Friday, July 24, 2015

Sleeping Around in Alaska

Lake Creek Campground (first car camping morning)
Ok, I admit it – I stooped to using a purposely misleading post title. But it’s not technically inaccurate, right? Just gives a false impression. Mostly I wanted to see if Joel is paying any attention whatsoever to my posts about our trip, but now that I have your attention…

Our road trip to Alaska provided the opportunity to see if sleeping in our car was a workable lodging option for us. Although we’d been planning this trip for 15+ years and even bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2001 specifically so we could sleep in it while traveling, we’d only put the idea to the test once, and it wasn’t good. So I just wasn’t sure that what sounded doable when I was 15 years younger was still doable today.

Based on the uncomfortable night we spent in the Jeep way back in 2002, we knew we needed a comfortable bed. So we measured the Outback and bought a full-size inflatable mattress and 12-volt pump. Wanting to mimic a real bed as closely as possible, I also bought a fitted mattress pad, two sets of flannel sheets and a down alternative comforter. Then Joel got worried it might still be too cold so we put a 1-inch layer of foam on the mattress under the pad.

McCarthy B&B (3-night reservation)
I still wasn’t convinced that car sleeping was for me so I made room reservations where I knew (or at least thought) we’d be on specific dates and researched lodging possibilities several other places. I made sure that all my reservations were cancellable and had the phone numbers and cancellation deadlines handy – and it’s a good thing I did as Joel changed our whole route on the fly!

From the time we got off the ferry in Skagway on May 18 until we drove back across the Canadian-US border in Idaho on June 5, we stayed in Yukon Territory fee campgrounds two nights, parked our car free six nights, and paid for a room 10 nights. Although I’d originally made reservations for eight nights in Alaska, due to spur-of-the-moment route changes and some misadventures, we cancelled four but added six. Good thing I’d padded the budget!

With the exception of an end-of-trip splurge in Lake Louise, AB, our paid rooms were comparably priced ($83-$133; average $108/night) but ranged from mediocre to WOW! I plan to do a review of each in future posts but for now, I’ll just summarize our car-sleeping experience by saying it was great (but four nights in a row is about my maximum).

  • Lodging budget = $3,000 
  • Actual lodging cost = $1,155 
  • Money left for another trip = $1,845!

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