What to Pack for an Alaskan Summer Road Trip

June 20, 2023

Happy Tuesday friends! As mom and I eagerly look forward to our Alaskan Cruise in July, I have often thought back to the Alaskan Road Trips that I did with friends in 2018 (you can read the itinerary HERE) and the Alaskan Road Trip that we did in 2019I hope that it encourages you to consider taking a road trip of your own this summer to this beautiful part of the world. The places that we went to and explored are stunningly beautiful and the opportunity to explore so much nature and beauty was extraordinary.

When I first decided to take the writing job about a road trip 
through Alaska in the summer of 2018 I was so excited that I didn't think much about some of the practical details that would come with this trip. It had always been a dream of mine to go to Alaska (I even wrote on the blog in the summer of 2017 about why you should dream about a trip to the Last Frontier) and to see it come to fruition had me giddy with anticipation.  

As the trip approached though I started to think practically about what to pack for an Alaskan summer road trip. I have been so blessed to travel to so many different places but I also knew that packing for an Alaskan Road trip would need to be different. I searched pinterest for ideas but struggled to find answers. There were hundreds of posts on what to pack for an Alaskan cruise, but not for a road trip. I spoke with anyone I could find that had taken a road trip, had lived in Alaska, or had visited at the time of year we were going and tried to develop a practical packing list.

The reality is that with a nickname like "The Last Frontier" you know that you are going to be in for the adventure of a lifetime. Alaska defines what it means to be "wild and free" and I knew that I wanted what I packed to be as practical and unencumbered as I imagined the trip would be. If you are heading on an Alaskan road trip and are wondering what to bring I hope that these ideas will be helpful for your adventure! 

Luggage Items
As a bit of background, I shared on my instagram feed a few days before I left for the trip that I was determined to live fully in the adventure I was going on and didn't want to be loaded down with lots of luggage and clothing. Due to this and because I am a classic "over-packer" and because I was (at the time) still in treatment and need to bring lots of items for this with me (even when I travel for work) this meant there was limited room and limited items to take and yet I made it my goal to only take a carry-on. But you know what friends? It was wonderful

In 2018 I traveled for 10 days (across the country from New York to California where it was incredibly hot to Alaska where the temps varied back to California before heading home to New York) and had one carry-on suitcase and my purse. It was awesome. No more dreading how far the room is because I am trying to carry tons of bags, no more waiting for luggage at the carousal or worrying it may get lost in the travels, no more extra items that I didn't really need, and no more struggles of loading and unloading a huge suitcase. 

In 2019 I again traveled across the country, this time directly to Alaska, but this time we were heading into the backcountry of McCarthy-Kennicott region and I was determined again to travel as light as possible.
Delsey Luggage Chatelet- 21 Inch Carry On (Champagne)
I have had many carry-on suitcases over the years but can't recommend this one, by Delsey, enough. I had seen several bloggers that I follow recommend this luggage and was a bit shell-shocked at the price. In the past I tried several other cheaper carry-on luggage options and was disappointed with each of them for various reasons. Finally, I found this carry-on on sale on Amazon and purchased it.

 Friends, save your money on the cheaper options and purchase this carry-on when it goes on sale. It is worth every. single. penny. This is a carry-on that I plan to have for years and I have been so impressed with the quality of it, the durability, and the way it cleans up so easily and looks brand new even though it is white. It holds tons of items and you will be amazed at all you are able to pack in it. (Again, I traveled for 10 days and everything I am recommending traveled with me!) If you are interested in the suitcase you can find it on Amazon HERE. If you are looking for other products that match the carry on you can find a smaller carry on for under a plane seat HERE and a carry on bag HERE.
BCBGMAXAZRIA Handbag (similar HERE and HERE)
Those of you who know me know that I have a little love affair with purses. *smiles* I have had many over the years, and love large purses- especially for traveling. In 2018 I was specifically looking for a purse that I felt would "fit" the climate and the elements and that would be a neutral based color to easily match the clothes I was wearing. I also wanted a purse that was leather that could transition easily into fall. I saw the purse above and immediately fell in love with the color tone and the size of it. While it is no longer available (you could definitely try Poshmark or Ebay if you want the exact purse) these: HERE and HERE are similar in idea and size!
Sturdy Purse Organizer
I first read about this organizer on Caitlin's blog (and loved this picture of hers) but was a bit skeptical of how well it would work. I was also getting tired of needing to search my purse for items and feeling desperate to organize my purse- not just for the trip but in general. hahaha! This honestly has been something that I have started talking about non-stop and telling everyone about. Just the other day I was telling two friends that they needed to get one! It is life-changing! Hahaha! 

This felt organizer (I chose the beige color so that it will go with any of my purses!) comes in 11 different colors and is less than $20 on Amazon (you can find it HERE). I love that I can easily switch purses now just by taking this out and changing it from one purse to another. SO simple and easy! Even if you don't travel a lot you will love it for daily life (for size reference I chose a medium)! For traveling mine was loaded up with tons of items and it was the easiest trip in the airports because of how organized it kept things in my purse! I honestly plan to do a whole post on this because it is so wonderful! If you are interested in it you can find it HERE
Tech Items
Here are all of the technology items that I brought along for the trip!

I used my phone for pictures alone with my camera. I have the Canon EOS Rebel T7 and absolutely love it. I purchased it a couple of years ago in 2016 and am always amazed by the quality of the photos it takes. I love this SD card HERE (it's less than $20)

Some additional suggestions...
Portable Battery Pack
I debated and debated about what type of shoes to bring along on my trip and finally settled on my hiking shoes, brown boots, and one pair of sandals. Honestly if I had to do it again I wouldn't bring my brown boots because I lived in my hiking shoes and sandals the entire trip! 

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
I can't say enough about these hiking boots (pictured above) and plan to do an entire post about them in the future. They are absolutely phenomenal and the best pair of hiking shoes I have ever owned. They are completely waterproof (I even walked in water that was about 2 inches deep one day for quite a while and my feet stayed dry), they are incredibly comfortable and give great support... and need absolutely NO breaking in! I will be honest- I purchased this new pair right before my trip and didn't wear them once before the trip. The first day of wearing them I wore them for 12 hours and walked about 5 miles. No blisters, no discomfort... just the perfect shoes. I lived in them in Alaska and love them! If you are looking for a new pair of hiking shoes for the fall you will want to get these! (You can find them HERE!)
Teeks Sandals (Cocobutter)
I have fallen in love with these sandals this summer and love the simplicity and yet the "put together" look of these leather sandals. They are so incredibly comfortable and you can find them HERE

Some additional suggestions that I considered... 
*THIS pair of TOMS shoes- many people have said that they love traveling with them, but I just didn't feel that they were necessary for this trip. This could be an excellent substitute for those who don't want to take sandals. 
*Hunter Rain Boots - I really wanted to take along a pair of rain boots for the weather or for walking in rain, but couldn't fit them in and found that the Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot worked just fine. If you aren't planning on hiking a lot or wanting the hiking boots this might be a great solution. 
*a pair of running shoes/sneakers- I debated about this a lot but if you know me than you know I love sandals and ultimately chose to just go with my sandals and Hiking Boots and personally was glad I did. If you don't love sandals than I would definitely recommend a pair of running shoes/sneakers.
Because I was working to get everything into one carry-on I made a list of everything I wanted to bring a couple of weeks before the trip and then the week before narrowed it down more. Then a few days before I flew out I narrowed it down again... and again. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough clothes but it honestly worked out to be the perfect amount of clothes for the trip! Remember- this is for a summer Alaskan Road Trip so depending on when you go in the summer your items may vary. I was there from the end of July to the beginning of August. Here is what I packed: 

*1 pair of jeans/jeggings (dark navy) 

*1 pair of hiking/cargo pants (olive green) (similar HERE or HERE or HERE
*1 pair of leggings (black) (from ASOS)
*1 pair of shorts (mustard yellow) (older from LOFT)
*1 skirt (black) (older from JCREW)
*1 dress ( white and black) (older from JCREW)
*6 tops (1- blue & white striped, 1- plain white, 1-chambray, 1- mauve, 1- light blue, 1- cream floral/lace)
*3 undershirts
*1- cargo hiking jacket (grey) (similar HERE)
*1 blanket scarf (muted turquoise/green color)
*1 Fringe/Wool Scarf (grey)
*1 winter jacket (black) 
*1 headband (navy and cream)
*3- pairs of socks for hiking boots/1- pair compression socks for travel
*1- pair of gloves
*shoes mentioned previously

Honestly - I was surprised at how it all worked so well and so easy. I had plenty of clothes to wear that were clean by mixing and matching items and I hand-washed a few personal items along the way. In addition to this because all of the clothes were "color-coded" it allowed me to easily mix and match items and make things work easily. I felt like I ended up creating a "travel capsule wardrobe" for this trip and it was definitely a lesson for future trips to do this again! 

**one important side note: for the trip in 2019: I did not take the dress or the shorts (both of those things were for my time in California) and instead brought additional hiking clothing**

a few extra items...
*eye mask for sleeping - with the summer hours lasting most of the night you may find this helpful! 
*THIS straightening iron - y'all may remember that I talked about how much I love this specific iron on the blog back in the winter (you can read about it HERE) and it is easy to travel with as it is so lightweight!
* hiking backpack
*travel notebook/journal - y'all know how much I love journaling and preserving memories so this is a definite for me! I can't wait to share with y'all the final journal from this trip!

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I hope that this packing list helps you if you are planning an Alaskan Summer Road Trip! Let me know if you have any questions! I would be happy to answer them! 

Want to step forward and plan your trip but not sure how? Check out all of the Alaska Road Trip posts from our trips in 2018 and 2019 which you can find them in the Alaska travel section on my blog by clicking HERE or you can click on the specific links below:

Anchorage: // Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown Video // Beluga Point // 
// Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown// Room 209 Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown //
// Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//
// Along the Matanuska River on Alaska 1-South// A Beautiful Lake Adventure Near Chickaloon//
// A Cloudy & Beautiful Drive on Alaska 1-South//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

Cooper Landing (Kenai Peninsula): // Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge Nature Hike// 
// Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge //

Denali State Park Area: //Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (Pursuit Collection)// Denali Highway Video// 
// One Last Adventure on the Denali Highway// The Denali Highway: Part Two //
// The Denali Highway: Part One// 
//The Drive to Cantwell// Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge //

Girdwood:  // Winner Creek Trail Video// Winner Creek Trail //

Hatcher Pass Area: // Hatcher Pass Video// Hatcher Pass // Little Susitna River //

Homer (Kenai Peninsula) Area: // Homer Video// Homer Spit// Homer Lighthouse// Bishop's Beach//
// A Brief History of Homer //

Kennicott/McCarthy Area: //Root Glacier Hike //Kennicott // Kennicott Glacier // 
// Kennecott vs. Kennicott Spelling // The McCarthy Highway // 
// An Unfortunate Review of the Kennicott Glacier Lodge //

Seward: //Holgate Glacier// Kenai Fjords Whale Watching Tour//
//A Beautiful Morning Walk in Seward/An Evening Walk at Seward Windsong Lodge// 
//Resurrection Roadhouse Restaurant at Seward Windsong Lodge//
//Seward Windsong Lodge/Room 408 at Seward Windsong Lodge//

Seward Highway Area: //Beluga Point// Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Talkeetna: //Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (Pursuit Collection)//

Thompson Pass Area: // Thompson Pass Area Video 
// Worthington Glacier Hike//
//Worthington Glacier//
// Among the Alaskan Fireweed on A4-S: A Beautiful Symbol of Hope in the Hard Seasons of Life //
// A Brief History of & Drive on Alaska 4-South of the Richardson Highway//Klutina River//
// The Beginning Drive to Thompson Pass// 

Whittier: /Whittier YouTube Video/The Town of Whittier /
//Whittier Tunnel (Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel) //

Wrangell-St. Elias Park Area:
 //The McCarthy Highway // Copper River Princess Lodge //

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