lot of exploring during the day and set up camp late if necessary.
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:01 PM   #16
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Is it reasonable to expect to average 50mph or is that unlikely towing a trailer? With late evenings I would think we can still do a lot of exploring during the day and set up camp late if necessary.
Depends where you are some sections of the highway you could easily average 50 miles an hour other sections not advisable. Look out for red flags along the road which indicate a frost heave. Most places 50 MPH average isn’t unreasonable. If you drive the Cassier Highway maybe 45 average on the upper section would be more realistic. I personally like the Cassier. You see more bears. I’ve actually had a cow moose with her calf trotting down the road right next to me.
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:37 PM   #17
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Is it reasonable to expect to average 50mph or is that unlikely towing a trailer? With late evenings I would think we can still do a lot of exploring during the day and set up camp late if necessary.
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Depends where you are some sections of the highway you could easily average 50 miles an hour other sections not advisable. Look out for red flags along the road which indicate a frost heave. Most places 50 MPH average isn’t unreasonable. If you drive the Cassier Highway maybe 45 average on the upper section would be more realistic. I personally like the Cassier. You see more bears. I’ve actually had a cow moose with her calf trotting down the road right next to me.
In order to average 50 mph, you need to drive at least 60 to allow for fuel and rest stops, at least that has been my experience. Thus driving at 50 mph will average 40 mpg and so on...
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:39 PM   #18
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Is it reasonable to expect to average 50mph or is that unlikely towing a trailer? With late evenings I would think we can still do a lot of exploring during the day and set up camp late if necessary.
I find that in order to avg a speed you need to drive faster, I drive 60 mph to avg 50 with stops and fuel. Thus to drive 50 mph will avg does to 40 mph and so on...
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Old 03-11-2020, 05:32 PM   #19
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2. I'm trying to budget about 250 miles per day, assuming that to be a relatively easy ~5 hours of driving. I think the longest day I have scheduled is Tok to Whitehorse at 386 miles. I'm budgeting 1 month for this entire trip. Seem reasonable?

We are planning the Cassiar northbound and Alaska Hwy/Jasper/Banff on the way back.
We drove to Alaska several years ago with a minivan and pop-up camper from New York. We took 5 weeks to do so and we could have used another couple of weeks. A little over one week each way and 2 1/2 weeks in AK. 12,000 miles total. We took the ALCAN both ways and I really enjoyed everything along the way. Make sure you time to visit Laird Hot Springs, Watson Lake to see the "Signpost Forest" Fish Ladder at Whitehorse, and although strange, I thought Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake was a neat place. You will enjoy the trip very much. As someone else said, definitely get the "Milepost" for 2020. It normally comes out at the end of March. It will tell you where everything is and is a godsend, when you are trying to plan gas stops and such. Someone else discussed mudflaps. We had two casualties on the ALCAN from rocks. We blew the back window out of the van around Whitehorse from a rock that bounced back from the trailer. The plastic battery box was totally obliterated by the time we got home.
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Old 03-12-2020, 12:35 AM   #20
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We are planning the Cassiar northbound and Alaska Hwy/Jasper/Banff on the way back.

Thanks!
When driving the Cassier northbound just before the Stikine river there is a hill with a 20 or 30 KPH speed limit. PAY ATTENTION TO IT. That hill is ugly. I saw a car wreck on that hill from someone who didn’t pay attention to the signs.
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