Seeing the Northern Lights is #1 on my travel bucket list. Seeing all 50 states is #1 on hubby’s travel bucket list. He only has two states left – North Dakota and Alaska. Can you guess where we’re going in 2023?
Our North Dakota trip was actually planned last year, but put on hold until warmer weather and more things opened up. We’ll be visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other attractions (and quilt shops!) between Medora and Bismarck in late spring.
The Alaska trip is a joint bucket list trip. I want to see the northern lights, beautiful mountains, rivers and wildlife, visit a sled dog kennel and stick my head in a quilt shop or two. Hubs wants to do the same thing (minus the quilt shops) and add in a train ride. He’s adamant that we go when it’s the best time to see the northern lights.
Aurora season in Fairbanks runs from 8/21 to 4/21. Generally speaking, the later you go, the better your chances to see the northern lights. We also want to experience the Denali Star Gold Dome train ride from Anchorage to Fairbanks.
I’ve been working with a travel company on our itinerary and arrangements. Trying to get everything in on the cusp of the change in season has been a challenge. The travel company is competitive with its trip packages. It also advertises that you can fully customize your trip. Yes, you can customize your trip, but only to a certain point and any customization comes at a significant cost. Exhibit A: the revised quote I received today! :-0
Just for fun, I wanted to see what it would cost if I made my own travel arrangements for the top priorities on our list – airfare, hotels we typically stay at, plus the train ride and northern lights excursions. Drilling down to just the essentials equaled a 50% reduction in costs. Plus, if I make my own travel arrangements, I also have the option to use any available points and miles to cover hotel and airfare, if I want. I also have room to breathe in my itinerary – something the travel company’s itinerary does not. With the cost savings, I can add additional days and and experiences to our trip. The best part? Hubs agreed this trip was definitely worth using our points/miles! Woo-hoo!
One more reason why I’m glad I retired early – no way I’d be able to take this trip if I was still working 5 days per week.