Don’t Wait Until Retirement to Go to Alaska (and Yes, You CAN Take the Kids!)

Most people don’t consider Alaska as a vacation destination until they are well into their retirement years. After all, they do call it the “Last Frontier.” But what if the mountains were calling and you must go… now?

We had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a cross-country trek with my grandmother to mark this trip off of her bucket list. Technically, she’d already been four times, but she had always wanted to experience it with us as well.

We went into the trip expecting the unexpected. Having only gone on warm weather cruises, we anticipated a “cold cruise” to be filled with a lot of relaxation and reading time; maybe seeing a bear and a whale or two. What we didn’t expect was to have the most thrilling trip of our lives.

There was so much to do. While part of our family went salmon fishing, others took a seaplane to the glacial waterfalls. The next day some took a gold mining train ride, while others mushed sled dogs or rode a hovercraft. Each day’s activity was a new favorite that completely beat out the previous day’s excitement.


It will certainly take a lot to top riding through the Kenai Fjords while icebergs the size of your house float by despite it being warm enough to go down a waterslide. There are just no words to describe the beauty of this untouched and magical unchartered territory. The water is the purest of pure and the bluest blue your eyes will ever see.

And the wildlife, oh my gracious! Even if you didn’t get off the ship, you’d see orcas, whales, sea lions, seals, and more swimming around. Bald eagles soared over as often as we see seagulls in Jax, and bears walk the shores.

We were overstimulated with “all of the things” and slept soundly because each day left us thoroughly exhausted.

I feel like because we are younger, we had more options to do the intense excursions and actually experience Alaska versus if we had waited until our peaceful golden years. We would have had even wilder options available if we didn’t have the munchkins with us due to their ages, but the fact that we could do everything all together made it even more remarkable. My 5-year-old daughter pulling in a prized king salmon while a humpback whale breached in the distance is a true fishing tale we will tell for years to come.

There’s a reason why people like my grandmother go back so many times. It’s absolutely impossible to do all the things you want to do in one trip, and the cost of the cruise + excursions + airfare was no more than a Disney cruise. So don’t move at a glacial pace now that you know how it thrilled me — plan an Alaskan vacation. Glacier recession is real, see them while you still can!

About the Author

Caitlyn Hawkins is a happy-go-lucky wife and mama who loves football, Icemen hockey, and fishing. A Jax local through and through, she has called the 904 “home” her entire life. But don’t let that fool you! She and her little ginger family are avid world travelers. When they aren’t on the go, this Osprey alumni is helping folks sell and buy homes in our great town. She wanted to find a balance between being a working mom in an ever-changing field and wanting to be present in her children’s everyday lives. This is how she came up with being what she calls a “stay-at-home (s) mom.” She chronicles those experiences, along with various other home maintenance/design/repair tips learned along the way on her blog



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