The Must-Do Summer Vacation🦅

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Have you had enough downtime this summer or like me been so busy that you realize that you need some quiet time? August is a good month to carve out that time, and I encourage you to block space on your calendar to make it happen before the hectic fall schedule is upon you. Whether it’s an hour or a day weekly, you’ll look back and be so glad that you took time for yourself.

An update on Apple Air Tags for luggage tracking – my client used them this week while traveling through Frankfurt on a rather tight connection to Oslo, Norway, and they found them very helpful and worthwhile. Frankfurt has been one of those airports in the news (not in a good way), so I prepared them well with packing hacks for possibly receiving their luggage days late.

I’ve been thinking about ‘must-do’ summer vacation destinations. Places that are truly unforgettable while being somewhat immune to temperatures in the 90s. Norway and all of Scandinavia is one of those destinations. Another that immediately comes to mind is Alaska. Have you been?

Alaska will amaze every traveler from 7-107 years old and is a must-do summer vacation to consider in 2023. Read on for the scoop about our 49th state…


Anchorage is a charming city that is decorated with colorful flower beds and eye-catching murals sprinkled around town. The restaurants are plentiful, and I recommend spending a night or two if your schedule allows.

There are plenty of interesting activities in Anchorage. You can learn about native Alaskan culture and history, cycle the coastal trail, spy a moose, take a glass-roofed train ride, and dine in one of the many fantastic restaurants. It’s also the gateway to northern Alaska as well as to the inside passage to the south.

When I visited Alaska in the summer of 2019, I hopped on a luxury, mid-sized cruise ship and sailed the inside passage stopping at the places I’ll describe below. But you may take a land tour if you prefer. I’ll give you a rundown of what your options are so reach out to me to discuss.

NOTE:  I spent part of this trip with my kids and part with just my husband.  Alaska is an ideal vacation to take with your entire family (including multi-generations) or as a couple.


Juneau brought a bucket list check for me as someone who is terrified of extreme heights. I flew in a helicopter to the Mendenhall glacier which is something I will never forget in a good way for the stunning views and the opportunity to walk on the glacier. Lesson learned – keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

In a macro way, the view of the glacier was stunning with its icy turquoise-white coloring. Learning about glaciers while you’re standing on one is fascinating and made me more deeply appreciate our natural environment. In a micro way, seeing pools and tunnels of icy water and strips of silt that run through the glacier is equally fascinating when viewed up close.

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’re already intrigued, you can schedule a chat with me here:

Skagway & Haines

Believe it or not, it was a very hot day when I visited Skagway and the town of Haines. Although the ride to Haines was rather long, the river float on a raft was another unforgettable experience. I can still feel the thrill of watching bald eagles fly over my head as they roosted on various spots in and above the river.

This experience isn’t like your typical white water rafting tour. The pace is much slower allowing you to see nature in a meaningful way. The tour guide brings this natural environment to life and guides you close to the eagles and other wildlife who live on and near the river. Don’t forget your binoculars!

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Wondering how to navigate all types of travel? Let’s chat and I’ll talk you through it.


Sitka is a small, quaint town but the highlight for me was kayaking. If you love a peaceful experience, I highly recommend a kayaking tour when in Sitka.

It was a cloudy and sometimes misty day for the tour, and the weather added to the experience making it feel almost ethereal as we paddled around the crystal clear, calm waters of the cove.

We paddled slowly by the shoreline so were able to see the incredible life below the surface. The leather-back starfish stole the show!


Ketchikan is a combination of touristy and authentic. I spent a few days in Ketchikan and experienced both sides of this busy Alaskan town. If you prefer touristy, look no farther than the town’s Creek Street with its quaint, colorful shops that were once Ketchikan’s red light district.

If you prefer authentic nature, take a hike up Deer Mountain – note this hike is not for novices. The views are incredible as is the workout. You’ll see snow-capped mountains, colorful wildflowers, and native birds like bald eagles as you hike in the treetops.

Ketchikan is also a fantastic spot for fishing excursions and adventure activities. It’s known as one of the best salmon fishing spots in the world. There’s something for everyone!

 💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  If you opt for a cruise up/down the inside passage, beginning or ending your trip in Vancouver is highly recommended! Leave a few days for Victoria if you can. I absolutely adored my time in these two gorgeous Canadian cities.

Inspired? Reach out to me now for 2023!

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Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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