Frequently Asked Questions

After 25 years working in the world of tourism, we've heard pretty much every Alaska travel question you could ask. You'll find the answers to questions about where to stay, what to see, how to pack, and much more in the list below. If you'd like to know more about Alaska travel transportation, please see our transportation FAQ page. We also have a separate FAQ page for cruise questions. Don't see your specific question? We want to hear from you! Please contact us online or call us at 800-208-0200.

Jump To: Getting Started, Planning Your Trip, Lodging, Things To Do, Making Reservations, Getting Ready to Go, Back Home, General

Getting Started

Q: Are there additional fees or charges for booking with Alaska Tour & Travel?

No, there are no additional fees or charges when booking with Alaska Tour & Travel. The pricing of our vacation packages is comparable to the published rates of the various operators included in each package (i.e. train, bus, hotels, activities). Because there are no markups, our pricing simply reflects the total amount of all the chosen components.

Please note that because we are held to contracted rates with each operator, we are unable to apply any special promotions or club member discounts.

Rates shown on this website are subject to change without notice and do not include applicable taxes and ticketing cost for tours regulated by the National Park Service.

Q: Can I travel to Alaska on a budget?

You can easily travel to Alaska on a budget, especially if you travel during the shoulder season.

The Alaska summer season is mid-May to mid-September with the peak season in June, July, and August and the shoulder season in May and September. You can find lower fares on the Alaska Railroad, significantly lower nightly rates at some hotels and lodges around the state, and even some discounted day tours during the shoulder season.

There are many more ways to plan an economical trip, even if you opt to travel during peak season. Check out our full article for many more ideas about making your dollar go further in Alaska.

Q: Do I need my passport to travel to Alaska?

Alaska is a U.S. state, so if you are a U.S. citizen you do not need a passport to travel here. If you are coming from outside of the U.S. or traveling through Canada by cruise you will need a passport to travel to Alaska.

Q: How do I get to Alaska?

Most visitors travel to Alaska by plane. Alaska Airlines, United, Delta, America, and Sun Country fly into Anchorage, which is Alaska's largest city and primary transportation hub. Fairbanks and Juneau also have airports, but they are smaller and have fewer daily flights.

It is also possible to get to Alaska from the lower 48 states by cruise, ferry, or car. To learn more, take a look at our article about traveling to Alaska.

Q: How do I sign up for your newsletter?

We have a monthly newsletter with travel tips, specials and blog articles. Signing up is easy, just scroll to the bottom of any page on our website and enter your email address. We will never spam you, and you can unsubscribe at anytime.

Q: What are the best places to visit in Alaska?
Q: What is the best time to visit Alaska?

Alaska is a year-round destination, but it is the long days, numerous activities, and abundant wildlife that make summer the best time to visit.

Summer is short in Alaska, running from about mid-May to mid-September. In May the days are already long, but the weather is still cool and signs of winter linger. In coastal regions, May is a fantastic time for whale watching as humpback whales return to feed for the summer and gray whales pass through on their annual migration north. June and July are the busiest summer months, and while there may be more visitors there are also the greatest number of available activities. August is both less buggy and a bit rainier. September, which is technically the shoulder season, brings some discounted rates on lodging along with beautiful fall colors farther north.

We detail more of what makes each summer month a good pick for travel in this best time to visit Alaska article.

Q: What will the weather be like in Alaska?

Alaska's weather varies greatly by region. Much of the Southeast coast is a temperate rainforest. May and June are the "driest" months in this area (with an average three inches of rain), but weather is typically drizzly. In general, expect temps in the mid-50s and intermittent days of cloud cover. Southcentral Alaska is the most diverse region in both terrain and weather. In this region Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, sees high temps in the mid-60s in June, July, and August. Weather becomes wetter through August and September. Interior Alaska sees the widest temperature swings, sometimes climbing to the 80s during the summer and then quickly dropping to the 30s come September.

If you'd like more information about temperatures and precipitation in each region, check out this Alaska weather article.

Q: Where can I find sample Alaska itineraries?

To get started, check out our most popular Alaskan vacation packages and sample itineraries page. Another great tool is our Alaska Trip Finder.

Q: Where can I order an Alaska brochure and map?

You can order an Alaska brochure and map here.

Q: Why should I book with Alaska Tour & Travel?

We're locally owned and operated right here in Alaska with a staff of Alaskans who bring more than a century of combined experience in tourism.

We do not mark up any of our vacation packages, all of which are fully customizable.

We confirm reservations with only a 30% deposit and you can change or cancel your trip without fee or penalty up until 45 days prior to travel.

There are even more reasons, please take a look at our Why Alaska Tour & Travel page for a full list. Want to see what our past guests say? Find us on Google or Trip Advisor.

Q: Why should I come to Alaska?

You should come to Alaska to experience untouched wilderness and jaw-dropping scenery. To witness the magnificent Aurora Borealis dancing across the starry Arctic sky. To see diverse wildlife on land and in the sea. To immerse yourself in Alaska Native cultures and their modern subsistence lifestyles.

This is a favorite topic of ours. Read on for more reasons why you should come to Alaska.

Planning Your Trip

Q: Are there tour options in Alaska for people with limited mobility?

There are many Alaska travel options for visitors with limited mobility. The Alaska Railroad is wheelchair accessible, as is the Park Connection Motorcoach. There are also activities in every very major destination in Alaska to suit a range of physical abilities. This includes city van tours in Anchorage, non-motorized wheelchair access on tour boats out of Seward (with non-motorized wheelchairs available for complimentary use), and ADA compliant museums and cultural centers.

For more helpful information about accessible travel in Alaska, please take a look at this article for travelers with limited mobility.

Q: Can vacation packages start on any date?

Our self-guided packages can start on any day during the summer season. The fully escorted packages depart on specific dates.

Q: Can you recommend some "off the beaten path" trip ideas?

To get off the beaten path in Alaska, you could drive to communities like Homer, Valdez, and McCarthy. You could travel north of the Arctic Circle on a tour from Fairbanks. You could stay at a wilderness lodge or take a guided heli-hiking trp. Check out these travel packages for more inspiration.

Q: How can I receive a quote from you?

We are happy to prepare a quote and sample itinerary for you with no cost or obligation. To request a quote online, either submit a general request or use the My Trip tool to request a quote for a specific package or product. You can also request a quote over the phone at 800-208-0200. Please visit our Contact Us page for more details.

Q: How do I get from the Anchorage Airport to my hotel or the train station?

Many local Anchorage hotels offer shuttle service, so contact your hotel to see if they have a pickup at the airport or transportation to the train station. If not, Anchorage has taxis, Uber, and Lyft.

Q: How many days do you need for an Alaska vacation?

You'll need anywhere from seven to 10 days for an Alaskan vacation, although it is possible to see some great sites in as few as three days and plenty enough adventures to fill two weeks or more. Check out our advice page on how much time to travel in Alaska for more details.

Q: How will I get around in Alaska?

The three primary ways to get around Alaska are by train, motorcoach, or rental car.

Q: Should I fly into Anchorage or Fairbanks?

Both Anchorage and Fairbanks have international airports. Depending on your travel plans in the state, it might be more convenient to fly into one location over the other. Anchorage is home to the state's largest airport, so there are more flights and often better rates than to Fairbanks.

Q: Should I take an Alaska Cruise or a Land Tour or both?

Call us biased, but we recommend taking both! By combining a cruise in Southeast Alaska and a land tour of Southcentral, you'll see the widest array of landscapes and wildlife. A good combo trip takes about 10 to 14 days with seven of those cruising and the rest traveling on land.

Knowing that not everyone has the time nor budget for such an adventure, deciding between the two comes down to how you prefer to travel and what you'd like to see along the way. If you like to take day trips but favor the comfort of returning to the same room every night, a cruise is a great option. You'll see much of Southeast Alaska, from its extraordinary fjords and glaciers to its colorful waterside towns.

If your picture of Alaska is more braided rivers, immense mountain ranges, and rolling tundra, than a land tour would best suit you. This type of travel is also perfect if you enjoy overnighting in different towns and experiencing different modes of travel (trains in particular).

Want some more insight on picking the ideal trip? This cruise, land, or both article goes into more detail.

Q: What is the difference between an escorted tour and a self-guided tour?

In an escorted tour you are traveling with the same group of people and guide for the entire trip. In a self-guided tour, we provide an itinerary for you to follow, but you will not be traveling with the same group of people or have a guide with you throughout the entire trip.

Q: Where can I find information on Alaska family vacation packages?

Check out our Family Vacations page.

Q: Where can I find information on pre-cruise and post-cruise cruise tours?

Follow the links to our special Pre-Cruise and Post-Cruise tour pages.

Q: Where can I store my luggage in Anchorage / Seward / Denali Park / Whittier?

The Alaska tourism infrastructure has a pretty dependable luggage system in place that makes it easier for travelers to shuffle bags between cruises, trains, motorcoaches, and hotels. There are still plenty of times when you'll need to store your bags. In this luggage storage article you'll find helpful information for safely storing your bags in Anchorage, Seward, the Denali Park area, and Whittier.

Q: Where is the best place to see wildlife in Alaska? Moose? Bears? Whales?

Although seeing wildlife is never a sure thing, there are several places where you have a better chance to spot Alaska's "big three" animals. Moose can be seen anywhere throughout the state and aren't shy to wander Anchorage city trails, parks, and streets. Bears are best seen from the safety of a tour, such a Denali National Park wildlife bus tour, a small plane day trip to Lake Clark National Park or Katmai National Park, or at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Whales are seen in various coastal regions of the state including Kenai Fjords National Park, Prince William Sound, and the Inside Passage.

This article has more wildlife information, including where along the railroad moose sightings are most common.

Q: Will there be vegetarian, vegan or gluten free food options available?

There are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food options available throughout Alaska, whether you're looking for restaurants in town, enjoying a meal on the train, or embarking on a day tour that includes snacks. Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, is especially friendly to people with these diets. We go into more detail about your options in this traveling with dietary restrictions article.

Lodging

Q: Do you offer any wilderness lodge stays?

We do, and we recommend them for anyone who wants to experience true remoteness without missing out on comfort. Check out our available wilderness lodges here.

Q: What are star ratings for the hotels you offer?

The state of Alaska does not have a star rating scale. We book all kinds of hotels: Economical properties, moderate properties, and some nicer and more expensive properties.

Q: What does single, double, triple, and quad occupancy mean?

A single occupancy room means there is one adult staying in the room. A double occupancy room has two adults, a triple occupancy room has three adults, and a quadruple occupancy room has four adults.

Q: Where can I stay in a cabin?

The Denali National Park area is a great place to stay in a cabin. There are cabins within larger properties located outside Denali National Park (like the Grande Denali Lodge), as well as a handful deep in Denali National Park at Kantishna.

Things To Do

Q: Do tours operated daily?

Once the summer season is in full swing around the beginning of June, tours do operate daily. Due to weather and snow conditions, some day tours don't start operating until later in the season and some stop operating sooner than others. We recommend checking our website for tour availability.

Q: Is rafting / kayaking / ziplining / hiking safe for beginners?

Most rafting, kayaking, ziplining, and hiking tours are suitable and safe for all travelers, even beginners. Some of these tours have recommendations for overall personal fitness and restrictions based on weight and age. Always ask about restrictions for more active tours such as these.

Q: What are the best Alaska bear viewing tours?

The best Alaska bear viewing tours go to sites where bears congregate around abundant food sources like salmon streams and sedge grasses. Some of those sites include Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park. Check out the full list of bear viewing tours we book.

Q: What are the best Alaska flightseeing tours?

The best flightseeing tours in Alaska go to places that are otherwise unreachable but by air. These include flightseeing through the mountains of Denali National Park and the waterways of Prince William Sound. Please visit our Alaska Flightseeing Tours page for options.

Q: What are the best Alaska kayaking tours?

The best Alaska kayaking tours range from exciting paddles through iceberg lagoons to close encounters with tidewater glaciers. You can see all excursions on our kayak Alaska page.

Q: What are the best Alaska rafting tours?

From mild water floats to wild whitewater trips, you can find some of the best Alaska rafting tours here.

Q: What are the best glacier tours in Alaska?

Whether taking a helicopter flight with glacier landing, kayaking by tidewater glaciers, or hiking across a glacier, the best glacier tours in Alaska get you up close to these spectacular formations of ice. Check out our available glacier tours here.

Q: What are the best tours to take with kids?

The best tours to take with kids in Alaska include day cruises and bus tours where it's common to see wildlife. For more ideas, please take a look at our Alaska Family Vacations page.

Q: Where can I go dog sledding in Alaska?

To experience a dog sled ride on snow in the summer, take a helicopter trip out of Girdwood or the Knik River Lodge that includes a dog sled ride on a glacier. If you would like the experience of being pulled by a dog team on a modified summer sled with wheels, check out the Talkeetna Dog Sled Kennel Tour or IdidaRide Sled Dog Real Alaska Tour in Seward.

Q: Where can I pan for gold in Alaska?

A favorite place to go gold panning in Alaska are on the Gold Dredge 8 tour in Fairbanks. You can also pan for gold on a Kantishna Wilderness Trails bus tour into Denali National Park.

Q: Which Denali Park bus tour should I take?

Deciding on which Denali Park bus tour to take comes down to how much time you'd like to spend and how deep you want to travel into the park.

The Denali History Tour takes five hours and travels 30 miles into the park. The tour focuses more on the human and natural history of the park.

The Tundra Wilderness Tour takes about eight hours and travels 62 miles into the park to the Stony Hill Overlook.

The Kantishna Wilderness Trails, Kantishna Experience, and Denali Backcountry Adventure tours take 12 to 13 hours and travel all 93 miles of the Denali Park Road. They offer the best opportunity to see wildlife and beautiful Denali.

Check out our Denali National Park Bus Tours page for more trip details.

Q: Which Kenai Fjords cruise should I take?

We recommend picking a Kenai Fjords cruise based on how long you'd like to be on the water and what you'd like to see. If you prefer a shorter cruise focused on marine wildlife, the Kenai Fjords Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise would work well. To see tidewater glaciers and have more chances to spot wildlife, the Kenai Fjords Glacier & Wildlife Cruise or cruises that go farther into Northwestern Fjord are good choices. To learn more about each tour and compare them side by side, check out our Kenai Fjords cruises page.

Making Reservations

Q: Do you offer specials or discounts?

We are happy to provide our guests with certain specials and discounts on lodging, transportation, and select activities. Check out our web specials page for a full list of available deals.

Q: How do I make a payment? What forms of payments to you accept?

You can make a payment for previously made travel arrangements online or over the phone. We accept checks, Mastercard, Visa, and Discover Cards.

Q: How early should I make my reservations?

Our primary booking season is December through April, but we begin making reservations in October for the following summer season. Popular tours, transportation, and accommodations book quickly, particularly in July. Make reservations as early in the year as possible.

Q: Should I purchase travel insurance for my trip?

Because we cannot make exceptions to published cancellation policies, even in cases of medical or family emergencies, we strongly encourage you to obtain travel insurance for your trip. We will send you information on travel insurance with your confirmation, and you can also get more information by calling our reservations office at 800-208-0200.

Q: What is your change and cancellation policy?

A deposit equal to 30% of services reserved is due at the time of booking, with the balance due 45 days prior to your first day of travel. The following change and cancellation fees apply. Between 45 to 31 days prior to your first day of travel a 10% cancel/change fee will apply. Between 30 to 15 days prior to your first day of travel a 50% cancel/change fee will apply. Within 14 days of travel, your package is non-refundable and non-changeable. Groups, seven-day cruises, escorted tours, and certain wilderness lodges have additional restrictions, see your itinerary for additional information.

Because we cannot make exceptions to our cancellation or change policies for any reason, including family and medical emergencies, we strongly encourage you purchase travel insurance.

Q: When and how do I make my final payment?

Final payments are due 45 days prior to travel. They are automatically billed to the credit card on file unless you instruct us otherwise.

Getting Ready to Go

Q: How many bags can I bring on my trip?

Both the Park Connection Motorcoach and the Alaska Railroad allow two suitcases per person plus one carry-on item.

Q: How much should we expect meals to cost in Alaska?

For breakfast expect $7 to 15, lunch $10 to 20, and dinner $20 to 50 per person.

Q: What is customary for tipping tour guides, bus drivers and hotel staff?

Gratuities are based on your discretion, but the standard tip amount is $10 to 20 per person for day tour guides depending on the type of tour, $5 to 10 for drivers, and $3 to 5 for hotel staff.

Q: What should I pack for my Alaska trip?

Aside from the essential travel items you'd take on any trip, for your Alaska vacation you should pack clothing that you can layer, sensible shoes, and a few essential personal items you'll find useful while you're here.

For clothing that you can layer, choose thin base layers that are moisture-wicking, warm mid layers that aren't too bulky (like a thin wool sweater), and a dependable outer layer to protect you from wind and rain. In keeping with the functional packing, pack comfortable, sturdy shoes. It's helpful if they're water resistant. As for those personal items, don't forget a good camera with extra memory cards, binoculars, and insect repellant just in case.

For more details about layering and a lengthier list of helpful travel items, check out this article about packing for Alaska.

Q: What travel documents or tickets will I need from my trip?

You will need to bring a form of ID, specifically a passport or driver's license. We will send you a trip confirmation and detailed itinerary that you can bring with you on your trip. You will not need any tickets or vouchers while traveling.

Back Home

Q: How can I enter your annual photo contest?

We would love to see your photos! You'll find submission details on our Alaska photo contest page.

Q: How can I provide feedback about my trip?

We love to hear feedback from our guests! Visit this page for information on how to give feedback.

Q: How do I submit a rebate form? When will I receive my rebate form?

Some of our web specials are offered on a mail-in rebate basis. See the individual specials page for forms, deadlines, and other details. Rebate specials are listed on our travel deals page.

Q: One of my tours was canceled due to weather, how do I get a refund?

If a day tour is canceled by the tour operator due to weather, you will receive a full refund. The tour operator will contact us and let us know it was canceled and we will process a refund to the credit card on file.

General

Q: Are the mosquitoes bad in Alaska?

Even though Alaska has a reputation for plentiful mosquitoes, the average traveler isn't likely to encounter those legendary swarms. Mosquitoes are much more prevalent in marshes, damp forests, and throughout the open tundra of Interior Alaska. Mosquito season lasts from around late June through July, although milder winters and warmer weather can extend this. A second brief hatch is common around the first week of August. Mosquitoes are rarely an issue in Southeast Alaska, where the misty weather and sea breezes keep them at bay.

How do you protect yourself from these pesky bugs if you do encounter them? Read our full Alaska mosquitoes article for some tips.

Q: Are your trips self-guided or escorted? Will I be with a large group?

On our site you'll find both self-guided and escorted trips, but all of the custom travel packages we build are self-guided. We book all transportation, accommodations, and activities. When you're on your trip you'll travel independently and will not be part of the same group.

If you are interested in an escorted trip with a guide and group, please take a look at our Alaska Fully Guided Tours page.

Q: Can I bring my pet to Alaska?

Although accommodations can be made for service animals, there are more restrictions on traveling with a family pet. In terms of transportation, the Alaska Railroad does allow animals, but requires that they be in crates and checked to the train's baggage car. Some rental car companies do allow pets in their vehicles. Accommodations can also be a challenge. There are hotels in Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Homer, and Fairbanks who allow pets. It's important to book pet-friendly accommodations as early as possible as they often sell out.

We provide more information about traveling with your pet in Alaska, including fees and tips for keeping your pet safe while on the go, in this article.

Q: Do I need a fishing license? How do I get one?

If you plan to do any fishing in Alaska, be it by charter or on your own, you will need a fishing license. Many fishing tour companies sell licenses at their offices. You can also buy them at outdoor stores like Bass Pro or online with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Q: Does Alaska Tour & Travel book airfare?

Alaska Tour & Travel does not book airfare.

Q: How much daylight will there be during my trip?

It depends when and where you visit, but in the summer expect an abundance of daylight. See our Alaska Weather & Daylight page for a breakdown by month and region.

Q: Is Alaska Tour & Travel a travel agency?

Alaska Tour & Travel is a private booking agency that has been in business since 1995.

Q: Is there cell phone reception in Alaska?

There is cell phone reception in most towns in Alaska, but it is very common to lose service when traveling between them.

Q: What currency is used in Alaska?

The U.S. Dollar is the currency in Alaska.

Q: What do I need to know about bear safety in Alaska?

Bear safety in Alaska starts with knowing how to avoid a bear encounter altogether. Always be aware of your surroundings. Take care moving through areas with limited visibility like grass and brush. Never wear headphones while on trails in Alaska. Instead, make your own noise. Talk, sing, tell jokes: The key is to make enough noise so that a bear won't be surprised by you. Also, travel with a group of two or more. Finally, if you're camping or fishing, do not leave any food or fish scraps unattended.

Should you, despite your best efforts, encounter a bear in the wild there are several steps you can take to stay safe. Read about those procedures plus learn more about bear spray in this article on bear safety in Alaska.

Q: What is the best time (or place) to see the Northern Lights in Alaska?

Visitors who want to see the northern lights have a better chance if they are in or north of Fairbanks between late August and April. The weather needs to be clear and the sky dark. For more information, take a look at our advice for seeing the northern lights.

Q: What meals are included with my trip?

For the most part, you will be responsible for purchasing your own meals on our self-guided packages. There might be some day tours or hotels that include a meal, but overall you will have to purchase meals separately. If you are taking a fully escorted package, at least one meal a day is included.

Q: What time zone is Alaska in?

All of Alaska is in the Alaska Standard Time Zone. Alaska is one hour behind Pacific Standard Time and four hours behind Eastern Standard Time.