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32 Top Alaska Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

32 Top Alaska Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring
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To many people in the lower 48, Alaska is so far removed from the rest of the United States that it can feel foreign. Known as ‘the midnight sun’ and ‘the last frontier,’ – you’ll discover an abundance of untouched landscapes, vibrant wildlife, and a naturally rugged spirit.

Packing for this location is not so intuitive, so we’ve put together a list of what to wear in Alaska, what to pack, what NOT to bring, and FAQs so you can have the best trip possible. Prepare to escape the norm and experience the North Star State!

bears playing in alaskan river
Seeing wild bears in Alaska is a magical experience.
See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for Alaska – 32 Essentials

  • 1. Convertible Hiking Pants

    A good pair of hiking pants will make your time out on Alaska’s trails much more comfortable. They’re way more pleasant than jeans, and it’s worth bringing a pair, even if you’re just planning to do one day of hiking. Nylon-spandex blends are lightweight, quick-drying, and unrestrictive. They are perfect for traveling, spending time outdoors, and keeping pesky summertime mosquitoes and ticks off you!

    convertible hiking pants beige

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  • 2. Neck Wallet

    A neck wallet is a smart way to carry your phone, cash, car keys, hotel room card, or your Sea Pass if you’re cruising through Alaska. It’s a hands-free solution to maintain easy access to your phone for taking pictures, but it can also be kept under your clothing so you’re not flashing around money like a vulnerable tourist. This one is also perfect for carrying your passport and other valuables for travel when you’ll likely need some extra help with avoiding pickpockets!

    Neck Wallet

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    A VPN should be the cornerstone of your cybersecurity whether you’re at home or traveling. Data like passwords, financial information, and your identity can get stolen when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi networks in hotels, airports, and cafes. It’s an awful feeling to realize your PayPal has been compromised or your identity has been illegally shared – I learned this first-hand when my credit card number was stolen at (what I thought was a safe) Airbnb.

    Stop hackers from accessing your online activity (this also goes for government entities, your internet provider, and nosy neighbors that probably already know too much about you). Maintain your privacy with a reliable VPN like NordVPN that adds a layer of encryption between hackers and your sensitive information. It also limits any censorship you’ll experience outside of the country like YouTube or Netflix being blocked. For a super affordable price, it works on all devices, including laptops, tablets, and phones.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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  • 4. Black-Out Eye Mask

    The eternal sun of Alaska shines 18+ hours a day in the summertime, and in some areas, it can shine for 80 days straight! ‘The midnight sun’ is no exaggeration, but your body will typically need real darkness to induce feelings of sleepiness. Rather than fighting your instincts or trying to convince your body it’s not permanently afternoon – use a black-out eye mask for restful sleep. It will regulate your circadian rhythm (your inner clock), and this one is made of ultra-soft organic silk material.

    Black-Out Eye Mask

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  • 5. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Alaska gets a LOT of rain, and the moody climate can feel slightly extreme. Whether it’s a romantic drizzle in the summer or snow in the winter, this windproof travel umbrella will keep you dry and protected from the elements. It packs small yet can cover two people at once. And with a lifetime replacement guarantee, it’s made by a company that really believes in its craftsmanship.

    travel umbrella

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  • 6. Travel Insurance for Alaska

    Getting airlifted from the Alaskan mountains for $35K does NOT sound fun to me! Especially since hospitals are far from where you may be exploring and it can get expensive even before receiving treatment. Travel insurance is a wise investment for any traveler and more affordable than you’d think. Keep in mind that your domestic provider will not cover you outside of the country, and you don’t want to pay out-of-pocket for unexpected mishaps and emergencies. Insurance will also compensate you in cases of canceled reservations, lost luggage, theft, damage, medical emergencies, and urgent flights home.

    Don’t take risks with your coverage. Faye is our preferred travel insurance provider because they make it easier than ever before. You can purchase coverage, make claims, and get reimbursed all from their easy-to-use app. They even have the option to “cancel for any reason,” which is beyond useful to have in case your plans change.

    Faye Travel Insurance

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 7. Motion Sickness Patches

    I don’t always get sick while traveling, but I knew I might need these for our 2-day Alaska cruise. Fun fact: You’re actually more likely to get seasick on the smaller boats used for whale-watching, docking, or sailing around the coast. It’s common to hit some rough waters, and the smaller vessels don’t have stabilizers like cruise ships. People can get very nauseous or sick onboard, so if you are prone to motion sickness, bring these patches as a preventative measure. Stick one behind your ear 10 minutes before travel, and you’re covered for up to three days. They’ve been a miracle to me!

    Motion Sickness Patches

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  • 8. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    A cruise line will provide you with fluffy towels, but Airbnbs or bungalows may not offer the same luxuries. And for long hikes or tricky terrains, you won’t want to be weighed down by bulky towels that can throw off your balance. This travel towel is light as a feather yet super absorbent and practical. It dries 10x faster than cotton, which makes it multipurpose – we bring a few for speedy dry-offs or to use as sweat rags, seat covers, packing cushions, etc.

    quick-dry travel microfiber towel

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  • 9. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    Between river rafting, cruising, whale-watching, kayaking, fishing, and rainy forest hikes – you won’t regret having a waterproof phone case. Because of the rain and the likelihood that you’ll be near water, it’s a good idea to protect your phone. This one is super affordable and is designed by a woman-owned company in Hawaii. We love it!

    waterproof phone pouch

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  • 10. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    More than half of all tourists in Alaska visit by cruise ship. Millions of guests are thrilled to see the breathtaking sights – but they’re not so thrilled to find a “bathroom” that can barely be called a room (typically 25 square feet). Unless you’ve got a presidential suite, your cabin will 100% lack storage and you don’t want to risk leaving bottles on a wet countertop where they could slip and slide from the ship’s movement, crashing to the floor and potentially breaking.

    Even hotels can leave you with a mere sink sans countertops, drawers, or cabinets. Whether seeing Alaska on land or sea, avoid the meltdown, skip the clutter, and maintain your routine with this hanging toiletry bag. It holds tons of stuff and converts any door, hook, or shower pole into an mobile shelf that you will be completely obsessed with.

    hanging toiletry bag

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  • 11. Hiking Shoes

    For many visitors, hiking shoes are the go-to footwear for Alaska. This pair by Merrell are great, especially for the late spring, summer, and fall months. They are renowned for their comfort and arch support, made to be very lightweight and dry quickly when wet. If you are heading to Alaska in the colder months, I would recommend a heavier boot like this one, also by Merrell.

    Hiking Shoes

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  • 12. Luggage Straps

    For checked bags, luggage straps ensure your zippers don’t break due to mishandling by the staff or brutal conveyor belt system. Since these can withstand 700+ lbs of force tension, they noticeably reduce the wear-and-tear on your suitcases, which means you won’t have to deal with dirty laundry being flung everywhere.

    They also come in handy when it comes time to identify your bag in a sea of suitcases where the “same black case” seems to repeatedly fall down the baggage claim ramp. AND for cruisers at disembarkation, these will be a huge help to finding your belongings (because often, bags are consolidated to a port retrieval room where everything is organized by color, and it all starts to weirdly look the same!).

    luggage straps

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  • 13. Moisture-Wicking Socks

    Is there anything worse than cold, wet feet?! Stay toasty and dry with these athletic socks made of moisture-absorbent fibers. They are designed with a breathable material to prevent blisters, stop smelly feet in their tracks, and keep you warm! They’re also padded, which makes them comfier for long days on your feet. Guys will love these moisture-wicking socks for men.

    Moisture-Wicking Socks

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  • 14. Discounted Tickets to Alaskan Attractions

    Get Your Guide is our favorite booking platform because you can find incredible excursions hosted by local tour guides. This supports their tourism industry while also giving you the flexibility of cancelation up to 24 hours before your reservation.

    There are so many ways to see Alaska – by traditional dog-sled, by boat down the whitewater rafts, by bike on a coastal tour, or by trolley through town. You can also get a birds-eye view in a scenic plane ride tour, whale watch from a heated ship, or ATV through the mountain ranges!

    After a day exploring the Ice Museum or warming up at the relaxing hot springs, stay up late to watch the awe-inspiring beauty of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). And no Alaskan getaway would be complete without visiting Denali National Park or witnessing the glaciers at Kenai Fjords National Park!

    get your guide

    See all Alaska attractions at ➜

  • 15. Fleece Jacket

    When it comes to the Alaskan dress code, a fleece jacket is a great place to start! Fleece doesn’t absorb water, so it won’t get damp or uncomfortable. It may be the only jacket you need during the summer and makes the perfect mid-layer during colder months. This Columbia jacket is affordable, top-rated, and comes in a wide assortment of cute colors.

    Fleece Jacket

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  • 16. Warm Headband

    No matter the season in Alaska, a cozy headband will help you make the most of your time outdoors. This one will lock in heat and cover your ears while still allowing for airflow. We don’t realize how much heat escapes through our heads, but a wool option will save you from losing all your natural warmth, and you’ll quickly notice how much warmer you are with it on!

    Warm Headband

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  • 17. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    I forgot to bring this with me for a short trip recently and regretted it almost instantly. Having a portable way to recharge my devices is so handy. It regularly saves me from having to sit in my accommodations waiting for my phone to power back up; plus, you may be far away from a reliable power grid while boating or hiking. This tiny device holds a couple of charges for your electronics and uses standard USB cables to recharge those items on the go.

    Lipstick-Sized Charger

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  • 18. Packing Cubes

    Staying organized while traveling in Alaska is essential to enjoying your adventure. Instead of rummaging through your suitcase or backpack for those missing socks or t-shirts, use packing cubes to organize all your clothes like a pro! Once we started using these cubes, it was a complete game-changer and made it so easy to avoid overpacking. This set even comes with an index card label on the back of each cube so you know exactly where everything is, even if you’re jet-lagged.

    Available on with an exclusive 15% discount using the coupon code “HERO”.

    packing cubes

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  • 19. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    I’ve had something stolen out of my checked luggage, so now we never travel without luggage locks. Secure your essentials like electronics, valuables, and travel docs with this TSA-approved set. You can use them for suitcases, backpacks, lockers, and more. Not to mention, 1+ million travelers cruise through Alaska each year, handing their suitcases off to porters or leaving them in drop-off zones with thousands of other bags. It will offer peace-of-mind since you won’t see your things again for several hours.

    luggage locks

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  • 20. Travel Backpack

    Skip the clunky wheels and airline fees – consider this your simplified carry-on! Instead of attempting a roller suitcase in Alaska, keep yourself on-the-go with this travel backpack. It has a lightweight design that is built for travel and won’t slow you down. It also folds into its own pocket when not in use, condensing to take up virtually zero space. BOOM! Bring this backpack rain cover to make it waterproof, and you’re good to go.

    Travel Backpack

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  • 21. Waterproof Jacket

    One jacket simply won’t cut it in the arctic tundra of Alaska. If you’re not used to dressing for the cold, we would advise you to embrace layers and ensure they’re weather-proof because walking around in freezing, wet clothes is the fastest way to feel miserable! This waterproof jacket serves as an ideal outer layer, and I pair it with a thermal base layer. It keeps me comfortable and warm for glacier hikes, chilly cruise tours, or exploring towns on foot. Here’s a version for men.

    Waterproof Jacket

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  • 22. High-Quality Filtered Water Bottle

    This bottle is a no-brainer since it’s a very reliable way to filter out microbes, sediment, bacteria/viruses, and any other contaminants before you drink water from a mountain stream etc. Also keep in mind that much of the water in Alaska has high levels of silt due to the glacier-induced erosion of mountainsides, which sends very fine grains of sand into local water sources so this can even be essential when you’re getting water from the tap.

    High-Quality Filtered Water Bottle

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  • 23. Mosquito-Repelling Wristbands

    Summertime mosquitoes in Alaska are truly legendary. Therefore, it is best to be prepared for swarms of the little blood suckers! These natural insect-repelling wristbands last for up to 300 hours and work surprisingly well, especially considering you don’t have to spray harsh chemicals all day. Note: If you really want to reduce your chances of getting bitten, use insect repellent in addition to the bracelets, just make sure it’s deet-free and non-toxic.

    Mosquito-Repelling Wristbands

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  • 24. Insulated Gloves

    With winters in Alaska reaching sub-zero temperatures of -30°F, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of insulated gloves. These are the best mittens I’ve found – genuine sheep leather on the outside, yet still breathable with a polyester lining. A bit expensive, but the quality reflects it, especially since they’re water-resistant. These will make arctic hikes bearable and be valuable to you while exploring town or overlooking the horizon from your cruise ship’s deck.

    Insulated Gloves

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  • 25. Hand & Feet Warmers

    If you haven’t tried hand and feet warmers, they’re an absolute delight! Bring the bliss of a fireplace with you everywhere you go by slipping them into your pockets, gloves, socks, or shoes. Simply open and shake them, and the oxidation process will begin immediately. You’ll have 10+ hours of sustained heat and can remain naturally insulated. If you want to skip the gloves or buy cheaper snow shoes, these will make all the difference.

    hand and foot warmers

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  • 26. Water-Resistant Shoe Bags

    A predicament that people rarely consider while traveling is how to store their shoes. Between the ice, mud, and street-funk that can gather on your footwear – you don’t always want to store them next to your fresh clothes. This product is our recent discovery: water-resistant shoe bags that will keep a much-needed barrier between your grimy and clean stuff! They work perfectly, and I even use them for excursions to separate our damp items from dry ones.

    shoe bags

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  • 27. Collapsible Hiking Poles

    Hiking poles are often overlooked on packing lists, but they’re actually extremely useful to help you conserve energy and maintain stable footing while walking on trails, tundra, forest floors, and glaciers. This foldable set is incredibly lightweight and offers serious fall-prevention. They’ve been very durable for us, and I love the accessories they come with (attachments for rock and pavement, mud and sand, snow, and ice).

    Collapsible Hiking Poles

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  • 28. Binoculars with Phone Adapter

    Alaska’s vast landscapes and mountaintops make it ideal for sightseeing. Between Denali National Park, Glacier Bay, Katmai Preserve, and the Fjords – you’ll need a pair of binoculars to take it all in. Wildlife spotting is also top-notch in Alaska, so keep an eye out for belugas and orcas in the waters, and watch wild bears, moose, birds, etc., while exploring on land. You could invest in a professional pair like Vortex Optics, but our pick is a steal at a fraction of the price. They can even be connected to your smartphone for easy-peasy photographing and sharing.

    Binoculars with Phone Adapter

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  • 29. Fleece Sweatpants

    Fleece sweatpants may become your best friend in Alaska 🙂 While we aim to dress top-notch every day of our vacation, the reality is… you will be tired and seeking comfort wherever you can. With a fleece lining and sleek fit, these are practical for travel days or plane rides. In fact, you may want to live in these every winter!

    Fleece Sweatpants

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  • 30. Moisture-Wicking Scarf or Gaiter

    When you’re in a place that gets cold but keeps you active, you want to avoid letting sweat sit on your skin. Being damp and cold can lead to health problems ranging from uncomfortable rashes to frostbite, so it’s best not to risk it. Take it from me: standing on the top deck of a glacier cruise boat trying to get pictures in the rain is much easier if you have one or two of these scarves to keep you protected from the wind chill! I don’t travel without them anymore.

    wool gaiter

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  • 31. Emergency Paracord Bracelet

    Alaska is truly a wild place, so it is absolutely necessary to come prepared. This amazing little bracelet has a built-in alert whistle, fire starter, compass, and a small knife in addition to the 12 feet of military-grade paracord rope. It’s the best toolkit to have whenever you go hiking in case of an emergency. Plus, it’s easily adjustable for any wrist-size and pleasantly affordable.

    Emergency Paracord Bracelet

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  • 32. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    The shopping in Alaska is one-of-a-kind. This “just in case” bag is for those inevitable rummaging trips through artisan craft stores and Native American markets! We like this bag in particular because it’s personal item-sized and fits easily under your plane seat. Treat yourself and your loved ones to unique goods like Glacial mud masks, birch syrup, Mukluks, bear claw servers, ivory billiken, Alaskan Jade, and artwork you won’t find anywhere else.

    Just in Case bag

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What to Wear in Alaska

The right clothes for Alaska will depend on the season and where in this huge state you’re traveling. Unless you’re heading to the far north, summer should feel similar to other northern states. During Alaska’s winter months, however, you’ll want to plan for plenty of cold.

Layers are crucial – you will find that you heat up and cool down very quickly as you move around and explore. Don’t forget to choose moisture-wicking fabrics; you do not want to let moisture sit on your skin in cold weather, so avoiding sweat and dampness is important.

What should women wear in Alaska? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample of what women should wear in Alaska with links to Amazon for your convenience.

Women should prioritize layers and water repellence when visiting Alaska, while also paying attention to the seasons. Bring both light and heavier layers with you that are comfortable and breathable. During the colder months, you’ll need thermals, gloves, snow boots, and a water-resistant coat. During the summer months, you’ll have more flexibility but it can still be quite rainy, so it’s a good idea to bring rain boots along with long-sleeved shirts, trousers or jeans, and wool sweaters that you can layer. And don’t forget the knit headband and wool socks to keep you warm in the areas where your body releases the most heat!

What should men wear in Alaska? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample of what men should wear in Alaska with links to Amazon for your convenience.

While it will always depend on where you visit in Alaksa, men should typically aim to pack items that are waterproof and lightweight. To feel most comfortable, we always recommend wearing thermal tops and bottom base-layers that can be paired with long-sleeved shirts and water-resistant pants. Externally, you should opt for a completely waterproof material like a GorTex raincoat, especially if visiting in the wet summer months. Sweaters and thick button-ups are ideal for casual or indoor activities, so you will look effortless but feel snug in case the forecast gets chilly. If venturing out into snowy areas and mountains, hiking or snow pants are a must because jeans will get soaked and weigh you down. Top this with accessories like wool socks, scarves, gloves, and hats will ensure you’re not losing reserves of precious heat.

Dressing for the Seasons

SPRING – March, April, May:

Spring is wet in most parts of Alaska. It’s also still fairly cold, especially in the earlier months, so plan accordingly! You’ll start to see more wildlife, but not many tourists brave this still-frigid time. If you have the right gear, though, you’ll be just fine!

Plan ahead with moisture-wicking scarves, lightweight waterproof gloves, and a warm hat. Don’t forget wool socks, waterproof hiking boots, and rain and snow pants depending on how much time you’ll be spending outside (hint: most activities in Alaska are outdoor-centered). Activewear is perfect during the spring, as it breathes and dries well. Avoid jeans which, while very much Alaskan in style, are a pain to dry once they get wet. Temperature averages vary widely based on region, but are generally around 35°F to 45°F (2°C to 7°C).

SUMMER – June, July, August:

Summer in most of Alaska is a mild and pleasant season. Temperatures throughout the state typically stay well below what most people would consider “hot,” with the occasional exception.

Plan for mosquitoes, though, as they can be quite voracious! A good mosquito repellent should do the trick, and mosquito wristbands are easy to use and last all day. Regardless, always bring a rain jacket that is light on its own but can be layered for warmth on chillier days.

Jeans are an Alaskan staple and are quite versatile, though they don’t dry well so avoid them on the few rainy days during the summer. Consider bringing a pair of convertible quick-dry pants so that you can have good outdoor pants which can convert to shorts on the warmest days. Temperature averages vary based on region, but are generally around 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 16°C). Southern areas tend to be less extreme, and the interior regions are the most extreme.

FALL – September, October:

Fall brings precipitation back into the picture after the drier summer. Certain regions will start to cool down very quickly, while others will maintain a more temperate feel until later in the season.

For any region in Alaska during the autumn, you’ll want a good, relatively lightweight rain jacket. Heavier rain jackets will get a bit warm, and it’s better to have a lighter outer-shell that you can wear removable layers under. It should be accompanied by a reliable travel umbrella and a moisture-wicking scarf to help keep moisture away from your face and neck. Gloves, hat, and wool socks are all wise choices, though they can be lighter weight if you’re visiting a less intense region. Athletic pants are ideal at this time, and will keep you comfy and dry all day. Temperature averages vary based on region, but are generally around 35°F to 45°F (2°C to 7°C). Interior regions will cool off much faster, and will start to feel quite wintry by the end of October.

WINTER – November, December, January, February:

Winter in Alaska sounds magical, doesn’t it? It really does live up to the expectations in most areas.

A waterproof winter jacket that can be separated into multiple layers is a very wise here. That way, you can choose exactly how much warmth you need on any given day or for a specific activity.

Gloves, hat, scarf, wool socks, thermal underwear, and items that can be easily layered all make up the ideal clothing haul for your winter trip to Alaska.

Sunglasses are also a good idea, as sunlight reflects off of snow and can be quite harsh on sunny days. Temperature averages vary based on region, but are generally around 5°F to 10°F (-15°C to -12°C). Southern areas tend to be less extreme, and the interior regions are the most extreme.

Regional weather differences in Alaska – (Click to expand)

Alaska is, by rough estimation, about 1/3-1/2 the size of the lower 48 United States combined, and it spans several climate zones due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle and various ocean and sea currents.

Far North: Much colder year-round. Most Alaska-wide averages don’t factor these temps in since they skew the averages so low. If you’re headed to Wainwright, Barrow, or another northern town, plan for cold and more precipitation during any season.

Interior: Places on the interior like Fairbanks, Denali National Park, or Gates of the Arctic National Park will have more intense weather, as they’re isolated from the ocean temperatures that warm other regions. The most extreme temperatures and winds will be found in this region all year round, so do a bit of current-weather research in the few weeks leading up to your trip to finalize your clothing items.

Southwest Coastal: This area is dominated by beautiful temperate rainforests. Picture the kinds of forests you’d see in the US Pacific Northwest like Oregon and Washington, and you’ll get the idea. The ocean keeps the weather milder here, so daily (and annual) temperature fluctuations are less drastic. Annual rainfall is around 130 inches, which is one of the highest in the world. Plan for outdoor exploring that’s both wet and a bit chilly.

Southern: Places like Anchorage and the surrounding areas are sheltered from much of the crazier weather on the interior and in the far north, so they’ll have much more predictable weather. This region is very similar to the northern US in that the climate is mild but much cooler than most people are used to. Annual highs seldom get above 70 degrees, and annual lows aren’t very extreme either. Rains in spring and fall can be counted on.

What NOT to Take to Alaska

  • 1.DON’T TAKE gear you won’t use

    Depending on what you have planned for your trip, you might need quite a bit of gear. So don’t overpack and get stuck lugging around even more stuff than you need.

  • 2.DON’T BRING lots of clothes

    Most people bring too many clothes when they travel, and it will quickly weigh down your bag. Try to limit yourself to the number of clothes you’ll actually have time to wear.

  • 3.DON’T PACK heavy books

    While you might want to do some reading on your flights or during downtime, avoid filling your bag with heavy books. Opt for a Kindle instead, which takes up less space than a single physical book.

  • 4.DON’T BRING excessive valuables

    There’s always a chance that things can get lost or stolen on the road. If you have valuables that you won’t need to use on the trip, it’s best to leave them at home.

  • 5.DON’T TAKE gear you could rent

    If you’re planning on camping, climbing, or other outdoor activities, you’ll need gear. But check to see what you can rent (or will get from a tour company) before checking a huge bag of equipment.

  • 6.DON’T PACK formal evening-wear

    If you’re like most visitors to Alaska, you’re not going to have a need for lots of dressy clothes. Bring one nicer outfit, and leave the rest of your fancy clothes at home.

FAQs about an Alaska vacation or trip

  • 1. What kind of wildlife will I see in Alaska?


    Some of the larger animals in Alaska are numerous types of bears, including black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears, as well as moose, bison, caribou, mountain goats, gray wolves, lynxes, musk oxen, and Dall sheep. Along the state’s coastline and off its shores are seals, sea lions, walruses, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sea turtles. There are over 450 species of birds that call Alaska home, with some of the most interesting being bald eagles, puffins, trumpeter swans, and ten different species of owls. People also flock to Alaska for fly fishing because of the incredible opportunities to catch salmon, steelhead, and trout.

  • 2. What time zone is Alaska in?

    Alaska is in its own time zone, Alaska Time Zone (AKT), which is one hour behind U.S. Pacific time. The only exception is the Aleutian Islands in the western part of Alaska, which are on Hawaii-Aleutian Time and one hour behind the rest of the state. Both time zones observe daylight savings time.

  • 3. What are the daylight hours in Alaska?


    Compared to anywhere else in the U.S., Alaska has by far the longest days in the summer and the shortest days in the winter. But daylight hours vary considerably throughout the state.

    At the most extreme point, in the northernmost town of Barrow, there’s no complete darkness from mid-April to mid-August – and no actual sunrise from late November to late January.

    While the parts of Alaska frequented by visitors are milder, daylight hours in Anchorage still get as short as about 10:00 am-3:30pm in the winter and as long as 4:30am-11:30pm in the summer.

    During much of the summer in Anchorage and elsewhere in the state, it never gets completely dark during the few hours between sunset and sunrise.

  • 4. What is the weather like?

    In a state as huge as Alaska, the weather varies dramatically by region. In Anchorage and throughout much of the state, average highs in summer months are in the low 60s, but temperatures sometimes climb into the 80s in the warmest areas. Northern Alaska is much colder, with average summer highs in the 40s.

    Alaskan winters, true to stereotype, are a force to be reckoned with. For about four months during the winter, average highs stay below freezing in Anchorage and below zero in northern towns like Barrow. Many of Alaska’s major towns receive around 70 inches of snow per year on average (about the same as Burlington, VT), but some areas can get up to 500 inches.

  • 5. What are the options for getting to Alaska?


    Most people arrive in Anchorage, where the state’s largest airport serves flights from several cities in the lower 48, as well as a few in Asia and (surprisingly) Reykjavik. For adventurous travelers with time to spare, the drive to Alaska is a major bucket list item.

    There are a few different routes, but the most popular follows the Alaska Highway for almost 1,500 miles from Dawson Creek, BC, through the Yukon to Delta Junction, AK. The other way to get to Alaska is on a cruise, with cruise season lasting from May to September.

  • 6. What is the best way to get around?

    Though Alaska is massive and large parts of it are inaccessible by road, there are plenty of options for getting around the areas frequented by visitors. Flights connect Anchorage with several other towns around the state, and bush planes fly to hundreds of more remote communities. For many coastal towns, ferries and water taxis are the main source of connection, and the state-owned Alaska Marine Highway runs ferries along the state’s entire southern coast.

    Alaska also has two railroads covering different parts of the state: the Alaska Railroad runs from Seward to Fairbanks, and the White Pass and Yukon Route runs from Skagway and Fraser. If you prefer to drive yourself, highways connect the main towns in central and south-central Alaska and are generally in very good shape despite the harsh conditions.

  • 7. How can I see the Northern Lights?


    Fairbanks is often cited as the best place in Alaska (and the U.S.) to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, though they can be spotted throughout the state. The Northern Lights can be visible in Alaska anytime between September and April.

    Dozens of companies offer Northern Lights tours, or you can rent a car and chase them on your own. They’ll be more visible if you get away from city lights, but if you’re in a small enough town, you may not need to go anywhere. Many hotels in Alaska will even give you a wake-up call if the lights become visible during the night.

  • 8. How much does it cost to travel in Alaska?


    Alaska is, unfortunately, not a great budget travel destination, although there are ways to cut costs. One website that broke down the full cost of a one-week trip for two people estimated the total cost (including flights) at $2,000 on a shoestring and $9,000 for luxury travel.

    Depending on where you’re coming from, the flight to Anchorage alone will be several hundred dollars, and most flights within the state will be a few hundred more.

    Rental cars can cost around $100 per day, not including insurance, and train tickets can be over $100 one-way, depending on the route. Food also tends to be costly in Alaska, both at restaurants and grocery stores.

    Still, as in most places, favoring local diners and picking up groceries for some of your meals will cut your food cost considerably. Accommodations are another place where you can save some money in Alaska, as there are a number of hostels in Anchorage and Fairbanks and affordable campgrounds throughout the state. In many areas, homeshare rentals are also cheaper than hotels.

    Beyond these basic expenses, the cost of traveling in Alaska really depends on how much sightseeing you do and what type. Hiking independently in Denali National Park or elsewhere won’t cost much; scenic bush plane flights, on the other hand, run a few hundred dollars per person. In general, the more activities you do on your own, as opposed to on package tours, the more money you’ll save.

  • 9. Are there any safety concerns?


    Travel is Alaska is not inherently more dangerous than in the lower 48, but there are a few unique risks to be aware of. If you visit in the winter, it’s important to be prepared for the weather.

    Road safety is also a concern in parts of Alaska, so drive carefully.

    Though the main highways are in excellent condition, many of the smaller roads are unpaved, and all of them can get extremely icy in the winter.

    If you go into the backcountry, make sure you have the appropriate gear. This should include a water filter, First-Aid kit, hiking boots with good ankle support, bear spray, and sufficiently warm clothing and sleeping gear. Lastly, Alaska ranks among the worst states in terms of violent crime, so use common sense while you’re traveling.

  • 10. What are the top places to visit in Alaska?

    In a state that has a lot to offer, Denali National Park tops the list for most people. Alaska also has seven other national parks, with Klondike Gold Rush, Glacier Bay, and Kenai Fjords being among the most visited. The 127-mile Seward Highway across the Kenai Peninsula is the state’s most scenic drive and is a must for anyone with access to their own wheels. For getting out on the water, the glaciers of Tracy Arm Fjord make for a stunning boat tour, while kayaking tours through Glacier Bay guarantee wildlife sightings.