A Tent Camping Road Trip To Alaska
There are many kinds of travelers out there and they all have their preferred modes of getting from A to B. Some prefer traveling luxuriously, others roughing it and yet others that prefer some blend in between. Some just want to get to their destination and others want to see everything in between. We’re not here to convince you what’s right for you, just to give you some tips if you decide saving a ton of money and a tent camping road trip to Alaska is right for you.
Let’s get one thing out-of-the-way, though! Pitching a tent doesn’t have to mean that you’re roughing it! In fact, you can get a night’s rest better than most decent hotel rooms if you plan your gear right and you enjoy camping to some degree.
There are many reasons why you would want to use a tent as your primary means of shelter on your road trip to Alaska. The first is that it costs comparatively little when you look at some of the lodging and RV rental prices up north! We spent a month traveling to, from and in Alaska for less than a single night’s hotel stay. If there’s one main way you can save a lot of money, its by using a tent on your road trip! With lodging and RV rental prices ranging from $100 to $300 a night, a road trip of any length will quickly add up to the thousands upon thousands of dollars.
There’s some other reasons, too, you might consider a tent camping road trip on a journey to Alaska:
- Allows a broader vehicle choice for the trip
- Significantly less fuel consumption compared to RV’s
- You can travel faster compared to an RV
- Fewer concerns (insurance, damage, maintenance) compared to an RV
- Ultimate flexibility in where you stay and how you can plan the journey
- Experience a more authentic outdoor adventure
- Allows more of your resources to go towards fun and experience
- Other travelers are more likely to approach you for fun and stories
The Real Cost Of A Tent Camping Road Trip To Alaska
Consider this. Even if you pay for camping at some relatively nice campgrounds, you’ll still save a significant amount of cash! Even compared to a basic hostel, where you’re sharing your bedding with a half-dozen complete strangers, you can save serious money. Let’s take this example trip of a 24 night adventure of a lifetime and outlay your basic lodging costs:
- Hotel/Cabin: ~$2000-$4000
- Small RV Rental: ~$6,000 – $8000
- Large RV Rental: ~$7,000 – $9000
- Hostel: ~$1200 for two people
- Tent Camping: ~$300!!!
Beyond that, there’s plenty of places where you could pitch a tent for free or near free, saving even more of your money! With that kind of savings, it makes the fuel costs and other associated expenses with a trip to Alaska more affordable. Whether you’re making the trek solo or bringing along your family, a tent camping road trip just makes a lot of sense financially.
Some might be terrified of the thought of spending so many nights in a tent. There are bears, rain, cold nights and who knows what else out there? With a bit of preparation and following some of the tips contained on this site, these things should no longer be a barrier to your tent camping road trip Alaska adventure! With the right preparation, spending many nights in a tent doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. You might even find that you prefer it!
The Joys Of Tent Camping:
Surely, some people don’t feel that a tent camping road trip is right for them. There are many reasons for this, some based in reality or circumstances, others based perhaps on misconception that it’s needlessly uncomfortable or some other shortcoming. Particularly with a tent camping road trip to Alaska, there is also a fear of the wild and that a tent doesn’t give you similar protection from those external forces.
For us, staying the nights in a tent offers a connection to the place you’re in. An opportunity to fall asleep to the distant cries of wolves, a sleepy moment to take in our vast star lit skies and a gentle awakening by the sun’s early rays of light. It is the ability to breathe the fresh air, day and night, and truly connect with the outdoors in a rhythm only sleeping nearly outside can meet. While some people view paper-thin walls as a risk, we see it as only the lightest shield from our connection to the outdoors.
The tent camping road trip to Alaska truly affords an experience like no other. You could spend a hundred nights tent camping and never experience the isolation, engagement and peace that this road trip provides. It is the ultimate camping trip, the experience of a lifetime and crown of personal achievement. The beauty and feel of all the places you can visit are nearly overwhelming, it’s not a wonder why people make a pilgrimage to Alaska whenever they can.
The Tent Traveler Is A Social Traveler
When you’re taking a tent camping road trip to Alaska, be ready to meet up with other tent campers. There’s a sense community among most of us, especially when you come prepared for inclement weather and set up a comfortable camp. We’ve enjoyed the wonderful company of people from around the world, fellow travelers, who opt for the welcoming atmosphere of simple, unobtrusive wild living. We talk about our encounters with the wild, the vast adventures on the road and our connection to the place we’re in.
Our philosophy is to make a decent enough camp every night that we enjoy being there. Especially when the weather isn’t cooperating with our ideas of an ultimate road trip, we like to build up a spacious, dry space. This has brought us much value, time and time again, as we can offer those that have been caught out in it a fine shelter for a while, at least long enough to get tired. Usually, it works out to be enjoyable conversation, perhaps a shared ale or two and a connection you might very well appreciate for life.
We urge you to keep up the community. If you see someone who’s roughing it and appears less prepared or could use some friendship, don’t be afraid to approach them. Many of our great nights have been had offering up a chair and a sit under a well strung tarp. You’d be surprised who you’ll meet, but it’s almost certain it will be fellow interesting people who crave the adventure just like you do. These will be the irreplaceable memories you’ll share when you return from your journey and what will inspire you to to pursue future travels.
Kids And Camping
If you have children, introducing them to the outdoors and tenting is something that can inspire them for life. We’re tent campers because our parents were tent campers, their parents were also tent campers. It’s practically a generational thing, passed down generation to generation, that creates a life long passion for being outdoors, camping and otherwise pursuing that which is wild. It could be one of the most important things to pass down to your children.
Some say that tent camping is for older children, we disagree. We were camping when we were very, very young and came out the better for it. Sure, keep your kids in the relative protection of your own tent if they’re young and easily scared by noises or unknowns. Introduce them to it in a comfortable way, one where they can become accustomed to the outdoors, the sounds and the experience.
When kids are older, it’s a great opportunity to allow them their own space and the use of their own little pup tent. This establishes a great deal of confidence in younger children, which can and will help them with many things in life. If you’re not so sure about whether they’re ready for such things, discuss it with them and usually they’ll know if they’re up to the task. Just in case, you might want to make sure the main “adult” tent has enough room for kids that might think they’re up for it, but hightail to safety when they hear a distant wolf’s cry.
If possible, don’t make a tent camping road trip to Alaska your children’s first tent camping experience. You might encounter some unanticipated challenges from them, their equipment or otherwise. Just as we recommend setting up your tent and other gear before you leave, try to set up some test camps to acclimate them for the adventure. They’re sure to enjoy their adventure a lot more that way and will enjoy the adventure just as much as you will.
Kids could get cranky on a trip like this, it’s work to set up and tear down a camp every night and they might resist a little more after the initial “excitement” wears off. It will be your job to keep up the excitement and the adventure, reminding them about the great thing that they’re accomplishing in life. You might want to consider incentives or games to help keep their motivation up when it comes time to make and break camp. Do make it a point to try to do things they’d like to do as well so that they feel included.
When you’re making your way and back, it’s entirely possible they could become “bored” or especially these days, feel a disconnect from their electronic devices which could turn into resent. Making a trip like this could very well be one of the best and worst things you could do, especially if you’re concerned about the amount of time your children spends on electronic devices. If this is you and yours, be prepared with alternatives that may entice them and keep their spirits up over the journey.
Dealing With Challenges:
One of the best and worst things about a tent camping road trip is your exposure to the elements. When its gorgeous outside and you’ve had a some amazing, perfect days, it’s easy to start believing they will all be like that. We all hope for perfect weather, but you should always be prepared for challenges. When inclement weather hits, the exposure can certainly weigh on you significantly and can overall affect your motivation to keep pressing on.
Rain and stormy weather can and will be difficult to deal with, but it can also be a pleasant occurrence if you’re ready for it. As we discuss several places here, stringing up a tarp for shelter insures that you can still enjoy the outdoors without being confined to your tent. If you can get it reasonably close to your fire, all the better! (Just don’t put a tarp over the fire, it will melt!) No one likes to spend a night confined in their tent, so take the precautions necessary to insure your enjoyment. The rain might be slightly unpleasant during the set up and tear down stages, but get through it and you can have a great time ahead of you!
Wind is known to be a threatening force, especially if you’re highly exposed or you’re unprepared. If you notice high winds, try to use as much natural shelter to your advantage whether it’s trees, bushes or the land itself. Be sure to stake your tent down properly and in very severe situations, perhaps secure your tent in other ways. You really don’t want to wind up watching your tent and all the contained things tumble with the wind, which could potentially cause some serious damage to your equipment and your morale. Be careful with a fire and even stove cooking as the winds can cause unpredictable behavior.
While cold temperatures are a relatively rarity when camping in the summer and even some of the early and late shoulder months, do be prepared to sustain some cold. You might choose to stay in a camp in the high alpine or you may experience an unusual cold weather spell. If you follow our gear planning advice, this is likely something that won’t even present an issue. Be sure to take all measures to stay warm at all times, particularly while sleeping, as the cold can keep you up at night and prevent you from getting a good night’s rest.
Some campgrounds just simply won’t allow tent campers. For a handful of campgrounds, this is a preference as the (commonly private) camp is just geared towards servicing RV travelers and tent campers don’t fit the motif. For some campgrounds, though, it’s a safety thing as there might be wild animals in the area. Be sure to heed all prohibited activities. If you do your research into your camps with your planning resources, most non-tenting sites are specified and it’s entirely likely you won’t encounter this circumstance. If you do run into something like this, just simply move on to find better pastures and you’ll be happy just the same.
We’ve encountered some campgrounds that have been overtaken by a particular interest group or decidedly rowdy bunch. We can recall one issue where we happened into a nice camp, but were very tired after a long day’s drive and sought an early night’s sleep. As night fell, the neighbors on both sides of us (rather close quarters) drove their vehicles right into camp and played very loud music to the point where it incredibly irritating. (We love music, but to have two different types right next to us simultaneously is not our cup of tea.) Rather than being confrontational and potentially spoiling our adventure, we opted to simply move our tent to another space and were much happier for it. If you can’t find peace with your neighbors, perhaps try to pick different neighbors.