Driving to AK from FL

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Driving to AK from FL

Postby abstir6 » Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:28 am

Ahhhh I just signed a contact for a school in Anchorage!!! I am beyond excited to make my dream of living in Alaska a reality!

I am making the drive up from Florida, planning on giving myself 12 days, leaving mid-July.

I am wondering if anyone else has made this drive, or a similar one. We are planning on going into Canada around North Dakota. I will be traveling with my 20lb boston terrier also.

Any recommendations on "must see"s along the way?

Any advise on things you wish you brought with you that you didn't?

Thank you in advance!!
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:23 am

Re: Driving to AK from FL

Postby Michael Robbins » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:11 am

I would leave as early as you can to allow for more time to have fun along the way. I have not made the drive that you will be doing, only part of it. I have been over much of BC, some of AB, and the Yukon with various routes as well as along the coast in places. Most of my trips originated or ended in WA, ID, or MT. From those places I have done the drive in under 3 days (not recommended, but it was a time constraint issue) or over 2 weeks. I recommend having at least a week of drive time within Canada since there are a lot of miles there, construction can be bad some years/routes, and you will most likely want to stop more than planned.

Things to bring besides your items you are moving with:
1. The Milepost- this is a great guide for anyone making this drive and includes so much information that you will likely be glad to pay the cost of it.
2. Calling card- much of the routes are not within cell range and even if so, it can be costly even if you add Canada onto your plan if you call.
3. A fair amount of Canadian currency- any time I have made the drive I like to have around $1,000 and I'm frugal with my spending. Yes, you can use a card in many locations, but often you will be charged extra fees since you are out of the US. Also, there can be some places where using cash might be the only way or is much easier. You should estimate your fuel mileage and how many gallons/liters it will take to get through Canada- there are still some small stations that cash is the only way to get fuel. Really, it all depends on your vehicle, route, and other factors for how much might be spent. Cash and cards that work in Canada are both good to have.
4. Good music! There are some locations where you can pick up local radio, but for much of the drive it is not an option. Bring your CDs, mp3, or whatever you store music on to listen on the drive.
5. Camera and binoculars. You will want to take pictures for sure and look at wildlife and views. Don't make the mistake of putting them somewhere that you cannot reach while still in the drivers seat since you might only have enough time to roll down the window after stopping to snap a quick picture of something that wants to run away.
6. Bug spray/headnet/bug suit. While you say the latter part of July, that is not the worst of bug season but that can be unpredictable. I like Ben's 100, it works well, remember though that with any bug spray it is both poison to you and the bugs (use as little as possible).
7. Good sunglasses for sure
8. Try to do a rough plan of how far you want to get each day and what you will do on each leg of the trip so that you don't have to rush at the end.
9. How/where will you sleep along your drive north? If you plan on staying in any motels or anything like that you should probably already have made reservations awhile ago. The same can be said for many campsites as well. You will be traveling when many others are, so if you do not have reservations for the night you need to be prepared to possibly drive a lil farther or settle for something else. I find it best to be very flexible on a drive such as this and to take it in strides. It can be a great time or a horrible one depending on how you take it.
10. Be prepared for if something happens with your vehicle. True, you are driving along many well-used routes, but you might like to take a side road as well. Another reason why I say this is that you can eat into your cash you brought along fast or rack up a lot on a card for some things that you could avoid by being prepared. Know your vehicle- have it serviced before you leave, carry some minor spare parts that are easy to install yourself (fuses, lights, belts, etc), have an extra spare tire (having two flats and only one spare is not fun), extra fluids (oil, ATF, brake fluid, antifreeze, water, etc..), and washer fluid. There is so much that can be said here, but it really depends on your vehicle and your abilities as to what you will bring. Even if you are not a mechanic yourself, it is a good idea to bring things like I said so that if someone stops to help they can without having to possibly drive a ways to a town.
11. Squeegee and a bucket. Many gas stations have poor squeegees and your windshield will be covered in bugs oftentimes daily. Keep your glass as clean as you can each day and keep your washer fluid full so that you can get the bugs off before they get hard.
12. Route awareness: try to let someone back home know what route you will be traveling. Contact them to let them know how the trip is going every few days so that if something happens they can alert the authorities to look if you are gone too long without word. This one main reason for the calling card I mention, plus family will want to know. Find and give them the contact info that they will need should anything happen.
13. How will you be dining on this trip? Strictly eating out? Cooking things yourself? Having simple things? I have a tote in my truck with a small stove and kitchen set up so that I can minimize costs and not be bound to eating out. I also love to fish and will eat some fish I catch along the way. Even if you plan to eat out I would still advise a cooler with drinks and snacks at the least.
14. Look up the Canadian Customs rules for what you can/cannot bring into the country. You might be shocked as to how many different foods you cannot take across. Avoid bringing anything across the border with pits, big seeds, or out of the dirt like potatoes. A good rule of thumb is to just buy fruit after across the border. I have not been as far east as the North Dakota border with Canada, but where I have crossed in many places to the west they have outstanding fruit stands along the highways.
15. I have not brought animals across before, but I hear you need to have them checked by a vet very recently before coming across the border and have the paperwork with you to prove it. All shots must be up to date, and the typical stuff like that. A word of caution: rest areas and other spots that pet owners frequent with pets can be a breeding ground for parasites and diseases since they can be so concentrated with fecal matter and other things. When you walk your dog try to pick spots where it appears that not every other dog owner has gone to that same spot.

I might not be the best to ask for "must see" places since I don't like the real touristy places. I tend to like the routes that are a little more off the beaten path and love discovering things that most never see. If/when you dine out try to look for the places that the locals eat and you might be able to gleam some good spots from them. Many times I find that there is a difference between what typical tourists want to see and what I consider the real "must see" things. Little cafes and diners that do not cater so much to the tourist traffic can be great for sitting down with locals and hearing about what is going on. You might hear about a good local fishing spot, where some wildlife is hanging out frequently for good pictures, road conditions, and more if you luck out. When you are near/in towns you should try to tune into the local radio stations for weather, road conditions/closures and other things. Fire season can be bad, so be prepared to take alternate routes. The same can be said for flooding, I once was driving through western Alberta and couldn't find a motel room for many towns. Add to that the fact that the water was so high that many roads were closed.

After all of that if you have any specific questions feel free to ask. I know that I've left some out and that I might do things different than others, but this is a brief snapshot of some points for you. Have a fun and safe trip!
Michael Robbins
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Fairbanks, AK

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