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16 Terrible Things That Happen to Alaskans While Traveling

by Jennifer Gracey Sep 4, 2017

Be it for business or for pleasure, We Alaskans are no strangers to putting in hours and miles via land, air or sea. We are a traveling tribe. We relish boasting rights over how far and wide we’ve gone to arrive safely between point A and point B. And we encounter interesting challenges bumps along the path. Check out this list to discover a few.

1. We hit a moose or the moose hits us.

In a state with nearly 200,000 moose and approximately 740,000 humans, it’s not uncommon for paths to cross. Most of the time, human and moose intersections are uneventful. The rest of the time, we’re looking at a cranky Alces alces gigas turning things into a stomping fest or an unfortunate encounter with a moving vehicle. If you ever wondered why Alaskan vehicles are so huge, well, now you know. The bigger rig we drive, the greater chances of survival when a 700-900-pound moose becomes our new hood ornament.

2. Our ATV, snow-machine or boat breaks down on the way to our cabin.

We end up towing it back to our starting point or hoofing it back and forth several times to our trucks for tools. In summer, though inconvenient, it’s not entirely awful. In winter, it’s a completely different story and misery usually ensues.

3. We turn off on the wrong road when driving the Alcan.

Even the most seasoned long-distance driving Alaskan can miss this turn if they’re too busy enjoying the views and not busy enough watching the road. Haines Junction is particularly tricky — go the wrong way and you end up on a scenic but lengthy detour.

4. We go loony from sitting in a car for days on end.

Strange things happen when driving vast distances through the Alaskan wilderness or across the North American continent. We get weird in the head. While not an irreversible phenomenon, the first time a travel companion slips over the edge is unnerving, to say the least.

5. We encounter big city traffic.

In terms of land area, Anchorage is in the top 5 biggest cities in the US. In fact, the expression ‘big city’ has a completely different connotation in the Anchorage area than other places. When we visit cities like Seattle, LA, Chicago, Boston or NYC, we can get thrown for a loop. As far as road skills go, Alaskans are far behind the eight ball in this department. In other words, big city traffic kinda freaks us out.

6. Our airplanes freeze.

Okay, they don’t exactly freeze solid or anything like that. But on the outside layer, they do turn into plane-cicles when it gets cold enough. And there’s been more than once we’ve sat in planes ready to head out to our ‘summer in winter’ getaways only to find out the trip is delayed for an additional round of de-icing.

7. Our airplanes crash.

Considering 90% of our state is missing basic roads, flying into or out of most parts of Alaska is the only viable long-distance transport option. Because of this, we also have nearly 20 times more aircraft per capita than the rest of the contiguous US and 6 times more pilots. With those stats and the extreme Alaskan climate, it’s cause for calamity. Most of us know at least one person who has crashed a plane. In our world, it’s not considered a rare thing to know someone who’s died in a plane crash.

8. We get terrible sunburns.

This is especially a situation when traveling outside of Alaska. Because of the angle of Alaska to the sun, we just don’t get hit with the rays in the same way as places further south. The gross miscalculations and oversight on our part often lends itself to a whole new rendition of ‘baked Alaska.’

9. We burn the bottoms of our feet.

Our feet are sensitive and soft. We don’t run around outside barefoot and we don’t really have much to speak of in terms of sandy beaches. Fun-in-the-sun frolicking on white sandy beaches in Hawaii, California or other tropical environs often also result in painful walking situations.

10. We pay an arm and a leg just to get anywhere.

One would think coming to and from a state that is a major producer of fossil fuels and petroleum products, transportation would be less expensive. This is not the case. We shell out boatloads of cash for the mere privilege of traveling somewhere.

11. We suffocate.

Humans have to breathe to stay alive. Alaska has a rather dry climate. When Alaskans travel to places with a high humidity/ high temperature double whammy, we struggle to cope. In fact, we’ll likely try and convince you that a raging, sweaty, heat-baked apocalypse has begun and urge everyone to run for the nearest refrigeration warehouse as quickly as possible.

12. We’re presumed Canadian.

Being Canadian isn’t a bad thing at all— especially if you actually are Canadian. But when you’re Alaskan and people don’t know their geography good and proper — “We’re over it.”

13. People assume we all live in igloos.

For the record, non-Native Alaskans never lived in igloos.

14. And wonder how we get electricity and the internet.

It kills us that so few realize Alaska is not a third world country. Alaska is both developed and wild. This is exactly how we like to keep it. We have what we want where we want it and that includes electricity and (gasp) the internet.

15. We get asked about “Into the Wild” and Chris McCandless.


16. People also ask us about “That show…. What was it? Northern something…”

Northern Exposure. It was filmed near Seattle. No, Alaska is nothing like it. Neither are most of the other shows about Alaska.

17. We also get asked about that lady Governor.

Sarah Palin. Her name was Sarah Palin. And no, we haven’t met.

18. And about the temperature in Alaska.

For some bizarre reason, it doesn’t matter where on the planet we are, but everyone seems to think we know the statewide temperature for Alaska in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade at all times.

19. Public transportation.

In Alaska, transportation is rarely a public affair. We kind of have busses in the larger cities with emphasis on ‘kind of.’ We do transport our own way and that’s how we like it. Traveling on densely populated trains, subways, trolleys, trams and other assorted means of ‘public’ transportation is not by any means a travel highlight for the Alaskan soul.

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