Build a Vacation with Independent Travel Packages
If you’re a traveler who has an independent spirit as fierce as those who reside in the 49th state, you may enjoy the freedom of building your dream vacation with an assortment of independent travel packages.
Alaska has much to offer the independent traveler and those traveling by package tour. Get the best of both worlds by taking advantage of the many package offerings paired with your own itinerary for a customized, flexible holiday. You can build an entire vacation from the array of day tours, adventure activities, and destination travel deals tuned to your own schedule, travel style and budget.
The opportunities are nearly limitless in this large and varied state — read on for a few ideas to get started on planning your perfect vacation in Alaska.
Land and Sea Tours
First consider exploring both land and sea. Many Alaska vacation packages include an Inside Passage cruise and a land tour. But you can carve your own path by taking the Alaska Ferry and then renting a car or RV while still enjoying the many adventurous day tour offerings along the way.
The Alaska Ferry essentially follows the same route in the Inside Passage as most cruise ships. You’ll stop at major ports such as Ketchikan and Juneau, and several smaller ports not visited by the larger cruise ships. The key advantage here is flexibility — stay a few nights in any of the delightful communities along the way, and then catch the next onward ferry. Though the ferry is more rustic than a cruise ship, you can still book a private cabin, and enjoy on-board entertainment, dining and education in a relaxed setting.
In Southeast port towns, the well-organized tourism industry is waiting to whisk you away on adventures ranging from rainforest zip lining to bear watching to salmon fishing. Guided hiking, biking and kayaking tours get you safely into the wilderness, and foodies can feast on salmon or sample local beers. Many Southeast tours cater to cruise ship passengers but most are very easy for the independent traveler to book and join.
Historic Day Tours
One of the most popular Inside Passage ports of call is Skagway, a colorful tourist town that was at the epicenter of the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s. Today, tourists can revel in the many Gold Rush themed offerings this little town has to offer. Take a day tour on the narrow gauge White Pass & Yukon Railroad and trace the path of the Gold Rush. In town, you can take a free, National Park Service ranger led tour of the Skagway's historic district, go gold panning and take a peep in a brothel museum.
With 11 recognized cultures of Native people, Alaska is home to the broadest range of Native cultures in the U.S. Get a thorough education by touring Anchorage's world-renowned museums; visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about the state’s rich and diverse culture, and stop into the Anchorage Museum to view stunning and intricate Native Alaskan art.
You might also hop aboard a railroad tour, a popular sightseeing option in the Great Land. Choose from a few different routes and railroad companies. Travel from Anchorage north to Denali or even Fairbanks, or ride the train south to Seward. Regardless of the direction you choose you’ll be treated to mountain views, wildlife and fields of hot pink fireweed.
Fly-In Fishing Lodges
You can also spend a few days at an all-inclusive remote fishing lodge. These fly-in lodges are far from the crowds but include luxury accommodation and top-notch Alaska-centric meals. Remote lodges cater to photographers, hunters and fisher folk. Be sure to spend at least a couple of nights to get a real feeling for the vast wilderness you’re surrounded by.
Fishing charters are another good adventure to consider. Alaska has no shortage of fish and fishing holes, but a guided tour will get you right to the heart of the best fishing. Charters usually also provide all gear and tackle, so you won’t need to worry about rentals or lugging your own.
Wildlife and Glacier Cruises
If you would rather watch the fish than catch them, marine towns are great spots for finding package day cruises that get you up close to marine wildlife and tidewater glaciers. In Southcentral, you can reach Homer, Seward and Whittier by road, and then join a marine wildlife and glacier cruise for a day on the sea. You’ll get up close to capture the drama of calving tidewater glaciers, and spot sea lions, seals and other marine mammals.
Up north in Denali, join travelers on bus tours of the park, and revel in the adrenalized fun of river rafting or flightseeing on a tiny prop plane as it buzzes Denali. One exciting option is to take a flight that lands on a glacier, and then take a sled dog ride. Again, the many tours in Denali are set up to make it easy for packaged-tour traveler, but there’s room for the independent traveler as well.