Make sure your PCS orders state that you are authorized to travel the ALCAN or the ALCAN and marine highway if you are going to be using both. If you deviate from your travel plans, you need to have your orders amended to receive travel pay that will adequately cover your mode of travel.
Plan ahead for gas stops, lodging or camping and rest stops. There can be many miles between these but careful planning can greatly reduce the risk of being stranded. Be aware that roads may be rough due to frost heaves. There are areas where dirt roads and highway maintenance will slow your travel and the possibility of gravel hitting, chipping or breaking your windshield is high. Don't follow other vehicles too closely. Be prepared for most minor vehicle repairs such as flat tires, replacing belts or spark plugs. Emergency gear in your vehicle can help you to avoid dangerous situations if you break down. Weather in some areas can change drastically in a very short time, even during the summer months. Make sure you have appropriate clothing and supplies.
Youth moving to Ft Wainwright may email the Relocation Readiness Program Manager at email@example.com to request a youth sponsor and information about Fort Wainwright, area schools and the local community.
SHIPPING YOUR POV
If you ship a vehicle to Ft Wainwright/ Fairbanks between October and April or ship the vehicle early and plan to pick the vehicle up between October and April, the vehicle must have anti-freeze protection to -60F. The vehicle should also have a strong battery.
Ask for military discounts. Not all hotels and restaurants offer them, but some will. Get Canadian currency for your trip through Canada. Check with your local bank or change currency at the border. It is much less expensive for you to exchange currency at a bank than at border crossings or currency exchange businesses within the country you are traveling. Canadian dollars not used can be changed back at the border at the end of your trip. Recommended amounts are listed in your orders.
TRAVEL THROUGH CANADA/ALCAN
If you are traveling the Alaska/Canadian (ALCAN) highway, you will be awed by the beautiful scenery and wildlife along the way. This can be a wonderful adventure for military families, but there are a few things to be aware of in order to make the trip more enjoyable.
In Transit Emergencies
If you have an emergency while traveling in Canada enroute to Fort Wainwright, first contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP can in turn help you get in touch with the American Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337, which is manned 24 hrs. a day and/or Army Emergency Relief 907-353-4237 or 907-353-7453. If your emergency occurs after 5:00 pm Monday-Friday or during a holiday or weekend, AER can be reached through the Emergency Operation Center at 800-353-6666 or 800-353-1111. Last you should contact the 203rd Personnel Service Battalion at 907-353-2273 to let them know that you’ve had an emergency enroute.
A copy of the MILEPOST (publication that gives maps, areas of interest, history and locations of campsites, gas, lodging and food along the highways in Western Canada, Alaska and Washington) can be an invaluable resource to you in planning your trip. A good trip plan can make the difference between arriving on time and safely at your new duty station and having delays that could have been avoided. You can order a MILEPOST by calling 1-800-726-4707 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The MILEPOST website can be found in the Installation Overview's Detail/Record Listing. Most large bookstores also carry the Milepost or can order it for you.
Customs is now open 24 hours a day at many of the major entries, but you should call ahead to verify the hours for night time entry, especially if you are not on the main highways going into Canada. This will prevent you from spending hours at the border crossing waiting for them to re-open. There are custom restrictions at the Canadian border. Be aware of the restrictions on guns, ammunition, pets, proof of insurance and personal identification before you reach the border. If your POV is still being financed or has a lien on it, you should check with the lien holder to get permission to take it out of the Lower 48 States/CONUS. For more information on customs regulations call or write to Revenue Canada, Customs and Excise, Communications Branch, Ottawa, ON K1A OL5, or phone (604) 666-0545 and ask for the free travel brochure.
When you enter Canada, a customs officer may ask to see your passport and a valid visa, if one is necessary. If you are a citizen of the United States, you do not need a passport to enter Canada. However, you should carry proof of your citizenship, such as a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, as well as a photo ID. If you are a permanent resident of the U.S, you should bring your Permanent Resident Card (i.e., green card) with you.
If you are traveling with children, you should carry identification for each child. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. Adults who are not parents or guardians should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children. When traveling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should travel in the same vehicle as the children when arriving at the border. Customs officers are looking for missing children and may ask questions about the children who are traveling with you.
Pets must have a current health certificate that identifies the pet and states the dog/cat has been vaccinated against rabies. Call your post veterinary clinic or local community veterinarian for this.
Canada has strict gun control laws. Be sure that you are familiar with Canadian gun laws if you are planning to transport firearms. These are the summary of requirements if you are a gun user visiting Canada:
- You cannot import a prohibited firearm or a prohibited device.
- You must be at least 18 and have a valid Canadian firearms license to import a restricted or non-restricted firearm.
- An Authorization to Transport (ATT) is required for all restricted firearms.
- All firearms must be registered.
- You must comply with the safe storage, display and transportation regulations.
- The Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for declaration procedures.
- If you have been convicted of anything considered a criminal offence in Canada, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will need to get approval of rehabilitation or a temporary immigration permit from Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration before you can enter Canada.
- You will be charged a fee of $50 CAN for transporting firearms through Canada.
Further information is available from the Canadian Firearms Control Center toll free at 1-800-731-4000, or visit their web site.
Canada requires that all drivers have a valid driver's license, proof of insurance and proof of registration. Canadian law requires that you carry at least $200,000 third-party liability insurance. You will need to contact your insurance company and inform them that you are driving through a foreign country, i.e. Canada.
Headlights must be on at all times while traveling in Canada. Drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts; children under six years of age are require to be seated in a prescribed child safety seat. Radar detectors are prohibited in Canada. Carry emergency gear in your vehicle for each person. This gear should include: severe cold weather sleeping bag, food, gloves, boots, socks, a shovel, flashlight, flares and candles.
Due to Alaska's extreme climate, there are several things newcomers should be aware of. During the winter months, warm boots, coats, snow pants, gloves and hats are a must. Ski masks or gators are a good idea as well. Layering clothes will also help keep warm. Extreme temperatures can reach from 0 (zero) degrees, down to below -60 degrees. Frostbite or hypothermia may occur when you are not properly prepared. Be sure when purchasing winter gear that you get clothing with appropriate temperature ratings that are good to -60 degrees and waterproof, especially for children! School-age children will go outside for recess every day unless it is -20 degrees, colder than –20 degrees or raining!
YOUR VEHICLE IN ALASKA
Vehicles must be winterized! In order for your vehicle to start during winter months, you will need to plug it in. It is recommended that you start plugging your vehicle in when temperatures drop to 20 degrees and colder. Most parking lots on post have outlets. You will need to install, or have installed:
1. Engine block heater, battery blanket (blanket, band-aid or plate type) which should be the right length to go all the way around your battery OR an under battery heater, and you should consider an engine oil pan heater and a transmission heater.
2. A fifteen- foot extension cord (rated for extreme cold weather). Some people attach a testing light to the end of the cord to ensure the outlet you plug into is working. This is a good idea.
3. Change oil to 5W-30 and ensure antifreeze protection to -60 degrees F.
4. Change oil, gas and air filters. Always carry a spare belt, they snap easily in the cold.
5. Have your vehicle tuned up, grease door jams and place powdered graphite into door locks.
6. Repack non-drive wheel bearings with synthetic grease.
7. Select tires that will keep you within your comfort zone. Some examples are: all-season radials, snow tires, studded tires or you may elect to purchase a set of chains if you feel they are necessary.
Speed limits in Canada are posted in kilometers. 100 km/h = 62.5 mph; 80 Km/h = 50 mph and 50 Km/h = 30 mph. Gas is sold in liters. Four liters equals a little over a gallon. It is approximately 2,350 miles between Great Falls, Montana and Fairbanks. If your vehicle averages 18 miles per gallon, it will take 130 gallons to drive this distance. Current prices for gasoline will average about $3.00 to $3.50 per gallon. At an average of $3.00 per gallon, it may cost you about $400.00 just for gas. In addition, you will have lodging expenses. At 350 miles a day, it will take you 7 days to drive this distance. Lodging costs vary, but at an average of $65 per night for six nights, your cost will be $390. This does not include food costs, which will vary with family size. Be aware that the cost of driving the ALCAN is much more expensive than driving the same distance in the lower 48. It is important to do some financial budgeting before you start your trip. Think of the ALCAN drive as a vacation, not a moneymaking mode of travel.
The Alaska Marine Highway System does permit pets on board however there are restrictions. You must have a health certificate within 30 days of travel. There is a $25 fee charged per animal. Animals must be cared for by their owners and must remain on the car deck, inside the car or in a kennel. Owners may visit pets only when the vessel is in port, as passengers are not permitted on the car deck once underway. For more information see their website at www.alaska.gov/ferry
With proper planning, driving the ALCAN can be a rewarding and memorable experience. Bring a camera and film and enjoy a beautiful trip to your new home.
If you need transportation to Fort Wainwright after you arrive at the Fairbanks International Airport, deplane and go to the baggage claim area. Look in the left back corner of the baggage claim area and you will see a red telephone. This phone is for military use and may be used to call the Fort Wainwright 203rd Personnel Support Battalion Replacement Detachment at 353-CARE (2273). If available, 203rd PSB will send their van to pick you and/or your family up and take them to the billeting office or to 203rd PSB, Building 3401; however you should be prepared to take a taxi from the airport to Fort Wainwright or make arrangements with your sponsor in advance. There are a number of local taxi services. Taxi fare is approximately $30.00 from the airport to Building 3401 or $40.00 to Billeting at Murphy Hall. There is a military lounge located in the baggage claim area of the airport compliments of the Armed Services YMCA. You may utilize this lounge while you are waiting to be picked up by 203rd PSB Replacement or your sponsor. The ASYMCA can be reached at 353-5962.