How Much Did My 4 Day Trip To Alaska Actually Cost? A Pretty Penny

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How Much Does A Trip To Alaska Cost? Here Is A Complete Breakdown

I just finished up my Alaska trip report from our 4 day trip to the Anchorage area.  You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here. Because Alaska is such a desired destination I figured I would also do a breakdown of my costs. I plan on doing something similar for all of my bigger trips going forward. It should give people a good idea of what their budget could look like and I always enjoy reading things like this so I guess I should write them too. So, how much does a trip to Alaska cost? Let’s take a look!

Alaska Trip Cost – Airfare

First up is of course airfare.  I used miles for my son and paid cash for myself.  The prices will be higher than it would be for most because we flew first class both ways.  I paid cash for myself because I am chasing Delta status. With the current MQM bumps I decided to go this route. Delta announced that mile bookings count towards status later on down the road, otherwise that would have been an option too. I was able to use Amex airline incidentals to cover about half of the cost though, which made it easier to swallow. Remember that I went with the more expensive options for my son for a few different reasons.

  • My son’s flights cost
    • 52,000 Virgin Atlantic miles plus $5.60
    • 45,000 Delta Skymiles plus $5.60
  • My flight cost
    • $1197.30

Total Cost: $1208.50 & 97,000 airline miles

Transportation

Next up is car rentals, parking fees and ride share costs.

  • Detroit Metro Airport Parking – $156
  • Car Rental – $204.45
  • Uber to & from airport after dropping off the rental car – $36.45
  • Fuel – $43.42

Total Cost: $440.32

Lodging

I was able to use free night certificates for a few of the nights but there weren’t a ton of points options outside of Anchorage.

  • Embassy Suites Anchorage – 1 night
    • Cash rate of over $300 but used a Hilton free night certificate.
  • Harbor 360 Hotel Seward – 2 nights
    • $663.78
  • Hotel Alyeska – 1 night
    • $417.60
  • Hyatt Place Anchorage – 1 night
    • Cash rate of close to $400 but I used a Hyatt category 1-4 free night certificate.

Total Cost: 1081.38 plus 2 free night certificates

Entertainment

A lot of what Alaska has to offer is free of charge, like trails and parks etc. Here is where we spent our entertainment dollars.

  • Whittier Tunnel – $13
  • Alyeska Tram – $46
  • Gold Panning – $63.60
  • 6 Hour Boat Tour – $224
  • Hotel Movie Rental – $19.99

Total Cost: $366.59

Dining

I don’t want to break down each restaurant etc. But I will share the total dining cost we had for two people.  It is probably lower than most people’s would be since we struggled to get into sit down restaurants at times and my son doesn’t eat expensive seafood.

Total Cost: $454.09

How Much Does A Trip To Alaska Cost – Final Tally

The final tally ends up being the most expensive trip I may have ever had, at least cash wise. My decisions played a big role in that though. It could have been a lot cheaper, which I will talk about more next. I will remind you that I cashed out all of my Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards a few months back for a trip just like this, and for extra motivation. Here is the final damage though:

  • $3550.88
  • 2 Free night hotel certificates
  • 97,000 airline miles

How I Could Have Saved Money On My Alaska Trip

I’ll finish this off with ways I could have cut down on my trip costs.  If I wanted to be as frugal as possible, and max out my miles and points skills, I could have trimmed this cost down quite a bit.

Airfare

I could have used airline miles for myself and saved $1186.10 on my airfare cost.  Or I could have flown economy and paid closer to $400 for my flights.  As I said, I made this decision because I was chasing status and I was able to offset the cost with $600 in Amex airline incidentals. With the flights being around 7 hours, the upgrade to first class was well worth it to us too. Throw in the fact that I had not traveled with my son in a year and a half and I wanted the trip to be as perfect as possible.  Even if that meant I may be ruining travel for him.

Hotels

I could have stayed in the Anchorage area every night, using points and free night certificates, and just driven everywhere each day.  That sounded brutal to me, and I wanted to have more time in each area to explore.  Plus, with a 9 year old you can only imagine the complaining if we did that.

Originally I was supposed to stay in a Choice hotel halfway to Homer, Alaska one of the nights.  I made an audible to the Alyeska Resort which cost me an additional $417.60 to my budget. If I had a do over I probably would have picked cheaper accommodations in Seward since being right on the marina didn’t end up benefiting us much.

Final Thoughts

Those fee changes listed above would have trimmed $1500 off my budget.  If I drove back and forth to Seward from Anchorage each day that would have been another $500-$600 in savings as well. So you can do Alaska on a much smaller budget with miles and points and some extra driving / effort.

I am glad I splurged though since this was a once in a lifetime type of trip with my son.  And by cashing out points at pretty good rates earlier in the year it was like I used points for the entire trip anyway.

How much does a trip to Alaska cost? It can cost a lot, or a more manageable sum, depending on how much work you want to put into it and how much convenience you want.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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17 COMMENTS

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17 COMMENTS

  1. “paid cash ($1197.30) for myself…I was able to use Amex airline incidentals to cover about half of the cost ”
    Could you explain further how to use the Amex incidentals credit to cover about half the cost of an F ticket. I usually end up not using this platinum credit as I have no incidentals. Did use it once for a phone booking fee on an award flight.
    Thanks.

  2. This could have been a trip to use those 2 for 1 coupons from the Alaskan Air Visa. But you left out, what your son thought of this trip? And more pics? It isn’t all about using miles and points?

    • I wrote over about 5,000 words and shared a lot of pics in the first two posts of the series. You can find them at the top of the article linked saying Part 1 and Part 2

  3. Heading there the first week of October which is low season but after talking to quite a few folks, looks like the timing will be great. Also staying at 360 but for only $109 per night. Took advantage of Deltas big Alaska sale earlier for 10,000 points R/T out of BNA so 40,000 for the family. Free nights in Anchorage and an off season VRBO near Denali. Multiple car rental reservations made that go lower each week. It may actually go down as one of the cheapest trips we’ve ever taken.

  4. Just read part 1 and part 2 of the report. Alaska just moved up on my bucket list.
    P.S. I can vouch for TBB. 😉

  5. Good job Mark. We just completed a week long trip to Alaska and the total cost was $15K. But we flew in Business Class and the tour company was Tauck. Need I say more? Still very much worth it!

    • Alaska can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to take it for sure. There is a lot of cool stuff you can pack in 🙂

    • Haha – well points indirectly paid for it. I cashed out all my MR and UR early in the year at 1.25 and 1.5 so I could use it on a trip exactly like this 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing. It seems like hotel prices are way up almost everywhere now, including Alaska, but for the price you paid for 4 nights (~$1,100), we’ve rented a nice RV for a week – that saves us on car rental, plus tons of time by not moving in-out of hotels. We still spent few nights in Anchorage on points, but wilderness experience in Alaska is just calling for RV accommodations. It gets you right in the nature. Alaska is probably the best state for RVing! Lots of free overnight spots, and multiple campsites with services as well. Modern RV models are very comfy with full amenities.
    Homer is cool. Seward – nice, but not too special, just small relaxing port town. Denali park is the best part.
    Happy travels to everyone. Keep it safe too.

    • We met a couple on the boat that canceled all of their reservations a few weeks out and went with an RV and said they saved a ton doing it. So I do think that is the way to do Alaska if you can handle being in the RV etc.

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