Hooked on Alaska
Alaska for Less
By Charles P. Wohlforth
Alaska can cost a lot. Lodgings typically run well over $100 for a standard motel room, and meals cost more than in the Lower 48. Getting into the wilderness may require expensive small-airplane flights and boat rides, and guided trips can be out of reach of many families. Nevertheless, there are a number of tricks for holding down your expenses:
Take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry (800-642-0066) to Haines, 780 miles by road from Anchorage. The ride is spectacular for adults and fun for kids, and the ferry is the best way to get to Southeast Alaska's small towns. The foot-passenger fare from Bellingham, Washington, is $240 for adults, $120 for kids under 11, free under two; $568 extra for a vehicle under 15 feet (from
Prince Rupert, B.C., it's $118 for adults, $60 for under 11; $273 extra for a vehicle). Cabins run an extra $227-$392; you can save the extra cost by camping on deck. (Remember to bring duct tape to hold down your tent.)
High hotel prices have produced a bumper crop of bed and breakfasts in every Alaska town. If you don't mind sharing a bathroom, you can get a good room for $75 a night even in expensive areas. Most towns have agencies that can tell you which places welcome children. In Southeast Alaska, call the Alaska Bed and Breakfast Association (907-586-2959). In Anchorage, try Alaska Private
Lodgings (907-258-1717), which books G Street Bed and Breakfast, an old house near downtown that caters to families. In Juneau, Blueberry Lodge B&B (907-463-5886) sits in a wonderful natural setting near the water. The cheapest lodging is, of course, a tent; there are places to camp virtually everywhere.
Pack picnics, cook on a camp stove, or find rooms with kitchenettes--anything to avoid eating three meals a day in restaurants. Hotels of converted apartments, such as the Parkwood Inn in Anchorage (studios with kitchens, $90-$100; 907-563-3590) are convenient and can save you some money.