Much like any adventure, it all started with a Google search “Vintage Airstream for sale“. It was to be an adventure across North America to visit so many places we compared to the US as we traveled the world in 2013. It was also an escape hatch that took me away from my overly stressful…
As the time on our Great American road trip was winding down and we had returned from Alaska, we assumed the best was behind us. Nearly a year on the road and over forty states visited, we would’ve been okay if it was all over as the original plan dictated. The renters were supposed to be out in July which would have brought us back, but instead a one month… and then two month extension meant our travels weren’t quite over yet.
With our new found time, we were on to some of our favorite places in the US, which we hadn’t even visited on this trip yet: Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. We planned to meet up with friends in Colorado, see the eclipse in Wyoming and continue exploring around Yellowstone. If there was only one thing we’ve learned from our travels, it’s this: there’s always more to see. And to finish it all up since I’ve been quite behind, I’ll present August and September in this post, before completing a final post of our total expenses for the year.
Total August Cost: $3,128
Total days in the camper: 24
Total days out of camper: 7
Cost per day: $101.9
States Visited: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho
Total Miles: let’s be honest, I’ve pretty much lost track
Total September Cost: $3,223
Total days in the camper: 11
Total days out of camper: 19
Cost per day: $107.4
States Visited: Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas`
Total Miles: same as August, who knows anymore
July was it. Our last full month to travel as our renters were due out at the end of the month. We raced up to Alaska in June so we could get at least of one month of exploring before heading back. We estimated two weeks of heavy driving to get all the way through Alaska, Canada much of the US and back to Texas. This left us with approximately ten days to further explore Alaska. We decided to spend it in some of the biggest Alaskan highlights – Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks. Then, it was back towards the real world (maybe)*.
Total June Cost: $4,316
Total days in the camper: 30
Total days out of camper: 0
Cost per day: $139
States Visited: Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma
Total Miles: Approx 6,100
There were a lot of “Wow’s” in July. From one of our new favorite National Parks (Denali), to the huge amount of miles covered (over 6,000) and one of the highest spending months since we started traveling. It was a purposeful stalling in Alaska while the weather was good that caused most of it, but the inevitable can only be delayed so long, and we had to head back south. Emotions were conflicted as nowhere had held us voluntarily captive as long as Alaska and we knew it would be hard to make it back, but money can’t last forever and no more renters meant no more supplemented travel and covered house payment. The real world was calling, and we couldn’t send it to voicemail again.
June was our time to make the long and scary drive up through Canada and into Alaska. I won’t get into much more detail on the drive as I already covered most of it, but as always, I’ll break down the costs and add some more details along the way. After floundering a bit in Washington and staying in casinos for five nights in a row due mostly to exhaustion, we hoped Alaska would renew our energy and let us finish our trip on a high note… and Alaska delivered.
As with previous travels to scary places like Myanmar and Vietnam, the fear quickly subsides as the journey progresses. The unknowns become answered, and the fear and anxiety lightens as we progressed in the journey. Alaska went from a far away dream, to one of our most desired destinations to revisit. Combined with the amazingness of Canada, it has quickly jumped to one of our favorite places in the world, and the expenses were quite manageable.
Total June Cost: $3,733
Total days in the camper: 30
Total days out of camper: 0
Cost per day: $124
States Visited: Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon
Total Miles: Approx 4,500
We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best as our Canadian and Alaskan journey began. We loaded up on groceries in Washington and scouted out free sites along the route. Although the total driving miles were quite daunting, gas prices were much lower than we had planned, thanks to a favorable Canadian exchange rate along with cheaper gas prices overall. Amazingly, we spent less in June than we did in four other months while on the road! We skipped some of the things we might have done if we were on a regular one-week type vacation, but those are the financial sacrifices we’re willing to make to enjoy such a long journey. Let’s get into the details:
Eight months of circuitous travel around the United States delivered us to our most challenging journey yet: how to drive to Alaska. Most of the stories we heard from other travelers were of fairly successful trips with the occasional speed bumps, but it still didn’t quell the fear that comes with a such a journey. But the time was here and curiosity could not be tamed.
Driving to Alaska
As we headed up from Seattle, our point of entry to Canada was Vancouver. We found two major routes – straight up the Alaska Highway (sometimes called the Alcan) or a “kinda” shortcut on the Stewart-Cassiar highway that would meet back up with the Alaska Highway in the Yukon. Stewart-Cassiar was even more remote with increased wildlife sightings but decreased reception and service stations, but as we were ready for adventure, we chose the latter.
We left Vancouver and stocked up on supplies before the trip. We filled up with groceries in Washington before crossing the border which was a good idea because Canada was more expensive. I was pretty sure our monthly expenses were going to double when factoring in the more expensive groceries and gas, so this was okay.