What to Pack for an Alaskan Summer Road Trip | Caravan Sonnet

What to Pack for an Alaskan Summer Road Trip

August 21, 2018

When I first decided to take the writing job about a road trip through Alaska in the summer 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 time continued 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 this trip would need to be different. I searched pinterest for ideas but struggled to find answers. There were tons and tons 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 am 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

I traveled for 10 days (across the country 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. 
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. Over this past year 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 an incredible sale price 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
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. For this trip 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 this purse and immediately fell in love with the color tone and the size of it. 

This BCBGMAXAZRIA Handbag Tote measures approximately 15 inches tall, 21 inches wide, and drops down approximately 21 inches from the shoulder straps. It isn't the largest purse I have ever owned, but the width and the size are perfect for everyday and also for traveling. It holds tons of items and you will be amazed at all you are able to pack in it with the straps not being stressed. It's a perfect purse for travel or for this fall! I just love it! This purse is available on several different sites, including Poshmark, but it is actually currently the cheapest on Amazon! If you are interested in it you can find it HERE
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 yesterday at the hospital 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! Thanks so much Caitlin for the suggestion! 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 along with my camera. I have the Canon EOS Rebel T5i and absolutely love it. I purchased it a couple of years ago in 2016 and have loved learning how to use this camera and am constantly amazed at the quality of photos it takes. While I dream of someday owning the Canon 8D, this camera has been a complete blessing and I plan to use it for years to come. Any camera for your trip will work and I definitely recommend bringing a lens that can zoom in on things!

Batteries and SD Cards
I love this SD card HERE (it's less than $20!). 

Some additional suggestions... 
*portable battery pack
*good music (try a free 30-day trial on Amazon HERE), audiobooks (try a free 30-day trial on Amazon HERE) ... I will be honest though... the scenery is so stunning you will be so swept away in it that you won't even want to listen to much! I didn't want to miss a thing that I was seeing!
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. 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! ALSO- I found a pair of sandals with an almost exact look of these from Torrid and have worn them a ton this summer. They are a fraction of the price (on sale right now on the Torrid website) and are incredibly comfortable! They also come in black! 

Brown Boots
Mind are older and I purchased them from Torrid! I have taken them on every trip and they are so incredibly comfortable and I definitely recommend checking them out for the fall...but not for this trip. You won't need them! I promise!

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. 
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) 
*1 pair of leggings (black)
*1 pair of shorts (mustard yellow)
*1 skirt (black)
*1 dress ( white and black)
*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)
*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! 
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! 

PS- If you are curious about the specific details of the road trip that we took throughout Alaska or if you are planning a similar road trip (or just want to see and dream about visiting the beauty!) I hope the information below is helpful. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Anchorage: // Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

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

Girdwood: // Winner Creek Trail //

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