According to eco-traveler and Trinidad native Noami Grevemberg, seeing the world via her tricked-out van is truly a life-changing experience. In 2021, she set out to explore Alaska on four wheels, and it was one for the history books. While that trip wasn't her first ride into the "van life," she says that it just simply exceeded her expectations.
"The state's breathtaking natural beauty and rugged natural places left me in awe," Grevemberg shares. "I found myself constantly stopping to take in the majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and glaciers that surrounded me."
To date, the Diversify Van Life founder and Living the Van Life author has navigated 10 countries, 3 of which—Canada, Mexico and Australia—she took on in her vehicle. While she travels this way often, she hopes to do a bit more international travel this year, and hopefully even get her van into some cool places as well.
"My travel style can be described as adventure travel, with a focus on slow travel and immersing myself in local cultures," she shares. "I love taking the time to explore each destination thoroughly and getting to know the people and their way of life."
Here, Grevemberg schools us further on the joys—and beauty—of the van life and how we can navigate Alaska like a pro, plus tips on how to pack for unpredictable weather situations.
EBONY: Tell us more about "van life" and what piqued your interest into this unique way of travel.
Noami Grevemberg: I find that traveling in my van allows me the freedom to explore off the beaten paths and discover hidden gems that are not typically found in guidebooks. It also allows me to travel at my own pace, to stop and enjoy the scenery, and to take detours whenever I feel like it. I love the sense of adventure and spontaneity that comes with traveling in this way, and I'm excited to see where my travels will take me next.
Why was Alaska one of your most memorable overland adventures so far?
One of the highlights of my trip was driving along the iconic Alaska Highway, which winds through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. It was an incredible feeling to have the freedom to explore at my own pace and to stop whenever and wherever I wanted. I even camped in some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, waking up to the sound of birds chirping and the fresh scent of the forest.
But what made my journey to Alaska even more special was the wildlife that I encountered along the way. From brown bears and moose to bald eagles and whales, I felt like I was living in a National Geographic documentary. It was a humbling experience to be so close to these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats.
Overall, my trip to Alaska in my van was a life-changing experience. It's a destination that truly stands out for its incredible natural beauty, unique culture and the sense of adventure that it offers. I would highly recommend this destination to anyone looking for a truly unforgettable travel experience.
What are some of your must-try recommendation for us while in Alaska?
Fly-fishing in Haines, Alaska is a must-do experience for anyone looking for a peaceful and scenic adventure. With emerald waters, stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the opportunity to catch a variety of fish species. I would highly recommend getting a fishing guide who knows the local waters and can help you find the best spots to catch fish.
A walking tour of Sitka, AK is a great way to discover the rich history and natural beauty of this charming coastal town. The Sitka National Historical Park features a stunning collection of totem poles and a beautiful coastal rainforest trail that's perfect for nature lovers and anyone interested in learning about Alaska's Indigenous Tlingit culture.
An airplane tour of Denali is an awe-inspiring adventure. The panoramic views of the majestic mountain range and glaciers of Denali National Park from high above are breathtaking and offer a unique perspective on this natural wonder that simply can't be matched.
How should we pack for a similar adventure or trip?
When packing for Alaska, it's important to bring a variety of clothing suitable for the unpredictable weather conditions that can occur, even during the summer months. Layers are key, as temperatures can vary greatly throughout the day, and rain gear is a must-have for protection from frequent rain showers. Be sure to pack sturdy footwear for hiking and exploring, as well as an insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes. And don't forget your camera, for the stunning scenery and wildlife sightings.