Meet Shawna and Louis, an adventurous couple who took an epic 12-day vacation in a travel van last summer. From halibut and salmon fishing to glacier hiking and bear viewing, they made the most of their Alaskan adventure. Follow along on their trip in this latest How They Got Lost blog installment.
On the blog, we regularly feature interviews and discussions with our guests on how their trips went: where they took their vans, what they saw, what the highlights and challenges were while they were on the road, in our continuing series How They Got Lost. Read about the real trips that different travelers took in their travel vans.
(As usual, the responses have been edited only a little.)
Give us a brief overview of your itinerary:
We arrived in Anchorage, picked up the van, supplied up at Fred Meyer and went for our first hike at Flattop Mountain. We hadn’t slept in 24 hours but we were just so excited to get started.
We then headed for the Kenai Peninsula and pulled over on a pull off to sleep for the night near Bird Point. Alaska is unique compared to our normal East Coast USA trips where you can’t necessarily just find easy places to pull off the road and sleep in your RV/van safely. The next morning we had breakfast overlooking the Turnagain Arm waters—looking for, but not finding any beluga/orca activity. We stopped at a few sites along the way including Byron Glacier and Portage Lake. Day 3 we fished the Kenai River for king salmon in Soldotna. After ¾ day of fishing, we drove to a campground where we had lots of bald eagles nearby our beachfront campsite…
Day 4 we off-shore fished from Ninilchik for Halibut. Day 5 we did a bear tour in Homer. Day 6 we drove from Homer to Seward and did Exit Glacier. Day 7 we did the Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. Day 8 we drove from Seward to Denali via Hatcher Pass. We spent 2 days in Denali. On Day 11 we drove to Talkeetna and did some more king salmon and trout fishing. Day 12 back to Anchorage and flew home. AMAZING TRIP!
Did you have your trip planned before you arrived? How did you decide what to do?
We had our trip fully planned when we arrived other than where to stay, which is part of what’s so cool about Alaska and an RV, so much freedom to camp anywhere and so many campgrounds. One of my favorite finds was a campground literally oceanfront, spectacular! I did a lot of internet research for months to decide what we would do and plan the itinerary. We did cover almost 3000 miles! The distances in Alaska are BIG… but that’s what makes the campervan make more sense from a fuel economy and ease of driving perspective instead of a larger RV. The converted Dodge Caravan that we used was a phenomenal vehicle/outfit for our trip.
Did you do anything that was unusual or unique, or that you couldn’t do somewhere else?
We did two things that we normally would not do: the bear tour, because it was expensive, but in the end was totally worth every penny! The aerial views on the way to the park were out of this world and then the bears, sooo many bears! Also, we traveled during Covid—so, not as many people—so we did the Kenai Fjords cruise. In normal times we would never do a “touristy” thing like that because of too many people, but it was spectacular, not crowded, and we saw orcas swimming right under our boat!
Were there any unexpected challenges to deal with?
Not really, we had one day of rain while in Denali but we just slapped on our rain gear and kept on going.
Do you have any advice for other travelers who might want to do something similar?
The van/RV option is our absolute favorite, you have so much freedom! Alaska was the second trip we’ve done this way—first was the Mighty 5 in Utah. After Alaska, we did Joshua Tree/Yosemite/Death Valley in an RV. The RVs are a little more limiting due to their size, but we had more family with us on those trips. The van is perfect for 2 people (or a couple with young children)—you can go anywhere!
Thanks for renting a travel van, Shawna and Louis! We are honored that you took a Get Lost travel Van on such an amazing adventure, and wish you many future Vanlife adventures!
Follow the How They Got Lost series on this blog for more on the places you can go in a travel van. If you’re contemplating taking a trip like Shawna and Louis, book your van now, or let us know what your questions are. We have answers!
All photos in this post © Shawna Santos & Louis Chemi