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Old 09-15-2016, 02:48 PM   #15
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It sounds like your really enjoyed your trip...and that's great. Your blog pictures are very nice. Folks have different ways of travel. I think what the other posters were trying to convey is that you don't need a tour to do this trip. We did all of the above on our own plus many, many more. Everyone traveling to Alaska travels the same roads and have the options to do the same major things. For us, most were done without reservations including the river boat trip out of Fairbanks.

You did all the big named things that are advertised. We did those in addition to many, many small things that tours don't take you. We take time to talk to the local people and in doing so we were invited to a sled dog owner's home where we were offered lunch in her kitchen and then gave us a tour of the nitty gritty and then for a sled ride - on wheels. She needed to run her dogs daily - even in the summer.

On the way to Dawson City we stayed in a Provincial campground and across the road was a small café. The owner cooked and served us and joined us for coffee. He then gave us a tour of his garden and his huge generator building which powered up the café. He didn't have electric. He generated his own power. He grew his own vegetables for the café.

All along the way we'd stop and talk to fishermen(women) and we were offered so much free salmon that we actually got tired of eating it.

We mentioned fly fishing to a group and were immediately offered to go during that week to their 'special' place.

We were admiring the town flowers in Homer and a woman who lived there invited us to her home to see her flower and vegetable garden which was awesome. It was up on the ridge overlooking Homer, the water and distant mountains - a beautiful setting.

We took a drive on a gravel road and got to an area where folks were kite soaring off a cliff. We joined them and they were enthusiastic about explaining everything about this sport.

We had many more small things like this that added to our trip greatly.

Our trip is just a different perspective of the fantastic trip......

Two Gypsies, how you travel in Alaska has nothing to do with if you are with a caravan or doing it on your own. I did not go into the "small things" as you call them because I had taken enough forum time with my post. This is not a contest trying to decide which is best. I added my 2 cents worth because the OP had specifically asked about caravans, what he got was 10 responses telling him how great going it alone was. That is not what he asked, I think one of the things this forum is meant to do is give perspective, responses need to address what the OP asks for. Just sayin.... to make an informed decision you need all the information, not just one side, particularly if it does not address the original question. Having other opinions is extremely important, that gives the OP knowledge to decide what they want to do based upon their circumstances.
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Old 09-15-2016, 03:36 PM   #16
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Thus far there have been 10 posts telling you to go by yourself, but you asked about Caravans. Well there are several good reasons to do the caravan thing, and several not to. If you like doing your own thing, don't go the caravan route. If you want to be sure that you get to see the highlights of Alaska, take a caravan. We found that with Fantasy RV Welcome to RV Vacations Worldwide 1-800-952-8496 you will see and do things that you otherwise would never have done. If you want a full review of our trip go to Cape Cod To Alaska 2014Cape Cod To Alaska 2014 that is day by day coverage of our trip in 2014. We were on our own from Cape Cod to Dawson Creek where we met up with 18 other coaches on the Fantasy tour and traveled with them for 48 days, and then again on our own from Smithers home. Yes, if you go it on your own you do meet folks at camp sites along the way and you will occasionally run into them again, but with a caravan you will meet them each night and have a chance to develop lasting friendships. Fantasy is what I would call a "loose" caravan, you are together each night, but free to go where and when you like during the day, you do NOT travel nose to tail, you stop and go as you please. There is a wagon master and tail gunner, each travel day the wagon master leaves first, the tail gunner goes last, doing a "sweep" along the route to assist any members that might have problems. When you are in a place that has enough to warrant it, you may stay multiple days, other times you travel, sometimes 50 miles, some times 200, it just depends upon where you are. You meet each night before a travel day for a route briefing that covers the next day's travel. We found Fantasy had planned activities that you could attend if you wanted that were not what we would have picked on our own, and we were glad we did them. We went to an Iditerod sled race training facility, a salmon bake that was HUGE, an ice sculpture display, a river boat trip, halibut fishing, a Musk Ox research facility, a boat trip to Juneau during which we saw whales bubble fishing, a glacier trip, the list goes on and on. What we also noticed was that Fantasy had arranged all the excursions for us with the best people, we were not trying to figure out what we needed/wanted to see or with which vendor, they have been doing it for years and know what is worth it and what is not, they have also negotiated group rates.

Is it expensive, sure it is, but you get what you pay for, is it worth it, absolutely. We did the trip two years ago, since then we have had 2 couple come visit us, we are going to visit another couple this winter and travel with them for a month. At FMCA rallies since then we have had mini reunions, meeting several couples at each rally, in fact at Perry this spring 5 couples were there, we all went out to dinner one evening and "remembered when". One couple we have met up with 4 times in the past 2 years, only once at a rally. A caravan is a great way to meet folks with like interests and develop lasting friendships! Our trip combined the best of both worlds, we did our own thing for the first 6 weeks, the caravan thing for the next 6 and then our own for the rest of the trip. We did13,000+ miles in almost 4 months, it was a phenomenal trip that we will be able to say "I remember when" not, "I wish I had".

With the above I have tried to give you to have a peek at the caravan side, going your own way and boon docking is great, but there are reasons to join an organized group, we loved our Alaska trip with Fantasy so much, we are joining them for the Rose Parade rally this year, primarily for the organization and activities they bring, best seats, group transportation, etc and as yet unmet FRIENDS. Only you can decide what is right for you, I hope this forum will get you the information you need to decide how you want go. If you want more information PM me.
Well said! I got the same response (to go it alone) when I asked about the Fantasy RV Tours '60 day Premier Alaska' Caravan. For some reason as soon as you mention "caravan" some people assume that you are doing the caravan because you are afraid to go on your own. That's the furthest thing from my mind. Whenever we do a tour or rally it's for the socialization...I like to meet people and do things as a group.

I know that some people are anti-caravan and I respect that. I'm sure those people just feel their way of doing a trip on their own is a better option and want to share that.

Sorry OP, didn't mean to hijack the thread.
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Old 09-15-2016, 06:29 PM   #17
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We are also considering a caravan tour of Alaska in 2017. We are at the point of deciding between Fantasy and Adventure. The question that I still have for folks that have done the caravans in Alaska, is: Free Time - is there enough of it it to do the "little things"?
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Old 09-15-2016, 08:04 PM   #18
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We are also considering a caravan tour of Alaska in 2017. We are at the point of deciding between Fantasy and Adventure. The question that I still have for folks that have done the caravans in Alaska, is: Free Time - is there enough of it it to do the "little things"?

We have only done the Fantasy caravans, I am sure the Adventure will also be good. Fantasy gives you enough time to do the "little things". Look at their website and click on the itinerary tab, they list at least half of what they actually do. You can choose to participate or not, up,to you. If you decide to go with Fantasy call them and ask for Julie or Marcy and tell them Dave G told you to call, they will treat you right.

We chose the 48 day heart of Alaska tour. We felt that the 60 day tour was really just adding a start in the US. We figured we could do that by ourselves and in fact spent time in Banff and Jasper on the way to Dawson Creek to start our tour.
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Old 09-15-2016, 08:34 PM   #19
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Check out Fantasy RV Tours as has been suggested. Ask for Bill and Nancy Maack that will be wagon masters of an Alaska tour in 2017. We went to Newfoundland with them in 2015 and they are super tour leaders. You will not be disappointed!
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:31 PM   #20
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We booked the Alaska caravan with S.M.A.R.T. Special Military Active Recreational Travelers. This "club" is especially for all active military,veterans and spouses.
You may read all about their tours/caravans via links on the website. You will not find any other caravan that can match their prices and inclusions. This is due to SMART being a non-profit corporation. No-one gets paid to organize, plan, or execute the caravan duties.
I you are not a military veteran from the USA, Canada, or veteran from a NATO, SEATO country, you may quickly get to know a member of SMART signed up for a caravan and ask them to sponsor you on the caravan.

As for seeing and doing things if you go alone, wonder how many who go "on their own" have" kissed the toe" in Dawson City, YT-or even know about the experience.

We went on the 2012 AK caravan and had a great time! My cousin and her DH went on their own and spent more time in AK than we did, but when we were comparing our trips, we saw and did much more than they for less money.
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Old 02-13-2017, 04:39 PM   #21
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I have never been on a Caravan, but met some nice people last year that were traveling that way. We took turns crossing paths everyone seemed to be having a good time. It appeared that some were stopping or traveling loosely in the group. I'm not sure they all work that way, it might be a question to ask. Can we travel independently from time to time?
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:54 PM   #22
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We have done three caravans. They are fun, you meet many great people, all the planning is done for you, usually some great meals and cookouts, good entertainment, some free days to explore on your on or just do nothing, some peace of mind due to having a leader (wagon master) and a tail gunner at the rear if you have a problem. However, we have decided that we do not like the pace. If we find some place we really like or hear of a great side trip, we want to do it. We want the freedom of staying in a place we really like and not having to stay on someone else's schedule. We went to Alaska on our own and got to see and do many more interesting things than friends did on a caravan. We stayed in Alaska itself almost 3 months and a month in the Yukon and we still did not do all we wanted to. We are going back in 2018 to see some of what we missed or wanted to spend more time at, like making a side trip up to Barrow. If you are going to spend the money to get to Alaska, it will not cost much more to stay the full Summer and early Fall. It all depends on your personal comfort level or having someone else do the planning. If you are a new RV'er and do not have much experience in how to plan such a trip, then a caravan to Alaska or the Eastern Maritime Islands is for you. We have been doing it for many years so planning is half the fun!
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