Last Updated: 5/21/2019
Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the leap and move to Alaska. The natural beauty of the 49th state and its ample opportunities for adventure await you.
Now that you’ve made your decision, it’s time to move on to your next big question: “What do I need to take with me?” (And, “What should I leave behind?”)
Every relocation raises these questions—and offers you the opportunity to look at your possessions with a critical eye. Your big move might be just the excuse you’ve been looking for to get rid of any unwanted stuff that’s been cluttering your home.
In addition, living in Alaska may represent a pretty significant change in climate for you. So even as you pare down your possessions, you may want to consider adding in a few warm essentials, so you‘ll arrive in Alaska ready to enjoy all that it has to offer.
To get you started, we’ve put together a packing list, as well as some tips. We’ll walk you through three areas:
- What to Leave Behind When You Move to Alaska
- What to Bring with You to Alaska
- What to Ship Ahead to Alaska
If you go through this list as soon as you know you’re moving, you’ll have ample time to get rid of the things you don’t need and grab what you do to embark on this exciting new stage of your life in America’s Last Frontier.
What to Leave Behind When You Move to Alaska
There’s nothing like packing your entire home to remind you exactly how much stuff you have. To help you save money on your move—and ensure that you’re not moving items to Alaska that you’ll never need—we suggest asking yourself two questions:
Question #1: Do I Need/Use/Want This Anymore?
Simply put, as you start the packing process, you’ll encounter stuff you just don’t need anymore. Old running shoes, a painting you never liked, college textbooks—we all have items in our lives that have simply been taking up space.
Use this move as an opportunity to get rid of the items that no longer serve you. You might use Marie Kondo’s strategy of getting rid of things that no longer “spark joy.” Or, if you’ve had enough of the KonMari method, try one of these 10 alternatives for decluttering.
Now, because you’re making a pretty significant move, you’ll want to ask yourself a second question:
Question #2: Will I Use This in Alaska?
Relocating to Alaska will likely be a big lifestyle change, so it’s worth asking whether some your old stuff truly fits into this new way of living.
For example, consider the fact that Anchorage topped Travel + Leisure‘s list of worst-dressed cities. If you’ve got a fashionable wardrobe that won’t offer you much protection during Alaska’s colder weather (I’m looking at you, shiny leather Oxfords), it might be time to pare down.
Plus, doing one more round of reductions will help you make room for the gear that will keep you cozy during those cold winter months. (More on that in a moment!)
Now that we’ve discussed what not to bring, let’s talk about what to carry with you when you move.
What to Bring with You to Alaska
Depending on how you decide to make the move to Alaska, you may end up shipping some items ahead. However, there are a couple of types of items we suggest bringing with you when you head up:
#1: Valuables and Keepsakes
If you’re taking anything that’s irreplaceable—like your 30-year-old wedding album—or anything with significant value, like your grandmother’s wedding ring, bring those items with you, rather than shipping them ahead. Of course, a reputable moving company will take good care of your possessions, but there is some risk inherent in any move. Your best bet is to keep these items close.
#2: Personal Documents
Keeping these documents with you is the best way to ensure their safe arrival in Alaska. Plus, you might need them to get your life set up in Alaska before the rest of your stuff arrives. For example, if you’re starting a new job and need to provide proof of citizenship, these documents will come in handy. So when it comes to the following documents, keep them with you as you travel to Alaska:
- Your passport
- Your birth certificate
- Your social security card
Make sure you have a supply of any medications you’ll need on hand until you get set up with a pharmacy in Alaska. If you’re shipping anything ahead, make sure to grab anything you need from your personal supply, like test strips or needles for diabetics.
#4: Backups of Your Electronic Data
No matter whether you’re shipping your computer ahead or taking it with you, it’s a good idea to back up all of your data before the move. This also goes for your phone and tablet, too. Moving creates a lot of chaos, and you don’t want to have to deal with recreating your contact list if you drop your phone.
For computer backups, we like cloud-based services, since they allow you to access your data wherever you are in the world. You might try:
- Backblaze – At $60/year per computer for unlimited storage, Backblaze is one of the most budget-friendly options out there.
- iDrive – This service offers more options than Backblaze, but it also costs a little more, depending on the package you choose.
- iCloud – If you’re an Apple person, iCloud offers you a simple solution. Just make sure to do a final backup before Moving Day.
For phone backups, Google can help you find instructions for your phone model.
#5: Your Pets
We’ve got some great news for those of you with furry and feathered companions: Moving your pets to Alaska is pretty simple. There are just a couple of things you need to be aware of to make a smooth transition:
- Most pets will be fine in Alaska, although some dog breeds, like greyhounds, may need a little extra care and protection against the cold.
- To enter Alaska with a pet, you’ll need a current health certificate and a current rabies vaccination if the pet is three months or older.
- If you’re flying with your pet, review these pet travel guidelines. You should also speak to a representative at your airline to get the airline’s official policy and book your pet’s travel arrangements.
- If you’re driving, be ready with all the documentation for traveling through Canada with your pet.
- If you’re traveling via the Alaska Marine Highway System, read the AMHS animal transport policy.
If you check these requirements ahead of time and prepare the proper documentation, moving your pet to Alaska will prove pretty simple.
#6: Living Essentials
If you’re shipping a container or sending boxes via USPS, you will probably arrive before most of your stuff does. We suggest packing a few essentials to get you through your first few days in your new home, like:
- Clothes (more on our Alaska Essentials in a minute!)
- Pen & paper
- An extra phone charger
- A towel
- A flashlight or a headlamp with batteries
- A screwdriver and maybe a hammer
- Scissors or a knife
- A book to keep you occupied until cable and/or Internet are hooked up
- Energy bars or a few snacks
Once you arrive, you can make a run to the store for essentials like toilet paper, coffee, soap, trash bags, towels, disposable plates and utensils, paper towels, cleaning supplies and groceries.
#7: Clothing to Protect You from the Weather
Depending on where you’re coming from, you may need to add to your wardrobe to keep yourself warm and dry against the Alaskan weather. Depending on the time of year you move, you may want to bring some of these with you, rather than shipping them ahead, so you can use them as soon as you arrive.
First, make sure you have the Alaskan Essentials:
- A heavy winter coat
- Boots that will work in the snow and the mud
- Thermal underwear
- A couple of pairs of wool socks
- A high–quality winter hat
- Waterproof gloves
You might also consider adding:
- A scarf or a balaclava to keep your neck and face protected
- A fleece jacket to layer under your coat for additional warmth
- Slippers to keep your feet warm around the house
And although it doesn’t technically count as clothing, you may also want to purchase an eye mask to help you sleep through those bright summer nights.
If you’ve already got a bank with a branch in Alaska, you’ll be good to go in this category. However, if you need to set up a new bank account, you’ll want to make sure you have access to a little cash during the transition. Bring a small emergency fund for things like food, unexpected car repairs or anything else that might crop up. Most places take credit cards, but it’s worth having some cash around just in case.
What to Send Ahead to Alaska
Finally, there are a couple of things you’ll want to consider sending ahead to meet you Alaska, including:
Your Car: If you’ve got an SUV, a larger sedan or a truck that handles snow well, you may want to consider shipping it or driving it to Alaska. If it has towing capabilities, even better. (You’ll probably use that feature sooner than you think!) Before you go, buy some good winter tires and chains, and get a tune-up.
Furniture: If you want to bring your furniture with you to Alaska, there are several moving companies who would be happy to help you. Your best plan is to make these decisions early and get quotes from three, independent companies so you can budget and schedule your move accordingly.
Finally, keep in mind that you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to buy items in Alaska. You’ll find plenty of stores in the cities, and you can also leverage the Internet to find used items in good condition. Check sites like:
Outfitting Yourself for Alaska—the Easy Way
At the end of the day, your move to Alaska will be uniquely yours, down to the things you decide to bring and those you leave behind. What’s most important is to mull over your packing list with enough lead time to make thoughtful decisions and set up any services you need to make the big move. Alaska awaits, and the right preparation will help you enjoy it from day 1.
Need some help moving to Alaska? We can help you ship anything you need to set up your home in the Frontier State. Just reach out to us and one of our Certified Moving Consultants will get in touch to give you a quote.