Monday, June 25, 2012

Tips on coming North - to this point

Anyone out there thinking about coming up North, here are a few things that I offer.

Make it as early as you can. We had planned a Memorial day crossing at the latest/earliest. We were caught in a late storm in Montana and delayed by 5 days. It was still quite cold moving north. We were delayed again with a storm west of Calgary that closed the highway going thru Lake Louise and Banff to Jasper. We had to re-route thru Calgary and up toward Edmonton and west from there.

Please know that the gas in Canada is outrageous in price. The best thing you can do is use a credit card that gives you money back on gas purchases anywhere. Food is cheaper in Canada than in Alaska.

The Canadian roads are really hard on your vehicles, both the motorhome or tow vehicle and the trailer or toad. They are the real pits. You cross the border into Alaska and it is just heavenly to drive.

Make sure you have a full-size spare tire. They are pricey and you are at the mercy of whomever has what you need. Try to travel so that your service will be done in Anchorage. The other town don't really have the ability to help with service and warranty items are out of the question for Winnebago until you get to Anchorage.

Contact your credit card companies before you leave home and tell them you will be traveling into and through Canada. Check to see if there will be charges for 'international usage' (or whatever they call it).

None of us had a cell phone or data card that we could use in Canada. I would never do that again. I would have International calling on a phone. Wouldn't turn it on or use it except in an emergency. If we had been involved in any kind of rig mishap and needed ERS we could not have contacted them ourselves. We would have had to rely on someone else to help. I wouldn't do that again.

I'd do something about a data card for internet. Not sure what, but I'd do something. There is WiFi, but you never know where, when or how good. There is no security in using WiFi. If you have the ability to 'secure tunnel' you are okay, but if you don't know what that is, or have the ability you are open to the world.

Check to see if there is still the "Alaska Tour Saver" booklet available for purchase. We bought ours at Safeway. If you want to do any sightseeing or tours you need this booklet. It is basically a buy one and get one free. The buy one is normally only slightly discounted from the normal price - $2 - $3. The fare for the paddle stern wheeler was $56.95 and with the ticket $54.95 plus one free. We have already paid for one booklet and started the savings on the second booklet. The gold panning was $34.95 with one free or $35.95 each. Be sure to read the instructions - don't tear the coupon out of the booklet - that voids it!!!

The Provincal Parks of Canada and the State Parks (Recreation Area) of Alaska do not take reservations. It is a 1st in 5 day or 15 day maximum stay unless other wise noted. We mostly did one nighters thru Canada. Here in AK we have stayed at one park for 5 days, except for me and I stayed a week.

Travel early, it is daylight just about all the time. Get off the road early and you will have a place to spend the night. There are many places here in AK that you can dry camp. Not as much in Canada. Alaska encourages you to utilize the pull outs and open spaces. Canada does not so much.

Bring clothing that can be layered. I used my long johns in Canada most of the way across. Know that T-shirts are dirt cheap here. You can get them for $7 at Safeway, $10 - 15 for nice ones at the 'tourist' spots and if they are having a clearance you can get them for $2. So don't worry about running out - just get some different ones.

Make sure you have really good walking shoes. Break them in before you get here. You don't want to get here and find out that you new shoes hurt your feet. T-shirts are cheap - shoes aren't.

Be ready for light all the time. Provide room darkening material for the windows, the vents and the shower bubble. I was in bed last night on the iPad from 10:30 p.m. until about 11:15 with the shade up 6 " for light. Was still able to read a book without a light on. After a bit, you will be so tired that it doesn't just turn over, close your eyes and go to sleep.

Okay....those are my tips for a trip.


  1. Were the roads bad everywhere in Canada or just when you got up further on the Alcan Hiway? If you had Verizon, you could switch to North American plan while you were in Canada and then switch back. Maybe AT&T has a similar plan.

    1. The roads started getting worse about Dawson Creek. There was some other issues on the smaller roads earlier, but it was noticeable starting there. Which is where we heard about the road outages. No AT&T didn't mention anything about a 'plan' for Canada. I'll mention to the other Verizon gals about that and see what they can find out.