7 Reasons Why you Should Travel to Alaska

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7 Reasons Why you Should Travel to Alaska

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I came up to Alaska in July of 2016 on a whim. I was only anticipating living here for one 13 week assignment. Here I am, 7 months later, with plans of staying for one whole year.  I am completely blown away by everything about this place: the people, the wildlife, the scenery and the aurora borealis, just to name a few. This post is essentially a well deserved ode to the last frontier.

Here are my top reasons why everyone should visit the 49th state:

1.The People are Nicer

I recently read a Huffington Post article about how Alaska was ranked number 1 in the country for highest overall well being and I believe it. The article explains that most residents in Alaska are here by choice. I believe one of the many reasons for this is the abundance of space. I am currently living in Alaska’s most populated city (Anchorage). My job is working as a home health Occupational Therapist, so I drive around all day visiting patients in their home. Since December, I have never been in any type of serious traffic. On two occasions during the winter months I saw a car slide into and tap the car in front of them due to poor road conditions. The person in the car that was hit got out, glanced at the bumper, gave a thumbs up and then drove away. I cannot think of any other place where I have lived that this scenario would have played out that way. I reflect on living in LA when I would have to plan all my outings and days around avoiding traffic. I wouldn’t go to certain parts of town during certain parts of the day just because I didn’t want to deal with traffic. I have learned during my travels that less people and more space makes happier people.

2. Bears, Moose and Caribou

Have you ever driven to work and see a reindeer grazing on some grass? It’s quite a sight to see. Until I moved to Alaska I had never seen animals like this. They are huge. They are scary. They are wild, but they are majestic AF. When I first visited Alaska my only objective was to see a moose, now I see them all the time. I have yet to see a brown or grizzly bear but I am okay with that at the moment.  As it goes for all wild animals, don’t mess with them. I think nothing pisses off an Alaskan resident more than tourists trying to get close to these animals to take a picture. Check out these tips for bear and moose safety, here.

And don’t forget your bear spray!

3. Hikers Paradise

Hiking Exit Glacier in Seward, AK.

There are SO many trails in Alaska to hike that it’s almost overwhelming, but oh man are these trails absolutely beautiful! Most of the trails here are not the overcrowded ones you find in the lower 48. On weekends in the summer it can be difficult to find parking spots at populated hikes, but it still does not compare to crowded trails in the lower 48. One of my favorite hikes in Alaska was the harding ice fields hike in Seward, Alaska and twin peaks in Eklutna, Alaska. If you find yourself in Alaska check out Alaska Hike Search, an amazing database with details of all the numerous hikes in the last frontier!


4.Amazing Food and Beer

Alaska has quite the food and beer scene. As you could imagine, the seafood is amazing!  In most Alaska restaurants fish and chips is not cod but halibut, which is a lot tastier if you ask me. After a long hike or day of exploring Alaska, is there anything better than a handcrafted beer with a batch of ‘but and chips?

Here is a list of my favorite breweries and restaurants in Alaska:

49th street brewery : Anchorage, AK

The Cookie Jar: Fairbanks, AK

King Street Brewery: Anchorage, AK

Denali Brewing Co: Talkeetna, AK 

St Elias Brewing Co: Soldotna, AK

Kenai River Breqing Co: Kenai ,

Kassiks Brewing Co: Nikiski, AK

5.Big, Blue, and Beautiful Glaciers!

Matanuska Glacier

Glaciers are larger and bluer than pictures give them justice. When I finally got to Alaska the first large glacier I saw was Matanuska glacier, and my jaw literally dropped.  I have done a few hikes around and on top of glaciers which is unreal (you gotta do it!). This past winter I went exploring in some ice caves which was one of my favorite memories so far in this great state! The glaciers are just as blue/green in real life as they are in the pictures, it’s unreal.  I am hoping to explore some more glaciers this summer!

6. Denali

The Great One

Denali literally means, “the great one” and it certainly is. Denali is the tallest mountain on the North American continent. On clear days you can see the very top of the mountain from Anchorage (over 200 miles away). Its sheer size is overwhelming, especially as you get closer. Denali is part of the Alaskan mountain range which is so large that it has its own weather system. This makes Denali difficult to see most days, even when you are inside the park. If you find yourself in Alaska, I highly recommend driving north for the chance to get a glimpse of Denali.

7.Aurora Borealis

Fairbanks, AK

I have become obsessed with tracking and trying to see the northern lights. The best time to see the lights are September to March but I have seen them in August and April! Due to Alaska’s increased sunlight during the summer months it makes it nearly impossible to see them as it needs to be very dark for them to be visible. If you plan to see the lights, it’s definitely worth it to visit Alaska in the winter months. There are tours, but you can also find dark places in high elevations to get an amazing show. In October 2016, my boyfriend and I drove up to Fairbanks. We woke up at 4am, went hunting for lights and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I remember looking up and all around the sky, greens and purples dancing along the sky, the entire night.

I could probably make a list of 100 reasons why you should visit Alaska, but these are my top reasons.


This one is specifically for travel therapists. Alaska is a really awesome place to complete a travel assignment. Both jobs in Alaska have been some of the only places where I was given a thorough orientation and training. People are very laid back here, I have never had a productivity standard and I have never been pressured to see patient’s longer or more often in order to make companies more money. Because of this I think Alaska would be a great state for new grads to travel to just simply because of the support and patience of the places I have worked here.

Note: Some photos are mine, all amazing photos are taken by and the property of Shamus Lahman.

Would you visit Alaska? What else would you want to know about the last frontier? Comment below 🙂


About the Author


Hi there! My name is Sarah and I am the creator of Tiny Van Big Living. I am a former traveling Occupational Therapist who lived in a converted camper van (Vanny Devito) full time for almost two years. I am collecting experiences, not things while slowly climbing out of the giant hole that is student loan debt.

16 Comments on “7 Reasons Why you Should Travel to Alaska”

  1. Been there… I don’t need one reason to go back. I’d be there in a flash. I love AK!! Beautiful photos, great reasons… it’s just beautiful. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your time there!

  2. A trip in our RV to Alaska is on our bucket list. In three years our son graduates from college and we will be full time. My parents flew to Alaska about 10 years ago and said it is worth visiting. They said it looks a lot like Northern Minnesota. I am originally from Duluth, MN. Ideally when we go to Alaska we will take our time and explore Canada along the way.

    1. Hi Thomas! Yes I think the drive up was one of the best road trips to date! Make sure to to cross Alaska off your bucket list. THanks for reading :).

  3. I got to tag along with my family on a cruise to Alaska in 2008, but haven’t been back since (and my husband has never been). It’s definitely high on our list, but I don’t want to be tied to a cruise schedule. I’d rather have at least a week or two to do our own exploring – any tips on where we should base out of when we finally do that?

    1. Hey Angela!

      When you make it up to Alaska, I would definitely suggest basing your trip out of Anchorage. It’s a great central location as well as the main airport. Depending on how much time you have I would definitely check out Homer, Seldovia, Seward, Kenai Fjords NP, Denali NP, Talkeetna, and Fairbanks. Thanks for reading, hope you get to go to Alaska soon 🙂


  4. Hi Sarah,
    Found your website from your article on living in your van on Michelle Schroeder’s blog. I’ve been planning to get a van and travel full time for a few years now. Waiting until my youngest kiddo is safely settled in college, which is only another 1-2 years away. Alaska has definitely been on my list of places to go. I was wondering how you stay warm in the winter months in Alaska though?

    1. I had not planned to stay in Alaska during the winter, so I had to rent a room for the cold months. If you plan to stay in the winter, I would definitely recommend 4×4, snow tires, and a winterized camper. Good luck! Thank you for reading 🙂

  5. Hi Sarah, I’m a third year OT just signed my second travel contract for 10 months in Soldanta, AK. So excited (& nervous)! I’m coming from the east coast and looking to drive (epic road trip). Love your top ten reasons. Is there anything you can’t find or suggest bringing with me? TIA

    1. Hi Sarah! Congrats on moving to Soldotna, I am jealous. I would definitely hit up some national parks in the US and Canada if you can make it work, especially Banff and Jasper in Alberta. I would bring a tent or sleeping stuff so you can spend some nights camping to get the full experience! Good luck, you will have a trip of a life time :).

  6. Hi, I am Ahsaan from Pakistan. Actually i have never visited AK, nor been to USA. But i could always see AK in words of people who have been there. AK means a lot more than a simple tourist destination to me. I am determined that one day i will be there for sure. Many reasons urges me to love it e.g. Salmons, Caribou, Eskimos, Whales, Grizzlies, Flowers, Trails etc.

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