Monday, July 13, 2015

Alaska Road Trip Cost

Somewhere in Alaska...

Our epic 2015 road trip included 3 weeks in Alaska, British Columbia and Yukon Territory. Since it seems commonly assumed here in the lower 48 that everything is oh-so-expensive in Alaska, I thought I’d share the details of what we actually spent in four basic categories and how we kept the trip under budget – well under budget.

And just what was our budget? 


First, keep in mind that we’ve been planning this trip for 15 years (180 months) so had plenty of time to save up. Secondly, we usually avoid tourist attractions and don’t enjoy activities such as shopping, golf, fancy dinners, nightclubs, etc. So basically, it’s not too difficult for us to be frugal.

For this trip, we had $10,000 budgeted.

Wait a minute! $10,000?!? For a road trip?!?

Yep. But divide that by 180 months and it’s less than $56/month, which is less than $2/day. Many folks spend more than that at Starbucks (hint, hint).

Anyway, our original Alaska budget was super simple and looked like this:
  • Food: $3,000 ($100/day x 30 days)
  • Fuel: $1,000 (7,000/25mpg x $3.50/gal)
  • Lodging: $3,000 ($100/night x 30 nights)
  • Misc: $3,000 (everything else) 

Did we think we’d actually spend $100/day on food? No, but we wanted to be prepared just in case Alaskan prices were super high.

To estimate fuel costs, we checked Alaskan gas prices on the internet and then went a little high on the cost per gallon ($3.50) and low on our car’s miles per gallon (25) since we didn’t know how driving conditions would affect our usual mileage (30mpg).

Did we really plan to pay for lodging every night? No. Our plan was to camp in our car at least half the time but I wanted the option of getting a room if I found that car camping just didn’t work for me and I was making the math easy. (Our Alaskan lodging w/tax actually ranged from $83 to $133 and averaged out to $109/night.)

Did we need that $3,000 cushion for everything else? No, but I sure felt better having some extra money available in case of emergency or unexpected expenses.

What did we actually spend?


As I said, we came in under budget, even after adding the cost of taking the ferry from Bellingham, WA to Skagway, AK instead of driving both ways. We initially planned to drive the ALCAN from Dawson Creek, BC to Alaska and then take the Cassiar Highway back down through British Columbia, but chose to go up by ferry instead – and I’m so glad we did! Our final expenditures by category for 24 days were:

See? Under budget in every category! How cool is that?
So stay tuned for future posts and I'll share how we did it.

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