Posted in Visiting Alaska

image source: jasleen_kaur

You might not need that parka after all. By limiting yourself to one carry-on bag for your Alaska adventure, you’ll avoid baggage fees, breeze past the luggage carousel and make the most of your time.

Fitting everything into one carry-on bag requires careful planning — and a new frame of mind — but we’re here with tips to guide you to pack more efficiently for travel!

Think Layers

Alaska weather is notoriously variable, especially on the coast, where temperatures can fluctuate by 20 degrees in the course of one day. Plan to dress in layers so that you can peel them off (or add them on) as the weather dictates.  Start with a tank or t-shirt, and add another shirt and a fleece layer. Make the fleece piece a vest — an Alaska wardrobe essential any time of year.

Top off the ensemble with a water- and wind-proof jacket to keep out the elements. Plan to carry the jacket onto the airplane to save space in your carry-on.

Tip:  Pack a knit or fleece hat to keep your head and ears toasty. For winter trips, we also add a pair of lightweight gloves.

Lighten Your Load

No matter how long your trip, only pack one week’s worth of clothes, and plan to do laundry on the road. We offer laundry facilities in Westmark Hotels, or you can wash smaller items in your sink at night.

Pack a maximum of two pairs of pants and two sets of shoes. Try convertible pants with zip-off legs – no need to throw in that pair of shorts! Bring neutral-colored items that go with everything. If your favorite plaid shirt doesn’t go with anything else in your bag, it stays home.

Tip: Lightweight hiking shoes, which do double duty as street shoes, are a great footwear choice for the variable terrain of Alaska. Wear your heaviest shoes onto the plane to save space in your carry-on and pack more efficiently.

Packing It Up

Wheeled pack, roller bag, or convertible backpack? There’s a wide range of carry-on options out there, and your choice will depend on your itinerary and personal taste. We like the convertible backpack, which looks like a soft sided suitcase, but morphs quickly into an ergonomic backpack. Tuck the loose straps away for easy stowage in the overhead bin. Upon arrival, pull out the straps, don the pack, and away you go!

When packing, roll your clothing to save space and minimize wrinkles. We love the Eagle Creek packing system. These handy packing cubes keep everything organized and readily findable.

Tip: Some travelers swear by compression bags, which save volumes of space. But beware: It’s easy to go over airline weight limits with these.

Maximize Your Personal Item

Since airlines allow you to carry a second, smaller item onto the plane at no charge, make the most of it. Rather than a purse or toiletry kit, choose a small backpack that will fit under the seat. A daypack is roomy enough to hold essential Alaska gear such as binoculars, camera (with zoom!), snacks and accessories.

Leave the Library at Home

We love books, too, but they’re too cumbersome for the carry-on. Ditch the paperbacks for an e-reader and you’ll never go back. “But what about my guidebook?” you may be asking. Check Lonely Planet and Fodor’s for e-versions of trusty Alaska advice.

Trim the Toiletries

Don’t pack what we’ll provide! With shampoo, conditioner and soap in each Westmark guestroom, there’s no need to bring those items from home. Instead, use your clear plastic bag to carry the lotions and potions that will make your time in Alaska more comfortable: hand sanitizer, insect repellent, sunblock and any medications. Planning to wash things in your room? Castille soap is an excellent multi-purpose option.

Tip: The Transportation Safety Administration restricts liquids in containers to a maximum 3.4 ounces.  Check the fine print on your bottles.

Ready, Set, Go!

We hope this packing advice puts you on the road to Alaska with a lighter load, an easier time at the airport, and a grander spirit of adventure. Let us know how these tips work for you!