Solo Trip to Alaska: Tips, thoughts, and what to expect
This summer, I went on one of the best adventures of my life: a solo trip to Alaska.
For one and a half months, I explored this gorgeous part of the United States and saw some of the most beautiful landscapes I had ever seen. From walking on a glacier to hiking by myself for miles and miles and seeing wildlife like moose and a baby humpback whale jumping right in front of my eyes, this trip was an unforgettable experience.
Also, one of the highlights of my trip was definitely meeting the locals and other fellow adventure-loving travelers. I was struck by how friendly and welcoming everyone was, and I loved hearing their stories about Alaska. I even got to hitchhike from Anchorage to Denali National Park with the help of wonderful people I met along the way.
Anyways, it was a blast! And I would love for more people to experience a life-changing trip like this.
In this post, you will find all my best tips for a solo trip to Alaska.
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My experience (how did I afford it?)
I think it’s important to start this post by addressing how I was able to afford to stay in Alaska for more than a month as a budget traveler.
The answer is fairly simple: by exchanging some of my time for a place to stay.
Through Workaway, I found out that Base Camp Anchorage Hostel was looking for some extra help with their cleaning in return for a free bed in a dorm room. And let me tell you, it was a great experience.
The hostel was an absolutely amazing place to stay, and I made some incredible friends from all over the world.
Also, I only worked for 5 hours 4 days a week, which left me with plenty of time to travel and explore Alaska.
15 Tips for solo travel in Alaska
Now that we have covered that, let’s get to all the information you need to know for solo travel in Alaska.
1- It can get (very) expensive
Alaska is not by any means a cheap destination, especially if you want to do activities like glacier hiking or Flightseeing.
That being said, it is possible to travel on a budget in Alaska. You just need to be a little bit creative and plan ahead – maybe even find a seasonal job or volunteer position if you want to stay for a while.
As with any solo trip, safety is an obvious concern.
I must say that since I was staying in Midtown, Anchorage was not the nicest area to walk around, but I did feel perfectly safe.
Outside of Anchorage, I never felt unsafe at all – even when I was hiking by myself or hitchhiking with strangers.
In fact, I was mesmerized by how genuinely kind and helpful everyone that I encountered (locals and tourists) was.
Of course, it is always important to take precautions when traveling solo, no matter where you go. And in Alaska, there are some extra safety concerns to keep in mind because of the wildlife, but we’ll cover that later.
3- Budget for transportation costs
I don’t really drive, and knew that might be an issue on a trip to Alaska.
The truth is that transportation in Alaska – at least for tourists – is very doable without a car. But also super expensive.
There are plenty of options for getting around, whether it’s by bus, train, or plane. However, it is extremely important to budget for transportation if you choose those options instead of driving.
A two-and-a-half-hour bus from Anchorage to Seward was $100. The train? Around $150. And that’s for a one-way ticket.
I did take the bus and the train once – riding the Alaska Railroad is a fantastic experience – but also hitchhiked quite a lot to save money.
4- My thoughts oN hitchhiking in Alaska
As a solo female traveler, I am aware that hitchhiking is not always recommended and I honestly never even thought I would do it before Alaska, but it is a pretty common practice among backpackers over there.
I hitchhiked from Anchorage to Whittier and back and then from Anchorage to Denali National Park and back. I also hitchhiked inside Denali.
The thing is that many times people that pick you up are not going all the way to your final destination, so I ended up traveling with more than 15 different people. And honestly: they were all amazing, kind, and very respectful. So if you feel comfortable, I would say go for it but always pay very close attention to your intuition.
6- Talk to as many people as you can
Alaska is the kind of destination that attracts the coolest travelers. As a bonus, it also has super interesting locals.
I met so many fascinating people, like a guy that walked (!!!) from California to the Artic Circle, a man that was planning on self-isolating in Alaska for over a year, a 75-year-old lady that had been canoeing the rivers in Alaska for more than two months…. the list goes on.
Make sure to be open to getting to know amazing people on your trip.
7- Where you stay is important
There are many different types of accommodation in Alaska, from camping to hostels to Airbnb’s and even fancy hotels.
It really depends on your budget and what you are looking for.
For me, in Anchorage, the best option was to volunteer at a hostel since I wanted to meet other travelers and have a place to call home base (and I do recommend Base Camp Hostel 100%).
In Seward, I stayed at Moby Dick Hostel and it was affordable and comfortable. The hostel is fairly small but very home-like feeling and is social in a low-key way. Also, the location is excellent.
Denali National Park
In Denali, I stayed at Denali Hostel & Cabins, one of the nicest hostels I have ever stayed at. The hostel is located about 15 minutes outside of the park and the staff was lovely.
The hostel is in fact made up of different wooden cabins and so, so nice. The rooms were beautiful, they had tons of bathrooms and a big nice kitchen to cook in. Highly recommend it!
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park
I camped at a campground located right at the end of the road in McCarthy. It was called Base Camp and it was okay. The sites were really spread out so we had a lot of privacy and the views of the river were pretty.
8- How long should you stay in Alaska?
I might be a little biased, but I would say: as long as you can!
I was there for one month and it was not enough time, even though I feel like I packed a lot into that month.
There is so much to see and do in Alaska – from glaciers to national parks to small towns – that you could easily spend weeks or months exploring. The state is really huge and there are so many wonderful places to visit.
9- Best places to go on a solo trip to Alaska
Now we have gotten to the hard part: narrowing it down to just a few places.
There are so many incredible places to visit in Alaska, but here are a few of the favorites that I think are perfect for a solo trip:
Denali National Park
Denali National Park is home to the highest peak in North America and also has an abundance of wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, wolves, and moose.
The park is absolutely massive (6 million acres!) so there is plenty of room to explore.
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park
If you are looking for some serious wilderness adventure, head to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.
There are glaciers, mountains, valleys, and even Kennicott, an abandoned copper mining town.
Seward might be my favorite city in Alaska. It is located on the Kenai Peninsula and has a beautiful harbor, great restaurants, and bars, and is the gateway to some of Alaska’s most gorgeous hikes.
Valdez is a small city located in Prince William Sound. It is surrounded by mountains and glaciers and is the perfect place to go for some outdoor adventure.
There are plenty of hikes and kayaking/ rafting excursions available.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is located just outside of Seward and is one of the most beautiful places in Alaska.
The park is full of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife and is a great place to go for some hiking and kayaking.
Talkeetna is often used as a base for exploring Denali National Park, but it is a great destination in its own right.
This small town has a cool vibe and many cute shops and cafes.
Hope is a small town located in the Chugach Mountains. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery and is the perfect place to go for some camping and exploring.
Homer is a city located on the Kenai Peninsula. It is known for its amazing views of Kachemak Bay and for being a great place to go fishing.
These are just a few of the places that I think are perfect for a solo trip to Alaska. There are of course many other amazing places to visit, but these are some of my personal favorites and the ones I got to explore.
10- Some bucket list experiences are worth the money
If you can afford it, there is no shortage of incredible, bucket list-worthy experiences to have in Alaska.
These are some of the ones that I think are worth the splurge:
- Denali Experience Flightseeing Tour from Talkeetna
- Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour
- Kenai Fjords National Park Glacier & Wildlife Cruise
- Alaska Helicopter and Glacier Dogsled Tour
- 26 Glacier Cruise and Coach from Anchorage (so beautiful!)
- Majestic Misty Fjords Seaplane Tour
- Incredible Aurora Viewing Adventure
I know they are expensive, but I honestly think it’s worth every penny.
These are other more budget-friendly incredible experiences to have:
- Backcountry camping in Denali National Park
- Hiking Harding Icefield
- Hiking in Chugach State Park
- Flattop Mountain in Anchorage
- Trying authentic reindeer sausage
- Exploring Kennicot in St. Elias National Park
11- Prepare for hiking solo in Alaska
A lot of people will tell you to not hike solo in Alaska, and if you meet people and have company that is definitely better.
However, if you are experienced and comfortable hiking solo, then I say go for it! There are so many incredible places to hike in Alaska and it would be a shame to miss out on them because you don’t have anyone to go with.
Of course, be sure to take all the necessary precautions like always taking bear spray, enough water, and letting friends and family know what you are doing and where.
Also, it is essential to get informed on how to act if you encounter wildlife like bears, moose, and wolves. This video by REI on what to do if you run into a bear is very good!
12- Pack smart
Depending on what you plan on doing, packing for Alaska is no easy task. I would say, however, that these are essentials:
Wrap-up: A guide to exploring Alaska solo
So, those are my top tips for solo female travelers in Alaska. I hope you found them helpful and that they inspire you to add Alaska to your travel list!
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to send me a message on Instagram.
Happy travels! 🙂