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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Camping in Alaska


Tent and van camping is wonderful up north, definitely your best bet for an inexpensive vacation. Tent campers will need a good quality tent with an intact mosquito net, rain fly and waterproof bottom, as well as lightweight sleeping mats and sleeping bags.

Roadside camping in Canada is readily accessible. The road through British Columbia and the Yukon has many pull-offs and a large number of provincial parks, almost all of which have camping facilities. Campsites tend to be basic, with a fireplace, picnic table, outhouses and water.

In Alaska, campsites abound on state, national and provincial park sites, commercial sites, or just off in the bush. Alaska state law does not prohibit camping by the side of the road.

Other possibilities for roadside camping are the many turnouts, rest areas marked by rectangular blue signs and scenic viewpoints. All these can make good campsites. The rest areas sometimes have signs saying, "No overnight camping allowed."

If you find yourself tired in an area where you don't see a pull-out, or feel timid about using one, pull into one of the gas stations which are located no more than 50 miles apart all along the Alcan. Get a fill-up and ask if you can stay overnight in their parking lot.

Never bring food into your tent. When in bear country, pack all food inside your vehicle and cover it. Don't leave even crumbs outside, or you can expect unwelcome and potentially dangerous late night visitors. If you are backpacking, put food in a covered container a good distance from your tent.


Mosquitos are more than a nuisance in the summer in the north country; they are a genuine problem. Be vigilant. Keep your windows rolled up, enter and exit the vehicle quickly and close the doors, or dozens of the little devils will enter in a minute. Don't park near water for picnics or overnight, if possible. Beware of walking into the shade. Mosquitos love the shade.

Buy high-test bug repellent and purchase mosquito coils, available in most general merchandise stores in Canada. Burn a coil for 20 minutes while you are out of the vehicle; that will kill the mosquitos. It doesn't smell too good, though. Don't become a mosquito dinette: wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants.

Road Food

The best way to eat well and really enjoy what you came up north for-a quiet time in the magnificent surrounding-is to picnic frequently and prepare simple campsite dinners and breakfasts.

A shopping list for a well-stocked camping pantry might include butter, oil, evaporated milk in small cans, peanut butter, jam or jelly, granola or your favorite cereal, cheese (Monterey jack or mozzarella are good all-purpose cheeses) raisins, prunes, nuts, canned chicken, sardines, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese (pre-grated), ramen, other packaged or canned soups, chicken bouillon cubes, spices, tomato paste in a tube, mustard, a small bottle of vanilla, salt, pepper, vinegar, instant coffee, cocoa, tea, cookies and chocolate bars.

Stock your ice chest with fresh bread, milk and vegetables every two or three days. Apples and oranges keep well, as do cucumbers, green onions and cabbages.

For quality food at the cheapest prices, shop in the U.S. or near the border in Canada. Canada is a land of ethnic and cultural diversity, and the markets there are bursting with goodies. Make a major provisioning stop in British Columbia's densely populated corridor area at the shopping mall in Chilliwac. Most of the brand name items you know and love are there, as well as delightful local foodstuffs like fine Canadian honey and a vast assortment of good sausages. Most large stores have in-house bakeries that turn out good bread. Great cookies and chocolate bars are a national passion.

Shop for enough food, except bread and milk, to last a week. Then, in Anchorage, go shopping again for another week's supply. Alaskan goodies include berry jams, smoked salmon (especially "squaw candy"), fresh berries and reindeer sausages. Also note places along the way to pick up special products like cinnamon rolls and freshly-baked bread.

In the back country, as a general rule, food prices are high while quality and selection are poor.

Shop in Fairbanks or Whitehorse for the return trip. Pack a giant picnic hamper; food on the Alaskan ferry is expensive. It helps to plan meals in advance, emphasizing ease of preparation and clean-up, without sacrificing nutrition or good taste. Bon appetit!

Cooking Gear

The most basic cooking situation for a van or a car with two adults would be a one-burner stove. Bluet, which takes readily available propane cartridges, is small and very easy to use; pack a space cartridge or two. A two-burner Coleman stove is also a good choice.

Take along two stainless steel pots: a small one to boil water for tea or coffee, and a medium size, holding about 2 quarts. You'll also want a small stainless steel frying pan for eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches and the like, a large metal serving spoon, a good knife, a vegetable parer, a cutting board, a stainless steel vegetable steamer insert to double as a colander, a medium-large shallow, metal bowl that can server as a dish basin, tossed salad bowl or corn-on-the-cob cooker, a big soup bowl for each person, silverware, extra spoons, plates (ceramic, plastic or paper), ceramic mugs, glasses and large tumblers for cold drinks. You'll want a box to keep all this equipment in one place, and another box for food.

If any piece of advice about Alaskan travel bears repeating, it's this: never leave food outside your vehicle in the North Country. Bear bait.

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