Trip to Alaska and back in January Part 2


We’ve told the story from our office’s point of view, about how we send a truck to Alaska in January. But the better story comes from the field and our driver Marc. Here are four takeaways he took from his experience:

  1. Wildlife. Be careful of the wildlife. Not just for the moose crossing the road, or the random bison grazing on the shoulder paying you and your truck no mind whatsoever. There’s more. There are eagles, lynxes, bears, and ravens. The moose generally tend to move out of the roadway. They want nothing to do with you unless they feel threatened, which they won’t allow themselves to be put in a position to be. The bison just get mildly irritated by your air horn. Lynxes are blind to human existence, but also really want nothing to do with you. And then there’s bears. They’re a lot like lynxes. They really just want to get away from you and be left alone. Leave them alone, they leave you alone. Personally, I think bison are the biggest threat. They are everywhere and usually in big herds. They pay no attention to their surroundings and they are just oblivious to human existence, so be careful while driving near them. Always proceed with caution when there’s wildlife near/on the roads.


  1. Cellular connections. There’s not much 4G going on up in the Yukon, but if you come across electricity, you’ll probably come across a workable cell signal. Internet signal will be dodgy at best, but a phone signal isn’t impossible. Make sure that your cellular provider can grant you international roaming and be aware of you charges. I have Sprint and while my data was free, (yee freaking haw seeing as how my data sucked) my voice calls were $0.20 a minute. Having said that, you should map out your route with your GPS AND Google maps (or whatever computer based mapping system you like) ahead of time and take screen shots. You won’t have a chance to look at it again once you are out of range. Keep in mind, there really is more out there on the Alaskan Highway than a truck stop guide or app is going to tell you. I’d say that there’s a safe haven every 50-100 miles. That’s just a guess, but that’s better than what you’d find in a guidebook.


  1. Funds. Canadian currency has generally been worth far less than US currency for as long as I can remember. (And I was born and raised within 30 miles of the Canadian border.) When we were preparing for this trip, the exchange rate was $1US = $1.36CAN. That’s a pretty substantial exchange rate. Plus, most items in Canada are more expensive than they are in the States. Figure out how much you need on a daily basis and work out a budget for the entire trip through Canada. Also, it’s a good idea to exchange some funds at the Duty Free at the border crossing. Most banks near the border, on either side, will do the same and give you the most current rate of exchange. The Duty Free is just a bit easier.


  1. Distractions. If you’ve driven most of the lower 48, you’ve seen some pretty amazing things. The scenery is almost unexplainable. However, there’s a new added variable when driving up the Alaskan Highway and it’s called “isolation”. If you think Iowa is “isolated”, guess what, you’re wrong. If you think west Texas is desolate, guess what, you’re wrong. If you think the drive on I-10, from California to El Paso is boring, guess what, yeah, you got it, you’re wrong. You cannot fully grasp the concept of what it means to be so fully and completely alone and on your own until you’ve driven the Alaskan Highway. It’s not in the middle of nowhere, it IS nowhere. YOU are nowhere.

Regardless of all that, it might just be the most beautiful experience you ever come across in your life.

5 Rules of sending a truck to Alaska and back in January

At the beginning of 2016 we got a load for the Military Base in Fairbanks, AK. We had to bring some parts for Apache along with some tool cases. I was trying to research how to prepare and what to expect. Most of the information I found in the forums was for commercial trucks. I did find some YouTube videos of truck drivers that are driving through North British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska, but nothing that described the whole process, so I decided to write about our experience: How we sent a truck to Alaska in January.

  1. Driver– The most important thing that you need is a good driver. I mean a very good driver. That part was easy for our dispatchers as we have a lot of good ones.

After picking up the load, our driver Marc sent a message to his dispatcher – “Thanks for the fun”.


  1. Equipment– The truck and trailer need to be well maintained and reliable. We run Volvo trucks and Wabash trailers. We did a regular PM service in Edmonton, AB and greased the trailer. One extra thing that we put was the winter guard on the front grill, which is good idea to have not only for an Alaska trip, but for all Winter trips.

Volvo trucks have a very good cooling system, which helps in the hot months, but also does the opposite in the Winter. A cheap and ugly option is to put a piece of cardboard in front, which will do the same job.

  • We added the Deer Catcher just because.
  1. Route Planning– There is only one possible highway that you can take. What you need to plan is where to stop for food, rest and fuel. Truck stops are common along interstate highways in the US and along the more populated highways in Canada, but once you pass Fort St. John, BC you have to plan where to stop for fuel.
    We made some mistakes in the planning process.
    We use FleetOne fuel cards and it did not work at the gas stations in BC and Yukon.
    We had to wire money to the driver, which is expensive. Another thing that needs to be done is to check if the receiving place (Money Gram in our case) has the cash available. We sent $900 via Money Gram in Fort Nelson and they did not have enough cash to give to our driver. I am not sure how did that happen.
Wildlife Encounter
Wildlife Encounter
  1. Permits– We had a permit to drive transit trough Canada. It is part of the paperwork for the load similar to the. It is basically a piece of paper that says that we will not be unloading anything from the truck in Canada. We did not need Pars clearing or the new eManifest that Canada requires now.
    Single Trip permit for British Columbia – you can call The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure at (800)559 9688 and get one. If you don’t have IFTA you can buy fuel permit from them also. It won’t take more than 10 minutes from the initial phone call to faxing the actual permit to the driver. We paid $84 for it.
    Trough Freighter Permit for Yukon – you can’t call anyone for that one. The driver needs to pull over in the port of entry and purchase it from there. We paid $60 for it.
    Fuel Permit Yukon – Yukon is not part of the IFTA, so in order to drive through you need to have a fuel permit. It cost $71.30 in our case. It gave us permission to purchase the very expensive fuel in Yukon. You can purchase it from the port of entry along with the Trough Freighter Permit.
    5. Prepare for eventual problems– the trailer brakes froze on the way back. We took the truck to a truck wash where it was washed with hot water, so all the ice melted. Then one of the brake chambers was replaced. Two of the tires needed to be replaced, so we got a set from a shop nearby. The best part was that the price was in Canadian dollars and they ended up being $100 cheaper per tire compared to the US prices. It compensated us for the difference in the fuel price a little bit.
The route to Alaska has amazing beauty
The route to Alaska has amazing beauty

And this is how we sent a truck to Alaska in January. We did have some hiccups along the way, but we were able to take care of them right away and we’ll be better prepared for next time.