When we began our full-time RV lifestyle in 2020, we had a drive to Alaska in our sights. I’ve always wanted to experience the Alaska Highway. Since we needed to visit family in some other areas of the country first, we decided 2023 would be the year for our great Alaska adventure.
Getting ready for a 1,387-mile journey through barren wilderness where wildlife roam freely, vehicles pass by rarely, and road conditions can leave a bit to be desired is no easy feat. We started plotting and planning early on, watching YouTube videos, listing items we’d need, and accumulating them over time.
After three years of RV living, we certainly feel more prepared than we would have if we attempted to make the journey when first starting out. We’re glad we talked to others who successfully made the trip and eagerly shared tips and tricks. Here are the things we picked up in anticipation of what lies ahead in the Last Frontier.
The first thing we did was add shocks to the trailer to help with the frost heaves and potholes that are common on the road to the 49th state. To ensure we could travel long stretches where fuel might be scarce, we upgraded our 32-gallon diesel fuel tank to a 55-gallon tank.
Since wildlife are known to approach and cross roads in Canada and Alaska, they posed a risk to our vehicle. To give us the best chance at escaping an accidental run-in with an animal, we replaced Gulliver’s front bumper with a beefy grille guard.
Tires often take a beating on the rough roads to and around Alaska. Knowing that, we purchased five new tires for Tagalong. We didn’t just get new tires, though. After four flat tires in one year, we upgraded from E-rated to G-rated tires, which are better equipped to handle our heavy load. We also got six new tires for Gulliver. (Can you say cha-ching?)
Bob finally got to reclaim his pride from the mishap on the first leg of our initial RV journey. We replaced the broken fender skirt held together with duct tape. When we realized the opposite side’s fender skirt screw holes had become brittle, we replaced it too.
When our BAKFlip tonneau cover for the bed of the truck broke at a seam, Bob jerry-rigged a temporary fix with ratchet straps and screws. That did the job and kept snow, rain, and dirt out until we could replace it. It’s nice to have a new one without dents or hail damage that works the way it’s supposed to.
We invested in Starlink internet, which works anywhere on the continent that the dish can see the northern sky, as the technology is based on low-orbit satellites. Alaska got Starlink service at the beginning of 2023 — great timing for us.
To give ourselves the best chance at a successful journey, we lightened our load, storing our handguns (not allowed in Canada), Davy Crockett pellet smoker/grill, lounge chairs, and various other items we could do without for a year. We also sold our little electric bikes, giving us more space in the back of our truck cab, where we used to stow them for travel.
Alaskans joke that the mosquito is the state bird. We’re told the nagging insects are big enough to see there. We bought mosquito zapper racquets and face netting to protect ourselves from bites.
We also secured some bear spray, which is highly recommended to have while traveling through Canada. We’ll be in some pretty remote areas where the animals can be common. The spray is essentially tear gas for bears.
Knowing items tend to cost more in Canada and Alaska than they do in the lower 48, we stocked up on some grocery staples and standards we like to have on hand. In addition, we bought a jug of diesel exhaust fluid, a necessity to keep Gulliver trucking along. It may not be available at fuel pumps in Canada and Alaska like it is in the contiguous United States.
And we picked up a copy of The Milepost Alaska Travel Planner, which details pertinent information about what’s available and where along the Alaska Highway. (Thanks, Richard and Janet!)
Let the Alaska adventure begin!
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.