“Look Papa! Someday People!” is a phrase often heard from the back seat as I drive my three daughters around Alaska. I coined the name “Someday People” for them in reference to the many people that are finally, after a life of saying “someday I will go to Alaska”, able to go on their excursion. Often times this “someday” occurs when a person has aged so that all they can really do on their adventure is ride a coach bus and be herded around to various tourist traps. I use the term “Someday People” in my household to teach my children a lesson and to keep my own priorities in check. When asking friends and family about when they will come see and partake in the adventures Alaska has to offer, I had often heard, “That would be great…someday”. We all use the excuse that life gets in the way of our “someday” goals. My biggest fear is that I will succumb to this line of thinking, and I want my children to know that there doesn’t need to be a “someday”. If one truly wants to accomplish or experience something, all that is really required is the drive to make things happen. Sometimes this means sacrifices and or prioritizing the importance of our goals. It is my belief that this line of thinking can apply to anyone.
Is Alaska hunting your “someday”? Why not make it a reality? Believe it or not, you could have the adventure of a lifetime in the near future. The first topic to discuss is “What?”. What do you want to experience, see, and accomplish in Alaska? A great way to start is to open your eyes to the possibilities with a relatively low-key trip doing some DIY road system hunting and/or fishing. You can keep costs low and it can expose you to possibilities that you may not stumble across otherwise. It seems, in many cases, that the first trip to Alaska tends to open up one’s mindset to the reality that Alaska is feasible in terms of traveling to and exploring. This first trip takes it from being just an epic story you dream about to being tangible. However, if you are already stuck in the “someday” rut this may not be the best option. I suggest calling outfitters and guides and just talking to them. This will give you an actual idea of what it would take financially and what kind of time frame you can expect if you want that kind of experience. There are often times wait lists for charters, guides, and outfitters. This is particularly beneficial to the “someday” type. It keeps you from making rash decisions and allows one to plan and budget appropriately. Most outfits I have dealt with require a deposit but will then work out payments with you.
“The cost!” I understand that Alaska seems like a world away. However, one can often find flights up here for less than flying across the lower 48 states. Seldom do I pay more than $1,000 to fly round trip. Mileage memberships and shopping prices online often helps to mitigate some of this first expense. Also, your level of comfort may dictate cost. Do you need to be pampered in high-end lodging, or can you rough it in a tent? The further out my planning occurs the more comfortable I often find my experience to be. For the trip of a lifetime planning should take as long as it needs to, but don’t let it last forever. I like to commit, in some form, early on when planning my excursions. Sometimes this means just biting the bullet and reserving a vehicle or putting a deposit on a charter. Oftentimes, my early commitment is around the $500 mark. This forces me to move forward with the planning with some skin in the game. Worst case is it doesn’t work out and I do not end up bankrupt. The looming earful I will most certainly receive from my wife if the money goes to waste is motivation enough for me to make it happen in any way I can. The moral? Just commit in some form, it gets the ball rolling.
How to finance a trip to Alaska? Well, how bad do you want it? Enough to cut back on $5 coffees, or just settle for using the bow you bought a couple years ago? How about cutting back on eating out or bowling, and any other such activities that might cost a little to participate in? I am by no means a financial planner (just ask my wife). I tend to spend money as soon as it comes in. I do, however, try to keep the expenditures focused on the next adventure I/we want to partake in. Little by little, I make small sacrifices that can add up to a considerable sum. Let’s say, for purpose of simplicity, you buy a $5 coffee, 5 days a week, for 52 weeks. You have invested $1300 in a drink over the year. Now, I am a hardcore coffee drinker like many of you and would have a hard time giving that up for a year. Consider there are less expensive alternatives. For example, if you bought a $25 coffee maker, nice $20 travel mug and budgeted $255 for filters and grounds (of your liking) for a year, there is $1,000 saved. That cost savings covers your airfare to and from Alaska. What are you willing to do to make your dream a reality? With small sacrifices you can build up a fund to take on Alaska much sooner than “someday”.
I often run the numbers with my friends when we start discussing the topic of living elsewhere. The prospect of having to pay nonresident fees to hunt or even to be guided caused by living in the states with cheaper utilities, overall lower cost of living, and warmer climates starts to become more and more attractive. In the end, we are gluttons for punishment so that we can have a base of operations in the heart of this frontier. I will say, if the large upfront numbers are what scare you away from taking on Alaska, just keep in mind it is no less expensive if you live here. It is simply that our costs get muddled in the daily cost of living here.
I encourage all of you to take a moment and really think about your wishes, dreams, and priorities. If a hunt in Alaska happens to be one of them, take action now. Become the one who gets to tell all the epic tales to the “Someday People”.