Chapter 1: Five critical things to do before you start planning your 2023 trip to Alaska
“Al-yes-ka” – as it was originally called by the native Aleut people of the region – is first and foremost a land of surprises. This is counter to what most people have been taught to believe. But remember, most of your preconceptions about Alaska come from Hollywood movies, staged “reality” shows, or outdated textbooks. None of which are actually that real. That’s why it is critical to do five specific things before planning your 2023 trip to Alaska . . .
The reality is that Alaska is unexpectedly unpredictable. That little quirk pushed it to the #1 spot on the recently released list of 2023 Top 10 Travel Destinations. And despite the fact it appears isolated from the rest of the world, the largest state in the U.S. is perhaps its most diverse and connected as well. From weather to geography, and attitudes and cultures, the “everyday Alaska” you’ll encounter may even shock you. So come prepared with an open mind. If you do so, you’ll taste the sweet wonder of God’s Creation in a way that may just change your entire outlook on life itself.
Before you start planning your 2023 trip to Alaska
Having an open mind means being structured yet flexible. Always be prepared to hit “pause” to experience the value in things often overlooked by the over-educated tourist. Purposefully seek experiences of eternal value rather than a fast tourist high. And accept the fact that things will not go as planned – and that this is a good thing. Remember, turning on a dime when opportunity strikes may leave your well-crafted plans for the day in ruins. But it may also provide memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime. I define this attitude as “wanderlust”.
For those struck by wanderlust (myself included), embracing the things that are beyond your control and quickly adapting to the unexpected most often creates an even better outcome than originally planned.
The key to doing this is pretty simple in Alaska. Yet most “tourists” never understand it. They may spend thousands of dollars, months of exhaustive research, and over-plan, but come back unsatisfied. Even disappointed.
Imagine seeing your old friend after their return from Alaska and asking them “wow, how was it?” And they reply “ehh . . . it was ok”. Believe me, I’ve heard such a response from many a typical tourist who just couldn’t grasp that travel is not about checking off another item on your bucket list. It is about wandering into the very wonder of creation.
5 things to do before you go to Alaska in 2023
That’s why your goal, as a wanderer rather than tourists, should be to experience the truth of the world around you, without preconceptions and with an open yet flexible mind. Doing so will let you feel a part of a larger community and gain a deep and valuable understanding of the world around you. Otherwise, you’re just tagging along on an overpriced adult field trip.
For wanderers in Alaska, this means fully committing to five things before planning for your 2023 Alaska adventure.
- Un-imagine it. Alaska will not be what you imagined. The scale, colors, culture . . . it will all be much different than you currently think.
- Accept “happy accidents”. Bob Ross was famous for saying this, and I have adopted that outlook on life – and apply it to my travels. So, just like Bob Ross, leverage the unexpected (or the momentary frustration) to create your own masterpiece of adventure.
- Scale it up. Distances can be great. 2 hour drives become 5. The horizon is often endless and there are no hills in Alaska – just mountains. So, transitions can be intimidating for some. Prepare your mind, and body, for that.
- Take pictures in your mind. Alaska is so vast it is difficult to digest visually at times. And it really is impossible to capture in images. So, when those moments of sheer awe descend upon you, simply stop – enjoy it – and consciously imprint the colors, sounds, smells, feelings, and thoughts from that moment deep into your memory. In time, I’ll show you how to train for these moments in a way that can be retrieved decades later, at a time you’ll appreciate or need them most.
- Ignore the weather: Seriously, it ignores you all the time – why show it any respect in return? Just prepare for everything (this is actually do-able). Start with the essentials found here.
In Part 2 we’ll take a look at the best Alaskan destinations to visit and basecamping, the approach that will save you money and time while getting you closer to the real Alaska.
And in Part 3 we reveal the best Alaskan day-cruises that get you up close adventure with glaciers, whales, otters, and more!