Jim’s mom Mary liked to say, “If you have to ask what something costs, you can’t afford it.” Bless her heart, but I disagree. Frugal people like myself always want to know what things cost so we feel comfortable about our financial situation. I always wanted to know “What does it cost to RV to Alaska?” so long before we left I made a best guess and decided we could afford it. Now that it’s over, I feel relieved knowing that our numbers came in close to what I expected during the 140 days we traveled there and back.
Asking “What Does it Cost to RV to Alaska?” Is Like Asking “What Does it Cost to Full-time RV?”
What one person sees as extravagance, another views as frugal because everyone has a different cost of living. Our own expenses will differ from others because of our rig, our priorities, our tastes and of course, what we earn. Jim and I definitely lean toward the frugal side because our income just doesn’t support extravagance if we want to stay out of debt.
Here’s what we spent on the three biggies — fuel, rent and food — between 5/1/18 and 9/18/18, what we consider the “end” of our Alaska journey. Keep in mind we spent most of summer in the Yukon and British Columbia, so pricing mostly reflects a Canadian cost of living.
What Does Driving to Alaska Cost?
Everyone reports that driving to Alaska is a RVers biggest expense, and they are correct.
We spent $2737 in diesel fuel driving to Alaska, from Northern California, and back to Fort Collins, Colorado. That’s $1671 more than we spent during the same time frame last year. I’m sure many people will think that’s cheap and I agree: our fuel is a bargain compared to a Class A or C.
What Does Camping in Alaska Cost?
Traveling to Alaska always seemed like a mighty big financial stretch for us, until I learned that there are plenty of free camping opportunities along the way. Once I talked to other RVers who loved bragging about all the times they took advantage of the free spots, I felt better about heading north.
Our camping costs to and from Alaska came to $1424. That comes to $10.17 a day, and only $412 more than we spent in 2017 during the same time frame. Now we can brag about how little we spent too!
What Does it Cost to Buy Food in Alaska?
When we headed north and started seeing $6.99 pineapples I assumed that eating healthy in Alaska would be tough. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We were just happy to find fresh romaine lettuce! As vegetarians we normally eat more simply than a typical meat eater, so sticking to a healthy diet was relatively easy as long as we didn’t expect too much. In the end we spent $446 less on food than in 2017, likely because there are no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods in the North Country!
The Grand Total
To answer the question, “What does it cost to RV to Alaksa?” I can only give you the total expenses we spent above and beyond our usual cost of living. That just seems to make the most sense to me. So when I added up all of our North Country summer expenses in addition to food, fuel and rent, here’s the grand total I came up with:
To go RVing to Alaska, it cost us a grand total of $2,243 more than our usual cost of living during the summer months.
That’s just $16.02 more per day than what we would normally spend staying still in one spot for 140 days. Not too bad of a deal, considering that it probably costs more to take the easier way to Alaska, on a cruise ship — which is just what we might do next time instead of beating the crap out of our RV house on those crazy roads!
8 thoughts on “What Does It Cost to RV to Alaska?”
Did you take the Alcan highway or did you take the ferry. And how much would that change how much money you spent. Also where did you start out at. And what year. Thank you.
Hey Tim. We drove the whole thing in 2018, drove up Highway 95 from Northern CA (the original Alcan!), took it through eastern OR & WA then into BC. We did look into the ferry and I honestly think the price would have been more. Fuel was pretty inexpensive that year. We also didn’t want to take the ferry because we didn’t like the idea of leaving our dog in the RV for so many hours. You can read about our Alaska experience here.
Think of it as miles per dollar.
Fuel cost per mile = Total Cost of fuel divided by total # of miles driven
$2737/6000miles = $0.45616 or approximately 45 to 46 cents a mile in fuel
of course if you wanted to determine what it really cost to drive then you would have to add in all your truck expenses such as oil changes, tires, repairs etc. But we’re not trying to determine what the total cost of driving your truck per mile is just the fuel expense per mile.
Ah! Thank you, that makes sense. We were overthinking it. My forehead is bruised from smacking it so much this week.
Thanks, that’s helpful, so at 6000 miles it was approx 45 cents a mile for you guys, Using my numbers it would be approximately $3000 to take the same trip in our moho and $1980 in Elmo, That’s another reason for us to leave the moho in the lower 48 and take Elmo. We’d save $1020, plus not bet the Moho up on those roads. Obviously this is really a rough number, because fuel prices could vary greatly by next year, but its a starting point.
Larry what is the formula you used for calculating the cost per mile? I wracked my brain trying to figure that out!
You stated you spent $2737 on diesel on your trip, but didn’t include the total # of miles driven. It may have been in an earlier post, and I might have missed it. I’m curious because, I usually estimate my future trip fuel expenses based on one of two numbers. It costs us approximately 50 cents a mile to drive our 40 ft diesel pusher towing our ranger, and approximately 33 cents a mile if we just drive the ranger/truck camper combination. Obviously, that varies with the price of fuel but it gives me a good bench mark to start.
I think you did a good job keeping the trip frugal. Of course as we all know the “miscellaneous” expenses are the real killer, but that is very individual. Some people do tons of excursions, dining, drinking and others don’t. I also like the fact that you put it in terms of expenses over the usual expenses, which is important for full-timers, since you gotta be somewhere and you still have to eat.
Doh! Smacks self on forehead …. we forgot to jot down the total miles traveled! A rough estimate is 5,922 but probably closer to 6,000. And if you ask me to calculate our cost per mile….well, I need some coffee to do that.
Thanks for the frugal compliment, that means a lot. Ultimately we spent way less than I originally estimated which came as a relief. We skimped on tours and excursions but only because we are so limited with our psycho dog on board, he just can’t be left for every long so it’s never been an option for us.