Ten Things You Need for a Summer Trip to Alaska

©istockphoto/Kenneth WiedemannSum­mer means sev­er­al things in Alas­ka: almost 24-hour sun­light, rainy weath­er, and of course, tourists. As a local Alaskan, I’ve host­ed many out-of-town­ers and wit­nessed many more in typ­i­cal tourist haunts. So, if you’re plan­ning a sum­mer excur­sion to Alas­ka, here are 10 things you’ll need to get the most out of your trip.

1. Rain Jacket
If there’s one thing you can count on from an Alaskan sum­mer, it’s rain. Usu­al­ly, in the form of a light driz­zle, it can increase to a full-on mon­soon. Keep your­self warm and dry with a light, breath­able, and water-resis­tant jacket.

2. Cool Weath­er Wear
It’s no secret that Alas­ka boasts cool­er tem­per­a­tures than most places. So, depend­ing on your cli­mate of ori­gin, you may want to bun­dle up a lit­tle more than you would else­where. Don’t break out your snow­suit, but pre­pare with long pants and long sleeves. The best lay­ers are ones you can shed if the tem­per­a­ture creeps up.

3. Warm Weath­er Wear
Many vis­i­tors are so pre­oc­cu­pied with dress­ing for cold weath­er, that they com­plete­ly for­get the poten­tial for hot sum­mer tem­per­a­tures. Espe­cial­ly for peo­ple plan­ning to vis­it dif­fer­ent areas of the state, keep in mind temps can reach the 90’s in var­i­ous areas. Pre­pare by bring­ing shorts and t‑shirts, know­ing a quick change in weath­er may require adding a layer.

4. Cam­era
Try not to spend so much time behind the lens that you miss out on your actu­al expe­ri­ence, but of course, you’ll want to snap that per­fect pro­file pic. Big or small, bring your pre­ferred camera—just remem­ber to be aware of your sur­round­ings. While the view might be beau­ti­ful, stop­ping on the side of a two-lane high­way while locals rush to the riv­er, may not be the best course of action. When you’re dri­ving use spe­cif­ic pull­outs to stop and take pictures.

5. Shoes with Tread
While many places you’ll trav­el in Alas­ka have paved roads and side­walks, you’ll prob­a­bly want to ven­ture off the beat­en path at some point. Depend­ing on your antic­i­pat­ed activ­i­ty, opt to bring a shoe with con­sid­er­able tread. A trail run­ning shoe or hik­ing boot is a good option for most out­door activities.

©istockphoto/Marcopolo94426. Sleep­ing Mask
It’s not called the “Land of the Mid­night Sun” for noth­ing. With sun­sets occur­ring in the ear­ly morn­ing hours (if at all), most Alaskans fash­ion room dark­en­ing shades or place tin foil on their win­dows to get prop­er shut­eye. As a vis­i­tor, a sleep­ing mask should do the trick.

7. Casu­al Wear
Even Alaskans like to enjoy a nice night on the town. Should you ven­ture to a nicer venue, you don’t want to show up to a fan­cy din­ner in your zip-off adven­ture pants. Plan a cou­ple of com­fort­able, casu­al out­fits and don’t feel the need to get to gussied up. Alaskans may not be the best-dressed folks in the nation, but you’ll get some side­ways glances if you show up to din­ner look­ing ready to hike.

8. Mon­ey
Ok, so this prob­a­bly goes for any trip you take but do bear in mind things are lit­tle prici­er in Alas­ka. Pri­mar­i­ly due to the costs of import­ing goods, high costs trick­le down to locals and vis­i­tors alike. If your bud­get is less padded, opt for as many free activ­i­ties as pos­si­ble. Most sight­see­ing can be done from a car win­dow or atop a local hik­ing trail.

9. Sense of Direction
Locals are big into using car­di­nal direc­tions to send you to a des­ti­na­tion. If you find your­self con­fused at where to go fear not—just remem­ber in South­cen­tral Alas­ka, East is toward the moun­tains. Always ask for clar­i­fi­ca­tion, and car­ry a map.

10. Flex­i­bil­i­ty
No, we’re not refer­ring to your down­ward dog, but rather to your emo­tion­al flex­i­bil­i­ty. Plans change as fre­quent­ly as the weath­er in the Last Fron­tier. Sum­mer road con­struc­tion, inclement weath­er, or a griz­zly post­ing up in your camp­ing spot can put a stick in the spokes of the best-laid plans. When trav­el­ing in Alas­ka, it’s best to keep a sense of humor and see obsta­cles as an adventure.