Little Known Facts: Tips for your Alaskan Vacation – Gonzalo and Elizabeth Dream Vacations

Little Known Facts: Tips for your Alaskan Vacation

There are many questions that come up from our clients when we’re planning their dream Alaska vacation. We’ve compiled these frequently asked questions into one place and we guarantee you won’t find such a treasure trove of valuable information anywhere else.


  • 1
    If you require air conditioning either out of medical necessity or for your comfort, please talk with your travel professional. Many hotels, lodges and resorts in Alaska do not have an air cooling system and instead rely on natural air conditioning, i.e. opening the windows.
  • 2
    When traveling with three or more people in your cruise cabin on a cruisetour, you will all be in one hotel room as well. If you’d like more space and comfort, you may want to consider booking multiple cabins.
  • 3
    Have a set of binoculars or a monocular? Bring it to make spotting wildlife easier! (Did you know? Some cruise lines provide suite guests a set to use during their cruise.)
  • 4
    No matter when you travel to Alaska, pack a waterproof breathable jacket with hood for rainshowers.
  • 5
    Speaking of water… some waterproof shoes will keep your feet happy, too. It’s not a fancy crowd in the great north, so don’t be bashful. Be comfy and dry!
  • 6
    Book excursions and tours early. CLIA, the cruise lines’ professional association, estimates 80-90% of Alaska guests book tours and/or excursions. Many of these are small groups or very individual experiences like helicopter tours and dog sledding, so once they’re gone, they’re gone.
  • 7
    Speaking of excursions, the top three include: helicopter glacier tour, whale watching, and salmon bake with gold panning. Taking a sled ride and kennel tour at a dog sled summer camp is more can’t-miss fun for all ages.
  • 8
    Permafrost lakes make for big mosquitos, so bring some insect repellant to make yourself less of a target.
  • 9
    Only a select few cruisetours include any food or beverage on the land portion of the itinerary. Read carefully and ask your travel professional when in doubt.
  • 10
    You can arrange for laundry service while on the cruise portion of your vacation in order to pack fewer bags. Fees vary by cruise line for full service though some have self-service launderettes onboard.
  • 11
    If you’re on a cruisetour, gratuities for your coach drivers and tour director are not included in your package. Many guests have requested a tipping guideline for the Cruisetours. It is generally suggested to tip $5.00 USD per person/per day for your Tour Director and $4.00 USD per person/per day for your coach driver. It is traditional to extend gratuities to this team at the end of the tour. Onboard the train, a $1.00 USD per person/per rail transfer gratuity is suggested for your rail host. It is traditional to extend this gratuity upon conclusion of each rail transfer. A standard 15% - 18% gratuity, based on consumption, is typical for the server and bartender if any food or beverage is consumed on the train transfer(s).
  • 12
    Speaking of meals, let’s get a little real about prices of meals in Alaska, too. Below are ranges that you would likely see for meals per person. Resort restaurants will be on the higher end of the scale, always.  Breakfast $12.00-17.00 USD  Lunch $15.00-25.00 USD  Dinner $17.00-30.00 USD
  • 13
    The Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali is great, but indeed it is Mother Nature’s show. For a better chance at wildlife sightings, extending your tour is highly recommended. You would go much further into the park versus the standard tour.
  • 14
    Book a balcony cabin for your Alaska cruise. Trust us. You will NOT regret it.
  • 15
    It doesn’t matter which side of the ship your cabin is on. When you are glacier viewing, the ship’s captain will spin the ship so everyone will get a chance to see the glacier. This is yet another reason to get a balcony for your cruise – avoid the crowded decks and watch the beauty from your private oasis!.
  • 16
    Canada is very strict about past criminal records. You should disclose ANY past criminal issues to your travel professional so you can be directed to proper channels to ameliorate the issue or choose another vacation.
  • 17
    While Alaska is the United States, it is very rural and hospitals are far between. Travel insurance with medical protection is very strongly encouraged. You might even consider additional medical policies in case of airlift.
  • 18
    Train segments in the famed glass-domed rail cars are not tours through the national parks. They are simply ways to get between the towns. 
  • 19
    Coach transfers can be long, but fear not. Several stops are made for people to have stretch breaks, get refreshments/food, and even souvenir shop.
  • 20
    Wildlife spotting tip for bald eagles: look for the golf ball in the trees! It sounds funny, but you’ll get the hang of scanning the trees for that white dot in no time. You won’t believe just how many bald eagles you’ll spot.

We hope these tips help you to realize why an Alaska vacation should be high on your list of places to experience. Have a comment or a story you'd like to share about your Alaskan vacation? Leave us a comment below. 

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