YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT ALASKA CARAVANS
By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers
Barry and Monique,
“Just received our Trailer Life Magazine and thoroughly enjoyed reading your adventure in Alaska. How about some advice. How do you find a wagonmaster, will he provide caravan info, if not where would you look. Would appreciate any info that you could supply.
Thanks for your note.
We went to Alaska with Adventure Caravans led by Ken and Carole Adams. They did a great job of keeping members of the group informed and on schedule, with lagniappe (Cajun talk for extras), like inviting the mining train fiddler to
entertain us at the campground with two fellow musicians. When you browse for caravan companies on the Internet and read what different companies offer, for those you make contact, I would suggest asking questions about the personalities of the wagonmasters. Some folks like a very structured tour; others, like us, want lots of opportunity to explore on our own at our own pace.
Adventure Caravans, and probably most of the other companies, have a daily blog for each caravan written in turn by each of the members of the group. You might ask for the URL for some of those to sample how things were going on the trip.
We had almost-perfect weather for most of our 58 days, but take into account that outside forces cause changes and disappointments. On our way up to Alaska we crossed paths with a couple traveling by themselves headed south, disappointed that the Kenai Peninsula was socked in for a week with no let-up in sight. They turned around without ever going out on a fishing excursion.
Many Alaska travelers seem to have missed seeing Mt. McKinley because of the clouds — we saw it all, plus the entire mountain range within the scope of viewing on a once-a-year day. That’s luck!
Which reminds me: we traveled with a very compatible group to Alaska. There is, however, no way to know ahead of time how well everyone will get along, but it’s pretty easy to avoid frequent contact with fellow travelers if desired. On the other hand, we made lasting friendships with our Alaskan troops.
I don’t know how helpful this would be, but you might put down a list of questions to ask the caravan company and request that the wagonmaster contact you directly. If the wagonmaster says “I run a tight ship,” and that’s not your style, move on.
I don’t have a great deal of information yet on other companies. Another respondent to the Trailer Life column wrote, “The experience of the “Adventure Trek” staff also helped me get over a major issue with my 5th wheel rig.” He put security and camaraderie as the best features of caravanning.
We never expected to join a caravan, but after talking with the first wagonmaster, we began to understand the advantages. Our selection of Adventure Caravans began with their catalog — each company should have one — and I looked at their tour of New Orleans (my hometown). I judged it to be an excellent tour. Even though you might not be able to judge the Alaskan trip, you can look at others areas you know about and make a decision.
Longevity of the company is probably a good criterion, particularly since the deposit is hefty.
The following is information I gleaned from an Internet search of Alaska Caravan companies, listed alphabetically:
Adventure Caravans www.adventurecaravans.com. Tracks to Adventure was merged into them last summer. (If you choose Adventure Caravans, please mention our names, which will result in us getting a discount on future trips with them).
Adventure Tours www.trekamerica.com/search/searchProcessor.php
Fantasy RV Tours fantasyrvtours.com/caravans/alaska/index.html and partner Creative World Travel.
Good Sam Club, www.goodsamclub.com/community/EventsAndTours.aspx Sponsor of this blog site.
RV Caravan Tours http://www.rvalaskatours.com/
Also, Cowboy Caravans (No cogent information found)
I make no promises that this is a complete list, nor am I able to judge the quality of each.
A few readers have asked about cost. The range is $1,200 to $8,400. I’m not trying to be evasive, but it depends on how many days, what’s included and other factors, like the types of accommodations, excursions and cruises. Check out the various caravan
companies for their prices. Ours was what we considered expensive, but we felt we got excellent value for our investment.
To blog readers, I hope this answers more questions you have about caravanning to Alaska. I emphasize we have only been on an RV caravan once (with another one scheduled in 2012), so this is not meant to be an endorsement of any company.
We found our trek to Alaska to be a relaxed trip and really enjoyed the camaraderie of being with other members of the group. I’ll guarantee this — no matter how to choose to travel to the Land of the Midnight Sun, like us, you will be Never Bored RVers. We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved