After spending half a year in the sunny region of New Caledonia, the idea of heading somewhere colder did not appeal to my inner warmth-loving self. However, I promised myself I’d expand my bucket list a bit further to include some of those northern lands that are famous for their vast natural landscapes and untamed wildlife. Or, in the case of Alaska, for their very specific manner of treating moose, so just in case you were planning to offer some beer to a moos – don’t, the law forbids it.
All jokes aside, Alaska, also known as the Last Frontier, deserves the unparalleled pride its inhabitants feel for their homeland, and as soon as you build up the courage to head to this remote destination, you’ll understand why we all need at least one trip to Alaska in our lifetime.
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In an attempt to warm up to the idea of cold, I’ve done my fair share of research, and I suggest you do the same in case you decide to head to this majestic country. Add to that this first-hand experience, and you’ll know if this should be your next nomadic experience or if you’d rather stick to island-hopping and sunny coastlines of tropical lands. Without further ado, here’s my take on Alaska, and I hope it will help you fall in love with its breathtaking wilderness, inside and out, as much as I did.
Timing does matter when visiting Alaska
If you’re anything like me, and you’d prefer to skip the swarming tourist crowds, then summer is out of the question when visiting Alaska. However, there are many perks of the lovely June-September period, from the mild and warm weather, easy access to some of the most remote parts of the country, all the way to the flora in full bloom. For those who can enjoy the somewhat bustling streets of the few cities in Alaska, then, by all means, go in summer, you’ll also learn what it means to experience never-ending sunlight, as the sun never sets in Fairbanks (and further north) for approximately 70 days per year!
Winter, on the other hand, is not for the faint of heart and those who easily get cold feet – literally. As the country of many extremes, Alaskan winter means you’ll be deprived of too much sunlight, especially if you stay in the north, although the main perk and the key reason so many still venture to Alaska in this time of year is Aurora Borealis – the inexplicably stunning northern lights, only visible during the colder months of the year.
I myself chose to go there in the transitional period of early spring, and it seems that the forecast will be similar for 2019. The Spring Equinox of this year will happen around March the 20th, which means perfectly dark skies for Aurora-spotting, and not such harsh weather as in the dead of winter.
Brace yourself for the vast coast
Alaska takes beach beauty to a whole new level of magnificent and unique. To put things in perspective, Alaska’s coastline spans across staggering 49,000 miles, which is an area that would engulf all of the USA’s coastline and then some. Most of it is uninhabited and some of it unreachable from land, but even a single cruise would get you near some of the world’s most enchanting cliffs and meandering sediments.
In fact, taking an Alaska cruise means you’ll get a glimpse of native wildlife in its natural habitat, onshore and offshore alike, absorb the views of glaciers, and admire the rugged terrain that dramatically changes from one region to another. You haven’t seen true Alaska unless you’ve seen its fjords, charming towns, and National Parks that span across the entire country. My personal
The unreachable capital of Alaska
While we’re on the subject of shore, did you know that Juneau cannot be reached by traditional means, that is, by land? Unlike any other capital of the world, this one requires some extra effort if you wish to stay there longer, work, or spend a few weeks exploring the surrounding areas. You’ll need to either fly directly to the city, take a ferry through the Alaska Marine Highway, or alternatively, visit through a cruise, since any single one of them exploring the Inside Passage will take you to the capital as well.
Although it doesn’t boast an endless list of quirky activities tourists normally enjoy, if you’re headed to Alaska, you should expect nature in all of its pristine glory, and a local experience if there ever was one. My advice? Mix and match between wildlife-spotting (whale-watching is extremely popular here) and tasting local delicacies. A trip to Alaska Brewing Company will warm you up in a matter of sips.
The nomadic challenges when visiting Alaska
Now, whether you’re staying in Juneau, Anchorage, or Fairbanks, this is no typical digital nomad spot you’ve ventured into. Of course, you’ll find that local coffee shops are indeed tantalizingly warm and comfortable, but you’ll rarely encounter too many locals at their laptops typing away. However, the recently-opened Juneau Coworking is a promising space for digital nomads who are eager to enjoy the local life of Alaska without taking a long, unpaid vacation.
This coworking space has only recently started operating, and it’s located in the Senate Mall, so if you’re planning a longer stay, it’s definitely worth looking into. On a more mood-related note, winter travelers will often find it difficult to focus, since little sunshine and plenty of snow can make you crave for yet another tropical escape.
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Bring out your inner foodie
I personally do not decide on my destinations based on the local menu, but I have to admit I do take interest in what the new country of travel has to offer each time I book my ticket. After all, it falls directly under my task of budgeting, so that I know what I’m getting myself into in case I’m planning to buy my own sustenance for the duration of my stay.
Alaska is a rather peculiar little gem when it comes to food. It’s a foodie paradise so to speak, but a very specific one for the curious souls who don’t mind trying reindeer hot dogs or anything and everything with smoked salmon. Pretty high on the “quirky foods list” is their Eskimo Ice Cream, a local delicacy made of snow, Alaskan berries, seal oil, and reindeer fat. It’s fifty-fifty in terms of the disgusting-vs-delicious ratio, but you won’t be disappointed if you give it a go.
To wrap up
If I had to summarize visiting Alaska in mere words, I’d say it’s fascinating in every way. Depicting its local vibe, the annual festivities, and the many wonderful encounters I’ve had would take a novel, not a blog post several thousand words long. Alternatively, I’d love for you to use this guide to inspire your own adventures and help others envision Alaska for what it truly is – the epitome of freedom.
About the author
Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels, she likes to read poetry and prose and surf the Internet. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag. She spends most of her free time at home walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography and a regular author at AdventureFit Travel. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitterand Pinterest.