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Vancouver to Alaska return - which method?

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Hi all, I'm new to Fodor's, stumbling across the site whilst looking for info on travelling from Vancouver to Alaska, then looping back. I've read through the existing discussions - really useful so thanks to those contributors - but am struggling a little to pin down the most sensible method of travel. Given the context detaled below I wonder if anyone could share their opinion on the questions I ask and which of the 4 options is best. Any other suggestions are, of course, gratefully received. Thanks in advance fodorites.

The context

My wife and I (both 30, UK passports) will be in the Vancouver area of Canada from mid July to mid September this year (2011).

We will spend approx one month from mid August to mid September with family on the Sunshine Coast, near Sechelt, but wish to spend three weeks from mid July to mid August travelling from Vancouver, to and around Alaska, and then returning to Vancouver.

Budget is £2,000 GBP (approx $3,155 CAN) for us both to include transport, accommodation (we'd happily camp), food, gas, and any excursions. There is a little wiggle room for this budget, to the region of +25% if necessary.

Overall questions

- Is the time of year proposed OK?
- Is the budget in the right ball park?
- Is the amount of time available realistic?
- Given these considerations, which of the potential options outlined below makes more sense, or is there a different, better option?

The potential options

1. Return flight Vancouver - Anchorage
Fly to Anchorage, hire a car, do a nice long circular route (suggestions welcome) before returning car and flying back out of Anchorage to Vancouver. Possibly do-able in two rather than three weeks?

2. Flight to Anchorage, return by Ferry
Fly to Anchorage, hire a car, do a route that either returns to Anchorage or to Haines (or any other suitable ferry port) to drop off car and jump on ferry. As foot passengers: ferry down Inside Passage to Prince Rupert, then on to Vancouver Island and on to Sunshine Coast (this used to be possible, not sure if it still is), or Vancouver. Will lack of own wheels be problematic?

3. Return drive
Hire a car from Vancouver for three weeks, drive up through BC, realistically into SE Alaska (not sure if time will allow us to get any further?), then return via a different route to Vancouver. Any suggestions on a route most welcome.

4. Drive up, ferry back with car
Hire a car from Vancouver for three weeks, drive up through BC, realistically into SE Alaska (not sure if time will allow us to get any further?), then return with car to Vancouver on the ferry via Inside Passage, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island. Return car in Vancouver, hopefully intact!

Many thanks in advance for any suggestions. Ian

Read my RTW Blog 'Because you can't leave your self behind' at www.helen4ian.blogspot.com

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