As with most things in life (except eating), starting was the hardest part of planning our trip to Alaska. Of course, the entire trip also took up saving money that could have paid almost three months of our rent, and if you’re a cheapskate like us, you might consider how that could be the hardest part. But money is replaceable–basking under the absofreakinglutely beautiful northern lights, among all the other wonderful things we experienced, is worth every penny spent during our honeymoon trip.
We made it happen by taking care of three things: Tour Package, Plane Tickets, and Accommodation. We also did it entirely by ourselves–we didn’t want to contact a travel agency because we’re too cheap (but you already know that).
For the longest time, our minds were set that we could only see the best sightings of the Aurora Borealis in Norway. That is silly-thinking, I know. With more research, we realized that we didn’t have to go out of the country to get a chance of seeing the northern lights. We have our own beautiful Alaska to do that. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll see the northern lights if you go to a specific place anyway. You just have to research when it is most probable to show up in the skies and take the risk. There’s really no other way around it.
So Timmy and I wanted to get a tour package that has more things to offer than just watching the northern lights, just in case we fail on our quest to see it. We want to do other fun stuff that’s more “guaranteed” than seeing the northern lights, yet it still remained to be the top priority. So we did some research and the first company we saw that might be legitimate (it’s always a worry for me–oh boy, there’s a lot of scammers out there) was the Northern Alaska Tour Company. After a little digging on their website, we turned to Google for reviews, and here were the results:
We looked at more reviews but I’m too lazy to put up more than three here. For Timmy and I, those seemed to be really great scores. So we went ahead to the company website and looked for the tour package that would be perfect for us since there are TONS of different kinds of packages there. Seeing the northern lights was our top priority, and we wanted to stay at least two nights under the Aurora Oval, so we went ahead and booked this tour package (I suggest visiting the website of the Northern Alaska Tour Company since they have suggested “best dates/times” to visit for each specific tour, including Aurora viewing).
This one was a bit tricky. We wanted to make sure that we’d have enough time in case of “minor” delays. So we decided to get a ticket that would take us to Fairbanks (the starting point of the tour) at least one day before our 3-day, 2-night tour, and a return ticket scheduled at least one day after arriving at Fairbanks from Coldfoot Camp.
This last step came out from the precaution we took in booking our flights one day before and one day after our tour package. We could have completely avoided it and saved $2oo for a two-night stay (separate nights). But we’re already taking a lot of risks just from going to Alaska to see the northern lights that might probably not show up (especially since it had a LOW score–or 2 out of 9–on the Aurora forecast according to the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute during the nights of our stay in Coldfoot Camp, a place directly under the Aurora Oval).
We were taking too many risks already–we can’t afford to miss our tour because we were too cheap to book a hotel.
And yes, we saw the Aurora Borealis. It danced up on the sky for hours the first night we arrived at Coldfoot Camp. It was magical. Yes, you should pay attention to the Aurora forecast. But you really won’t know what you’re going to get, since the sky also has to be clear (not cloudy or raining or snowing) for you to see it IF it even shows up. And the forecast is just the best prediction. It’s no guarantee. We had a low probability forecast during the days of our honeymoon trip but it turned out wrong. We were still able to witness the Aurora for hours on end.
I fulfilled two childhood dreams: seeing the Northern Lights, and spending life with my soulmate.
Those were really the only major things we have to do to make our dream honeymoon happen. It might seem overwhelming doing it yourself at first. But as I said and based on our experience, it’s the starting, taking that first step, that’s going to be the hardest. If you’re the type that needs a visual guide to make things work, write your plan with specific steps on paper or on your phone before making those calls to book reservations (which you could also just do online).
Booking those reservations months in advance (we made ours just three months before our trip–we might have saved more if we booked it earlier, who knows) might also save you some money. That’s normally how it goes, I assume, but we don’t travel enough to dish out some expert advice.
Still, if I could have done it differently, I would have asked Timmy that we do all the reservations at least six months earlier if that means we’d have to spend less.
Also, make sure to research and look for tips on what to pack and what to wear in Alaska, depending on what season you’re planning to visit. I read several articles and watched several YouTube videos weeks before our trip. Since we visited during the cold months, we packed lots of layers–thermal undergarments, snow pants, ski masks, thick rubber gloves, waterproof boots, several hoodies and long sleeves, lots of socks, beanies (Timmy forgot his. Luckily, I brought two, so he spent our days in Alaska representing Nine West :3 ), and tons of candy to keep us nourished for the long hours of traveling.