It’s been a little over a month since we returned from our Alaska vacation and I finally sat down to reconcile my bank statement against my credit card bill. Not only is this for my records, but also to share with you fine folks. One of my main goals in starting this blog was to show people the numbers behind my travels. All too often people assume they can’t afford to take a specific trip. While that leaves many sitting at home, others jump right in by financing a trip, often on a high-interest credit card. (I’m here to tell you that is not the way you want to travel.) Then you have people like me, who love to plan all of the things but get frustrated when you struggle to find any reliable information on actual costs.
Enter – our budget breakdown – including transportation, lodging, food, and excursions.
Before we dig in, it’s key to remember that everyone has their own preferred style of traveling. In addition to that, people value different things in life. So don’t be all Judgey McJudgerson over there, cause I won’t put up with it. Now that we have that cleared up, let’s talk numbers, shall we?
Our Alaska Budget
Originally I planned on saving $3,500 per person, but bumped it up to $4,000 to give an extra buffer. To streamline things, I made all of the bookings and reservations under my name and paid up front with my credit card. I would then take money out of my travel savings account and pay my bill in full. This is a great way to still earn miles or points, but not put yourself in financial stress.
This was our single biggest expense of the trip. If you looked at our itinerary you’ll see that we not only flew from the east coast to Alaska and back again, but we flew within the state (twice), rented a car and took a train. Other than taking a Segway or an RV, I think we took every possible mode of transportation on our trip, including horses, bicycles, and boats. 🙂
- JFK to Juneau: $305.95 (x2 as my mom’s flight was purchased with miles)
- Juneau to Anchorage: $177.20 (x3)
- Fairbanks to JFK: $444.90 (x2)
- Fairbanks to JFK: $484.90 (for my mom – purchased a day later, hence price increase)
- 5 days of rental (mid-size SUV): $782
- Gasoline: $128.18 (we drove just under 1,000 miles)
Alaska Railroad Train
- Anchorage to Denali Park: $513 (for all 3 of us)
- Denali Park to Fairbanks: $225 (for all 3 of us)
- City buses are super cheap at $2-$3 per person, per trip. Fairbanks had a day pass for $3 per person.
- Uber is readily available in Anchorage and Fairbanks, but it was a struggle to find one in Juneau.
- Total: $369.03
Long Term Parking at JFK
- 15 days at Smartpark JFK: $274.62
TOTAL FOR TRANSPORTATION: $4,810.03
We mainly stayed in Airbnb rentals, but there were a few times we chose a locally owned bed and breakfast or small lodge instead. We find there is more flexibility in what type of accommodations you book in terms of pricing, location, and amenities when you go this route. Being as there were 3 of us, we tried to find places that allowed us to have 2 separate bedrooms and a private bath, but sometimes we had 2 queen beds in one room. It is what it is and none of us died from sharing a room. 😉
Word of caution – hotels around Denali Park are expensive as the whole place is a tourist trap. Whatever you do, do not stay at that Salmon Bake Cabins or the Crow’s Nest. Long story short, we made that mistake and it was the most miserable 2 nights of our entire trip. The icing on this crap cake was that this was the second most expensive place we stayed on our trip.
TOTAL FOR LODGING: $2,243.84
This averages out to about $172 per night, which is significantly below the average summer hotel rate of $275.
We did everything we could’ve possibly wanted to do in Alaska, with the exception of a bear viewing trip. Given our budget, the timeline and all of the other things we wanted to see and do, it just wasn’t feasible to spend $750+ per person for this one activity. Would it have been awesome to do? No doubt! Am I sad about it and regretting it after the fact? Not one bit.
Similar to the lodging category, I’m not going to list out every excursion we did. However, if you’re really itching to know a specific price, I encourage you to check out our itinerary as I listed everything that we did by location and many times I included the company we used. (And if not, feel free to send me an email.)
TOTAL FOR EXCURSIONS: $2,571.95
Food & Drinks
Traveling to Alaska isn’t cheap, especially during the peak summer season. Shocking, I know. 😉 However, food is one of the few categories where the price doesn’t change seasonally. We typically eat 2 meals a day and grab some snacks while out and about because we are constantly on the move when traveling. Though we chose to forego appetizers, we enjoyed drinks and dessert with our dinner most nights. Overall, the food we had in Alaska was delicious – even in remote places like McCarthy.
TOTAL FOR FOOD & DRINKS: $1,864.09
Total Alaskan Expenses
Adding the four categories together, you can see that the grand total was $11,489.91. Divide that total by 3, since there were 3 of us on the trip, and you arrive at a more palatable:
$3,829.97 PER PERSON
Not too shabby considering I had already planned on spending somewhere between $3,500-$4,000 per person. I’m also confident that we spent less money by planning our trip this way, as opposed to taking a 10-day cruisetour and trying to add on extra days after the cruise had ended.
Like I mentioned before, everyone has their own style of travel. What we did may not suit your needs and that’s completely fine! Were there ways we could’ve cut costs? Absolutely – but I’ll save that for another post. 🙂