Is this a realistic travel/vacation plan?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Vash01, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    It seems I could take roughly 2 weeks vacation (may be a couple days extra, weekends included). I had made plans to go to Alaska this summer. Later I got very interested in going to Russia since I have never been there. It will be tough to make two separate vacations (although the leave will be approved)- I am thinking in terms of money and time.

    So here is what I am considering. Either go to Alaska first (from Arizona to either Anchorage or Fairbanks for sight seeing), then go to St. Petersburg from Fairbanks, See St. Pete and Moscow and return to either Fairbanks or Arizona (pick the cheaper fare)

    OR go to Russia first (from AZ), see the two big cities, and fly to either Fairbanks or Anchorage, AK and do Alaska sightseeing before flying back to AZ.

    On the map AK and Russia are not as close as I had first thought. So I don't know how realistic this plan is.

    For Russia I plan on taking an escorted tour. There are also tours that cover other eastern European countries along with Russia and that's attractive too, but I really want to see Alaska this year.

    Anyone has any experience with combinging trips like that? Or would I be better off making them separate trips?
  2. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

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    I would think separate trips would be advisable ... most tours of Russia are close to two weeks. Also, St. Petersburg and Moscow are closer to Europe than to AK
  3. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

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    They're in Europe.
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  4. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    :)

    There are 7 or 9 day tours of Russia, which would be very rushed but it could fit into my time frame. I would hate to wait until next year for either place. However, I may be better off going to Russia when I go to Germany next year (it's in the plan).
  5. UMBS Go Blue

    UMBS Go Blue KWEEN 2016! YES WE KWAN!

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    Wait, can't everybody in Alaska see Russia from their back yards? ;)

    There may be Russian flights from Russia to Alaska, although from what little I know of traveling in Russia, Russian airlines' safety record hasn't been the best. I'd assume you'd have to transfer in Vladivostok, somewhere on the Kamchatka Peninsula, or somewhere else in Siberia, and more likely transfer one or more times within Russia, in order to get to St. Petersburg or Moscow. Ummm... yeah.

    Might be better to just fly from Anchorage to a U.S. connecting airport (likely Washington, Atlanta, Houston, New York, Los Angeles; possibly also Chicago or Minneapolis) that also has international service to Russia, preferably on the same airline, or the same alliance/codeshare arrangement, so that it's all in one itinerary/ticket. Most likely you'll have to connect twice in the U.S. to make a same-airline / same-alliance ticketing arrangement work.

    Edited to add: might be a better idea to explore parts of Canada you've never been to and wouldn't really want to go to if it wasn't the summer. Have heard a lot of good things about Deh Cho roadtrips:

    http://www.milepost.com/highway_info/deh_cho_route
    http://dehchotravel.ca/travel_planner/highways.php
    http://www.spectacularnwt.com/whattodo/touring/driving/waterfallsdehcho
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
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  6. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Of course they can! But not anywhere in Russia anyone would want to go visit...
  7. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    I think some of you might belong to the Flat Earth Society :lol:

    Anchorage to Moscow or St Petersburg isn't actually that far if the flight is over pole, and the rotation of the earth helps things some what. As the crow flies, the distance looks similar to Arizona to Nova Scotia.

    However, I don't think there's a lot of call for flights from Anchorage to western Russia, and thus a quick search on Expedia only turned up options that go back through the lower 48 and/or Europe with multiple connections and pricing well into the thousands.

    Conclusion? Two trips - pick one now, do the other one another time.
  8. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

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    Depending on where in Germany you plan to go to next year and if you're willing to use one of the cheap airlines we have in Europe, you might be able to get a pretty cheap airfare to either Moscow or St. Petersburg. I guess it would not only save you money but also gives you more time to enjoy your travel. Alaska - Russia seems like a mammoth trip and you'd have a lot of air travel there with time changes and everything and you might end up going home again more exhausted than when you left. Moscow is 11 hours ahead of AZ if I'm not mistaken, no idea what it's relation is to Alaska but I think this is a big factor to consider in addition to everything else.
  9. UMBS Go Blue

    UMBS Go Blue KWEEN 2016! YES WE KWAN!

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    No, and a totally unnecessary comment at that.

    Gee, thanks for the earthshattering insight.

    Thanks for taking the time to do an extraneous search for something round-earthed people already know: that there just aren't any direct flights from Alaska to western Russia. Or, for that matter, from Russia to the mainland U.S.
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  10. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

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    I've been to both Alaska and Russia. I definitely would do separate trips. Two weeks isn't enough to adequately see both. And I definitely would want to see more than just St. Petersburg and Moscow if I were a planning a trip to that region. Not only other towns in Russia, but go to some of the Baltic states while you're in the region.
  11. madm

    madm Active Member

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    Alaska is VAST!!! It's one-fifth the size of the lower 48 states and stretches 3,000 miles east-to-west. To do it justice, spend your entire vacation there, with the possible addition of western B.C. You probably don't want to spend several days of your vacation on airplanes and changing time zones. I recommend taking the Denver-Anchorage nonstop flight as it's fairly short (5 hours) and is a bit more direct than the Seattle connections. You will need to decide what you really want to see. I recommend taking one of the Alaska Railway tours going from Seward to Fairbanks (or vice versa) - it's worth it to buy the more expensive seat in a vistadome car. You can stop en route to enjoy Anchorage, Denali, and Fairbanks. If you have time, take a boat trip from Seward to see the fiords and glaciers. Another fun excursion is to Kodiak Island where you can see grizzlies fishing for salmon. Everything takes time and you will want to spend several days in each place. If you go to Denali, take a scenic flight to see Mt. McKinley (Denali) above the clouds. Staying 2 nights at Kantishna (90 miles into the park via 13-hour school bus trip) will allow you to see an amazing array of wildlife. It's pricey but a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Another possibility is flying up there and then coming home on a cruise ship from Seward to Vancouver or Seattle. My brother did a 10-day trip where he flew into Fairbanks, traveled south on Alaska Railways to Seward, and then took a boat back to Seattle. It was a good way to see a lot of country.

    Having travelled to several countries in the other hemisphere, I have learned that it is better to spend the entire trip in one country (or one half of a big country) than it is to try and race to see everything in a couple of countries. When we went to New Zealand for a month, we decided to forego seeing Australia so that we could drive all 3,000 miles distance top-to-bottom in NZ. I think it was a good choice. Ditto for our trip to South Africa where we originally planned to start in Cape Town, travel up the East Coast, and end in Johannesburg. After realizing that we'd spend five 10-hour days driving in our car to get there, we changed our plans and just did one big loop in the southern half of the country.

    I hope you have a wonderful trip to Alaska, and and a great time in Russia on a different trip!
  12. madm

    madm Active Member

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    Frontier Airlines has a promotional sale going on for Denver-Fairbanks nonstop flights right now. I priced a one-way flight in June at only $188, which is really cheap! Full fares are often $700-1000 roundtrip. The other carriers with nonstop flights are United and Alaska Airlines.
  13. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    I know that the earth is round, and I didn't know either of these things. I appreciate that Jenny did the research on the flights (or lack thereof) and I don't see any reason to snark on her for it.
  14. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    LOL. Actually the other end of Russia is very close to Alaska. When I looked at the globe at home, I was surprised. May be Palin was not all that wrong (only on that point). However, to make it to St.Petersburg it's a really long way. I will most probably make separate trips.

    It turns out I may visit Ukraine when I visit Russia this summer. A friend who is from Ukraine is going to be there around that time, so it will be convenient. She said there are good airfares from LA to Moscow, and Kiev is not too far from there if I fly. I can take a break and then visit Alaska for a week.

    Canada has many wonderful places but right now I want to get as far away as possible, and Russia seems perfect.
  15. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    ...I think you mean Tina Fey. I mean, I'm sure Sarah Palin, like most people with at least a basic grasp of geography, know Alaska and Russia are close to each other, but Tina Fey's the one who said in-character that "I can see Russia from my house".

    And yes, Russia is VERY close to Alaska--EASTERN Russia, the part that's also very close to Japan (there are some islands that have switched back and forth between being Russian territory or Japanese.) St. Petersburg and Moscow, OTOH, are at the other end of this incredibly large country.

    I really think Russia and Alaska in one trip is going to be very rushed and shortchange both, even before adding a third country (Ukraine is not Russia). That's going to be hours and hours of travel time just getting places.
  16. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Palin actually made the comment about seeing Russia from Alaska first, it is what made Fey spoof it. Palin never said she could see Russia from where she lived though.

    Russia is very large, as is Alaska. I can't imagine a single vacation would do either justice.
  17. *Jen*

    *Jen* Well-Known Member

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    FWIW, I did Moscow and St Pete's in 8 days and it wasn't enough. Well...it was enough for Moscow, but probably not Saint P. I'd do 2 trips and consider the trans-siberian railway, taking in Saint P, Moscow and Lake Baikal :)
  18. UMBS Go Blue

    UMBS Go Blue KWEEN 2016! YES WE KWAN!

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    Tit for tat. Don't snark on people for being flat-earthed fools when you're the greater fool yourself.
  19. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Oh for heaven's sake - I was just having a little fun with it ala Sarah Palin and joking with myself as much as anyone else. We naturally imagine the world as a map on a wall - I had to go and check a globe to see if my guess about the distances was at all accurate before I posted because I was interested in the possibilities myself.

    I wasn't snarking, I didn't call anyone a fool (and I'm not one either thank you very much), and I think games of tit for tat are ridiculous when what we're all trying to do is help a fellow poster out who has asked for our advice.
  20. mikey

    mikey ...an acquired taste

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    Then perhaps you should know that your posts often sound like you consider yourself intellectually superior.
  21. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget to figure in jet lag recovery time into the schedule, especially if you're crossing major time zones in the middle of the trip.
  22. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Really? Wow.
  23. BreakfastClub

    BreakfastClub Active Member

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    Um, you're joking right? Of course you need to make this two separate trips. Moscow is like halfway around the world from Anchorage. It is not any more convenient to Alaska than Paris and it's really no closer to Alaska than it is to Chicago.
  24. *Jen*

    *Jen* Well-Known Member

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    Really? I've never thought that.
  25. Habs

    Habs Well-Known Member

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    Me neither. I enjoy Jenny's informative posts and sassy humour. :respec:
  26. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    I will have to live with the jet lag. Typically I get HUGE jet lag, particularly when the time difference is 12+ hours. It takes me a couple of weeks to recover (1st week is very tough). I will simply have to do the best I can. I don't have the luxury of allowing time for jet lag. By the time the trip is over, I will have recovered from most of it.:lol:
  27. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Do you have to be so condescending? I know that Ukraine is not Russia. My nephew knew it when he was 7 years old. Who doesn't know that Russia is a huge country? I did go to school - for many many many years and have a lot more knowledge of the rest of the world than an average American. I am also VERY familiar with where the major cities are located.

    Tina Fey's remark was actually a repetition of what Palin said- that she can see Russia from her backyard. It's not to be taken literally. UMBS was just joking. I had actually thought there was more distance between Alaska and Russia. I am not planning on going to eastern Russia. The idea to combine the two trips is simply to avoid a 'come home one day and leave again 1 week later' type situation. I live quite a bit south, so it does make some difference. Fairbanks is significantly more north than Arizona, and west but not that far west- I hope you know that (it's my turn to be snotty:lol:). With my limited vacation time I am trying to see how I can use it the best.
  28. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Why would I be joking? It is just an option to consider.
  29. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    One thing that I would like to know is about escorted tours. I have never taken any escorted tours to other countries. I always did it on my own. However, I see that there are lots of escorted tours to Russia, and I think it will be convenient since I don't know the language. I am sifting through the different companies and the dates of their flights, etc. Does anyone have experience with Affordabletours.com or Gate1 tours (I hope I have the name correct) or Global (Globus?) or Traffalgar tours or Cosmos? There are a few more that have sent me some information. Most of them charge the 'singles penalty' (my phrase)- some charge more, some charge less. That is also something I am taking into account. The less they charge for a single traveler, the better it is for my pocket, but that can't be the only factor. Reliability, service, overall quality are important.

    I may look up Frommers this weekend because they do mention some tours, but not sure how much information they give about each tour. I am a little concerned about those with 3 stars instead of 4 (based on price). I hope the 3 star hotels are not too bad. I wonder if there are some tours that are more popular and have positive ratings? If there is a way to look up their ratings it may be helpful. Normally the tours just post glowing comments from their customers.
  30. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    This was more than a decade ago and things can change quickly, but when I went to St Petersburg we found it hugely helpful to have a relative to show us around. We got much better rates in museums, tickets to shows were a snap, and we got to dine at restaurants that were otherwise unmarked. Plus, the local knowledge was invaluable - even the 12 year old daughter was so knowledgeable about her country's history and culture and brought things to life more than any tour book could at the museums and palaces. Normally we like to make our own way when we travel, but in that case I think having some help made a really big difference.

    I don't know how old you are, but if you are over 50 you might want to look into Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel). My mother and a younger friend did one of their tours, and it was very well organized and a good value, with many people in their 50s and some even younger. They had the time of their lives. A guide accompanies the tour who is part lecturer/part facilitator, and I'm guessing that in Russia that could be especially useful.