Liv

A girl and her dog – journey 4150 miles in 8.5 days to Alaska

In dogs, life, travel, Uncategorized on October 29, 2012 at 3:29 am

It has been a while – but Connor and I are currently in Alaska. We made the trek together in late August/September and it was quite an adventure. I am a pretty wimpy driver. Before attempting the drive from northern Virginia to Fairbanks, Alaska the furthest solo drive I made was only 4 hours long. Needless to say, this road trip was beyond my tested endurance levels, so I planned to cover no more than 550 miles a day, with 8 hours on the road.

Planning is key when setting daily goals. It also helps to set up pet-friendly hotel bookings in advance so that you have no surprises on your trip about whether your puppy would be welcome in your room. When traveling alone, I highly recommend bringing your puppy with you. Connor is no mean guard dog, but he’s big enough to make someone think twice about approaching me.

You cannot plan for every possible situation on such a long trip, but here is a check-list that may be helpful for future Alaska-bound travelers:

– Have a valid passport (and in visa/ green card) for border crossings

– Have a health certificate and rabies certificate for your dog completed within 30 days of travel

– Have roaming enabled for your cell phone for calls (I disabled data roaming services)

– Inform your credit card company that you will be traveling to Canada

– Join AAA (great for hotel discounts and car emergencies!)

– Check tires (including spare), carry a can of tire inflation slime in case of punctures

– Check all fluids (I carried spare windshield fluid, and engine oil)

– Have some windex and paper towels/ rag to clean your car as needed (I tried to wipe off the bugs from the bumper and windshield each night)

– Book hotels (especially important to ensure pets are welcome at your nightly stops)

– Have cash on hand (some gas stations in remote areas don’t accept cards)

– Have snacks and drinks packed (also for your dog)

– Enable satellite radio (I had a free trial subscription to SiriusXM) or have a good selection of CDs or music on your Ipod available. Satellite radio worked well all through the drive until I got to Tok, Alaska – at which point I had to change to cds/ my Ipod

– Have a good GPS (I had the one that came with the car and a GARMIN portable GPS – the car’s GPS worked reliably in rain or shine; unfortunately my GARMIN lost signal at inopportune times so I gave up using it after the first day)

– Carry something for self defense (just in case – I had easy access to several self-defense ‘tools’)

– Carry a first aid kit, and sleeping bag

– Have a copy of the Milepost. Incredible resource for navigating the Alaska Highway.

Here’s Connor at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. Boy did we have a drive ahead of us!

Finally, there are a few things I learned during our trip:

  • Road trips are better when you have company – even if he sleeps through most of it.
  • Make frequent stops to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery. You may never be back in the same place again.

  • Yes, you can make it through bumpy rough roads and scary fog. If you quit in the middle, you’re simply stuck in the middle of nowhere. Just take a deep breath and carry on.
  • Be prepared for good and bad things to happen. Sometimes you just have to roll with it
  • Don’t pass up an opportunity to stop for food, ask for directions or take a bathroom break – especially the further north you get. Sometime opportunities are few and far between.
  • Keep a camera in easy reach, and take lots of pictures! Pictures can help you remember  what you’ve done and how far you came.

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  1. Very good tips and sensible advise. Am really amazed at what you can do by yourself. You really are something but at the same time you have also given mum and me a lot of white hairs! Does PhD means permanent head damage ??

  2. Hey Liv! Soooo glad to finally hear from you again! Glad all things are well. We were wondering how you were doing. Can’t wait for more updates! Thanks for sharing with us your journey. We missed you!

  3. You’ve always been the no non-sense girl since young, and we are very proud of what you’ve achieved – driving solo cross country with just a faithful friend and a fistful of self-help tips, & solid determination. You seem to have never ending surprises for your father & me, and we love you so.

  4. Hi Liv! Just checking in to see how things are going! Have not heard from you in awhile…..

    • Hi Valerie! Good to hear from you. I have been noticeably offline the last few months but I am so pleased to see stories about Nikita and Bella doing so well together! I am sure all the pups are looking forward to spring!

  5. I drove to Alaska 20 years ago wow what a trip!! I love Alaska and the moose in the front yard is priceless

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