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Old 12-19-2015, 11:38 AM   #1
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Alaska by Caravan or "Wing it"?

DW and I are still looking at how to see Alaska. I posted a similar thread in October. May be old news to most of you but I have discovered there are various companies who offer the opportunity to see Alaska by Caravan. Usually 15 to 20 campers per trip. Lots of plus's and minus's but what I'm looking for is some feedback from those who have gone with a Caravan and how they liked it and if they would recommend Caravan or just "Wing it" or those who decided against Caravan and why.
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:05 PM   #2
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I live in Alaska; so I cannot speak with personal experience regarding the caravan. Yet, by word of mouth and talking with a few tourists who have come to Alaska to see things by going with a caravan the feed back I have heard varies. I have heard about the feeling of security of traveling this way, and I have also heard the gripes and complaints of feeling left behind if something major happens. I have heard tell of the great times and sites seen, and complaints of the "feeling obligated" to go with others to do things the person may not have wanted to do. I guess it really depends on what you are willing to put up with.
I have engaged many people in conversation while they come up here. A common method is that people will fly up and then rent an RV and see the sites on their own time.
My personal suggestion would be to wing it. Definitely, come prepared for the worst, though. Call it coincidence but it seems, of all the people I have met who have traveled up here from the lower 48, the ones who have the best trips and the fewest problems are the ones who travel with the extra gas, extra rims and tires, extra water, and are prepared for the worst that can happen; yet usually end up not needing to use any of it. While the minimalist people who fly by the seat of their pants and bring just the bare essentials tend to have most troubles (the most common I hear of is blown tires and/or overcooked axle bearings).
There is a lot to see and do here during the summer, the days are long and you cant do it all.

I have made several trips down to the lower 48 in past years and I live by three rules. 1) I always bring extra wheels (I carry two additional spares for the TV and the TT including the one on the TT and under the TV) extra gas (usually carry about 20 gallons) I keep my TT onboard water tank half full. 2) I always plan for 5 days additional to the trip. 3) I add 30% to the overall planned expense of the trip. So far I have never HAD to use any of it (I have spent an extra couple of days during the drive just for fun).
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:28 PM   #3
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There seems to be plenty of Alaska trip blogs out there, so it should be easy to plan your trip. On the Pleasureway site they have the trip details of one of their B caravans.

I guess there are two issues: fear of the unknown and the need to have others to socialize. As far as the complaints noted in the above posts by tour group attendees, I don't put much weight on them as

Groups can't be waiting around: if you have a problem, you get some guidance and then expect to be on your own.

People tend to fall into two categories: whiners and get-er-dones. You are likely to have both in any situation.

Frankly, I hate being in tour groups because of the restrictions and limits. Being independent is not a valued characteristic in such a group. So, I just do my research and then find ways to minimize the risks.

I think the previous post by NVGun40 pretty much bottom lines it.
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Old 12-20-2015, 09:44 AM   #4
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I did Baja by caravan... NEVER AGAIN I will choose where I stay for the night and not in places where the wagon master gets kickbacks..
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Old 12-29-2015, 08:41 AM   #5
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Ak

I agree with nuvy we went from wi to AK and back using same planning. .will do it again be prepared . No caravans for us.
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Old 12-29-2015, 09:10 AM   #6
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Some people lack the confidence to do things on their own. These people join groups for most of what they do. Others like to be independent and make their own schedules and decisions. The later group is willing to plan and take the appropriate precautions for a trip and not rely on others to bail them out. When the group moves on and they are left waiting for repairs and get mad. There are always those who are ready to go and others that take for ever to get back on the road. In a group you will stop early and leave late. On your own you decide for yourelf.
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Old 01-02-2016, 08:17 AM   #7
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Alaska by Caravan or "Wing it"?

Thanks for all your feedback! DW and I have kind of decided against the Caravan - we like to set our own schedule. We are also looking into purchasing a used truck camper for the trip and we'll probably sell it on our way back or when we get back. Truck camper should give us more flexibility to go where we want when we want than with pulling a TT. We like to just pull off and drive an interesting looking road when we see it - sometimes it's nothing and sometimes you see the most interesting things. Can't do this with a TT unless you know there is a place turn around. There will probably be a lot of "one nighters" on this trip which for me is a PIA after a few in a row with the TT but should be much easier in a TC. I may be way out in left field in my thinking on this....$.01 for your thoughts??
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Old 01-02-2016, 08:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KYCAMPER View Post
Thanks for all your feedback! DW and I have kind of decided against the Caravan - we like to set our own schedule. We are also looking into purchasing a used truck camper for the trip and we'll probably sell it on our way back or when we get back. Truck camper should give us more flexibility to go where we want when we want than with pulling a TT. We like to just pull off and drive an interesting looking road when we see it - sometimes it's nothing and sometimes you see the most interesting things. Can't do this with a TT unless you know there is a place turn around. There will probably be a lot of "one nighters" on this trip which for me is a PIA after a few in a row with the TT but should be much easier in a TC. I may be way out in left field in my thinking on this....$.01 for your thoughts??
Every choice has its pros and cons. Folks w/ truck campers who like them, mostly love them. if you're not familiar with them, you might not be one of them as they tend to be fairly confining. I personally would not pull my TT to Alaska but as we have done twice, we fly to anchorage and rent a Mhome for the vacation and then fly home. Has worked out great, is very economical if you plan well, and you spend 90% of your vacation actually traveling in Alaska rather than the majority of it driving to and driving from Alaska. Check out the RV rentals in Anchorage.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:16 AM   #9
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DW is NOT an ALASKA trip fan. I have been to Anchorage in February (1971), temperature was -17 degrees and we were in Khakis (108 when we departed from Nam). Now that was a temperature swing! Why we had to go to Alaska and not Hawaii, is another story. Do not remember much of that night, the drinks were on the house. The place below is on my bucket list... may have to travel there alone (dog-sled or bush-pilot transportation). Probably one of the best places to view the Northern Lights. Then I can say that I have been to the southern most point and the most northern points in the US of A. It will be a summer time trip, GUARANTEED!!!

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