Traveling On the Cheap: Alaska
Flight to Anchorage: $275
Accommodations in Anchorage: $160
Car rental: $60
Grand total: $495 per person for 5 days
Savings of over $500 per person from the typical cost
I will admit it: it’s weird seeing that I saved more money than I actually spent on the trip. Even if it’s just $6 more.
In the same year that Leah and I went to the southernmost point in the western hemisphere, we also went super far north. Neither one of us had ever been to Alaska but had always heard amazing things and seen amazing photos. So when a flight deal for $270 roundtrip tickets came across my social networks, we jumped at the chance. The distance between Anchorage and New York is the same from New York to London. That price for that amount of distance was fantastic.
Leah, Mia and I took off from NYC to Anchorage, Alaska on a Wednesday. We flew United Airlines to Denver and then made the connection to our super tiny plane all the way back north over the Pacific. Unfortunately our arrival time was late in the evening, so we couldn’t experience the glaciers and ice sheets over the water as our plane landed.
For the next 4 nights, Leah, Mia and I would be staying in an Airbnb home not far from the airport itself. For only $160 each we had a 2 bedroom home with a large backyard on a quiet street. It turned out to be perfect for what happened in the coming days.
Because Alaska just screams absolute beauty all year round, the 3 of us wanted to take advantage of the amazing hikes, outdoor activities and wildlife in every direction. We had rented a SUV that was capable of handling snow for $60 each and drove out to Alyeska for some hiking. We arrived at their ski resort and took an air tram 2.2 miles up to the top.
After taking tons of photos, jumping videos and panoramas we decided it was time to hike down. It was a steep 45º angle for a majority of the way, which made me super nervous of falling. After about half an hour of going down through the clouds and traversing carefully through mud, a woman hiker runs past Leah, Mia and I yelling about a bull moose coming right behind her. We knew that it was moose mating season and we also knew that moose roamed the mountainside where we were. So we ran.
Leah, Mia and I go in different directions and it just so happens that the direction I took landed me in a mud pit. My right foot gets stuck in it, I fall to my left, and I feel and hear my right ankle pop and then snap. I’ve never broken a bone before or sprained anything, so I had no idea what I should be feeling. But I knew it wouldn’t be good. A couple of minutes go by and I try to get up and attempt a bit of pressure on my right ankle. Nope, nope, nope, nope.
It completely gave out and felt super wobbly, but the adrenaline running through my body prevented me from feeling any real pain for a while. Despite having hiking boots on laced up tight above my ankles, my right leg was useless and I was covered in mud. We were still at least 1 mile up and it was getting darker quickly.
The next mile of hiking took a lot longer than the first because of how slow we all now had to go. Leah and Mia took turns supporting my right side on every step I took down the mountain.
Unfortunately, this all happened on the very first day we were in Alaska. Which meant that once we got down the mountain, made it back to Anchorage and I had a brace put around my right ankle, I was incapable of doing much for the rest of my trip. For the next few days I either hobbled around super cautiously in our Airbnb home (which turned out to be perfect for injured guests), or sat in our SUV and observed nature.
I made the most of the trip anyway and did my best. Despite dead bugs in my eye, a broken and sprained ankle, and the inability to do much but be the navigator on our car rides to Valdez, Whittier, Hope and Wasilla, Alaska. That state is still gorgeous, even if most of my views and photos were through the side window of our SUV.
This whole trip turned out to be comical. On the day we were leaving, Mia ended up getting food poisoning from a sushi boat Leah and she ate before our flight home. Which means that a trans-continental trip was agony for the poor girl. We were also in Alaska in the sweet spot between a bunch of things to do and nothing at all to do.
Three women came back to NYC with broken body parts, destroyed stomaches and a sad, hilarious story. Alaska kicked our asses.