Alaska is an amazing destination for food, culture and, of course, outdoors adventures.
And we're so excited to be able to get back there again. As I write this post, we are preparing for our second Alaskan expedition sailing again with UnCruise Adventures to experience the very best of this brilliant destination on a voyage from Juneau to Sitka.
I wanted to share with you our top packing tips for an Alaskan sailing adventure.
We're going in May, so you might wonder what it's like in springtime.
Will it rain?
Will it be sunny?
Will it be cold -- or warm?
The responses to all these questions could have the same answer: Yes!
You have to be prepared for all of these conditions.
With that in mind, here is what we will pack for our expedition cruise to Alaska. One quick note: While we're packing for an expedition cruise, we hope this will help you effectively pack for most cruises to Alaska.
First, pack lots of layers that you can easily add or strip off. Weather in Alaska is somewhat unpredictable; we've been there when it's in the 70s and sunny, and when temps dip to the 30s at night. Plus, you're likely to get wet. This all happens on the same trip.
We're packing thermal base layers, button-down long-sleeve shirts, and short- and long-sleeve wicking athletic shirts.
Most of our gear wicks moisture and dries quickly. My wife likes leggings and trail pants that fit right over the bottom layers. I pack several pairs of trail pants, which have zip pockets to keep items secure and easily accessible when I'm out on the trail or in a kayak, for example.
Video Guide: Everything to Pack for an Alaskan Expedition Cruise
Staying dry is key, but you also need to pack a few items to keep you warm. Fleece pullovers and vests are excellent for springtime expeditions in Alaska. (Parkas tend to be overkill during this time of year.)
Basically, we aim for streamlined items that can fit under our rain gear.
We also pack gloves that will shed water, winter hats, wool socks and scarves. We use hiking shoes rather than boots because they provide the best trail traction for us and take up less space in our suitcases. Rubber boots are great to bring if you can afford the space in your luggage, but UnCruise carries rubber boots (also known as Alaskan sneakers!) onboard to lend to cruisers who want the ultimate waterproof protection.
As much as rain can be a factor in Alaska, the sun also can make regular appearances, especially in springtime. So, we pack baseball caps, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. Here's a tip: If you're packing for carry-on only, use a solid stick sunscreen rather than cream so you can reduce your liquids that will carry on. (Also, UnCruise Adventures has plenty of sunscreen on its ships for passengers to use on sunny days.)
I also like a gaiter; this versatile item keeps my neck covered, can be pulled up to protect my bald head and keep my face covered for added warmth or UV protection or be used for a wipe, napkin or cooling cloth when dipped in water.
Don't forget a swimsuit. Our ship has a couple of hot tubs that we plan to use regularly.
You'll also want a backpack that serves as your daypack for when you're out hiking. You'll use this to carry all the items you need during your excursions ashore, like snacks, lunches, binoculars, camera equipment, water, sunscreen and maybe a change of clothes for when the weather changes.
That takes care of the basics. You don't need anything fancy while onboard an expedition sailing, so keep it simple and bring casual attire and boat shoes for when you're onboard the ship.
So, this is what we'll comfortably live in all week while we hike, bike, kayak and snorkel through the various places we stop, as well as enjoy our time onboard with our fellow cruisers.
We also pack a little extra gear when we go to Alaska. Key among those items are dry bags, designed to keep our gear from getting wet. On UnCruise, we visit ports via Zodiac boats, so water spray and wet-landings are always a possibility. Also, bring water bottles. UnCruise and other expedition lines will likely provide you a bottle to use during your voyage, but we find that having our own bottle, too, is great for filling up while in transit to Alaska (and for the trip back home) as well as having a second bottle so you can stay plenty hydrated when out on long hikes.
Bring some kind of comfort kit, too, in case you have to "go" while out on a trail. We have discovered TP Kits. This brand offers all you need in their convenient kits.
Another must for us are binoculars. We love having our own pair for spotting all the wildlife you'll see in Alaska, including whales, bears, eagles and more.
Don't forget your camera gear and all the chargers you need for your equipment and phones. Alaska is a prime destination for wildlife and landscape photography. We also bring a battery power bank (OCTAVE recently provided me one of its cool Battpak power banks that we'll use for this trip) so we have portable power when out on long daily excursions.
I hope this helps you properly prepare for your expedition cruise in Alaska.
As always, thanks so much for reading.