Can I travel to Alaska on a budget?
Although Alaska can be an expensive place to visit, by traveling during the shoulder season and strategically choosing where you stay, how you get there, and what you do when you're there, you can travel for less while still experiencing much of what Alaska has to offer.
Time of Year
The best way to travel to Alaska on a budget is to plan your trip for the shoulder season. The Alaska summer season runs from mid-May to mid-September. Peak season is June, July, and August, and the shoulder season is in May and September. Rates are the highest across the board in peak season, but many services list lower rates in the shoulder season. You can find economical fares on the Alaska Railroad, lower nightly rates at some hotels and lodges around the state, and even some discounted day tours.
Alaska is a very large state that requires hours of traveling between must-see destinations. How you travel plays a large role in the cost of your travel. There are three main modes of transportation: Railroad, Park Connection Motorcoach, and rental car. Without a doubt, traveling by train is one of the most scenic and comfortable ways to travel, but it can also be one of the most expensive. If traveling by train is on your bucket list, pick one or two routes (we recommend Anchorage to Seward, it's beautiful) and then utilize different transportation for the rest of your transfers.
The Park Connection Motorcoach is a great alternative. It is less expensive, but still convenient, scenic, and comfortable. The Park Connection travels to almost every destination that the train travels to, except for Fairbanks. Buses coming into Anchorage drop off downtown and at the airport, potentially saving you cab fare from the train depot. The Park Connection also offers morning and afternoon runs and is overall faster than the train.
Traveling by rental car is an economical option for a family on a multi-day itinerary. A car also provides you with the flexibility to stock up on groceries (rather than eating out at every meal), travel on your own time, and make stops along your route.
One of the most important parts of your trip is where you lay your head at night. In most locations around the state there is a range of lodging options both among the hotels and within each hotel itself.
Look for standard rooms instead of view rooms, especially at hotels with public areas that boast their own views. You can enjoy the scenery just as much from a bar table or deck chair.
There will be some locations, such as the Denali Park area, where the nightly rates might seem particularly high. This is largely due to the cost of running and maintaining these properties through the short summer season. If your budget only allows for one night in the Denali area, plan your transportation so that you can maximize the two days on either side. All hotels provide luggage storage for guests out on day tours.
With so much of Alaska a vast wilderness, day tours are the best way to see and experience the state. In some cases, like bus tours into Denali National Park and day cruises through Kenai Fjords National Park, these trips are the only way to see such remote places. Our best advice is to be strategic about where to save and where to splurge. First, pick one big ticket excursion based on what you most want to experience. For many, that's a Denali flightseeing tour. Next, look for tours that bundle activities like Bears, Trains & Icebergs with Rail from Anchorage. When you tally all those experiences, the trip price may seem more reasonable for your budget.
Finally, food is pricey in Alaska. Look for day trips that include meals or snacks. That's often the case with Seward day cruises and some of the longer bus rides into Denali National Park.
Rebates and Specials
Alaska Tour & Travel offers many travel rebates and instant savings deals to help you save money on your trip. Check our Alaska Travel Deals page and use the specials offered there to plan out your trip. These deals include discounts for the Park Connection Motorcoach, car rentals, cruise specials, and even some hotels. Many of these are rebates, so carefully read the details and set a reminder for yourself: All rebate forms must be postmarked by 30 days following the last date of service purchased from Alaska Tour & Travel.
Our reservation agents work within guest budgets daily, so the best place to start is by giving us a call to chat about your options. And finally, when you book through us, you can confirm your entire trip with only a 30 percent deposit. This frees you up to pay your balance in increments, so the cost of the trip is covered over months, rather than in one big bill. Let's get started!