Article •  Alaska, North America

How to travel safely to Alaska during COVID-19

Last Updated On: February 3, 2021


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Alaska has always been on my bucket list, but I never imagine experiencing its magic during a global pandemic.

I am sure we can all agree that we are living in an interesting time. The last year has been such a rollercoaster for many, especially for those working in the travel industry. Like most, I’ve been conflicted by the idea of promoting any kind of travel from local to International during a global health pandemic. What are people going to say, how do they feel about it, what are their reactions going to be? Is it irresponsible, selfish, or even careless?

In August 2020 right after the first lockdown ended, Nash and I embarked on our first local trip. While we had mixed feelings about flying, we felt pretty safe driving. His work required him to come back into the office in San Francisco and since we’d been living with family in New Mexico it made the most sense to turn our return into a little road trip.

In all honesty, retreating into nature, especially after being pretty much on house arrest for the last 6 months, felt extremely liberating and so healing. While our road trip focused mainly on visiting national parks and a variety of stops in deserted areas, we did stay in a hotel during our 4-day trip to Sedona. It was a bit strange to stay in a hotel, simply because the experience is definitely not what it used to be, but L’Auberge de Sedona did a great job creating a safe and enjoyable environment despite all the changes and safety regulations in place.

I have been constantly debating if we should take another trip this year and after much back and forth we spontaneously decided to just do it. Since traveling is not only a big part of our lives, it has been my career path for the last two years and I needed clarity on the situation for my own sake. Foremost I was curious and wanted to experience what traveling is really like during COVID-19.

So keep reading if you want to find out more about what it is like to travel during COVID-19 and how to travel safely to Alaska.

How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape

3 easy steps for traveling safely to Alaska

1. Get COVID-19 tested 72 hours before you go

  • Bring printed proof of a qualifying negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to the departure time of the originating airport departure. Both the results and a completed travel declaration and self-isolation plan need to be submitted upon arrival in Alaska.
  • If you are a non-resident, you are required to take a molecular-based swab test. Tests accepted to enter Alaska are any molecular test for SARS CoV-2 such as PCR, CEPHIED GENEXPERT, BIOFIRE or ABBOTT IDNOW.
  • You can arrive without results if you have proof of the test being taken within 72 hours of departure. You will need to self-quarantine until the test results are returned and uploaded to the Alaska Travel Portal.
  • If you are a non-resident and arrive without a molecular-based test, you are required to get tested upon arrival for $250 USD and quarantine at your own expense until you receive your results.

2. Travel Declaration Form and Self-Isolation Plan

  • Submit your Travel Declaration Form and Self-Isolation Plan, which includes your COVID-19 test information on the Alaska Travel Portal. We recommend doing it all online prior to your arrival, so you don’t have to spend extra time in the airport filling it out.

3. Stay Safe

  • Make sure to practice social distancing prior to your departure.
  • Take advantage of the vast and great outdoors Alaska has to offer and plan to limit time in public indoor spaces.
  • Wear your mask in any public space and stay 6 feet apart. The State of Alaska does not have a state-wide mask mandate in place but that may vary in each municipality. Anchorage for example does have a public space mask mandate, whereas Fairbanks does not. As of January 4th, all indoor dining restaurants are pretty much open again in both Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Once you arrive at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage and leave the gate area, passengers will be directed to a screening area. This is where you will need to show proof of your negative molecular-based COVID-19 test result and fill out the Travel Declaration Form and Self-Isolation Plan.

If you have filled out your Travel Declaration Form and Self-Isolation Plan online and uploaded your negative test results prior to your arrival, they will only ask for your phone number and check your uploaded documents before welcoming you to Alaska.

How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape

Our trip to Alaska answered many questions for me and settled my internal debate. In short, I have come to the conclusion that traveling is safe and doable when done responsibly and respectfully towards others, the country you are traveling to as well as your local community when returning home.

Although it is a requirement to get tested before traveling to Alaska, I encourage everyone to get tested before any travels regardless if your destination requires you to or not. Always be respectful by wearing a mask around others, avoid crowds, and get tested around 5 days after returning home. It is also important to isolate yourself from your local community until your results come back negative.

I think that there hasn’t been enough emphasis placed on keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy. Getting fresh air, exercise, sunshine, eating good food, laughing and the company of loved ones are what I would say are almost essentials for a healthy mind, body, and soul.

Going to Alaska was a much-needed break for both my physical and mental health as well as for those I interacted with within Alaska. Tourism in Alaska is the second-largest private-sector employer, accounting for one in eight Alaskan jobs, so you can imagine how vital tourism is to the economy and many individuals during these strange and hard times.

While I am aware of the high numbers of deaths caused by the virus, no one seems to talk about the effects it has on mental health, the countless suicides, the countries that depend on the tourism industry, and the stress of ongoing financial devastation that comes with it. Many people are struggling under the emotional weight of isolation, fighting depression, and have anxiety over the unknown future that lies ahead of them.

The beauty of Alaska is that it offers a great abundance of activities often tied to the natural and vast characteristics of its breathtaking landscape all of which can still be enjoyed in the safety of private guided tours. Glacier viewing, flightseeing, wildlife viewing, snowmachine excursions, fishing, and kayaking to mention a few.

How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape

Life has its risks. Every time you leave your home to go to the grocery store, to pump gas at the gas station, to exercise in the park, get coffee or pick up your to-go order from your favorite restaurant in town, you’re putting yourself and potentially others at risk and that applies to everyone around you going about their day.

I would even go as far as to say that it is easy to become careless in our daily routines, but when we leave our comfort zone we become more cognizant and aware of our surroundings. Maybe even hyper-aware. So once you leave your bubble and apply the same health protocols and precautions that you do going to your local grocery store with new awareness you might keep yourself even safer.

I don’t believe that locking yourself away is going to help our current situation because the reality is that the virus isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. The faster we learn to live with it the more we can help everyone around us make a positive impact and get through this in a responsible, caring, and reasonable manner. At the end of the day, every individual has to make their own decision, so please be realistic, conscientious, and respectful travelers.

How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape

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How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
How To Travel Safely To Alaska During COVID-19 | Bare Escape
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